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Best Running Backs in NFL History

Updated on May 6, 2017

Running Back Legends

Emmit Smith holds many rushing records in the NFL. Also, he is the most successful running back in Dallas Cowboys football history.
Emmit Smith holds many rushing records in the NFL. Also, he is the most successful running back in Dallas Cowboys football history. | Source
Walter Payton was a Hall of fame running back for the Chicago Bears. He had some of the most amazing moves in pro football history.
Walter Payton was a Hall of fame running back for the Chicago Bears. He had some of the most amazing moves in pro football history. | Source
Barry Sanders played for the Detroit Lions in the NFL. He had some of the slickest moves in NFL history.
Barry Sanders played for the Detroit Lions in the NFL. He had some of the slickest moves in NFL history. | Source
Jim Brown is a great football player that was a running back for the Cleveland Browns.
Jim Brown is a great football player that was a running back for the Cleveland Browns. | Source

Legendary Running Backs

1. Jim Brown: Brown has won a Championship and three MVP awards. He has 1,863 single season rushing yards and 12,312 career rushing yards. Brown averaged 104 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry to finish out his stellar career. A legend of the grid iron who could run hard through the line or slip around defenders with grace and speed. Brown was also a hard worker and a team leader who motivated by his own example.
Brown would lead the league in rushing if he was playing nowadays because he is a once in a lifetime player.

2. Barry Sanders: Although Sanders never won the Championship during his career with the Detroit Lions he accomplished plenty. He went to the Pro Bowl ten times and he was a 10 time All Star. He had 15,269 career rushing yards and he is considered the most elusive back in history. He could find holes even when it looked like a closed up hole. He was great to watch during a game. He would catch footballs that you wouldn't think were catchable and spin around defenders with grace. It's too bad his whole career was with the Lions because if he had linemen like Emmit Smit h had with the Dallas Cowboys he would probably top this list.

3. Walter Payton: Payton played 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears and won a Super Bowl along with an MVP Award. He scored 110 total touchdowns and rushed for 16,726 yards and went to the Pro Bowl nine times. He played with amazing passion and he has many highlight reel runs during his tenure with the Chicago Bears. Payton was known to literally tackle and run over defensive players whether he was running with the ball or blocking for the team. Payton was super exciting and even though I am not a Bears fan, Walter Peyton is my personal all-time favorite back because he brings it every time.

4. Emmitt Smith: Smith won the Super Bowl three times with the Dallas Cowboys and a Super Bowl MVP. Smith a record one hundred sixty four (164) rushing touchdowns and 18,355 rushing yards. Smith was known to plow forward through defenders with force. He was a true brick wall breaking through defenders. Smith was a true team leader and he always gave his all on the field. The top running back of the 90s, hands down.

5. Eric Dickerson: He never won a Super Bowl, but Dickerson still was a great running back. He had ninety rushing touchdowns, 13,259 rushing yards and he was a six time Pro Bowl selection. He was a head first type of back. He not only fought for yards but, he sometimes he would actually run over defenders to make a touchdown or to get yards or a first down. He

6. Marshall Faulk: He won a Super Bowl with the Rams and was a seven time Pro Bowler. Faulk had a total of 136 career touchdowns and over 12,000 rushing yards in one hundred fifty six (156) total games played in his career. Although the St. Louis Rams had a great quarterback in Kurt Warner, their offensive line was weak a couple of seasons but, Faulk was a great addition to the team. He was running back as well as a receiver.

7. Gale Sayers: Sayers played his whole career with the Bears and was a four time Pro Bowl and five time All Pro selection. He has the record for most touchdowns in a rookie season with 22. Sayers also has scored six touchdowns in a single game. Besides scoring he was an outstanding blocker who always put the team first and sometimes he even risk his health blocking big men.

8. O.J. Simpson: He played for the Buffalo Bills and also won the Heisman trophy in college. He was a six time Pro Bowler who had 61 touchdowns and 11,236 rushing yards in his career. Simpsons was a tough player who could bust through the line but he also used skill such as the high step and stiff arming his foes.

9. Tony Dorsett: Dorsett won a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys and was a 4 time Pro Bowler. Dorsett had ninety two touchdowns and almost 13,000 yards on the ground. Dorsett could break through a line with force but he could also be light on his feet Nd spin or high step for more yardage.

10. Curtis Martin: Martin went to one Super Bowl and he went to the Pro Bowl fives times. Martin had ninety total touchdowns to go with 14,101 rushing yards. He played the majority of his career with the N.Y. Jets.

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Jim Brown Was Multi Faceted

Jim Brown was an amazing football player and an activist. He could run hard at the defense or he could stiff arm, spin and high step his way to a touchdown. Also, Brown was super famous and he was in several Hollywood movies. He was a team leader because of his talent and work ethic which was second to none.

Jim Brown Career Highlights

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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    • Kevinjackson47 profile image

      Kevin Jackson 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Always loved watching Barry run the ball! Imagine if he actually had more help on offense

    • lesliebyars profile image
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      Buster Johnson 3 years ago from Alabama

      Barry would have won several Super Bowls with a better line without a doubt!

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