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Greatest Giant Running Backs of All-Time

Updated on March 21, 2007

Tiki Barber

Ottis Anderson

Rodney Hampton

1. Tiki Barber-With no disrespect to everyone else on this list, Tiki Barber is not only the greatest Giants running back of all-time. He's also one of the greatest ever to play the game. When you look at the numbers, it's really hard to argue. Barber began his NFL career when the Giants drafted him in 1997 out of the University of Virginia. He was chosen to be a third-down back until Rodney Hampton's retirement thrust him into action. After battling injuries for the better part of two years, Barber gained 1,639 all-purpose yards in 1999 and over 2,000 in the year 2000, the latter leading his team to the Super Bowl. Barber was splitting time with Ron Dayne but his only drawback was a penchant for fumbling, something that eventual head coach Tom Coughlin would virtually make disappear by showing Barber how to properly take care of the football. Even though he was getting older, Barber continued to get better with age, racking up 2,390 total yards in 2005 and rushing for 1,662 yards in 2006. Though he had announced his retirement early in the 2006 season, Barber remained focused and helped his team squeak into the playoffs by rushing for 234 yards (a team record) and 3 touchdowns against Washington in his last regular season game as a pro. Barber was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004, 2004 and 2006. He also became the 21st player in NFL history to rush for over 10,000 yards during his career and the third player to tally 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards in his career, joining Marshall Faulk and Marcus Allen. Barber retired on top of his game.

2. Ottis Anderson-A rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979, Ottis Anderson was an explosive All-Pro running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first six seasons. But injuries later hampered Anderson and he eventually became expendable in St. Louis. The Giants picked him up in 1986, the year they won Super Bowl XXI. Anderson scored a touchdown in that game, and eventually took over for Joe Morris in 1989 when he was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year with 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also was named Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl XXV in 1991, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Anderson is one of only 21 players in history to rush for over 10,000 career yards.

3. Rodney Hampton-The Giants selected Rodney Hampton with their first overall draft pick in 1990 out of the University of Georgia. Like Barber, Hampton played his entire career with the Giants, until his retirement in 1997. Hampton was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1992 and 1993, and his 6,897 career rushing yards were the most by a Giant until Barber surpassed him in 2004. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season from 1991 through 1995. After two sub par seasons, Hampton was rumored to be headed to San Francisco in a trade, but retired instead, making way for Barber.

4. Joe Morris-Morris was short by running back standards, earning him the nickname "Little Joe" Morris, but he more than made up for his stature on the playing field. Morris peaked in 1985 when he rushed for 1,336 yards and a league-leading 21 touchdowns and also rushed for over 1,000 yards in the Giants' Super Bowl season of 1986. He became the Giants all-time leading rusher (finishing with 5,296 yards and 48 touchdowns) until Rodney Hampton later surpassed him. Morris was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1985 and 1986 and retired as a member of the Cleveland Browns in 1991.

5. Frank Gifford-Though he had bad grades, Frank Gifford put up a high enough GPA at Bakersfield College in one season to earn himself enrollment into a more powerful football school, USC. After becoming an All-American, Gifford was drafted by the Giants, where he played both offense and defense. He played in 8 Pro Bowls and five NFL Championship games. In 1956 Gifford won the NFL MVP, and led the Giants to the title over the Chicago Bears. In addition to racking up 3,609 rushing yards, Gifford also had 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns as a receiver and even threw for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl at three different positions-running back, receiver and defensive back and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

6. Alex Webster-Though he was originally drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1953, Webster instead decided to play for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. In 1954 he was named to the All-Star team and played in the Grey Cup, then re-entered the NFL draft and was selected by the Giants in 1955. Webster played for the Giants until 1964, amassing 4,638 rushing yards, 2,679 receiving yards and 56 total touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1958 and 1961.

7. Ron Johnson-Ron Johnson was drafted in 1969 out of Michigan and played for the Cleveland Browns and the Giants in an NFL career that spanned seven years. With the Giants, Johnson rushed for 3,881 yards and 33 touchdowns, adding another 1,813 yards and 15 touchdowns as a receiver.

8. Doug Kotar-Kotar was drafted out of the University of Kentucky in 1974 and played for them until 1981. At the time he retired, Kotar had piled up 3,380 rushing yards, making him the fourth leading rusher in team history behind Webster, Johnson and Gifford. Sadly, Kotar died of brain cancer in 1983.

9. Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans-Another member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Leemans was hand-picked by Giants co-owner Wellington Mara, who drafted the running back in 1936 out of George Washington University. As a rookie, Leemans led the league with 830 yards and was named All-NFL in both 1936 and 1939. He finished his career with 3,142 yards rushing, as well as over 2,000 yards passing and over 400 yards receiving. His number 4 has been retired by the Giants.

10. Rob Carpenter-Carpenter came to the Giants in 1981 after playing for four-plus seasons with the Houston Oilers. As a Giant, Carpenter rushed for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also helped them to a playoff victory against the Eagles in 1981, the year rookie Lawrence Taylor helped begin a new era of winning in Giants history.

11. Tucker Frederickson-Frederickson was drafted by the Giants in 1965 and played for them until 1971, rushing for 2,209 yards and 9 touchdowns, and 1,011 receiving yards with 8 touchdowns. A knee injury forced Frederickson's retirement.

12. Larry Csonka-Though Csonka came to the Giants in 1976 and was supposed to reverse the team's fortunes, he was injured in his first season in New York and never really re-lived his Dolphins glory days. In fact, most Giants fans only remember the fateful day in 1978 when QB Joe Picarsik botched a handoff to Csonka when the Giants were running out the clock against the Eagles, and Eagles CB Herman Edwards returned the fumble for a touchdown and a Philadelphia win.


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      Emery 5 years ago

      Brandon Jacobs wears #27

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      mark k hurst 5 years ago

      Brandon Jacobs?

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      judy grider 10 years ago

      I would like to know what National football players running back or defeinsive running backs now or retired that has worn are is wearing the number #32. Please email me back. Thank you, JFG