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Greatest Running Backs in NFL History

Updated on December 8, 2017

10. Jim Brown

10. Jim Brown

Possibly the most overrated player in NFL History, maybe even sports, is indefinitely Jim Brown. I say this because of the era he played in, he was a 6"2 over 200 pound running back against defenders that were the size of modern day high school seniors. Put him up against modern day talent, I believe he would do amazingly, but he would still suffer in comparison to Walter Payton or Emmitt Smith. But it doesn't change the fact that he was still one hell of a running back. He is the only back with more than one MVP, he has three, he lead the league in rushing yards eight times and touchdowns five times, he earned 8 first team All-pro honors and 9 pro bowls. He was also a one time NFL champion in 1964. Along with career stats of 5.2 yards per carry, NFL record, 12,312 rushing yards and 106 rushing touchdowns. And receiving stats of 262 receptions, 2,499 yards, and 20 touchdowns. He definitely was the greatest running back of all time, and the greatest player of the 1960s.

9. Marshall Faulk

9. Marshall Faulk

As a one time super bowl champion, 3 time second team All-Pro, 3 time first team all-pro, 7 pro bowl selections, and to top it off an NFL MVP. Marshall Faulk was an amazing running back that played in one of the most physical times in NFL history. Was three time offensive player of the year and lead the league in rushing yards and touchdowns once. 12,280 rushing yards and 100 rushing touchdowns is eleventh in rushing yards all time and tied with shaun Alexander for seventh in all time rushing touchdowns. Faulk is probably the second greatest Rams running back of all time, second to some extremely tough competition in Eric Dickerson who I will get to later on in the list.

8. Tony Dorsett

8. Tony Dorsett

With only 1 first team all-pro selections and four pro bowl selections Tony Dorsett's greatness goes above awards, even though he did win rookie of the year. He ended his historical career with 12,739 rushing yards, 77 rushing touchdowns, and 13 receiving touchdowns, Tony Dorsett it probably the second greatest running back in Dallas Cowboys history, behind of course Emmitt Smith. Even then you could make an argument for him being above him, even if it's a slight one. He even had a 99 yard run from scrimmage, the only player to ever have a 99 yard run. But the reason he is hear is the fact that his contributions came from more than just stats, if the Cowboys didn't have him they wouldn't have won the super bowl.

7. Earl Campbell

7. Earl Campbell

As an NFL MVP, three time first team all-pro, and holder of 9,407 rushing yards and 74 rushing touchdowns, along with 4 pro bowl selections Earl Campbell has been over looked over and over again for listed such as this. He did this in only 8 seasons, keep in mind that he was held back because of injuries in his final seasons. He played in one of the most physical times in sports history. He also kept 806 receiving yards despite having no receiving touchdowns. All in all, I think Earl is one of the most underrated players in NFL history, if I'm wrong feel free to tell me your own opinion. He is in the top three players of time that never even played in the Super Bowl.

6. LaDainian Tomlinson

6. LaDainian Tomlinson

As number two all time in rushing touchdowns with 145, an NFL MVP, 3 first team all-pro selections, the record for single season rushing touchdowns with an unbelievable 28 in 2006, 13,684 rushing yards which is sixth of all time, and was one of the most dominate players in NFL history if not the most. He led the league in rushing yards twice and rushing touchdowns three times, he has 4,772 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns along with 624 receptions. If he had won a super bowl or two he would probably be number two on this list, number one obviously didn't need a super bowl. But despite that LaDainian kept in as number six on this list because he's probably a top three receiving running back of all time.

5. Adrian Peterson

5. Adrian Peterson

If only he won a super bowl and he would've been number one by far. With an NFL MVP, having led the league in rushing yards three times and rushing touchdowns twice, 12,276 rushing yards and 99 rushing touchdowns as of December 8th 2017, 2015 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 7 pro bowl selections and four first team all-pro selections Adrian Peterson is the greatest Viking in NFL history and easily the fifth greatest running back in NFL history. His draft luck held him back from first. Talent wise I still think he is the fourth greatest running back of all time.

Eric Dickerson

4. Eric Dickerson

Having led the league is rushing yards four times and touchdowns once, despite having 18 touchdowns his rookie year, has 13,259 rushing yards and 90 rushing touchdowns, along with holding the NFL record for single season rushing yards with an outstanding 2,105 in 1984. Was selected to six pro bowls and first team all-pro five times. As well as a top three power back of all time. He never won an MVP, which is a crime against sports and mankind itself.

3. Emmitt Smith

3. Emmitt Smith

He won Super Bowls, and that's why he's here. As the all time leader in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with 164 touchdowns and 18,355 yards, as well as having led the league in rushing yards 4 times and rushing touchdowns three times. He caught 515 receptions, 3,224 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns. In 15 seasons he only fumbled the ball 61 times. The reason why he isn't number one or two is the fact that he played behind arguably the greatest offensive line of all time and despite the fact that he won an MVP, you could make a debate that he shouldn't have won it. He made the pro bowl eight times and was selected to the first team all pro four times.

2. Barry Sanders

Megatron of running backs

As Barry Sanders ran for an NFL MVP, 10 seasons. third of all time in rushing yards with 15,269 yards and 99 rushing touchdowns, six time first team all-pro selections and 10 pro bowls, led the league in rushing yards four times and rushing touchdowns once, in his ten season career he never ran for under 1,000 yards. He caught 10 touchdowns and 2,921 yards and 352 receptions. His lowest rushing yard season was 1,100 yards where he only played 11 games! His career yard per attempt is 5.0, amazing. He only fumbled the ball 41 times.

1. Walter Payton

Sweatness
Sweatness

1. Walter Payton

As a one time super bowl champion with the Bears, Sweatness carried that team to the super bowl, without him they probably wouldn't have gotten past the divisional. He is second all time in career rushing yards with 16,726 rushing yards and 110 rushing touchdowns, he led the league in rushing yards once and touchdowns once, but he made up for it by his receiving stats. He caught 492 receptions, 4,538 yards, and 15 touchdowns. His career yards per carry is 4.4, but that could be due to his injury season and his rookie year where he got barely any carries and his final year where the same happened. He had averaged 5.5 yards per carry his third season, he was selected to 9 pro bowls and 5 first team all-pro selections. And he had, in my opinion, the greatest run in NFL history.

© 2017 AugustusJr

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