Best NFL Running Backs of All-Time
American football, is one of the most commonly followed sports among all American sports. While there are many players who have been, at one time or another, dubbed as the greatest there are a few who truly can be considered as the greatest. Below is a list of the greatest running backs in American football.
10 – Earl Campbell
Although his career was short lived, Campbell only had 5 seasons worth of completely healthy uninterrupted play. It was during this time that a record was set for the most carries in a single season was set; 373. Additionally, Campbell was dubbed Offensive Player of the Year three seasons in a row while 5 out of 6 seasons had record setting numbers at 1300 yards and 10+ touchdowns.
9 – LaDainian Tomlinson
Towards the end of his career the dominant LT was in a glorified position as a mentor to younger running backs for the New York Jets however prior to that LT was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. In his first 9 seasons alone he had double digit touchdown seasons and even broke the single season record when he scored 31 touchdowns for a total of 186 points.
8 – Eric Dickerson
Dickerson’s career spanned the course of 11 years during which time he ran for well over 13, 000 yards and had seven straight seasons where he ran for over 1,000 yards. Additionally, his running talent earned him bragging rights as he lead the league in rushing yards for three straight seasons.
7 – Gale Sayers
Although his career was cut short due to injury Sayers proved that his speed on the field was something that nearly no other player has been able to do since. One record that still stands today is the 6 touchdowns scored in a single game by a single player. Additionally, Sayers is considered one of the greats thanks to the 30.56 yard average for kickoff return touchdowns. In his rookie season alone Sayers scored 22 touchdowns.
6 – Marshall Faulk
A 7 – time Pro Bowler, Faulk is, in most circles, considered to be the greatest running back of all time. Nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Faulk averaged 63 catches in each season of his career while stringing 7 1,000 yard seasons together in a row. Additionally, not only is he the Offensive Player of the year three years running (no pun intended) but he also had 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in just one season.
5 – O.J. Simpson
After spending the first three seasons of his career as a kick returner, Simpson broke lose as a dominant force for the remainder of his career. As he busted through defender after defender Simpson ran his way to one single 2,000+ yard career while running for six 200 yard games through the course of hiis career.
4 – Emmitt Smith
A former Florida Gator, the 8 – ti,e Pro Bowler was a dominant force long before “Beast Mode” stepped foot onto the grid iron. While he spent a single season with the Arizona Cardinals, a season in which he become the leader in rushed yards, Smith spent the majority of his career as a Dallas Cowboy. During that time Smith not only had a MVP season but was crowned rushing king, won the Super Bowl and was also named MVP of the 1993 Super Bowl; all in a single season.
3 – Walter Payton
A force to be reckoned with in his own right, Payton was the dominant force of his time, and as such, was named to the All Decades Team during the 1970s/80s. During his time spent playing on the Chicago Bears team Payton only missed one game during his entire career. The rest of the time was spent running up a record that had him sitting atop the rushing leader board as the lead rusher. He had 10 seasons of more than 300 carries and he was well known for the stiff arm move he used to throw defenders out of the way as he ran through the defensive line.
2 – Barry Sanders
A career that fell short of Sanders breaking Walter Payton’s rushing record (1, 4 57 yards short to be exact) Sanders decided to call it a career early but not before earning himself four rushing titles and even had five seasons worth 1,500 yards ran. Although his small runs landed his career yards total short of the record mark his small size allowed him to run cuts and break free from any defender.
1 – Jim Brown
Considered to be more of a fullback, Brown was known best on the field to for breaking through defending tackles as he made his way to the end zone. Brown not only led the entire league in rushing during for the majority of his career but had seven 1,000+ rushing yard seasons. Additionally, during a time when a season lasted around 14 games Brown’s athleticism was at its height as he averaged 5.2 yards/carry.
In conclusion, while there are several other running backs that have been talented enough to grace the grid iron one thing remains true and that is that those who have been listed in the above have set the bar high for the future running backs. Running backs such as Marshawn Lynch and several others looking to make their own mark on NFL history.