Top 5 Cities Where NFL Players Come From

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The NFL Players Association tells high school seniors they have a two in 10,000 chance of becoming a pro football player. They’re more likely to get struck by lightning sometime in their life. For players who want to improve their get-drafted luck, history may shed some light. Some U.S. cities have grown a disproportionate share of pigskin talent, including Hall of Famers. Calling one of these cities home puts hopeful athletes in good company.

5 Dallas

Hall-of-Famer James Earl Johnson comes from Dallas

With a total native player count of 205, the Big D has just a five-player cushion to keep rival NFL talent-producer New Orleans at bay for our no. 5 seat. Dallas claims two Hall of Fame players: 49ers cornerback James Earl Johnson and the late Detroit Lions halfback Doak Walker. Two Dallas high schools have proven the NFL Player’s Association’s odds wrong. Carroll High School, located outside of Dallas, had four players on the 2012 NFL roster, while another school, Lakeland, produced four players in both 2010 and 2011. If you consider the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis as one mega football factory, Dallas’s total becomes 293, catapulting it ahead of Houston. Dallas knows football. Ask any cowboy.

4 Miami

Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson was born in Miami

Who would have thought that Miami had a claim to fame that didn’t relate to weather, night life or tourism? This Florida beach oasis may not have any natives in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but it has produced 218 pros for the NFL, according to Miami doesn’t have a famous-alumni-who-turned-pro high school, but USA Football gives it the most-native-sons blue ribbon for putting 30 on NFL team rosters during the 2012 season. If your last name begins with “B” and you want to improve your offspring’s odds for wearing an NFL uniform, you might consider making Miami your hometown: 30 Miami natives that made it to the pros have surnames starting with that letter.

3 Houston

Michael Strahan used to call Houston home

Houston may claim that more than 70 Olympians were born within its city limits, but this Texas metropolis also has dibs on being a football player factory. According to, 257 Houstonians have become pro football players, making Houston the third most popular hometown in NFL history. Natives Lance Alworth, Darrell Green, Mel Renfro, Mike Singletary and Thurman Thomas put their birthplace on par with L.A. in the hometown hall-of-fame count. Houston’s North Shore High School made USA Football’s list of high schools with the most players on an NFL team roster two years running: 2011 and 2012. Houston football production averaged a slow 44 players each decade from 1960 through 1990. But in the first 12 years of the millennium, Space City churned out 78 NFL players.

2 Los Angeles

Keyshawn Johnson was raised in L.A.

A total of 400 NFL players since 1920 and five Hall of Famers claim California’s largest city as their hometown. More recently, Los Angeles held third place for the most members in the league’s 2010 to 2012 seasons. Like Chicago, L.A. hasn’t had luck raising punters or kickers, but credit it for giving us 18 NFL quarterbacks. High schools in the nearby towns of Long Beach and Anaheim each had four alumni-turned-pro football players participate in the 2012 NFL season. If you add the 73 players that call these two suburbs home to the city’s all time total, L.A. would move ahead of Chicago on our list.

1 Chicago

Donovan McNabb hails from Chi-Town

The Windy City takes a commanding lead for producing 429 players between 1920 and 2012. Our top city also has the most native sons in the Pro Football Hall of Fame–12–further proof that the river there runs football, even when the Chicago Bears don’t. If your position is kicker or punter, this may not be your best hometown choice: Only four of these special-team pros were born here. However, Chicago’s heyday as a dominant player-producing hometown has waned recently. Unlike our other picks, Chicago failed to rank in the top 10 hometowns of players on NFL team rosters during the three seasons 2010 to 2012, according to the USA Football website.

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