The Top Ten NFL Running Backs of All Time

What is most important in NFL, a strong defence or a good offence? Naturally, the correct answer is both, as an offence decides whether or not you win games and a defence decides whether or not you lose them.

A key component of any good offence is a running back, who must be able to effectively predict the oppositions defensive schemes and predict which defender will be the first one to come and make the tackle. The NFL has seen some exceptional running backs in its time and so this list will consider the top ten.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown

A legendary running back for the Cleveland Browns in 1957 – 1965, there is no doubt that Jim Brown is one of the greatest running backs to ever take to the field. One-time NFL champion and three-time MVP, there is no other place for him other than at the top of this list.

Walter Payton

Walter Payton

Playing for the Chicago Bears from 1975 – 1987, this champion and MVP managed to rack up 16,726 running yards in his career, alongside 110 career rushing touchdowns and 15 receiving touchdowns.

Gale Sayers

Gale Sayers

Another one for the Chicago Bears, Gale Sayers played from 1965 – 1971 and was voted to Pro Bowl four times in that career. It’s no surprise given he managed to run a total of 4,956 yards, plus score a total of 39 rushing touchdowns. There is no doubt that Gale Sayers place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is well earned.

Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson

Running back for the L.A Raiders in 1987 – 1990, Bo Jackson managed to earn a place for the One Pro Bowl selection in this short career, whilst scoring 16 rising touchdowns and gaining a total of 2,782 rushing yards.

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith

Not only a fantastic running back but one of the many NFL players who love poker, no quarterback was ever taking a gamble when they threw the ball to Emmitt Smith. Playing for the Cowboys from 1990 – 2002, then Arizona from 2003 – 2004, he led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns four times.

LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson

Running back for San Diego and the New York Jets, this MVP, Pro Bowl voted and All-Pro seasoned player led the league in rushing yards twice and touchdowns three times.

Eric Dickerson

Eric Dickerson

Player for the LA Rams, Indianapolis Colts, LA Raiders and Atlanta Falcons, the only thing more impressive than Dickerson’s resume are his stats. With a total of 13,259 years and 90 touchdowns, he has truly earned a place in this top ten.

Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders

Running back for the Detroit Lions from 1989 – 1998, Barry Sanders was responsible for an unbelievable 15,269 yards, 99 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns in his career.

Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell

This running back has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame thanks to his accredited work for the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints.

Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett

Finally, running back for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, Tony Dorsett, needs to be mentioned. A Super Bowl champion and holder of an NFL record (99-yard run from scrimmage) he also runs to the tenth spot on this list.

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