The following is a list of the ten players with the most interceptions in NFL history. As a defensive player, one of best ways to stand out is to make a lot of interceptions.
Six of the ten players on this list of players with the most interceptions in NFL history are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another player on the list is a lock to get in when he retires, and the three other players not in yet are all strong candidates to be inducted one day.
Players with the Most Interceptions in NFL History
1. Paul Krause – 81
Paul Krause is the all-time leader in interceptions in NFL history with 81. Krause played 16 years in the NFL. He had 28 interceptions over four years playing for the Washington Redskins (1964-1967), and then had 53 more interceptions over 12 years playing for the Minnesota Vikings (1968-1979).
Paul Krause led the league once in interceptions, when he had 12 as rookie for the Redskins in 1964. Krause returned just three of his interceptions for touchdowns, which is well short of making the list of players with the most interceptions returns for touchdowns. Paul Krause was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
2. Emlen Tunnell – 79
Even though he never once led the league in the category for a season, Emlen Tunnell has the second most interceptions in NFL history with 79. Tunnell had 74 interceptions over 11 years with the New York Giants (1948-1958), and five interceptions over two years with the Green Bay Packers (1958 and 1959).
Emlen Tunnell returned four interceptions for touchdowns in his career, and his career high for a season was 10 interceptions in 1949. Emlen Tunnell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
3. Rod Woodson – 71
Rod Woodson, the NFL’s all-time leader in interception returns for touchdowns, has the third most career interceptions with 71. Woodson led the league twice in interceptions over his 16 year career, in which he played for four different teams.
Rod Woodson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
4. Dick Lane – 68
Dick “Night Train” Lane had 68 interceptions in his career, good for the fourth most in NFL history. Night Train Lane holds the NFL record for most interceptions in a season with 14, which he accomplished during his rookie season in 1952 with the Los Angeles Rams.
Night Train Lane was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974. Dick Lane was called Night Train because he frequently listened to the Buddy Morrow song of the same name.
5. Ken Riley – 65
Ken Riley, who played his entire 15 year career (1969-1983) with the Cincinnati Bengals, had 65 interceptions in his career. Riley returned five of his picks for touchdowns.
T-6. Darren Sharper – 63
Darren Sharper had 63 interceptions in his career. Sharper returned 11 of those interceptions for touchdowns.
T-6. Ronnie Lott – 63
Ronnie Lott had 63 interceptions in his great career. Lott returned five of his picks for touchdowns. Ronnie Lott was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of about two dozen players to have won four Super Bowls.
T-8. Dick LeBeau – 62
Dick LeBeau had 62 interceptions in his 14 year NFL career, all played with the Detroit Lions (1959-1972). LeBeau, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for over 40 years since his playing days ended.
T-8. Dave Brown – 62
Defensive back Dave Brown had 62 interceptions in his 15 year NFL career.
10. Ed Reed – 61
Ed Reed, the only active player on this list, has 61 interceptions so far in his career. Ed Reed has led the league three times in interceptions, and returned seven picks for touchdowns. Reed is lock-city for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.