Even in the modern throw and gun modern NFL, the run game is still a very important and effective way to score points and take time off the clock. Just looking at some of the best teams in the NFL they feature some of the best running backs in the game such as Alvin Kamara for the Saints or Sony Michel for the Patriots or Derrick Henry for the recent upstart Tom Brady and MVP Lamar Jackin dethroning Titans. Here is our take on the top 5 best running backs of all time.
Jim Brown is considered not only one of the best players of all time but also one of the hardest. Brown racked up 12,312 yards rushing for an average 5.2 yards per carry. He scored 106 rushing touchdowns, fifth in the history of NFL, though playing just nine seasons. It took more than one player more often than not to take down Brown, who was known for his rugged running style. He was a nine-time Pro Bowlerl, eight-time All Pro First Teamer and a three-time NFL MVP.
Recently honored in the NFL Top 100, Perhaps Barry Sanders was the most elusive driver in the history of the NFL. Sanders has been known for his uncanny ability with his jukes and motions to make opponents stop in their tracks. He totaled 15,269 rushing yards (3rd all time) and 99 (9th all time) rushing TDs. He rushed to 2,053 yards in 1997, the third highest single-season total in NFL history. He rushed for 100 + yards in a record 14 NFL games that same season. After the 1998 season he retired abruptly although the all-time rushing mark was in sight.
Walter Payton, nicknamed "Sweetness," is generally regarded as the greatest all-around running back of all time. He rushed for 16,726 yards which was an NFL record until the great Smith passed him in 2002. At 110 rushing TDs, he is also fourth all-time. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, the MVP and Super Bowl XX winner in 1977. He was also known for his sportsmanship, as he would simply hand over the ref the ball instead of cheering after scoring a TD.
The accomplishments Simpson had made on the ground were remarkable. He was the first player in a single season to ever go for over two thousand yards, he was a six time Pro Bowl participant, a five time All Pro selected player and the 1973 MVP. Simpson had also been the leading rusher in the NFL 4 times, and at the time of his retirement he was the second leading rusher of all time. Simpson was also recipient of the prestigious Heisman Trophy in 1968 for being the most impressive college football player that year.
The NFL record books were obliterated by Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys legend held a number of NFL records after 15 years in the league — most notably standing atop the chart for single-season touchdowns (25), career rushing yards (18,355) and career rushing touchdowns (164). The two latter marks remain undisturbed. "It's going to be broken," Smith said, according to the New York Times, of his career rushing record as he retired. The 1993 MVP, three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler will be a front-runner in the conversation for the greatest running back of all time until that happens.