All-Time NFL Rushing Leaders by Team—NFC
As with our AFC list, there are names on here that won't surprise you, and names that will surprise you. Keep in mind that this is a list based on total yardage, and not touchdowns or yards per carry.
Arizona Cardinals-Ottis Anderson
Ottis Anderson began his career with the Cardinals when they were still in St. Louis, and he played there from 1979 to 1986. Anderson is still the franchise rushing leader with 7999 yards, and his best season with the team was his rookie year when he rushed for 1605 yards with 8 touchdowns, and added another 308 receiving yards with 2 TDs-earning Anderson the NFL Rookie of the Year Award. He then went on to play for the New York Giants until retiring in 1992.
Atlanta Falcons-Gerald Riggs
Gerald Riggs played the first seven years of his NFL career with the Falcons (1982-1988) and is the team's career rushing leader with 6631 yards on the ground. In 1985, Riggs rushed for 1719 yards and 10 touchdowns, and in the three-year span of 1984-86, he had 5212 total yards and 32 total TDs. Riggs went on to play for the Redskins for three seasons before he retired in 1991.
Carolina Panthers-Tim Biakabutuka
The Panthers have only been an NFL team since 1995, but it is still hard to believe that the franchise rushing leader is Tim Biakabutuka with only 2530 yards over that time (1996-2001). In fact, Biakabutuka never even had a 1000-yard season, with his best year coming in 1999 (718 yards and 6 touchdowns).
Chicago Bears-Walter Payton
Walter Payton was one of the greatest NFL running backs of all-time, and he was the NFL rushing leader until Emmit Smith passed him. Payton is also the Bears' all-time rushing leader with 16,276 yards over a career that spanned 13 seasons (1975-1987), all with Chicago. Payton was very consistent throughout his career, with 10 seasons of over 1000 yards rushing. But his best year was 1977, when he rushed for 1852 yards with 14 touchdowns, adding another 269 yards and 2 TDs as a receiver. Sadly, Payton passed away in 1999 from a rare liver disease.
Dallas Cowboys-Emmitt Smith
Emmitt Smith played the bulk of his career for the Dallas Cowboys (1990-2002), and over that time became the NFL's all-time rushing leader. All told, Smith rushed for 18,355 yards with both Dallas and Arizona, but he is also the Cowboys' career rushing leader with 17,162 yards and 153 touchdowns. Smith won the NFL MVP in 1993, but his best season was 1995 when he rushed for 1773 yards and 25 touchdowns. In addition, Smith helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the nineties.
Barry Sanders played his entire career with the Detroit Lions (1989-1998) and rushed for 15,269 yards during that time with 99 rushing touchdowns. Sanders had an astonishing career 5.0 yards-per-carry average, and never had less than 1115 yards in a single season. His best year overall was 1997, when he rushed for 2053 yards with 11 touchdowns, and added another 305 yards and 3 TDs as a receiver, earning Sanders co-MVP honors along with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.
Green Bay Packers-Jim Taylor
In Green Bay's storied NFL history, the all-time team leader in rushing is Jim Taylor with 8207 yards. Taylor played for the Packers for most of his career (1958-1966) and his best season was 1962 when he rushed for 1474 yards and 19 touchdowns to win the NFL MVP Award. In addition, Taylor helped lead the Packers to four NFL championships, including Super Bowl I. He played his final season with the Saints in 1967 before retiring.
Minnesota Vikings-Robert Smith
Robert Smith played his entire NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, from 1993-2000 and tallied 6818 rushing yards to become the franchise leader in that category. Smith got better with age, rushing for over 1000 yards in the final four years of his career, with his best season coming in 2000. That year, Smith racked up 1521 rushing yards (which led the NFC) and 348 receiving yards, with 10 overall touchdowns. He retired following that season at the age of 28 on top of his game.
New Orleans Saints-Deuce McAllister
Deuce McAllister is currently the Saints' starting running back, and in six short years has become the franchise's career rushing leader with 5678 yards. McAllister had 16 touchdowns rushing and receiving in 2002, but his best year for yardage was 2003 when he tallied 1641 yards. After returning from an injury in 2005, McAllister rebounded in 2006 with 1057 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns, helping lead the Saints to the NFC Championship game.
New York Giants-Tiki Barber
Tiki Barber was one of the most popular and exciting players in Giants' history, and became the franchise's all-time rushing leader with 10,448 yards. Barber played his entire career with the Giants (1997-2006), but his best years were his last three, rushing for 1518, 1860 and 1662 yards in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively. In 2005, Barber had 2390 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. He retired after the 2006 season on top of his game at the age of 31, and is currently a network television commentator for NBC.
Philadelphia Eagles-Wilbert Montgomery
Wilbert Montgomery played for the Eagles from 1977-1984 and during that time became the team's all-time rushing leader with 6538 yards. Montgomery's best season was 1979 when he rushed for 1512 yards, with 494 receiving yards to go along with 14 total touchdowns. Montgomery played his final season with the Detroit Lions in 1985 before retiring, and is currently the Lions' running backs coach.
Seattle Seahawks-Shaun Alexander
In seven short seasons, Shaun Alexander has not only become Seattle's career rushing leader, but he's become one of the greatest running backs in the game. Alexander has spent his entire career (2000-present) with the Seahawks and has tallied 9429 rushing yards and 112 total touchdowns. His best season was 2005, with 1880 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground, helping him to notch the NFL's MVP Award and leading his team to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers-Joe Perry
Joe Perry played for the 49ers for the bulk of his career, from 1950 to 1960, and remains the franchise rushing leader to this day with 7344 yards. In 1954, Perry rushed for a career-high of 1049 yards, but his best season as a whole was 1953, with 1018 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Perry played for Baltimore for two seasons, before returning to San Francisco in 1963 to close out his career.
St. Louis Rams-Eric Dickerson
Eric Dickerson only played for the Rams for four-plus seasons, when the team was based in Los Angeles (1983-1987), but racked up 7245 yards rushing to become the franchise's leader in that category. Dickerson's first two seasons were his best, as he posted astonishing numbers-1808 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns in 1983, and 2105 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns in 1984. The 2105 yards is still an NFL single-season record. Dickerson went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts, L.A. Raiders and Atlanta Falcons before retiring in 1993.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-James Wilder
James Wilder played for the Bucs for most of his NFL career (1981-1989), becoming the team's all-time rushing leader with 5957 yards and 47 total touchdowns. Wilder's best season with Tampa was 1984, with 1544 rushing yards, 85 receptions for 685 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He went on to play for both Detroit and Washington in 1990 before retiring.
Washington Redskins-John Riggins
Though he began his career with the New York Jets, John Riggins became legendary in the NFL as a running back with the Washington Redskins, playing for them from 1976-1985. During that time, Riggins rushed for 7472 yards, including a career high of 1347 yards with 24 touchdowns in 1983. The previous season, Riggins was the MVP of Super Bowl XVII by rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown.