While the expression “Respect isn’t given. It’s earned,” may be trite, it’s 100 percent applicable to the NFL. No player walks into the league and instantly has the admiration of fans and fellow players. He has to prove he’s not only skilled, but that he’s going to handle his business the right way—with hard work, humility, and character.

The NFL, like other professional sports leagues, has a history of players who didn’t have the grit and determination to make it to the top of the food chain. Alternatively, the unifying characteristic of those who do make it is that no matter how successful the player gets, he never loses sight of what’s important.

That ability to remain focused on football, family, and helping others—despite the adulation of everyone around them—is what makes players special. They block out all the noise, even if some of that noise is positive, and remain true to themselves. They are universally respected. To honor these class acts, we've compiled a list of The Most Respected Players in the NFL today.