top of page

My Top 10 NFL Running Backs All-Time: (1-5)

Here we are. At the culmination of our first edition of the Top 10. We gave honorable mentions and listed the sixth through tenth best running backs in the National Football Leagues history in our last blog. Time to release our final five.

To recap, our Honorable Mentions were as follows; Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas.

Below is the players ranking from 10 to 6.

10. LaDainian Tomlinson

9. Franco Harris

8. Tony Dorsett

7. Marshall Faulk

6. Adrian Peterson

Now for the final edition My Top 10 RB's in NFL history All-Time.


No. 5 Eric Dickerson

"Eric Dickerson was a freak of nature," said Marcus Allen, on the NFL Films The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players in 2010. Dickerson's size and speed allowed him to rack up the numbers earning him the fifty second spot on the NFL's all-time greatest player list and fifth on our all-time running back list.

The former member of the Pony Express duo at SMU (Southern Methodist University) sits at No. 9 overall on the all-time leading rusher board with 13,259 yards. Drafted by the Rams and later traded to the Colts, Dickerson only played in 146 games in his career. He rushed the ball 2,996 times through his 12 year career. He averaged 4.4 yard per a carry and scored 90 rushing touchdowns.

This 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee owns the rights to four league rushing titles, a membership to the 2,000 single-season yard club and still holds the single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984 with the Rams. Dickerson is a 6-time Pro Bowler, a 5-time All-Pro, the 1983 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and the 1986 AP offensive Player of the Year.


No. 4 Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a living legend among the NFL and the pro athlete community. Brown, only played in 118 games throughout nine seasons in the NFL. He also played in an era ('57-'65) when the season was only 12 games ('57-'60) and 14 games ('61-'65) long.

At 6'2" tall and 232-pounds, Brown was a force to be reckon with on the gridiron. He rushed the ball 2,359 times in his career for 12,312 yards. He won the rushing title eight of the nine seasons he played football. Brown is still ranked 11th all-time with 12,312 yards and 12th all-time in a single-season with 1,863 yards during his 1963 campaign.

Brown racked up the touchdowns back when seasons were much shorter, as he totaled 126, which 106 of them came via the ground attack. He is also ranked 5th among all players all-time with 5.2 yards per carry, only behind Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham, Marion Mortley, and Jamaal Charles.

This Pro Football Hall of Fame full Back was inducted in 1971 following his 9-time Pro Bowl nods. He was also a 8-time All-Pro, an NFL Champ (prior to creation of Super Bowl), 3-time MVP, and the 1963 Bert Bell Award winner.


No. 3 Barry Sanders

Ranked fourth all-time on the career rushing list with 15,269 yards, Barry Sanders was is the most elusive running back to ever play football. Standing a mere 5'8" and 203-pounds, Sanders made defenses feel like they were trying to bottle a breeze. He played in 153 games while running the ball 3,062 times over his ten year career with the Detroit Lions.

Sanders rushed for over a 1,000 yards every season of his career, while capturing the rushing title four times. He averaged an impressive 5.0 yards per carry and scored 109 touchdowns total, including the 99 rushing TD's.

The former Lions great running back stands among only seven other men in history to have rushed for 2,000 yards in a single-season with his 2,053 yards in his 1997 campaign. Sanders earned pro bowl selections all ten seasons of his career, while earning All-Pro 6 times. He was the 1989 AP Off. Rookie of the Year, the 1994 Bert Bell Award winner, the 1994 AP Off. Player of the Year, the 1997 Bert Bell Award winner and the 1997 AP Off. Player of the Year.


No. 2 Emmitt Smith

After playing in 226 games over a 15 year career, Emmitt Smith has climbed to the top of the all-time rushing yards list. Sitting alone at the top, Smith rushed for 18,355 yards in his career while carrying the ball 4,409 times. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored 175 total touchdowns, second to only Jerry Rice (208). Between rushing and receiving, Smith totals 21,579 yards in his 13 seasons with Dallas and 2 seasons with Arizona.

Smith earned the rushing title four times in his career and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 11 seasons of his career. Smith is an 8-time Pro Bowler, a 4-time All-Pro, the 1990 AP Off. Rookie of the Year, the 1993 Bert Bell Award winner, an MVP, and a 3-time Super Bowl Champion with the Dallas Cowboys.

Smith finds himself only behind one player on this list for all-time great NFL running backs. The NFL listed Smith at No. 28 all-time greatest football players, but we have him at No. 2 on our list. Watch the highlights of Smith below to see why we placed him at No. 2.


No. 1 Walter Payton

Walter Payton, also known as, "Sweetness", lands at the summit of our Top 10 Running Backs in NFL history all-time list. Payton's running style is loved by all who have watched him play, even if it's just highlights of his career. This Chicago Bear running back shattered records as he bulldozed his way through opponents as he marched into the end zone.

After playing 190 games over a course of 13 seasons, Payton rushed for 16,726 yards. He pounded the ball across the goal line 110 times on the ground and 15 times he caught a touchdown in his career.

Payton sits at No. 5 on the all-time list with 275 yards in a single-game rushing. He sits at No. 2 on the all-time career rushing yards list. Behind him is Frank Gore, with 1,300-plus yards behind "Sweetness". Walter Payton also sits at No. 11 on the all-time touchdown list behind Jim Brown and ahead of Larry Fitzgerald with 125 touchdowns.

Payton was a 9-time Pro Bowler, a 5-time All-Pro, the 1977 AP Off. Player of the Year, the 1977 Walter Payton Man of the Year (Prior to 1999 it was called the NFL Man of the Year Award), the 1985 Bert Bell Award winner, a 1985 Chicago Bear Super Bowl Champion, an NFL MVP, and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

The NFL Man of the Year Award was renamed shortly after the death of Walter Payton to the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. It honors player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Each year, a winner is selected from 32 Nominees from 32 different teams. A panel of judges, which includes the Commissioner of the NFL, the previous year's winner, and a number of former players select the winner of the award. The Man of the Year winner receives a $250,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. The other 31 finalist receive donations in their name of $50,000 each to charities of their choice. The Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs have the most selections all-time with five each.

622 views0 comments


bottom of page