1. Walter Peyton
Walter is Amazing. In my opinion he is the most influential and greatest NFL Player of all-time. While all of his main records have been broken he was the undisputed greatest Running back when he played and broke decade old records. He was a superstar on and off the field. He was finesse but hardnosed at the same time never running out of bounds and always taking the defender head on. His craziest season was in 1977 he rushed for 1,852 yards and 14 touchdowns along with 2 receiving, but only in 14 games. 26 years after retiring he is number two all-time in rushing yards and number five in all-time rushing touchdowns. Proving he could do it all, in his career he passed for 331 yards and eight touchdowns (Most all-time by a running back). Walter Peyton is a true NFL hero.
2. Barry Sanders
He ran for 15,269 yards (3rd all-time), 99 touchdowns (9th all-time), never run for under 1,100 yards in any season during his career, ran for 2,053 yards in a season (4th all-time), was a Pro Bowler every year of his career and a six time all pro, all with only 4 other offensive teammates in his career who had been to at least one Pro Bowl. Barry Sanders no doubt on an average team would still hold every major rushing record, but because he was on one of the worst in NFL history he second on my list. If you have never seen a Barry Sanders Run click the link and watch it. The defense knew he was coming because he had no passing game and still was a monster. In the post Super Bowl era the lions have made the playoffs 10 times, five of those time were when Barry was on the team. He was such a waste of talent and if he had not retired in his prime and had been on Emmitt Smith’s Dallas Cowboys or Walter Peyton’s Bears his records would be so great they would never be broken.
3. Jim Brown
Why is Brown not number one or even two, don’t get me wrong he is a legend but he played against a lack of completion when there were the great players (which Brown was the best of the best) then there was everyone else. Walter and Barry played against better competition. Barry if on a better team would own every rushing record known to man and would be the best player of all-time. And Walter beat Brown stat wise, and they both have one championship. Lastly when Walter played he was the NFL, when you thought of the NFL you thought of Walter and before him Jim was the standard but then it became Walter. This guy was pretty amazing of all the guys on this list of astounding talent only him and Adrian Peterson (who is not done with his career yet) and him averaged 5.0 yards or over in his career. In an age where there where two or three players a year had thousand yard seasons (there were 16 this year), Jim Brown only rushed for under 1,000 yards twice in his nine year career, and both seasons he rushed for over 900 yards. If you averaged his career rushing yards and touchdowns he would have 1,368 yards (7th most if he played in the NFL this season) and 12 TDs (tied for 3rd ). This is pretty amazing considering that he retired 47 years before, only played 12 and 14 game seasons, and he would still be in the top 10 in the two major rushing categories. This guy was truly dominant.
4. Emmitt Smith
While I said that, although Emmitt Smith has better stats then Barry Sanders, Sanders would own all of his records if he was on a better team and didn’t retire so fast, Emmitt was still amazing. His best season came in 1995 when he rushed for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns (a record at the time and 3rd all-time currently). He was the NFL MVP in 1993 and that same year won Super Bowl MVP. He was an eight time Pro Bowl selection and a four time first team all pro with four rushing titles and 11 straight 1,000 yard seasons. He is the all-time leader in career rushing yards and touchdowns.
5. Marshall Faulk
The leader of the “Greatest Show on Turf” Marshall Faulk was a playmaker. He was an intense runner with the possibility of breaking off a long touchdown on any play or a deadly receiver who could catch in the backfield, slot or 30 yards down field. During his career he rushed for 12,279 yards (10th all-time) and 100 touchdowns (tied for 7th all-time). As a receiver he caught 767 passes (more than Micheal Irvin), 6,875 yards (only 1,115 yards less than Don Hudson) and 36 touchdowns (more receiving touchdowns than Jim Brown and Walter Peyton combined). In 1999 he had an amazing season where he rushed for 1,381 yards and caught 87 passes for 1,048 yards and had a total of 12 touchdowns. He won the NFL MVP in 2000 and was the greatest all around running back of all-time.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson
This guy is pretty underrated. The only thing he hasn’t done (the reason why Marshall Faulk was rated ahead of him) was win a Super Bowl. When he got into the playoffs his stats dropped. But in the regular season he was unstoppable. In 2006 he had one of the greatest seasons a rusher could have with 31 total touchdowns (an NFL record for a running back), 28 rushing touchdowns (NFL record), 1,815 yards (19th all-time), averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and catching 56 passes for 508 yards. In his career he had 13,684 rushing yards (5th all-time), rushed for 145 touchdowns in his career (second all-time), and had total 162 touchdowns in his career (3rd all-time). Just to prove he could do it all passed for 143 yards and 7 touchdowns (Most all-time by a running back) in his amazing career.
7. Eric Dickerson
Dickerson was a monster, boasting one of the best seasons by a player all-time period. In 1984 he rushed for 2,105 yards (1st all-time), averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns. Over his career he rushed for 13,259 yards (7th all-time) and had 90 touchdowns (12th all-time). In seasons where he had 200 or more carries he averaged 1,564 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was the truly an amazing runner, who could make even the best miss.
8. Curtis Martin
Until his hall of fame induction I had never even heard of him. He is no doubt one of the most underrated football players of all-time. He had 14,101 rushing yards over his career (4th all-time) and 90 touchdowns (12th all-time), which is tied with Eric Dickerson. He was the pinnacle of consistency. In the 11 seasons he played in he rushed for 1,000 yards 10 times and never played less than 12 games throughout his entire career. He went to 5 Pro Bowls and is one of two men in NFL history, the other being Barry Sanders, to rush for more than 1,000 yards each of their first 10 seasons. This man defined the term “Bell Cow” for running backs.
9. Tony Dorsett
A 4 time Pro Bowler who played in 5 NFC Championships, and 2 Super Bowls. That is a great career for a running back to say the least. He rushed for 12,739 yards (8th all-time) and 77 total rushing touchdowns (21st all-time). He had 4.3 yards per carry over his career. He did all this with an average of 17 carries a game which is less then Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Walter Peyton.
10. Jerome Bettis
I had a really tough time deciding between him and O.J. Simpson, my 11th all-time runner. But, after careful consideration I decided that Jerome had more longevity, better career stats and a Super Bowl ring. Nothing against O.J. who had a great career, on the field. Jerome had 13,662 yards in his career (6th all-time) and 91 touchdowns (tied 10th all-time) vs. O.J.’s 11,236 yards (18th all-time) and 61 touchdowns (tied 43rd all-time). And, as a definitive factor Jerome had a longer career on the field O.J. and had a longer one in jail.
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