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Top 10 Records ~ The NFL's Greatest Running Backs Of All Time


All Time Top Ten Greatest

running backs in the NFL

running backs in the NFL

NFL Running Backs

"If you have a back rush for 100 yards, you're going to win seventy per cent of the time"
~Bill Parcells

Running is instinct, it is something a football player is born with. You can't teach it. The speed, the cuts, fakes and changing direction are all part of a running backs natural talent. Running Backs have a flashy swagger but these guys take too much of a beating to care about style points. Yet they still make it look easy. In as much as any give Sunday a running back runs away from like 15 car crashes a game, and as a result of that sort of punishment, they tend to have shorter careers that other positions. In order to play this position you need to be determined, fearless and durable.

The Fullback in the NFL

There are fullbacks who lead the way for the half back sometimes called tailbacks. Fullbacks are kind of like an offensive lineman as they throw blocks and act as a decoy. They are generally bigger and heavier then his backfield running mate the halfback. The FB generally lines up three to four yards behind the quarterback.His job is to pound hard up the middle, getting the tough yards. The halfbacks are quicker and more explosive.

This topic was very hard to discuss, trying to narrow the greatest down to only ten. Well, here it is. The top ten running backs ever to play the game. Hope most of you agree :-).


Running Back Marion Motley - the Jackie Robinson of Football

Running Back Marion Motley - the Jackie Robinson of Football

Running Back

Marion Motley stats

Marion Motley stats

Career Highlights

Marion Motley

Pro Career: 9 Seasons, 106 Games

  • Pro Bowl 1950
  • NFL 75th Anniversary
    All-Time Team
    NFL 1940s All-Decade Team
  • HOF 1968

Number 10

Marion Motley

Cleveland Browns 1946-1953

Pittsburgh Steelers -1955

Height: 6-1 Weight: 232
Born: June 5 1920 Leesburg ,GA
College: Nevada-Reno

Fullback, Linebacker

Uniform Number: #76 (also wore #36 for a brief period of his career).

"The Jackie Robinson of Football"

Most football fans remember Marion Motley for bringing power football to Cleveland, which was later carried on by Jim Brown. He was the top NFL rusher in 1950. He caught 85 passes, scored 234 points in nine years. He was one of the National Football League's first black players of the modern era and one of its best fullbacks ever

As told by the great Sean Lahman in The Pro Football Historical Abstract, Motley's NFL numbers simply don't tell the story. There are two good reasons for that. First,Motley spent nearly five years after college serving in the U.S. Navy, costing him most of his prime football years. The second problem is that when he did turn pro, he started his career in the AAFC, a league that didn't have much competitive balance. Motley was an unstoppable avalanche, completely overwhelming opposing defenses. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and helped the Cleveland Browns compile a 47-4-3 record and win all four AAFC Championships.Motley led the NFL in rushing yards in 1950, his (and the Browns') first year in the league. He was already thirty by this time, and injuries were beginning to take their toll."

In 1948, he led the Browns to a perfect 15-0 record and rushed 14 times for 133 yards and 3 scores in the championship game. Motley would balst from the inside yet he had the speed to go outside. He made most of his yardage on trap plays, on which a defensive lineman was allowed to penetrate the line of scrimmage, then was trapped, this allowed Motley to run through the vacated area. Motley was quotes as saying ''The trap was a fantastic play, but I was seldom sent outside. There's no telling how much yardage I might have made if I ran as much as some backs do now.''

Before the 1954 season due to suffering many injuries Motley retired. But after a year off he returned and played in 1955 with the Steelers, but had to retire again after a few games due to more injuries. After retiring he scouted players for the Browns, and he wanted to coach. At the time, racism frequently prevented minorities from obtaining coaching jobs and he was turned down on most offers.

In his nine professional seasons, he amassed 4,720 yards on 828 carries for an amazing 5.7 yards-per-carry average. In 1968 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The previous year, former safety Emlen Tunnell of the New York Giants was the first black player to achieve the honor, making Motley the second. He died June 27, 1999 in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 79.


Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell


Career Highlights

Earl Campbell

  • 5× Pro Bowl selection (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983)
  • 3× All-Pro selection (1978, 1979, 1980)
  • 1978 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • 1979 AP NFL MVP
  • 3× NEA NFL MVP
  • 3× NFL Offensive Player of the Year
  • 1978 UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year
  • 1979 Bert Bell Award
  • 2× All-American 
  • 1977 Heisman Trophy
  • 1977 UPI Player of the Year
  • HOF 1991

Number 9

Earl Campbell

Houston Oilers ~ 1978 -1984

New Orleans Saints ~ 1984 - 1985

Running back

Uniform #'s 20,34,35

Height: 5-11 Weight: 232 lbs.
Born: March 29, 1955 in Tyler, TX
College: University of Texas

NFL Draft 1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1 Houston Oilers

'The Tyler Rose'

From the University Of Texas to the Houston Oilers he immediately became a thorn in the side of the opposition. Campbell is widely acknowledged as one of the best power backs in NFL history. Described as a "one-man demolition team", Campbell was a punishing runner. Some called him a runaway freight train and in order to stop him you needed a brick wall. He went on to become the NFL Rookie of the Year, as well as the Most Valuable Player in 1978. The Luv Ya Blue era was now in full swing and the Texans were looking like the team in Texas taking away some of the glory of Americas Team, the Dallas Cowboys. 1975 Bum Phillips was hired and the Oilers were finally coming together.

Mean Joe Greene claimed that Campbell could inflict more damage on a team than any other back he ever faced. Earl was a dominant force for the small amount of time that he was in the NFL.  He was the most dominant force in the league for a three year stretch in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His overall numbers might not stack up to the other guys here, but overall numbers are a lot of times a product of longevity instead of elite ability. 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.

No one ran with more desire than Earl. They say he as a frightening optical illusion. His speed did not fit his physcial appearance. With thighs measuring 36' inches he was a sight in the locker room.

In 1984, he was traded to the New Orleans Saints, reuniting him with his former Oilers coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips. The trade was controversial in New Orleans, as it was widely believed that Campbell's skills had diminished, and the Saints already had the young George Rogers in the backfield. Campbell played in a diminished role in 1984 and 1985, and retired during the preseason of 1986, feeling that the beating he had taken during his career had taken too much of a toll, a toll which has become apparent in his life today.

"Somebody will always break your records. It is how you live that counts."
~ Earl Campbell



Larry Csonka

Larry Csonka

Larry Csonka


Career Highlights

Larry Csonka

  • 5× Pro Bowl selection
  • 2× Super Bowl champion
  • Super Bowl VIII MVP
  • 1979 NFL Comeback Player of the Year
  • Miami Dolphins #39 retired
  • 1987 HOF

Number 8

Larry Csonka

Miami Dolphins

Uniform #39


Height: 6-3 Weight: 237 lbs.
Born: Dec 25, 1946 in Stow, OH
College: Syracuse

NFL Draft: 1968 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8

As player:

  • Miami Dolphins (1968–1974)

  • Memphis Southmen (WFL) (1975)

  • New York Giants (1976–1978)

  • Miami Dolphins (1979)

'The Lawnmower'

At Syracuse, he played fullback from 1965–67 and was named an All-American. He established many of the school's rushing records, including some previously held by Ernie Davis, Jim Nance, Floyd Little, and Jim Brown.

He was one of the biggest running backs of his day and pounded through the middle of the field with relative ease, often dragging tacklers 5–10 yards. During the 1972 season, the Dolphins became the only team since the AFL-NFL Merger to go undefeated, and Csonka was an instrumental part of the success. Csonka led all rushers in Super Bowl VII with 112 yards on only 15 carries. Csonka's 1,117 yards that season combined with Mercury Morris contributing exactly 1,000 yards made them the first 1,000 yard rushing duo in NFL history. That rushing attack led the Dolphins to Super Bowls VI, VII, and VIII, with victories in the last two.

Perhaps his finest single-game effort came in Super Bowl VIII, when he was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player. Miami's powerful attack was at its best with Csonka carrying 33 times for a then-Super Bowl record 145 yards and two touchdowns. Larry wound up his 11-year career with 8,081 yards rushing and added 820 yards on 106 pass receptions.

"Any time you try to win everything, you must be willing to lose everything."
~ Larry Csonka




Tony Dorsett  Greatest Dallas Cowboy Running Back

Tony Dorsett Greatest Dallas Cowboy Running Back

Tony Dorset NFL Career Stats

Tony Dorset NFL Career Stats

Touchdown Tony

Touchdown Tony

Career Highlights and Awards

  • Drafted: 1977 Dallas Cowboys 1st round (2nd overall)
  • Heisman Trophy Winner:1976
  • Hall of Fame: 1994
  • Pro Career: 12 Seasons, 173 games
  • Pro Bowler: 4X
  • First-Team All-Pro:1X
  • Played in two Super Bowls, five NFC championship games,
  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor
  • HOF 1994

Number 7

Tony Dorsett

Dallas Cowboys (1977-1987)

Denver Broncos (1988)

Uniform # 33

'A Blaze of Glory'

Height: 5-11 Weight: 192 lbs.
Born: April 7, 1954 in Rochester, PA
College: Pittsburgh

A four-time All-America at Pittsburgh, Dorsett also won the 1976 Heisman Trophy. And in 1977 he was the Dallas Cowboys number 1 pick in the Draft. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards eight of his first nine seasons. To describe Dorsett running back style, we was swift with some of the smoothest strides. With his sharp, crisp cuts, he had an uncanny knack of finding daylight in the chaos along the line of scrimmage. He was good at turning small gainers into big gainers and routine plays into touchdowns.

"A lot of the people said I wouldn't last in this league," Dorsett said in 1987. "I was the skinny little kid from Aliquippa, Pa., who wasn't supposed to make it."

He played for the Cowboys for 11 seasons through 1987 and then finished off his brilliant career with the Denver Broncos in 1988. He rushed for 12,739 yards and accounted for 16,326 combined net yards in 12 seasons. Dorsett not only passed Jim Brown in both categories but ranked second behind only Walter Payton at the time of his retirement early in 1989. And the effect he had on his team can be measured by the fact that he rushed for more than 100 yards in 46 games. The Cowboys won 42 of those 46 games.

Rookie Year:

As a rookie, he rushed for 1,007 yards and 12 touchdowns and added 273 yards and a touchdown on 29 receptions. He was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Cowboys went all the way to Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos.

Best Season:

In 1981, Tony Dorsett rushed for 1646 yards and four touchdowns on 342 carriers and also caught 32 balls for 325 yards and six touchdowns.

Memorable Game:

In 1982, during a Monday night game against the Minnesota Vikings, Dorsett set a record that may some day be tied but will never be broken . Dorsett received a handoff from quarterback Danny White and proceeded to run 99-yards for a touchdown, thus recording an unbreakable NFL record.

RB - Eric Dickerson - Mr Fourth Quarter in the NFL

RB - Eric Dickerson - Mr Fourth Quarter in the NFL

Eric Dickerson #29

Eric Dickerson #29

Career Highlights

Eric Dickerson

  • Experience: 11 Seasons
  • 6× Pro Bowl selection
  • 5× First-team All-Pro selection
  • NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
  • 1983 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • 1986 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
  • 3x UPI NFC Offensive Player of the Year
  • NFL Record 2,105 Rushing Yards in a Single Season
  • St. Louis Rams #29 retired

Eric "Mr Fourth Quarter" Dickerson

Eric Dickerson in the NFL - Getty Images

Eric Dickerson in the NFL - Getty Images

Number 6 Running Back

Eric Dickerson

LA Rams - 1983-1987

Indianapolis Colts - 1987-1991

LA Raiders - 1992

Atlanta Falcons - 1993

  • Height: 6-3 Weight: 220 Age: 49
  • Born: 9/2/1960 Sealy , TX
  • College: Southern Methodist

'Mr Fourth Quarter'

Just as others were wearing down Eric Dickerson was just getting started! When Eric Dickerson was drafted to the Los Angeles Rams in 1983 it was if some magic was brought to Hollywood, and everyone wanted a ticket to see this Running back do his thing. Some say he resembled a thoroughbred more than a human being. Every game you could count on Dickerson to electrify the fans as he tucked the football under his arm, and then headed for a sprint down the field with all the beauty and grace of a well-groomed racehorse. Dickerson also possessed an uncanny ability to read the defense and knew which holes he could burst through to score. Some others say he looked like a space man in a football uniform with his funny looking goggles. Standing at 6'3 one would think he would be playing as a forward in the NBA.

He was a sprinter out of high school. He teamed with Craig James at SMU to form the Pony Express. In the span of his eleven-year career, Dickerson set the NFL record for most yards rushed in a single season with 2,105 yards. He also became the first player in NFL history to gain more than 1,000 yards in seven consecutive seasons. When he retired in 1993, his 13,259 career rushing yards was the second best of all time.

In each of his first four years with the Rams, Dickerson and the Rams went to the playoffs. In 1984 break O.J. Simpson's single-season rushing record of 2,003 yards, set in 1973. In 1986, Dickerson set a new record for rushing yardage in a playoff game by gaining 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. In 1987 following a salary dispute Dickerson was traded to the Colts. It was one of the biggest deals in NFL history, as it involved 3 teams, 10 players and some draft swapping. In Indianapolis he once again earned his fourth rushing title, leading the league with 1,659 yards. He was with the Colts for 4 seasons, then in 1992 back to Los Angeles and then in 1993 he was with the Atlanta Falcons. In 1993 he retired without ever making it to the Super Bowl.

Gale Sayers - The Kansas Comet - One of the Greatest Running Backs in NFL History

Gale Sayers - The Kansas Comet - One of the Greatest Running Backs in NFL History

Career Highlights

  • 4× Pro Bowl selection
  • 5× All-Pro selection
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
  • 1965 UPI NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year
  • 3× Pro Bowl MVP
  • Chicago Bears #40 retired
  • HOF 1977

Brians Song

Number 5

Gale Sayers

Chicago Bears ~ 1965-71

Running back

Uniform #40

Height: 6-0 Weight: 198 lbs.
Born: May 30, 1943 in Wichita, KS
College: Kansas

NFL Draft 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4

AFL Draft 1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5

(By the Kansas City Chiefs)

'The Kansas Comet'

Watching Gale Sayers playing football was more like a cosmic event, when he ran it was like seeing a comet streak across the sky. Drafted by the Bears in 1965 he played his entire career there. He had a God given talent and all he needed was a crease to get down the field. He dominated not only as a rusher but as a receiver and a special teams wizard.For every 10 times he handled the ball he got a touchdown. It is interesting to think had he played in a 16 game season what records he could have broken

In 1970, thanks to another knee injury, the Comet was clearly done in only his sixth NFL season. He was only able to rush 23 times for 52 yards that year. In 1971 he attempted a comeback, and suffered another knee injury while chasing a defender after an interception. He attempted one more comeback during 1972's training camp, then finally gave up. In 1977, Gale Sayers became the youngest player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the age of 34. He chose George Halas as his presenter.

Even though he was named the top halfback in the NFL's first 50 years in 1969, there was concern for a time that because Sayers' only played for 7 seasons it might prevent his eventual election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the Hall's Selection Committee never wavered in its resolve at the 1977 meeting, the first one in which Gale was eligible for consideration. The Committee's vote was unanimous and its summation simple: "There never was another to compare with him. What else is there to say!"

I don't care to be remembered as the man who scored six touchdowns in a game. I want to be remembered as a winner in life.
~ Gale Sayers


Detroit Lions Greatest Running Back - Barry Sanders

Detroit Lions Greatest Running Back - Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders NFL Career Stats

Barry Sanders NFL Career Stats

On the Cover: Barry Sanders, Football, Detroit Lions Photographed by: Ronald C. Modra

On the Cover: Barry Sanders, Football, Detroit Lions Photographed by: Ronald C. Modra

Career Highlights

Barry Sanders

  • 10× Pro Bowl selection
  • 6× First-Team All-Pro selection
  • 4× Second-Team All-Pro selection
  • AP NFL MVP (1997)
  • 1997 NEA NFL MVP
  • 1989 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • 1988 Heisman Trophy
  • 2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year
  • Holds 10 Detroit Lions Team Records
  • HOF 2004

Mr Elusive

Barry Sanders Running Back for the Detroit Lions

Barry Sanders Running Back for the Detroit Lions

Barry Sanders YouTube Tribute

Number 4

Barry Sanders

Detroit Lions (1989-98)

Running back

Uniform #20

Height: 5-8 Weight: 203 lbs.
Born: July 16, 1968 in Wichita, KS
College: Oklahoma State

NFL Draft: 1989 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3

'Mr Elusive'

He was the heart and soul of the Lions through the 90’s. One of the all time electrifying running backs, Sanders a short, stocky, was very hard to tackle.

On Wednesday, July 28, 1999, Barry Sanders ,31 years of age, announced his retirement while still in the prime of his career. "The reason I am retiring is very simple," Sanders said "My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to remain in it." He was just 1,457 yards short of former Chicago Bear Walter Payton's NFL career rushing record of 16,726.

Barry Sanders was known for his elusiveness and his play making, but something that everyone overlooks is the 1,114 yards he lost. He was humble, explosive and exciting. It has been said that nothing gets the blood pumping more than watching Barry Sanders ALMOST getting tackled. Come Sunday, when Sanders took a handoff, you always knew something electric was going to happen.

Michael Strahan, Giants DE once said:
"He would run 50 yards to lose one yard, but it was the prettiest yard you ever seen lost." If you look at this number, you will see how much these yards meant. He averaged 111 lost yards per season. His five yards a carry would jump to 6.3 if you remove his negative yardage.

Barry used his instincts when running the ball. He could turn a two-yard loss into a 10-yard gain. He fought for every inch he ran. After a touchdown, Sanders never spiked the ball or celebrated in the end zone. Instead he just flipped the ball to the referee.

The man was so elusive he got hit head on one time in his career and they made a commercial about it. "Impossible is nothing"

In 1988, Sanders had the greatest individual season in the history of college football on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. He rushed for 2,628 yards, scored 39 touchdowns, rushed for more than 300 yards in four games, and established 34 NCAA records in 11 regular season games.

After his record junior season at OSU, he joined the Detroit Lions and became one of the most thrilling players in the history of the NFL. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his 10 NFL seasons, making him the first running back to do so. In 1997, he became just the third person to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season. He finished his NFL career rushing for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns.

It is important to note that Barry played for the sad sad sad Detroit Lions in the 90’s. No offense to his offensive line but he was a one man recking crew. The Lions made it to the NFC championship in 1991, but were beat by the Washington Redskins 41-10. Detroit would never get that close again and Barry Sanders never got his championship ring. People often try to imagine what he could have done if he was on the Dallas Cowboys or SF 49ers of the 1990’s.

A first- or second-team All-Pro all 10 of his NFL seasons, Sanders became the first NFL running back to record five 1,500-yard rushing seasons, in addition to being the only back to do so in four consecutive seasons (1994-1997). He is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.


Emmitt Smith - the One In A Million Greatest Dallas Cowboys Running Back

Emmitt Smith - the One In A Million Greatest Dallas Cowboys Running Back

Emmitt Smith - Career Stats

Emmitt Smith - Career Stats

Career Highlights

Emmitt Smith

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010 inductee)
  • NFL record for career rushing yards (18,355)
  • NFL record for career rushing touchdowns (164)
  • NFL record for career 100+ yards rushing games (78)
  • 8× Pro Bowl selection (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)
  • 4× First-Team All-Pro selection (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
  • Second-Team All-Pro selection (1991)
  • NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
  • 3× Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
  • 1993 NFL MVP
  • 1990 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
  • 2× NEA NFL MVP, (1991, 1992)
  • 1993 PFWA NFL MVP
  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor
  • 1993 Bert Bell Award
  • 5× Galloping Gobbler Award
  • 1989 SEC Player of the Year
  • Gator Football Ring of Honor

#3 Running Back

Emmitt Smith

One in A Million

Uniform #22

  • Dallas Cowboys (1990-2002)

  • Arizona Cardinals (2003-2004)

Height: 5-9 Weight: 210 lbs.
Born: May 15, 1969 in Pensacola, FL
College: Florida

In the 1990 draft many of the Cowboys' scouts were hesitant to take Emmitt Smith, and this was largely because his 40-yd-dash times in the 4.6-4.7 range were considered too slow for an NFL running back. Not only was he too slow, but he was too small (about 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds) and too soft to pound out the tough yards between the tackles. To top it off, he had an unbreakable habit of carrying the ball under one arm instead of shifting it away from an oncoming tackler. The team's head scout, Walt Yowarsky, countered by listing Smith's positive traits, "This kid broke every high-school rushing record in Florida. He can catch, he can block, and I've yet to see him get caught from behind. All he does is make yards. You have to take him." A running back with great vision, an explosive first step, and lateral quickness - all of which Smith had in abundance.

Walter Payton was the NFL's all-time leader in rushing yards and all-purpose yards prior to the 2002 NFL season, when Emmitt Smith broke his record.

He is after all the leading rusher in the history of the NFL. He hung around in Arizona for a few years to pad his record. He played on some dominant Cowboy teams in the 90’s. His yards per carry is one of the lowest on this list at 4.2 per carry. He's the only rushing back to win a Super Bowl, the NFL MVP Award, the NFL Rushing Crown, and the Super Bowl MVP Award all in a single season (1993)

Three days before Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005, Smith announced his retirement from the NFL. He was released by the Arizona Cardinals and signed a one day contract for no money with the Dallas Cowboys – after which he immediately retired as a Cowboy, the team he played for from 1990 to 2002.

As if all he did on the football field wasnt enough, he and partner Cheryl Burke won the Season 3 championship of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

"For me, winning isn't something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream."
~ Emmitt Smith



Walter Payton

Running Backs Dont Come Any Sweeter than this Great NFL Running Back

Running Backs Dont Come Any Sweeter than this Great NFL Running Back

Walter Payton Career Stats

Walter Payton Career Stats

Career Highlights

Walter Jerry Payton

  • 9× Pro Bowl selection
  • 6× First-team All-Pro selection
  • 3× Second-team All-Pro
  • 1977 NFL MVP
  • 1977 PFWA NFL MVP
  • 1977 NEA NFL MVP
  • 1985 UPI NFC Player of the Year
  • 1977 UPI NFC Player of the Year
  • 1978 Pro Bowl MVP
  • Super Bowl XX Champion
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • Chicago Bears #34 retired
  • HOF 1993
Remembering Walter Payton

Remembering Walter Payton

Sweetness in Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame

Walter Payton and son Jarrett hug at Walter's induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 31, 1993. (AP PHOTO)

Walter Payton and son Jarrett hug at Walter's induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 31, 1993. (AP PHOTO)

Coach Mike Ditka to this day has one regret in life and that is that Walter Payton did not get a to score a touchdown the Bears Super Bowl XX win.

Coach Mike Ditka to this day has one regret in life and that is that Walter Payton did not get a to score a touchdown the Bears Super Bowl XX win.

Number 2

Walter Payton

Chicago Bears 1975-87

Uniform #34

Height: 5-10 Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: July 25, 1954 in Columbia, MS

Died: November 1, 1999 at age of 45

College: Jackson State

Drafted: 1st round (4th player overall) in 1975 by Chicago Bears


"I want to set the record so high that the next person who tries for it, it's going to bust his heart," Payton once said. And heart is what Walter Payton had. Many times he was compared to Gale Sayers but Walter didn't see that. Where Sayers danced around defenders, Payton mowed over them. Sweetness was more attributed to his personality then to his running style. He was smaller than a typical running back but he played much bigger.

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.

The Chicago Bears drafted Payton in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft, as the fourth overall pick. The Bears had endured several losing seasons after the retirement of the Gale Sayers in 1972. Payton's first game he did not have a great start as he was held to zero net rushing yards on eight attempts. His best performance of the season was the final game against the New Orleans Saints, where he rushed for 134 yards on 20 carries. Payton finished the season with only 679 yards and seven touchdowns.

Payton's motto was Never Die Easy, which is also the title of his autobiography. Payton gives credit to Bob Hill, his coach at Jackson State. This was due to the fact that Payton refused to intentionally run out-of-bounds, and he always delivered some punishment to his tacklers before being forced off the field or forced down.

Payton was an absolute monster on the gridiron. He would just run people over as he ran with such anger you couldn't help but see it. He was a violent runner and it payed off for him. He was the first to use a brutal stiff arm and use it effectively, he also was the first to utilize the stutter step in the running game. Payton always played on an average Bears team and yet still found tremendous success. When there was little fun on the field, Payton helped make life fun in the locker room by becoming the club's biggest joker and purveyor of practical jokes. Some notable pranks Sweetness loved to pull were sneaking into the locker room before everyone else to lock the entire team out in the snow, taking over the Halas Hall switchboard to answer the organization's phone calls. Perhaps this "Sweetness spirit" was the underlying fuel to the charismatic Bears that would take the field a few years down the road.

Against Minnesota, he ran for 275 yards, an NFL single-game record that Corey Dillion (278), Jamal Lewis (295) and Adrian Petersen (296 yards) all surpassed. And in 1984, he broke Jim Brown's long-standing rushing record of 12,312 yards. Finally Payton saw the Bears finally make it to the Super Bowl XX in 1985.Chicago beat the New England Patriots 46-10. He had 22 rushes for 61 yards and one fumble.

He retired after the 1987 season, and the Bears immediately retired No. 34. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993, his first year of eligibility. His son Jarrett Payton presented the award to him.

Walter Payton passed away on Nov 1, 1999, from all that I have read about this man, for one shining moment the world of sports stopped and and took notice of all that is good about sports, all of which was embodied by this man. The grief and and affection came from all corners and people remembered. And what they remembered was not just about the records he broke or how spectacular he was as a player. It was more about how you could be a superstar and still be someone you could touch. He was a down to earth funny man always looking for a good prank. He was a man who loved to laugh and wasnt afraid to cry. Paytone had not been just a great player he was more for he showed that you could be a great football player and role model at the same time. Especially in times when role models are so short in supply.

"Sweetness" may have passed away before his time, but his life remains a testament to greatness -- as an athlete and as a human being.

"I think Walter’s legacy will be that of a man with a God-given ability that got the most out of it at every possible chance. He did it with pride, he did it with dignity, he did it with respect for the game."
~ Eddie Payton


Jim Brown

Jim Brown

Jim Brown Career Stats

Jim Brown Career Stats

Career Highlights

Jim Brown

  • 9× Pro Bowl selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965)
  • 8× First-Team All-Pro selection (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)
  • Second-Team All-Pro selection (1962)
  • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
  • 3× NFL MVP (1957, 1958, 1965)
  • 3× UPI NFL MVP (1958, 1963, 1965)
  • 3× Pro Bowl MVP (1961, 1962, 1965)
  • Lacrosse Hall of Fame
  • HOF - 1971

#1 Greatest Running Back

Jim Brown

Cleveland Browns 1957-65

Full Back

Uniform #32

Height: 6-2 Weight: 232 lbs.
Born: Feb 17,1936 St. Simons Island, GA
College: Syracuse

NFL Draft: 1957 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6

There's not much to say about Jim Brown that hasn't already been said. He ranked as the most dominant Running Back in the league in seven of his nine seasons. Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957, he immediately revolutionized the game with his combination of speed, agility and brute power. He was a threat to score from any place on the field and demoralized defenses by stoically shaking off their toughest hits. Brown upon retiring before the '66 season was the leader in yards (12,312), All purpose yards (15,549), and touchdowns (126). Brown was an elite force and nobody wanted to mess with this man on the field. He had an incredible combination of pure strength and power. Brown who has the record for yards per game (104.3) and total yards from scrimmage per game (125.5) still stands today. He was the first player to hit 100 touchdowns. Brown retired early to pursue an acting career.

Brown was not just one of the greatest NFL running backs of all time,he was an All-American lacrosse player who was one of the finest ever, averaged 38 points per game in high school basketball and lettered in basketball at Syracuse, he finished fifth in the 1956 national decathlon championship, was offered a minor-league deal by the Yankees, and lastly he could have been a pro boxer after he retired.

Jim Brown is to running backs what Superman is to cartoon heroes. He played only nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns - and led the NFL in rushing eight times. Brown was bigger than some of the lineman, but he was twice as fast. He finished with nine pro bowls and eight first team all pro selections in his nine years of playing for the Cleveland Browns. He finished his career way out in front of everyone else in rushing yards. He had 12,312 at 5.2 yards per carry for his career. He also scored 126 touchdowns. Let’s not forget that he was playing 12 and 14 game seasons back then, so his nine year career is about equivalent to seven years in today’s NFL. Brown would still be dominant in today’s league, is there anything else that needs to be said!

Unlike most athletes, Brown retired when he was on top. At 30, he decided he'd rather be in movies than star on a football field

"Make sure when anyone tackles you, he remembers how much it hurts."

~ Jim Brown


Bo Jackson Honorable Mention Running Back

Marshall Faulk's game ball from the September 14, 1991 game when he ran for a NCAA-record 386 yards and scored 44 points. Faulk did this in his second game as a true freshman for San Diego State.

Marshall Faulk's game ball from the September 14, 1991 game when he ran for a NCAA-record 386 yards and scored 44 points. Faulk did this in his second game as a true freshman for San Diego State.

Honorable Mentions

Christian Okoye

Kansas City Chiefs (1989-98)

The Nigerian Nightmare

known for his powerful running style and ability to break tackles. Okoye's six seasons in the NFL saw a league rushing title in 1989, two Pro Bowl appearances (1989, 1991), and three playoff appearances. He voluntarily ended his NFL career due to multiple injuries. He wore number 35.

Bo Jackson

Los Angeles Raiders (1987-1990)

What If

An MLB and NFL all-star, he could climb tall walls with spectacular catches and could win the Heisman at his “hobby” sport. To be more precise: in eight major-league seasons, Bo hit .250 with 141 HRs and 415 RBI, and was so good that he returned after surgery, and playing with a prosthetic hip, hit 29 homers in his final two seasons.

In four part-time NFL seasons with the Raiders, he played only 38 games but ran for 2,782 yards, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. Bo’s best baseball season came in 1989, when he hit .256 with 32 homers, 105 RBI and 26 stolen bases. He was named MVP of the All-Star game, and five months later, after he rushed for 950 yards in just 11 games for the Raiders, was named to the Pro Bowl team

Marshall Faulk

  • Indianapolis Colts (1994–1998)
  • St. Louis Rams (1999–2006)

Midway Monster

Bronko Nagurski  courtesy of espn

Bronko Nagurski courtesy of espn

Bronko Nagurski

Chicago Bears (1930-37, ’43)

Monster of the Midway

Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski was born in Ottawa, Canada but moved to Minnesota with his family when he was a young boy. It is fairly well established that he was, indeed, “discovered” by University of Minnesota Head Coach Clarence “Fats” Spears, who got the young man to come play for University of Minnesota as a tackle and fullback, becoming one of the greatest college football players in history.

He later went on to become one of the greatest players in National Football League history, too, playing from 1930-1937 (plus one game in 1943) for the Chicago Bears. He is the only player ever to be named to the All-Pro team playing at three separate (non-kicking) positions, as he played fullback on offense and defensive lineman on defense, plus occasionally offensive tackle on offense, as well.

During the offseasons, he also was a star professional wrestler (he won three national titles as a wrestler).

The giant Nagurksi (he was about six two and over two hundred and thirty pounds, which is very big now but was absolutely a behemoth back then) is one of the most dominant athletes of his generation.

Steamrollers are the 100 Yard Rushers

greatest running backs in the history of the NFL

greatest running backs in the history of the NFL

Most 100-yard rushing games in a career

1. Emmitt Smith
2. Walter Payton
3. Barry Sanders
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Jerome Bettis
6. Jim Brown
7. Curtis Martin
8. Edge James
9. Franco Harris
10. Thurman Thomas

I Love The NFL

Who is Your Best Legendary Running Back

Rob on July 01, 2020:

Jim Brown #1, good list.

Chris on March 22, 2016:


1. Barry Sanders

2. Jim Brown

3. Walter Payton

4. Emmit Smith

5. Marshall Faulk

6. O.J. Simpson

7. Eric Dickerson

8. LaDainian Tomlinson

9. Marcus Allen

10. Earl Campbell

Mikeo on December 08, 2012:

Good list but sorry to burst your bubble about Walter Payton. Sorry he died so young but he was a womanizer and drug addict. Pretty much a bad husband and not the great person or role model you seem to believe.

bassman on October 08, 2012:

franco harris 4 super bowls nuff said

Shari (author) from New York, NY on July 11, 2012:

SteveRan - to set the record straight I am a New York Jets and Giants fan.

TrevorBasile - nothing better than a good running back. Sanders was a beast!

Trevor Basile from Rockaway, NJ on June 19, 2012:

Great hub, the info was spot on, great insight to them all. I have to say the player I feel was the best RB of all time was Barry Sanders. To get the yardage totals he did on a bad team with no line was amazing!

SteveRan on May 11, 2012:

The list is good, but you have to be kidding me you must be a Cowboy fan. Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith were never even close to being as good as Earl Campbell, and Sanders behind Smith? Its not about total yardage here either if that was the case where is Bettis, Faulk, and Tomlinson? Sanders work speaks for itself. Campbells toughness and the way no one has ever played the game like him since is reason why he should be much higher on this list. My top ten. 1. Jim Brown 2. Barry Sanders 3. Walter Payton 4. Earl Campbell 5. Gayle Sayers 6. Eric Dickerson 7. Emmitt Smith 8. LaDanian Tomlinson 9. Marshall Faulk 10. Adrian Peterson (Moving up by the end of his career)

Shari (author) from New York, NY on February 03, 2012:

thanks for your comment, whatever it is you were trying to say I am glad you were able to vent!

J SABO on January 28, 2012:

Sanders #1!! Not even a clsoe SECOOND!! Who is the moron who did this list? Lets see? Change era`s (hard to do, but in this case - it can be done!) Brown had about 50 pounds on every DB! and fast! But BIG!! Hmmm, Sanders plays in era of giants! And STILL dominates!! (guys top 10 runs are bettet then anoyones TOP 20!!) so put Sanders in era of guys his own size? Haaaa!!! Good god, he still be playing!!! How this fator is NEVER mentioned is beyond me? Peyton #2! Brown played in their era (SIZE WOULD NOT BE AS MUCH AS A FACTOR) size wasn't even a factor for Sanders! And sorry he wasn't that fast either (40 not that great) just elusive as any player ever been! Sorry that is INCREDBLE in any era!! SANDERS IS THE BEST EVER and didn't even wanna be! His son seems to have that mean streak he never had, so maybe 1 & 2 when all done!

WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on October 14, 2011:

This made me think of the undefeated Dolphins back in the day. Kick, Zonka, and Mercury Morris. What combination was going to get you? It drove defenses mad just thinking about it. Think How the Bucs would have fared with Dunn, Alstott, and Pittman in an I slot or split T? A sweep would get 5 yards every time. Then add the triple option (pass). Forget West Coast.

We are talking pro. I am all about college. Florida has 8 kids on the bench who could start anywhere. Get wies and that passive/aggressive neurotic guy outa' there! The boosters lost their minds when Spurrier gave them the bird. Talent has made up for inappropriate offense. Recruit a Florida high school coach. There are only 20 of them who are good enough for the job. They will know how to play with this talent pool.

Steve on September 03, 2011:

Great list.

I'm glad someone finally mentioned Sanders lost yards. This always put Detroit in 2nd and 12. Detroit did have a great receiving core in the 90's.

Emmitt would have had even more yards if it wasn't for benching him in the 4th when his team was a head or sitting him out for the 16th game to save him for the playoffs.

Quitting early in a career should be a negitive, because this only inflates game yard averages. Sticking around until you have nothing left to give takes heart and dedication. At the same time in lowers your game yard average.

New England Patriots! on September 01, 2011:

Barry sanders is the Greatest running back to emerge into the NFL.

Frizko Kidd on August 24, 2011:

Not a single mention of LaDainian Tomlinson?

Rushing Yards-11,760 (Chargers record) (14th All-Time Rusher)

Rushing TDs-126 (Chargers Record) (2nd All-Time)

Rushing Attempts-2,657 (Chargers Record)

Yards Per Carry-4.4

Receiving Yards-3,801

Receiving TDs-15

Passing Yards-143

Passing TDs-7

Points- 780 (2nd Chargers)

Total Yards From Scrimmage-14,025 (21st All-Time)

Touchdown Per Game-1.17 (NFL Record Best)

Total Touchdowns- 129(7th All-Time)


Associated Press MVP-2006

Shared Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (Drew Brees)-2006

SI's Best Player in the NFL-2006

Sporting News Sportsman of the Year-2006

Sporting News NFL Player of the Year-2006

Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year-2006

The Maxwell Football Club of America Bert Bell Award (Professional Player of the Year)-2006

NFL Alumni Association Running Back of the Year-2006

First-Team All-Pro-2006, 2005, 2004

AP Male Athlete of the Year Award (Runner-Up to Tiger Woods)-2006

All-Pro by TSN-2006

First Team All-NFL-2006

First Team All-AFC-2006

Pro Bowl-2007,2006, 2005, 2004, 2002

All-Interview Team-2006, 2005, 2004

Second Team All-Pro-2003, 2002

JB Award for Community Service-2003

USToday's "All Joe Team"-2003

Rodney Culver Memorial Award as Offensive Player of Year-2002

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Runner-Up-2001

Pro-Football Weekly's All Rookie Team-2001


Single Season TDs-31

Single Seaon Points-186

Most Consecutive Games with a TD-18

Most Consecutive Games with a Rushing TD-14

Fastest Player to reach 100 TDs-89 Games

3 4TD games

4 TDs in back-2-Back games-Tied with Jim Taylor(1962) and Marshall Faulk(2000)

3 or more TDs in Three Straight Games

Atleast 1,000 Yards in each of his 7 seasons-1 of only 5 players to do so

Back-to-Back 20 TD season-5th Player in History

Rush for 1,000 Yards and catch 100 passes-NFL Record

Season Stats

Rushing Yards: '01(1,236) '02(1,683) '03(1,645) '04(1,335) '05(1,462)(6th NFL) '06(1,815)(1st NFL) '07(1,474)(1st NFL)

Yards per Carry: '01(3.6) '02(4.5) '03(5.3) '04(3.9) '05(4.3)(11th NFL) '06(5.2)(2nd NFL) '07(4.7)

Carries: '01(339) '02(372) '03(313) '04(339) '05(339)(5th NFL) '06(348)(2nd NFL) '07(315)(4th NFL)

Touchdowns: '01(10) '02(14) '03(13) '04(17) '05(18)(3rd NFL) '06(28)(1st NFL) '07(15)(1st NFL)

Receiving Yards: '01(367) '02(489) '03(725) '04(441) '05(370)(5th NFL) '06(508)(5th NFL) '07(

Receptions: '01(59) '02(79) '03(100) '04(53) '05(51)(4th NFL) '06(56)(7th NFL)

Touchdowns: '01(0) '02(1) '03(4) '04(1) '05(2)(T-4th NFL) '06(3)(T-3rd NFL)

Fumbles: '01(8) '02(3) '03(2) '04(6) '05(3) '06(2

Read more: http://www.fannation.com/blogs/post/11409#ixzz1Vzs...

Shari (author) from New York, NY on February 02, 2011:

SportsInfo247 - You are quite right Marcus Allen was a beast and deserves at least an honorable mention as he truly was one of the Greatest Running Backs Of All Time!

SportsInfo247 from Arizona on January 31, 2011:

What a great list. I think as someone else mentioned, Marcus Allen should at least get an honorable mention. Other than that, I look forward to reading more of your football hubs.

303daryl on January 27, 2011:

No mention of OJ. Lame.

shafqadsfg on December 30, 2010:

This had been a wild football season. Look at the Cowboys, Vikings, Bengals as well as the Niners. All have fallen flat of expectations this year.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on December 11, 2010:

mcrawford76 - Thanks for your comment but OJ will never make any of my NFL lists. You can mock Sanders all you want, and I will listen though I may not agree!!! Thats the best part of writing NFL Hubs :)

Matthew I Crawford from Greeley, Colorado on December 11, 2010:

I think OJ should have at least gotten an honorable mention - dispite his off field issues - being the first back to reach the 2000 yard mark. And I love scoffing at Sanders. The thing that people seem to forget about Barry is that he caused so many drives to stall because he was trying to dance behind the line. "Sanders holds the NFL record for the most carries for negative yardage. According to the SI Book of Football, these numbers totaled 336 carries for -952 Yards."

Shari (author) from New York, NY on November 23, 2010:

zatchj62 - looks like Greg is in top form, is it time for my update here?? :)

alansmith - glad you enjoyed this one, Hope you check out some of my other NFL hubs:)

alansmith from Omaha, NE on November 19, 2010:

Awesome Post! Definitely a fun read!

zatchj62 from Michigan on November 17, 2010:

Of course. Just trying to gain a little more knowledge on some top running backs.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on November 16, 2010:

Barry Sander kid. . now that is someone to watch! See you making your wavegirl Hubpages rounds tonight .. GB has a bye week. . guess you are gearing up for second half of the season. . . and you are kicking it off with me here!

zatchj62 from Michigan on November 16, 2010:

I like the research--picking in an unusual order compared to some. BUT, you got Mister Sanders at 4. That must be a typo. Nobody has ever ran with his style as well as him, and there is a decent chance nobody ever will. He would lose yards on multiple occasions--because he always tried to find the hole--yet he still averaged 5.0 YPC for his career. P.S. Barry's kid is the same age I am, and he looks like an amazing football player. Granted it is only HS but he burns up and down the field.

Bradd on October 31, 2010:

umm I think u spelled Adrian PetersOn wrong :P

Shari (author) from New York, NY on October 22, 2010:

CMerritt - You know I have got to agree with you, on so many levels Walter Payton deserves it. Forget how great he was on the field .. from all that I read about "Sweetness" he was quite a man. And in my book that counts. He is probably one of my most favorite football players that I have ever researched. From the kind of dad he was to the joker of a locker room guy. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. It really makes one feel good to know you got it right :)

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on October 20, 2010:

I think it has to go to Sweetness. He played on some "not" so good teams in the 70's, with NO quarterbacks, it was ALL Payton offense. He was a tremendous receiver, and may be one of the greatest blocking backs ever. He threw the ball for TD's. He quit with STILL some years left in him. AND he only missed ONE game.

Got to go with Sweetness...

I enjoyed all of the hubs I have been to of yours.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on September 16, 2010:

Cory - I guess we had to have talked football, hence my love of the game!

Cory G on September 08, 2010:

I have not spoken to you in about 34 years so root cause I don't think so Football addiction funny I don't ever recall talking football with you What did we talk about?

I am moving on to the Jets hub

Shari (author) from New York, NY on September 07, 2010:

@Cory G - well then since you are probably the root cause for my football addiction you can give me a few pointers to steer me in the right direction :)

Cory G on September 07, 2010:

No thanks I would rather read yours

wilkie on August 28, 2010:

My Top 3

1. Jim Brown

2. Gale Sayers

3. O.J. Simpson

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 23, 2010:

~ Cory -coming from one who knows the position of what it takes to be a great running back as well as I know you do, I can not thank you enough for your comment. I hope that any kids that come by here and wants to be a running back takes your advice. Hey the way you know it .. I am thinking maybe you should write a hub or 2 on the topic:)

Cory G on August 23, 2010:

Here are a few points I will add. Running Can be taught

1-When to cut back you see it with your eyes

2-Read your blocks when to cut inside or outside

3-When make the most of a bad play blow over them or just go down.

4- Let your blocks devlop slow down to speed up .

I have more will save for a later time.

Speed is the name of the game that is god given talent

Heart plays into this game also

Your list makes a lot of since you have speed in Dorsett,Payton,Sanders,Smith,

Heart in Campbell,Csonka,

Speed and heart in Sayers,Dickerson and I agree the best of all time is Jim Brown.

That being said there are a few not on the list that could rate Franko Harris for one and I think you should keep an eye on this guy Johnson in Tenn.

Thanks wavegirl speak with you soon

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 10, 2010:

em_squared - sometimes a good debate is good but it is even better to hear that you are in agreement here on who deserves to be on this list! Thanks for the visit. . glad to have you on board with the NFL:)

em_squared from Greensboro NC on August 09, 2010:

Id love to argue with yo but I cant! Very well put together wavegirl

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 08, 2010:

tony - and I loves you right back ;) And as I have a plane ticket to SD already in hand (not kidding) looks like all the fun will be in your neck of the woods. . From what I hear Bolts tickets are not too hard to get. . maybe we can take in a game :)))))) and guess when I am going to be there. . you got it. . NFL opening week:)

tony0724 from san diego calif on August 07, 2010:

Shari you know I love ya ! But I gotta stick with the Bolts but I may have to drop by the Big Apple just for fun !

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 07, 2010:

tony - a Barry Sanders jersey! I am jealous:) Glad you liked my list and even happier that you didn't try to add juice to the list (ha as if I thought you would even go there!)

I am just getting so excited that it is almost that time again! Any chance of you crossing over to the Jets with me for the season? hehehe

Thanks for stopping by:)

tony0724 from san diego calif on August 06, 2010:

Great bunch here Shari. Not one I can debate. And I still have my Barry Sanders jersey too. If Barry had any type of offensive line in those days , could you imagine what his numbers might have been ? And Jim Brown with those numbers in such a brief career, all I can say is he is the man !

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 06, 2010:

Thamuss - sorry but I can not set aside his later personal problems - right there it cancels out anything that he did accomplish on the gridiron the only top ten he deserves to be in is the top ten evil monsters who got away with murder. When I think of who makes it to a list of the greatest . .it goes farther than the goal post.

I do thank you for your comment and really appreciate that you took the time to comment . .

Shari (author) from New York, NY on August 06, 2010:

ecoggins - Thanks for bringing that fact out about Marcus Allen .. and you are sooo very right. . I think I just may have him to add to an 'honorable mention'section of what ifs!

It is always a pleasure to have someone like you come and visit my Hubs. . great comment and for that I thank you!

p.s. couldn't agree with you more in re: pete rose and that other one:)

Thamuss from Oklahoma on August 06, 2010:

I agree with many of your choices. Just curious, though, why you would leave O.J. Simpson out. He played of a crummy Buffalo Bills team, but was the first man to rush for 2,000 yards.

He didn't run over people like Csonka did, but he did run over people. He wasn't shifty and quick like Sayers or Peyton, but he was extremely fluid. In his day, he was the best back around for a number of years.

If you can set aside his later personal problems and focus on what he did, who he played with...he has to be in the top ten. I gotta agree with Kendrick.

Those are just my tandem pennies. I'm a Bronco fan and I'd love to include Terrell Davis, but he didn't play long enough, though while he was playing, he was pretty incredible.

Nice job!

ecoggins from Corona, California on August 06, 2010:

Great hub. Well researched and well-written. Thorough. Personally, I think Barry Sanders is the greatest ever even though my two favorites were Gale Sayers and Walter Payton.

If you want to add one more to your what if department you could think of Marcus Allen. Yes, he played a full career in years, but was in Al Davis' doghouse for half of them. If Allen had not been limited in his playing time by Davis, one could only imagine what kind of stats he would have ended with.

Great call on OJ. I'm a USC fan all the way, but OJ forfieted his right to be thought of as an all-time great, just as Pete Rose did.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on July 25, 2010:

kendrick - I shutter to think where Oj is actually I try not to think of OJ for, if I do conjer up a thought, I DO NOT SEE an image of the the kind of man that I think belongs in this Top 10 All Time Great Running Backs.

I believe that the list that I have presented represents, WHO I THINK deserves to be here *

kendrick on July 25, 2010:

Where is the OJ Simpson please ? i dont see on the list..

Rushing yards 11,236

Average 4.7

Rushing TDs 61

* 6× Pro Bowl selection (1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)

* 5× All-Pro selection (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)

* NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

* NFL 1970s All-Decade Team

* 1968 Heisman Trophy

* 1968 Maxwell Award

* 1968 UPI Player of the Year

* 1967 Walter Camp Award

* 1967 UPI Player of the Year

* 1973 NFL MVP

* 1973 NFL Offensive Player of the Year

* 1973 Bert Bell Award

* 1973 Pro Bowl MVP

* 3× UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year (1972, 1973, 1975)

* 1973 AP Man Athlete of the Year

Shari (author) from New York, NY on July 21, 2010:

Shawn - So glad that you liked this Hub. I really love football so putting this kind of information together is something that I really enjoy. Stay tuned for I always have something new about football on the horizon.

Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on July 17, 2010:

I loved this hub. I agree with your top 3 picks in that order. I'm not a big Barry Sanders fan though. He had too many negative plays that usually would stop drives.

I appreciate the hard work you put into this. I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on July 01, 2010:

~ Paul Grenada - thank you so very much for your comment. I really appreciate it when someone helps me to see something I many have missed. Had Sanders beat the 'Jon Gruden' Bucs then we could have an open discussion on this;) Please I give you an open invitation to to the same on any of my other NFL Hubs....I have quite a few . I truly look forward to any comments and "arguments" you may bring up!!!!

Paul Grenada from Brooklyn, NY on June 29, 2010:

I understand what Jim Brown did for the game, but in terms of level of excellence, Barry and Emmitt should be ranked higher.

They faced better competition, better athletes, better defenses.

Barry Sanders broke another Hall of Famer's ankle for crying out loud. (Go ask Rod Woodson) On a regular basis he made a Tampa Bay Bucs defense that had Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson AND John Lynch in their primes look absolutley horrible.

It's a very well written article, and I commend you, but it's also a sports article, which means by default I have to argue with you.

Good Job.

moola mike on June 14, 2010:

where is OJ he put in alot of work

Shari (author) from New York, NY on June 09, 2010:

cody15 - football is just about one of my most favorite subjects. Barry was great. . and I am looking forward to the coming season to see who might make this list in a few years!

cody15 on June 08, 2010:

i luved the hub i just thought barry was the best ever

Shari (author) from New York, NY on May 06, 2010:

Tom T - Ha I have no love for Franco either! But I did have fun putting this list together:) thanks for stopping by!

Tom T from Orange County, CA on May 04, 2010:

Probably right about Jim Brown being the best ever. Sayers may have had the most natural talent (right there with Barry Sanders) but I love the tough guys like John Riggins & Larry Csonka. (No love for Franco Harris?) Great Hub.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on April 28, 2010:

aww Larry that was so nice . . you really made my day!!!

lsfloro on April 28, 2010:

hi Shari, I certainly agree with you about Payton being the complete player and a man of character. i was an admirer of his talent and character. Jim Brown started his playing career in a different era than Payton did, in a day when civil rights issues were really heating up. Brown and other Afro-American athletes weren't accepted by the public as readily as they were in later years and now. Jim Brown's work with at-risk youth and inner city gangs is what impresses me most with him, above and beyond what was done on the football field. Thanks again for the great hub. You have a gift for writing and we are lucky you write these hubs for us.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on April 28, 2010:

Larry - WOW! to have seen Earl and Jim Brown. Were Campbells legs as evidently big as they all talk about? I agree with Jim Brown being the best running back but Sweetness sure was the complete package. . what a role model and amazing man . .but I went with Brown in the number one!! So happy that you stopped by and shared some of your memories :)=

~ billy - I kinda think I agree with you if for no other reason as I mention above to Larry that Payton was the complete package. Stands up to every criteria of why he will be forever carved in football fans hearts forever! Thanks for the thumbs up . I had fun with this one :)))))

~ entertainment - always nice to see you :) so you too are among us hubbers that are football fans. .so who is your team??? Me I bleed blue but with the way the NY Jets are looking I am very excited for the coming season and having Rex Ryan to follow every Sunday! I am just a true NY girl ;)))

entertianmentplus from United States on April 28, 2010:

Awesome hub,great work and thanks for sharing to all us football fans.

billyaustindillon on April 28, 2010:

Great hub - my favorite is big Earl Campbell - Payton probably the best IMHO - but hey I am hardly an expert!

lsfloro on April 28, 2010:

Shari, you have outdone yourself with this hub. I can't disagree with any of your picks or the order they are in. I was lucky enough to see all of Jim Brown's games when I was growing up in Cleveland and saw all of Earl Campbells games when living in Houston. These are all great football players with Jim Brown being the best. Brown was also an all-american lacrosse player at Syracuse and an all-city high school basketball player in NYC. Thanks for the great hub and all of the memories as I read it.....Larry

Shari (author) from New York, NY on April 28, 2010:

~ Sandy - thanks for taking a look and saying hi!

~ samboiam - Like you I love love football! So the Hub has another Cowboy fan. . I must tell you that you are in good company here on the Hub for there are many Cowboys fans :) Personally I bleed blue but in all honestly I am very much looking forward to Rex Ryans Jets this coming season . . You know I am thinking that Jim Brown and Walter Payton are going to have to change places on this list. .. after all I read . .Payton was the Real Deal . .on all fronts. . what a man he was.

Anyway .. thanks for coming by .. and for rating it up!!

samboiam from Texas on April 27, 2010:

Excellent job. I love football. It is about the only thing I watch on T.V. I am a Cowboy fan, tried and true. But Barry Sanders was a better back than Emmitt. It is my humble opinion that he was the greatest to play the game.

Jim Brown was great for the time he played in but I don't think he was the greatest. But my opinion and a buck fifty will buy a soda at Wal-Mart.

I enjoyed this and rated it up.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on April 27, 2010:

Very informative.

Shari (author) from New York, NY on April 27, 2010:

Jai - you are so right on the money . I hemmed and hawed at the lineup and where to put them each. . I almost took the approach of what kind of career Emmitt would have had , had he not had the Oline he did . .and coming from a Cowboy fan as you are I am almost sorry I did not confer with you before hitting the publish button! But it is what it is and whatever it is these guys were all incredible. You know I actually almost had Payton as the number one just because he was not only a great amazing sweet football player but he was an incredible man who brought a smile to every person he touched.

Anyway enough of my ramble. . time to get back to work .. see u in twitter land :*

Jai Warren from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas on April 27, 2010:

I can tell you put a lot of thought, time and effort in this Hub. And, you got it right. Jim Brown was, by far, the greatest. He was like a runaway freight train, the opposing team was actually afraid of him. This may be blasphemy, but I think Barry Sanders was a better talent than Emmitt. Emmitt, for the majority of his career, had those great Cowboy teams to back him up, whereas, Barry played for the very mediocre Detroit Lions. Great Hub, Shari! :)

Shari (author) from New York, NY on April 27, 2010:

~ Ann - I can never get enough football! So glad to see a female here first!!! I have more to come on the gridiron as being the offseason and no games I have to make my own fun! Thanks so much for being a fellow female appreciator!!!

~ mtsi - lol a surprise?? I bet cause you thought Faulk should head the list. hehehe . . Yes they are all hall of famers .. that is usually part of my criteria to make the best of all time. . I must say I loved researching this but then again I always love diving into the game of football! Thanks for the visit:) always a pleasure to see you:))))

~ pretty - me and my fellow football fan .. .sorry no steelers here but there are no giants either .. maybe this year one of our teams will have one that will merit an update here :))))

prettydarkhorse from US on April 27, 2010:

Hey wave, lots of effort here, and I rated this up, Maita

mtsi1098 on April 27, 2010:

The list is somewhat of a surprise but it does bring back some memorable games...I think all are hall of fame...thanks

Ann Nonymous from Virginia on April 27, 2010:

Wow Wavegirl! What a thorough and well researched hub! I sometimes forget that football is just as much running as slamming your body into your opponents! this is an excellent hub and kudos to you wavegirl for understanding what most men think we women can't lol! Bravo!

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