NFL Running Back - Best and Top Ranked Ever
The thankless role of the NFL running back. You get the ball handed to you and 11 of the best conditioned athletes try to take your head off. This is a list of the best and most prolific NFL Running Back's ever. Vote for your pick. Add to the list.
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James Nathaniel "Jim" Brown (born February 17, 1936) is an American former professional football player who has also made his mark as an actor. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine-year career as a running back for the NFL Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. He is considered to be one of the greatest professional athletes the U.S. has ever produced.
Barry David Sanders (born July 16, 1968) is a former NFL football running back who spent all of his professional career with the Detroit Lions in the NFL. Sanders is best known for being one of the most prolific running backs in NFL history, and left the game just short of the all-time rushing record. Sanders is widely regarded as one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game, and certainly the most elusive.
Walter Payton (July 25, 1954 – November 1, 1999) was an American football player who spent his entire professional career with the National Football League's Chicago Bears. Walter Payton was known around the NFL as "Sweetness". He is remembered as one of the most prolific running backs in the history of American football. Payton, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, once held the League’s record for most career rushing yards, touchdowns, carries, and many other categories. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Hall of Fame NFL player and coach Mike Ditka described Payton as the greatest football player he had ever seen—but even greater as a human being.
Emmitt James Smith III (born May 15, 1969) is a former American football player. He was an All-American at the University of Florida before playing professionally for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, and is the NFL's all-time rushing leader, a record formerly held by his childhood hero, Walter Payton. He is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993). He is also one of four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell.
Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson (born November 30, 1962) is a retired American athlete and a former multi-sport professional. Jackson played at the highest level of sports in the United States in both American football (NFL) and Baseball (MLB). He also won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 as a running back at Auburn University.
In football, Jackson played running back for the Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League. In baseball, Jackson played left field and designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox, and the California Angels of the American League in Major League Baseball. Jackson was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two major sports. Before his professional career, he earned the 1985 Heisman Trophy, the prize annually awarded to the most outstanding collegiate football player in the United States. He also ran a 4.12 40 yard dash, still considered the fastest verifiable 40 time at an NFL Combine. A hip injury severely impaired his professional baseball career, and ended his NFL career. Due to the injury, Jackson holds the record for least amount of games played for a first overall draft pick.
Franco Harris (born March 7, 1950) is a former American football player best known for his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the 1972 NFL draft he was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, the 13th selection overall. His selection by the team was considered controversial at the time. He played his first 12 years in the NFL with the Steelers; his 13th and final year (1984) was spent with the Seattle Seahawks. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson (born July 9, 1947), nicknamed "The Juice", is a retired American football player, football broadcaster, actor, and spokesman. He originally attained fame in sports as a running back at the collegiate and professional levels and was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set during the 1973 season. While five other players have passed the 2,000 rush yard mark he stands alone as the only player to ever rush for more than 2,000 yards in a 14-game season (the NFL changed to a 16-game season in 1978). He also holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average which stands at 143.1 ypg. Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
Eric Demetric Dickerson (born September 2, 1960) is a former professional running back in the National Football League (NFL) who in his career played for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons. An immediate pro success, he established rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18), including another two receiving touchdowns. His efforts earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
Earl Christian Campbell (born March 29, 1955) is a former professional American Football running back. As a collegiate running back for the Texas Longhorns, he won the Heisman Trophy in 1977. Campbell possessed a rare combination of speed and power, and was a prolific running back from 1978 through 1985. His outstanding single-season performance in 1979 earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. It was also the second of three consecutive seasons in which he led the league in rushing. Only Jim Brown had previously accomplished that feat. Campbell led the NFL in rushing in 1978, 1979, and 1980. He played in five Pro Bowls and finished his career with 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns rushing along with 806 yards on 121 receptions. In 1980, Campbell's best year in the NFL, he ran for 1,934 yards including four 200-yard rushing games, including a personal best 206 yards against the Chicago Bears. Despite playing against stacked defenses and being gang-tackled nearly every time he carried the ball (a then-record 373 times), Campbell managed to average 5.2 yards per carry and score 13 rushing touchdowns in 1980 alone.
Curtis James Martin, Jr. (born May 1, 1973 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a former American football running back. He is an alumnus of Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh. Martin played in the National Football League for the New England Patriots and the New York Jets and amassed the fourth highest total of rushing yards in NFL history. Martin rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first 10 professional seasons, a feat previously accomplished only by Barry Sanders. On November 6, 2005, he scored his 100th career touchdown, joining an elite group of only 16 players to do so.
Marshall William Faulk (born February 26, 1973) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League. He is currently an analyst for NFL Total Access on the NFL Network. He played football in college for San Diego State University, before being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1994 NFL Draft. Following the 1998 season Faulk was traded to the St. Louis Rams. Marshall is one of the 3 players (Marcus Allen & Tiki Barber) to reach at least 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards in his career and the only one to have 12,000 yards rushing, 6,000 yards receiving. His seven two-point conversions are an NFL record. His 5 games of 250+ yards from scrimmage and 14 games of 200+ yards from scrimmage are also NFL records. Marshall Faulk is the only player to have 70+ rushing touchdowns and 30+ receiving touchdowns.