Saturday, May 25, 2019

Top Running Backs in NFL History—T-Formation Era

OPINION
By John Turney
As we near the end of our series of profiling the best modern-day players in NFL history we now turn our sights on the running backs, those who 'lug the leather'. 

We prefer peak performance over long and steady, though both are valuable. Stats are more important than in other positions because there are so many flavors of running backs but their job is simple—move the ball up the field by running and catching. And when asked—block.

In addition to stats, we think postseason honors like MVPs, Player of the Year Awards, All-Pros etc., also measure peak performances. We also read the literature of the day, looking for testimonials about players. Also, we talk to Pro Scout, Inc., and crib from Joel Buchsbaum's and Don Henrich's writings to assess. And Finally, yes the eye test. What we thought of players and their skills sets matters a lot. So we put all those things together and come up with the best list we can.

As with the quarterbacks, we won't bore you with too much prose. You've seen them all play and you can make your own narratives on this one.

The top 11 are elite. The next set are still great but not the best of the best. When you get into the 30s, please understand there is not much difference between someone there and someone in the 80s. It's a tight, tight grouping and many on the list are listing with 'like players'. One example is Lenny Moore, Paul Hornung, and Frank Gifford. There are together because they had similar skill sets. 


But here are some preamble lists:
Fastest Running backs (and reported 40 times)
1. Bo Jackson—4.18
2. Herschel Walker—4.22
3. Chris Johnson—4.24 (probably fastest this one was electronically timed)
4. Dri Archer—4.26
5. Ahman Green—4.25
6. Gaston Green—4.28
7. Keith Jones—4.29
8. Curtis Dickey—Olympic caliber sprinter
9. Ollie Matson—Olympic caliber sprinter
10. Darren McFadden
11. Buddy Young—Olympic caliber sprinter
12. Tony Dorsett
13. CJ Spiller
14. Jamaal Charles
15. Eric Dickerson
16. Warrick Dunn
17. Jim Jodat —4.35
18. Marshall Faulk—4.35 (seen as low as 4.29)
19. OJ Simpson
20t. Gale Sayers—Don't know 40 time but functional football speed was unreal
20t. Joe Delaney
20t. Essex Johnson
20t. Marcus DuPree—4.33 pre-knee injury

Heaviest running backs
1. Craig Heyward—listed at 260. At times pushed 300.
2. Pete Johnson—listed 252. We think much higher, 280-295
3. Greg Jones—265
4. Brandon Jacobs—264
5. Le'Ron McClain—260
6. Nick Bell —255 (heavier)
7. Jermaine Fazande—255
8. Larry Kinnebrew—255 (heavier)
9. Lorenzo Neal—255
10. T.J. Duckett—254
11. Wayne Patrick—254
12. Christian Okoye—253
13. Jerome Bettis—252 (heavier)
14. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala—252 (heavier)
15. Cookie Gilchrist—251
16. John Kuhn—250
17. Eddie Lacy—250 (heavier)
18. Roosevelt Potts—250 (we think heavier)
19. Cullen Bryant—listed at 238, he was well into the 250s maybe low 260s.

Enjoy:

The Greats
Rushing black ink = 21
Total yards black ink = 17
HOF
1960s All-Decade
All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
50th Anniversary Team
75th Anniversary Team
All-Century Team
MVP/POY—(1957*, 1958*, 1963*, 1965*)
1 Title
8 All-Pros
1 Second-team All-Pro
9 Pro Bowls

Still the best. We looked for a way to knock him from the top but he, like Brady, Jim Parker, and others at the top of their positions he just checks too many boxes. 

George Allen said in 1981, "Brown combines size, speed, strength, speed, power, and elusiveness better than any running back that the NFL has ever had". In 2019, it's still true.

Per 16 games he averaged 2,008 yards from scrimmage still the best-ever for players who played more than 65 games and is still 11th in rushing yards all time, after all these years. (He retired as #1 in most rushing categories).

Rushing black ink = 7
Total yards black ink = 5
HOF
1970s All-Decade
All-1975-85 (PFJ mid-decade)
75th Anniversary Team
MVP/POY—(1977*, 1985)
NFC POY—(1976, 1977, 1985)
OPOY—(1977)
1 Title
7 All-Pros
2 Second-team All-Pros
9 Pro Bowls

We wanted to put him first, but Brown's numbers and honors just too dominant. Walter did it all, top notch runner who could catch, could pass block and lead block for the fullback and could throw a good pass when asked. He was money on the goal line, was tough, and was always in amazing shape—everything you could want.

Payton is still second in rushing yards all time and retired first in rushing yards and first in receptions among running backs. 

Rushing black ink = 11
Total yards black ink = 9
HOF
1990s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1992, 1993*)
NFC POY—(1993)
3 Titles
4 All-Pros
1 Second-team All-Pros
8 Pro Bowls

Emmitt has the jewelry, the rushing title, and like Walter Payton was not a physical freak like Jim Brown or Bo Jackson or even Eric Dickerson. Emmitt was all the things that Payton was except a lead blocker and maybe as a passer (he threw once and it went for a TD, though).

He would have been All-Pro in most NFL seasons using just his playoff stats (17 games) and that was against the best teams in the NFC/NFL.

He's the NFL's leading rusher and that record seems very safe, given short careers and other factors, it will take a lot for someone to challenge. Frank Gore gets a lot of credit for his longevity, and he's well over 3,000 yards behind Smith.

Rushing black ink = 4 
Total yards black ink = 4
HOF
All-1995-05 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(2000*, 2001)
OPOY—(1999, 2000, 2001)
1 Title
3 All-Pros
3 Second-team All-Pros
7 Pro Bowls

Dick Vermeil once compared Faulk's speed and quickness to that of Barry Sanders. Jack Ham in a telecast said Faulk reminded him of Earl Campbell, due to the size of his lower body and his power when running. Hard to have a little of each of those guys in you, but Faulk did.

He was very football smart, a leader on the field. He was not quite the runner that Emmitt Smith or Walter Payton was, but he was close, very close as he had more speed (coming out of SDSU he ran a 4.35 forty). However, he far exceeded them in terms of receiving—he could play in the slot or out wide, and run receiver routes. Additionally, as everyone saw he was a top, top-level goalline and short-yardage runner.

Among running backs who have rushed for more than 2,500 yards in their career, Faulk is first in receptions and he's safe for a while with that record. He averaged 70 catches per 16 games and among running backs who played 100 games or more, Faulk is fourth in yards from scrimmage.

Rushing black ink = 5
Total yards black ink = 5
HOF
2000s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(2006*)
OPOY—(2006)
0 Titles
4 All-Pros (2 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls

Very similar to Faulk and even could throw the halfback option. He just didn't have the top-end speed that Faulk did. His speed was good, but more like Emmitt's or Walter's.

He's fifth all-time in yards from scrimmage among backs who played over 100 games.
Rushing black ink = 6
Total yards black ink = 4
HOF
1990s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1991, 1997*)
OPOY—(1994, 1997)
0 Titles
8 All-Pros (4 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros
10 Pro Bowls

A human highlight film, the 'highlight generation' loves him. And we will take some heat for not having Sanders in the top three. As a runner, he is top-3, maybe top-2. His runs were amazing. He'd take a 1-yard loss and take it to a 4-yard gain. Or a 4-yard gain and make it a 20-yard gain.

However, he did put his team behind the sticks more than any of the others with no gains or a 1- or 2-yard loss. Sure, it was worth it in the long run, but his runs could be high risk, high reward.

It was such a problem that during his career he didn't play in the goalline or short-yardage packages. Teams just couldn't risk him seeing a hole filled and not going there anyway to see if you can get at least a yard... he'd cut, turn back, and try and get it all.

On third down, he was not as effective as he might have been. He was adequate as a receiver, but not a factor. One scout said he was 'useless on third down'. Ouch. 

But overall he's an all-time great and what he did in the running game makes him part of the upper-upper echelon of running backs. Only Jim Brown averaged more yards rushing per 16 games than Sanders (Ezekiel Elliot is ahead of him but he's only played 40 games so far). 
Rushing black ink = 8
Total yards black ink = 7
HOF
1980s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1983)
NFC POY—(1983, 1984, 1986)
OPOY—(1986)
0 Titles
5 All-Pros (5 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
6 Pro Bowls

Tall, fast, smart. He was amazingly graceful and smooth. Could lower head and get tough yards, too. Only flaws were fumbling and, like Barry Sanders, was not a lot of help in the passing game in pass protection or catching balls.

In rushing yards per 16 games, he's fourth all-time with an average of 1,453 yards. His era of dominance was from 1983-89 at which time his production declined. He led the NFL in rushing in that seven-year period by over 4,000 yards and in total touchdowns scrimmage with 86 (20 more than the next player). 

He also led in yards from scrimmage with 12,895 and led Roger Craig by almost 2,000 yards. On the negative side, he led the NFL in fumbles that same seven-year period with 71 (29 more than Marcus Allen who is next on that list).

Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 3
All-purpose yards black ink= 3
HOF
1960s All-Decade
0 Titles
5 All-Pros (5 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls

What could have been? At 6-2, 200, he could play today with maybe 15 pounds of muscle. He could have been an All-Pro flanker had he been used there. Speed, lighting cuts. A tough player, even.

From 1965-69 (during a time he had a major knee injury) he was All-Pro five times (2 more than any other running back in either league), rushed for more yards than anyone (by more than 400 yards) and had more yards from scrimmage than anyone (by more than 300 yards) and totaled 9,351 all-purpose yards, the most in either league and more than 1,800 yards than the next-closest. He scored 56 touchdowns, second-best in his "era of dominance".

Said George Allen, "Gale Sayers is the most exciting running back and long-gain back I ever saw. He wasn't big but he could run inside and outside with authority. He was the quickest to the hole ever, and if there wasn't a hole he would slide until he found an opening."

Rushing black ink = 10
Total yards black ink = 6
HOF
1970s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1973*, 1975)
AFC POY—(1972, 1973, 1975)
OPOY—(1973)
0 Titles
5 All-Pros (5 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls

Like Dickerson, tall, swift. Could break plays and take it 80-yards. Got tough yards, too. A knee injury cut his 1977 in half and he was not effective in 1978-79. It took three years for the Bills to figure out how to use him.

From 1972-76 they figured it out. In that span, he led the NFL in rushing yards (by over 2,500 yards), yards from scrimmage (by over 2,600 yards) and was consensus All-Pro every year.

One little-known fact is that among players with 30 or more kickoff returns, Simpson's yards per return is third all-time at 30.0 (Gale Sayers is second at 30.6—Sayers returned 91 kicks, Simpson about one-third of that total).

Rushing black ink = 13
Total yards black ink = 8
HOF
1940s All-Decade
All-1945-55 (PFJ mid-decade)
2 Titles
6 All-Pros (4 consensus)
3 Second-team All-Pros
0 Pro Bowls (Pro Bowl not played for most of Van Buren's career)

A tough runner, Van Buren carried the Eagles to a pair of championships and also retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher. In touchdowns from scrimmage per game, he still ranks 4th all time (65 or more games).

His was a power back, one who kept his head down and didn't have a lot of moves, but for his era that style worked well.

Rushing black ink = 7
Total yards black ink = 4
HOF
1970s All-Decade (Second-team)
All-1975-85 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1978*, 1979*, 1980)
AFC POY—(1978)
OPOY—(1978, 1979, 1980)
0 Titles
3 All-Pros (4 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls

An I-back when not a lot of teams used that formation in some ways he brought in the one-back era of the NFL that the Redskins, then the Rams and others followed. Campbell had ultimate power and early in his career, breakaway speed. 

However, he's a "10" in running and a "5" in blocking and a "-1" in the passing game. He just didn't have the flexibility to be a good receiver. Sometimes it was even embarrassing watching him try and catch a pass outside the frame of his body.
Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
1940s All-Decade
All-1945-55 (PFJ mid-decade)
7 Titles
5 All-Pros (4 consensus)

A Paul Zimmerman special, Motley is the best blocking back in history. And he was a fine runner as well. (Played on the defensive line on goal-line defense, and some linebacker, too.) His 5.7 yards per carry is still tops all-time.

Oddly, Paul Brown would 'save' Motley for big games. We are not sure you'd call it 'resting' but Brown knew how important he was so he'd often hold him out. We would have him higher but his best work, his legendary work was in the AAFC and he tailed off towards the end.

In playoff/championship games, in which the Browns went 7-3, Motley carried 80 times for 571 yards for a 7.1-yard average and 5 touchdowns.

Black ink = 6
Total yards black ink = 5
All-2005-15 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(2008, 2012*)
OPOY—(2012)
0 Titles
5 All-Pros (4 consensus)
3 Second-team All-Pros
7 Pro Bowls

A dominant back, a very fast back with excellent power and sudden cuts. As his peak, was as good as the game has seen. Tremendous speed and elusiveness. A decent receiver, but not deluxe in that area. Blocks okay, but again, not one of the best.

Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 2
HOF
1990s All-Decade (Second-team)
MVP/POY—(1998*)
AFC POY—(1998)
OPOY—(1996, 1998)
2 Titles
3 All-Pros (3 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls (plus one Second-team All-AFC selection)

Amazing stats based on a per-game basis (3rd all-time in yards per 16 games—65 of more games). Was the NFL's top back before getting hurt. Played in a favorable system, no doubt, but made the most of it. 

Davis was a good blocker, good receiver, but like Peterson not superior in those categories. His bones were made following the zone blocking, making his read, making his one cut and getting up the field.

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 5
HOF
1990s All-Decade (Second-team)
All-1985-95 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1991*)
AFC POY (1991)
OPOY—(1991)
0 Titles
2 All-Pros (2 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls  (plus one additional Second-team All-AFC)

An all-around great back, runner, receiver, blocker, Thomas is likely the least spectacular great back ever. He didn't run over anyone (Bo Jackson), he didn't run away from anyone (O.J. Simpson), he didn't fake anyone out of their jock strap (Barry Sanders) he just made yards in small chunks. Oh, he could break one, it's just that he was more of a workhorse, a plodder that was someone how hard to defend. 

It's not that he was small or slow, he was talented but compared to others he just doesn't have a signature play.

When Thomas was coming out of college the Rams running back Greg Bell was asked by the Ram brain trust (John Robinson, and personnel man John Math) who they should take in the first round if they decided to take a back. 

The Rams had extra pick due to the Eric Dickerson trade so they were, we suppose, doing their due diligence. Bell said Thurman Thomas was the guy they should take. But, again we are conjecturing, that Thomas' knee scared them off and they didn't have a first-round grade on him.

The Rams took Gaston Green. And the rest is history. To be fair, six other teams took running backs between the Green at 14 and Thomas at 40.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
Second-team All-1975-85 (PFJ mid-decade)
NFC POY—(1981)
1 Title
1 All-Pros (1 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls (plus one Second-team All-NFC)

One of the fastest backs was a great runner who could motor through a hole and take it all the way. Ranks 10th in rushing yards but only 23rd in rushing yards per game (65 or more games). And in yards from scrimmage per game, he's 25th. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 2
0 Titles
1 All-Pros (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Like Davis and Holmes, he was truly great before hurt. His only issue was he fumbled too much. On a per game basis, his stats compare with the best of the best. He averaged 1,914 yards from scrimmage per 16 games for players with 60 or more games (he played exactly 60) and that ranks third all-time. Yes, third.

He was a slashing-type runner and had a very good average on his receptions for a back (11.1 yards per reception) perhaps two yards more than most backs on this list. So, in the spirit of Terrell Davis, we submit Sims who didn't get the two rings Davis got, but he was very, very effective before he was felled by an injury.

Rushing black ink = 5
Total yards black ink = 4
HOF
1960s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1962)
4 Titles
2 All-Pros (1 consensus)
4 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls 

A tough, hard-running fullback. From 1959-66 he averaged 1,202 yards per 16 games for a 4.5 rushing average and he averaged 28 catches as well. His 7,508 rushing yards were second to only Jim Brown in that span of seasons. 

George Allen said he was the best short yardage back he ever saw and that Taylor's rough style included throwing knees and elbows at potential tacklers. According to Allen, he was a very good blocker but "not much of a pass catcher".

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
HOF
1970s All-Decade (Second-team)
4 Titles
1 All-Pros (1 consensus)
5 Second-team All-Pros
9 Pro Bowls (plus one Second-team All-NFC)

Super steady, super consistent and a super winner. More athletic than people give him credit for. However, on this list, he's here because of the sustained production, not his peak performances. 

There is nothing, really, to criticize Harris about, but his 'peak' is not what the players ahead of him had. He's a steady Eddie.

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 1
HOF
All-1995-05 (PFJ mid-decade)
0 titles
2 All-Pro (consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls 

Not really a compiler had some great years but never a guy that caused fear. Effective, steady. Like Thurman Thomas, he wasn't spectacular but was amazingly consistent as he had ten straight seasons with 1,000 or more rushing yards. 

In six of his eleven seasons, he received post-season honors and in his second-to-last season, he won his first rushing title with 1,697 yards at age 31.

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 3
HOF
2000s All-Decade 
0 Titles
3 All-Pros (1 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros
4 Pro Bowls 

A knee injury early hurt him quite a lot, but he was a very good runner, great receiver and a great blocker, one of the top 5-7 all time in our view. He won rushing titles in his first two seasons, then the injury occurred. He came back but it took a couple of seasons to regain his pre-injury form.

From 1999-07, his era of excellence, he rushed for 11,607 most in the NFL in that span and he was also first in yards from scrimmage with 14,867.

We expect him to be elected to the Hall of Fame in the next few years.
Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 4
Second-team All-1995-05 (PFJ mid-decade)
OPOY—(2002)
0 Titles
3 All-Pros (1 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls 

A reasonable facsimile to Faulk and Tomlinson but his career was cut short. He did it all and produced amazing numbers—He's 20th all-time in yards from scrimmage per game and 7th all-time in touchdowns from scrimmage per game.

So, again, like Terrell Davis and Billy Sims, Holmes is an all-time great whose hip let him down.

HOF
1 Title
Second-team All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
0 All-Pros
2 Second-team All-Pros
4 Pro Bowls 

Outside of Marion Motley the best blocking running back ever. He could run and be a feature back as well. Just stoned people. He would play some wing back and could break long runs. Johnson was a special back whose greatness belies his pure "numbers".

Even so, from 1960-64 when he began to be a primary ball carrier he was third in rushing yards behind Jim Brown and Jim Taylor while also continuing to be a devastating lead and pass blocker.


Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 5
HOF
MVP/POY—(1985*)
AFC POY—(1985)
OPOY—(1985)
1 title
2 All-Pros (Both consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros
6 Pro Bowls 

Played flanker in nickel and was great in goalline and short yardage situations. A near-great runner, but not in the elite, in our view. His skill set was right there with the Faulks or Holmes', etc., but his production didn't keep up, ranking 59th all-time among players with 65 or more games played.

Ranks, however, can be deceiving because there are a lot of backs packed in with similar numbers. For example, the player who is 21st on yards from scrimmage per game totals about 76% of Jim Brown's total. Allen is 59th and he's at 63% of Brown's total. So, there is little difference between 21 and 59. And it's the same with our list.

Allen's 'era' was 1982-88 and in that six-year span, he was third in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, tied for first in total touchdowns, and was second in yards from scrimmage.

Some will give us grief for Allen, a Hall of Famer, being so low. But his peak was short and he had a nice role later in his career, but like Kurt Warner, he had a donut hole in the middle of his career. Al Davies wearied of his fumbles in key situations. He spent time sitting on the bench then lead blocking for Bo Jackson before going to the Chiefs.
Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
1980s All-Decade (Second-team)
Second-team All-1985-95 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1988)
NFC POY—(1988)
OPOY—(1988)
3 titles
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
6 Pro Bowls 

All-around back who would be even more valuable today than he was in his time. Tough high-knee runner, tough to bring down and outside Faulk and L.T. was as good a receiver as there was.

Craig began his career as a fullback and moved to tailback or one back with Tom Rathman as the lead blocker. From 1983-89 he was second in the NFL (behind Dickerson) in yards from scrimmage and was third in total touchdowns.

He was highly ranked by Pro Scout, Inc., year-in and year out. Really he (and Watters) likely belong in front of Marcus Allen but we gave Allen credit for the longevity and goal line prowess. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 2
1 title
5 Pro Bowls

Not unlike Craig. Got killed for the alligator arms incident "For who? For what?" but he was an excellent runner and a smooth elite pass receiver out of the backfield and would pass protect well, too. Watters' yards from scrimmage average, per 16 games is 13th best all-time. Always high rankings by Pro Scout. 

27. Joe Perry
Rushing black ink = 9
Total yards black ink = 5
HOF
1950s All-Decade
MVP/POY—(1954)
3 All-Pro (3 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls 

Retired as the NFL's leading rusher, the "Jet' was effective for a long, long time. It was a different era, one where players shared carriers so his numbers might not look too impressive but they are when viewed in context.

He was more 'quick' than fast, especially quick starting, like Gale Sayers, even though he did have good speed.

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 3
2 All-Pros (2 consensus)
6 Pro Bowls

In his ten NFL seasons, "Shady" has rushed for 10,606 and has a solid 4.5-yard average. He's also averaged 48 receptions a season.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 3
0 titles
1 All-Pro (consensus)
3 Pro Bowls (Plus one more All-NFC)

Began as a third-down back and worked his way into a three-down back. Among backs who played 65 games or more, he's 14th in yards from scrimmage per game. Yes, fourteenth. And we rank him at 29th. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
Second-team All-1965-75 (PFJ mid-decade)
2 titles
2 All-Pro (2 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls 

Power personified. Excellent playoff runner, especially the 1973 playoffs. He played 12 years (one in the WFL) and was particularly effective early in his career.

Once, when talking Hall of Fame players, Will McDonough said, "Let me tell you about Csonka. His yards a carry ar first was 4.5, 5.4, 5. Then, after he came back to the league, it was 3.5, 3.6 . . . ". Essentially he was saying he didn't think Csonka was all that great.

We look at it as one of those 'tale of two careers'-type situations. Some players can still be great and have a front-loaded career. It was particularly true for tight ends like Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Mark Bavaro, and others and it's true of Csonka.

We loved Zonk's 1979 season when he scored 12 touchdowns, with only one being longer than seven yards. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
1 title
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
6 Pro Bowls 

A compiler, but early in his career would show some speed and be an All-Pro level back. His best season may have been his rookie season once the Rams decided to start him. But he was a legit All-Pro in 1996 as well. 

He was a closer—a back that was used to run out the clock when his team had a lead, a 4-minute offense guy. That was the the Bus's claim to greatness in our view.

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 1
HOF
1980s All-Decade (Second-team)
(Second-team) All-1975-55 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1983)
1 title
1 All-Pro (1 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pro
1 Pro Bowls  (plus one All-NFC)

The 'Diesel' was not a classic fullback, became a one-back runner and carried the Reskins on his back to the 1982 title (he rushed for more yards in the playoff tournament than he did in the strike-shortened season). Then, was a great All-Pro in 1983 when he rushed for 24 touchdowns. 

He was a decent receiver in the 1970s but was not used hardly at all in the 1980s. Early in his career he was sneaky fast (4.5 forty) but by the time he was doing what he's noted for (Redskins in the early-1980s) the speed was gone, just a smart runner who could read blocks and find a hole and get yardage consistently.

Rushing black ink = 5
Total yards black ink = 9
HOF
1950s All-Decade
All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1964)
2 titles
5 All-Pro (4 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
7 Pro Bowls

Flanked out a lot from the Colts backfield. Could run, and could also get deep. Didn't have great hands but was effective as a receiver. He was the best of the 'versatile' backs of his era. Raymond Berry said he could have been an All-Pro as a receiver if he did that full time. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
HOF
All-1960s
All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1961*)
4 titles
3 All-Pro (2 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

All-around back, Hornung ran very hard, blocked for Taylor (Hornung began his career as a fullback) and was skilled at halfback option passes. He could catch out of the backfield and he was also a kicker. Was especially effective as goal line runner. Lombardi built a lot of the Packers offense around his versatility. 

Rushing black ink =  0
Total yards black ink = 1
HOF
All-1950s
Second-team All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1956*)
1 title
4 All-Pro (4 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
8 Pro Bowls

A precursor to Hornung. He did all the same things but didn't kick. He played cornerback instead. After he was on the receiving end of Chuck Bednarik's hit he sat out a year then came back to the Giants as a flanker. In the 1950s he was a halfback, but also flanked out a lot, lining up outside the tight end, just off the line of scrimmage. 

Rushing black ink =  0
Total yards black ink = 0
All-purpose yards black ink = 2
HOF
All-1950s
0 titles
5 All-Pro (4 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
6 Pro Bowls

Big-time speed and size (6-2, 220) and smooth. Along with Gale Sayers, one of few on this list who were real contributors in kick and punt returns. Was All-Pro on offense and also as a defender.

He was mostly a halfback but did play some fullback and also was moved to a flanker/wingback later in his career.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
1950s All-Decade
1 title
3 All-Pro (2 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
6 Pro Bowls  

The "King" was an elusive back who played in an era where backs shared ball-carrying duties. His numbers are not all that impressive but he split carries with Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson for a time.

Rushing black ink = 9
Total yards black ink = 6
HOF
1960s All-Decade
All-1965-75 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1968)
1 title
4 All-Pro (3 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pro
6 Pro Bowls

Excellent player, whose era of dominance was from 1966-71. He led NFL runners in most major categories during that six-year span and he was especially great from 1966-68.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 2
Second-team All-1965-75 (PFJ mid-decade)
MVP/POY—(1972*)
NFC POY—(1972)
OPOY—(1972)
2 All-Pros (2 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls

Paul Zimmerman loved Brown's game. Said he ran 'too hard for his body'. His era of dominance was 1969-73 (same as Floyd Little's) and he was second in rushing in that five-year span, first in  yards from scrimmage, tied for first in touchdowns from scrimmage

Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 2
HOF
All-1965-75 (PFJ mid-decade)
2 All-Pro (2 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls

We pair him with Kelly is some ways but he didn't have the dominance. Part of that was poor offensive lines. Kelly had a good one with a couple of All-Pros and one Hall of Famer. 

His 'era' was 1969-73. In that five-year span, he was 4th in rushing and first in rushing touchdowns and was third in yards from scrimmage. 

Rushing black ink = 4
Yards from scrimmage black ink  = 2
Total yards black ink = 2
HOF
All-1940s
MVP/POY—(1946*)
4 All-Pros (3 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros

And all-around back, typical of that era. Ran, caught balls, passed, returned kicks, kicked, punted and played defense.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
HOF
1 title
5 All-Pro (3 consensus)
0 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls

A short career, he was was another of the all-around stars of the 1950s. Like Dudley, he ran the ball, caught balls, passed, returned kicks, kicked, punted and played defense.

HOF
All-1940s
Second-team All-1945-55 (PFJ mid-decade)
1 title
2 All-Pros
1 Second-team All-Pro

An all-around fullback who gained 1,000 yards in 1949.

Rushing black ink  = 1
HOF
All-1940s
1 title
1 All-Pro (consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro

Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 2
All-2000s (Second-team)
MVP/POY—(2005*)
OPOY—(2005)
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-pro
3 Pro Bowls

A shifty back, not super speed, but fast enough. Seemed very smooth in our view. Led the Seahawks to an NFC Championship, was the MVP and All-Pro and led NFL in rushing. The next year he fractured a foot and it was the beginning of the end of his career.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 2
NFC POY—(1974, 1976)
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls

Spin move after spin move, Foreman was, in our view underrated. He could do a lot, good runner, better receiver. Seemed to be clutch, too. Foreman made big plays when they mattered.

His era of dominance was 1973-78 at which time he just ran out of gas. It was at a time when OJ Simpson was still the best running back in the game so it was tough to outshine him. However, Foreman and others did some great things,

In this six-year period, Foreman led all running backs in total touchdowns, he was fifth in rushing yards, was second among running backs in receptions and his 23 touchdown catches were first among running backs and was third in yards from scrimmage.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 2
2 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls

A poor man's Chuck Foreman. Maybe even a bit better runner. Didn't have Foreman's speed. One of the NFL's slower backs. However, in his period of dominance, which was the same as Foreman, he put up some better numbers.

From 1973-78 he third in rushing yards, first among running backs in catches, and first in yards from scrimmage.

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 1
2 All-Pros
1 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls

Quick as a hiccup. He thinks he's Hall of Fame-worthy. We shall see. His 5.4 yards per carry is second all-time among running backs (behind Marion Motley and ahead of Jim Brown)

His 2013 year was truly special—he rushed for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns (5.0 a carry) and caught 70 passes and took seven into the end zone and who remembers it?

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 1
Second-time All-2005-15 (PFJ mid-decade)
1 title
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-pro
5 Pro Bowls 

Beast Mode. Carries guys, is a leader by example. A lot of great things on his resume. Kind of a closer. The eye test puts him in the top 50

1 Pro Bowl
2 Second-team All-AFC

Lighting in a bottle. Could run you over or run away from you. A physical freak, no doubt. Not tons of wiggle, though, but with his skills, he didn't need it. Three times in four seasons he lad the NFL's longest run for that season.

AFL Greats
Rushing black ink = 6
Total yards black ink = 3
AFL All-1960s (Second-team)
MVP/POY—(1960*)
1 title
3 All-AFL
1 Second-team All-AFL
3 AFL All-Star games

The AFL's Gale Sayers-type, runner, receiver, kick- and punt returner.

Rushing black ink = 9
Total yards black ink = 2
AFL All-1960s (Second-team)
MVP/POY—(1962*)
1 title
3 All-AFL
1 Second-team All-AFL
4 AFL All-Star games (Plus 6 CFL All-Star selections)

Power back who was a dominant CFL runner before signing with the AFL's Bills. He is the AFL's fifth-leading rusher.



Rushing black ink = 6
Total yards black ink = 4
MVP/POY—(1966*)
2 All-AFL
1 Second-team All-AFL (plus 1 Second-team All-WFL)
2 AFL All-Star games

Nance is the AFL's fourth-leading rusher and also the second-leading rusher in WFL history with 2007 yards.
Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
All-AFL 1960s
MVP/POY—(1963)
2 All-AFL
2 Second-team All-AFLs
4 AFL All-Star games

Daniels is the AFL's leading rusher with 5,101 yards.

Rushing black ink = 5
Total yards black ink = 0
MVP/POY—(1965)
1 title
2 All-AFL
2 Second-team All-AFL
2 AFL All-Stars

Lowe is the AFL's second-leading rusher with 4,995 yards.

Rushing black ink = 1
Yards from scrimmage black ink = 2
1 title
2 All-AFL
5 AFL All-Star games

In 1961 he had the longest reception and in 1962 and 1963 he had the longest run each season. He was a rare fullback who could take it all the way (He also had a 103-yard kickoff return in 1962). In the 1963 AFL title game, he rushed for 200 yards and had over 100 yards receiving.

He was also adept at the running back pass, completing 8 of 17 for 240 yards and 5 touchdowns with just one picked off. He even filled in as a kicker in 1964, he was, in many ways, the AFL's Paul Hornung-type.

Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
1 title
1 All-AFL
3 Second-team All-AFL
3 AFL All-Stars

Snell is the AFL's sixth-leading rusher. He played three years in the NFL after the merger but rushed for only 365 in those years (all in 1970).

Current Stars
Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 1
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
2 All-Pro (2 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Unique style. Hold out put his career on hold in 2018. Was the best all-around back last few years, but sitting out allowed Gurley to gain. 

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 3
OPOY—(2017)
2 All-Pros (consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Career is at a crossroads due to degenerative knee issues. Led NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2017 and in total touchdowns in 2017 and 2018.

2 Pro Bowls




Best of the rest
Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 2
OPOY—(2009)
1 All-Pro (consensus)
0 Second-team All-pro
3 Pro Bowls

Speed and quickness. Maybe the fastest back ever except for, perhaps, Bo Jackson.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
Second-team All-1995-05 (PFJ mid-decade)
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-pro
4 Pro Bowls (Plus one more Second-team All-AFC)

Tough runner and supreme workhorse.
Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 0
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
1 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls

A good back, a compiler in our view. A back is supposed to gain 1000 yards. His greatness is that he's able to to it for a long time. But only one great year.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
1 Second All-Pro
1 Pro Bowls

Very fast for his size. 

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
All-2000s (Second-team)
MVP/POY—(2003)
OPOY—(2003)
1 All-Pro (consensus)
0 Second-team All-pro
1 Pro Bowl

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
NFC POY—(1979)
2 titles
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-pro
2 Pro Bowls 

Two careers. One as an All-Pro back. Another as a plodder, a closer, powers teams away late in games.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
2 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls

Caught on a bad team with a bad organization. When healthy could do a lot of  "beast" things. 

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
2 Second-team All-Pros
4 Pro Bowls

"The kn-ee. Al-ways th-e kn-ee", said, Howard Cosell. Was a dominant, low, hard running All-Pro capable of being an NFL MVP when felled by an injury. Was an excellent receiver, would block and lead block, too.

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 1
2 All-Pro (one consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 4
Total yards black ink = 5
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 2
OPOY—(2014)
1 All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
1 title
2 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls

Very good all-around back. Off-field jerk. Led NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011 with 2,068 yards and in 2009 he had 2,041 yards. Actually is 16th all-time in yards from scrimmage per game but averages only 7 touchdowns per 16 games. A good between the 20s player, not a player used in short yardage like Faulk or Tomlinson or Marcus Allen.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink =  0
Total yards black ink = 0
0 titles
0 All-Pros 
0 Second-team All-Pros
2 Pro Bowls

A classic 2000s back, good runner, excellent receiver, solid pass blocker.

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 1
1 title
1 All-Pro (consensus)
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
4 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
1 title
4 Pro Bowls
Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
1 title
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls (plus one Second-team All-NFC)


Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 2
All-purpose yards black ink = 1
Second-team All-1985-95 (PFJ mid-decade)
0 MVP (1 USFL MVP)
0 All-Pros (2 All-USFL selections)
2 Second-team All-Pros
2 Pro Bowls

Wasted three years in USFL. Fast, could do a lot of things, would block. Not a lot of wiggle bit good size and great speed. 

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
AFC POY—(1983, 1986)
1 All-Pro
2 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Another knee injury guy. Great wiggle, moves. Good speed.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
1 All-Pro
1 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls

A workhorse. Might have been a better runner than Chuck Foreman and Lydell Mitchell, but the Rams didn't throw to 'Clutch' very often so he didn't have to total yards those two did (roughly the same era of dominance as them).

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
1 All-Pro
2 Second-team All-Pros
6 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
2 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
2 Second-team All-Pros
2 Pro Bowls

Dr. Z said he was like Larry Brown, he "ran too hard for his body" and he paid for it with a short career. Montgomery led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 1979.

From 1978-82, per 16 games Montgomery averaged 293 carries for 1336 yards (4.6 avg) and 10 touchdowns. On top of that, he averaged 48 catches for 462 yards (9.7 avg.) and 3 receiving scores. Those are impressive numbers for that era.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 0
1 Pro Bowl

Hard runner, played like a big back

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls (plus one All-NFC is kick returner)

Led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2007 and was just as good in 2006.

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 1
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 2
Total yards black ink = 0
1 All-Pro
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

A classic slashing-type runner. Underrated.

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
2 titles

Rushing black ink = 1
2 Pro Bowls

Twice Hearst was the Comeback Player of the Year (1996, 2001)

1 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls

Had great straight-line speed.

Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls (Plus one Second-team All-NFC selection)

A workmanlike back, solid in all areas but not great in any of them.

2 Pro Bowls (Plus one Second-team All-AFC pick)

Rushing black ink = 0
Total yards black ink = 0
2 Second-team All-Pros
3 Pro Bowls

1 Second-team All-Pro
5 Pro Bowls (3 as a returner)

Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
2 Second-team All-Pros
1 Pro Bowl

Small, fast, quick. Quite a weapon. Excellent kick returner and punt returner with six total returns for scores to his credit.

1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

1 Second-team All-Pro
4 Pro Bowls  (plus one All-NFC pick as a special teamer)

"A beautiful runner", said one NFC Scout.

Rushing black ink = 1
3 Pro Bowls (2 largely as a returner)
1 title
1 Pro Bowl (plus one Second-team All-NFC)

Rushing black ink  = 2
Total yards black ink = 0
AFC POY—(1990)
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing grey ink = 3
Per sixteen games Williams averaged 308 carriers for 1278 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns and 62 catches for 510 yards and 2 touchdowns (1788 yards from scrimmage per 16 games) but he played just 40 games.

Larry Johnson
Rushing black ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
1 All-Pro (consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing back ink = 1
Total yards black ink = 1
1 Second-team All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

2 Second-team All-Pros
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 3
Total yards black ink = 0
1 title
3 All-Pro (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-pro
4 Pro Bowls

1 Pro Bowl

2 Pro Bowls

David Johnson


Rushing black ink = 2
1 Second-team All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

Rushing black ink = 1
All-1960s
3 Second-team All-Pros
4 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 5
MVP/POY—(1956)
1 All-Pro (consensus)
2 Second-team All-Pros
5 Pro Bowls

Rushing black ink = 4
1 All-Pro (consensus)
3 Second-team All-Pros
4 Pro Bowls

MVP/POY—(1948)
3 titles
3 All-Pros
3 Second-team All-Pro

1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls (Plus one CFL All-Star)

MVP/POY—(1955)
2 titles
1 All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

1 title
2 Pro Bowls

Rushing grey ink = 2
3 All-Pros
1 Second-team
6 Pro Bowls
1 title

Rushing black ink = 1
3 titles

Rushing black ink = 1
AFC POY—(1992)
1 All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls




Second-team All-1955-65 (PFJ mid-decade)
1 title
1 All-Pro
1 Second-team All-Pro
5 All-Pro

The 'Jaguar' was a good all-around back, a poor-mans Gifford or Hornung if you will. Ran, caught, threw, returned kicks and punts.

1 title
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

Another of the versatile backs in the Hornung or Gifford mold. Tracy threw 67 career passes and in his [rime average 648 rushing yards and 23 receptions. He could even placekick in a pinch and return kicks in a pinch.











1 title
2 Second-team All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

Gallimore was a starter in 1957, as a rookie, then became one of the first third-down backs for a few years. Was the senior committee nominee for the Hall of Fame one year, but was also one of the few to be rejected by the committee as a whole.

Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

1 title
1 All-Pro (as a returner)

Bush was never the all-around back he was touted to be. He had three seasons where he was very good—2011-13 when he averaged over 1,000 yards and 44 receptions. However, give his skills one would think he'd have done that more often. Was more of a change-up back from 2006-10.


Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
1 Second-team All-Pro
3 Pro Bowls

Brockington exploded onto the NFL scene in 1971 with three straight 1,000 yard seasons and inspired the "Pack is back" slogan in 1972. Then, in 1975, Brockington claims the Packers quit running his favorite plays under Bart Starr. Whatever the reason his production dropped in half and in 1977 he was a Chief.

1 title
2 All-Pro (1 consensus)
4 Pro Bowls

Hill had two careers, one as a very good runner and then late in his career, with the Browns he was an even better third down back. He played 12 seasons in the NFL and one in the WFL.

Hill is one of the taller running backs you will find (6-4)—only three others have been as tall and have rushed for 2,500 yards in their careers.

Rushing black ink = 1
Yards from scrimmage black ink = 3
1 All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

Perhaps best known for playing quarterback for the Colts in 1965 when Johnny Unitas was injured but he was a solid back as well. Other than the 7 passes he threw as a quarterback he three 35 others halfback option passes, completing 11 and one going for a score.









Rushing black ink = 1
Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
1 All-Pro
1 Pro Bowl

Lane was a very good runner with the Cardinals and was traded to the Packers and paired with John Brockington. He went to the Chiefs and in 1976 he led the NFL in receptions with 66.

Rushing black ink = 1

Silk was a solid back, not extremely talented in terms of speed and size, but did a fine job running and catching for Roman Gabriel from 1973-75. In 1973 he was played at a Pro Bowl level.

Rushing grey ink = 5
1 Second-team All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls


3 Pro Bowls

In the Raiders fullback-oriented offense, Hubbard averaged 934 yards from 1971-74 (1,067 per 16 games) and had a 4.8 yards per carry average in that span.

Rushing black ink = 1
Yards from scrimmage black ink = 1
2 titles
2 Second-team All-AFL
2 AFL All-Star games



Rushing black ink = 2
1 All-Pro
2 Pro Bowls

In 1970 Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage adding 487 yards to his 1,027 yards rushing. From 1970-73 he averaged 1,245 yards rushing per 16 games and 50 receptions and 14 touchdowns. All excellent for that era.






1 Pro Bowl



Rushing black ink = 2
Yards from scrimmage black ink =1 
1 Pro Bowl (plus one Second-team All-NFC)

Led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 1988 and 1989. Played behind a good line so he had an advantage over a lot of backs. Still, he was solid and was 'above the line' in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1989.


Mark Ingram

Eddie Lacy


Bob Hoernschemeyer

Howie Ferguson

James Stewart

Donny Anderson




Roland Harper








And there are many, many more we could have mentioned. remember the top 50 we ranked, the rest are for fun. If we forgot someone, let us know we will try and find art for them and post them. 

9 comments:

  1. that's an amazing list....criminy, you've got just about every person who carried the ball from scrimmage in the last 70 years....#1 is absolutely correct. I quibble with your suggestion that Lenny Moore and Paul Hornung were similar....Gifford and Hornung, yes, but Moore simply could do things physically of which they were not remotely capable (and they were more versatile than Moore)…..perhaps I've got an anti-recentcy bias, but Sayers, Jim Taylor, and John Henry Johnson (gained over 1000 yards at age 35 on a bad Steelers team) are ranked higher on my personal list....my 'eyeball' technique is if I had draft pics, what would order of selection be? 1. Brown 2. Sayers 3.etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Moore/Hornung/Gifford similarity is simply that they were not pure runners, like a Jim Taylor or Jim Brown. I just meant that they were versatile. I include Tom Tracy and Jon Arnett in that, too. Most halfbacks were like that, within that group each did different things well. Hornung could do things Moore couldn't and vice versa. Arnett did things well that the otehrs, didn't etc.

      Delete
    2. fair enough....why don't we have cool nicknames anymore? Jaguar John, Tom the Bomb, Big Daddy, Night Train, Hawg Hanner, etc.?

      Delete
  2. Interesting list...I think Payton should be number one because he was a great blocker...Brown wasn't a good blocker, which is why Coach Brown mostly flared him out. He could be moody with coaches and teammates as well. Glad you at least mentioned Don Perkins of the Cowboys, a very underrated back who was unselfish and spent as much time blocking for his QB and teammates, than running the ball.
    He might not have the best running stats, but he was a major reason why this team went from being a loser to becoming a championship force...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll tell you, your opinion is every bit as valid as mine and if someone wants Payton #1 I have no argument. Main thing was there were teams that could stop Payton, they had his number, but it's just a list and I have no exclusive power to make lists.

      It's just my opinion and to have some fun discussion.

      My main thing is that I can defend most of my choices...maybe not all, but as long as someone else has a reason to say I am wrong and they are right, who am I to argue?

      As long as someone gives it some thought I respect their opinion. The only thing I don't respect is if their opinion is partisan—base on their favorite team

      Delete
    2. Couple names I didn't see that I think are worth a mention -

      Earnest Jackson - 1,000 yard runner for an AFC team in 1984 and then an NFC team in 1985. Also made the Pro Bowl with two different teams (Chargers in '84, Steelers in '86)

      (Fast) Willie Parker - Went from undrafted to over 5,000 career yards rushing. Ran for over 4,000 yards between 2005-07. Has the longest run in SB history.

      Delete
    3. yeah. he was okay... after a while I just got tired of posting. But he's as good as others mentioned. You can find some art email me and I can add him.

      Delete
  3. Foreman didn't just run out of gas. He was injured in 1978 - I've been told by one fan who saw the game that the Bears targeted his knee on the sideline - and injured again in 1979. I've often wondered whether sitting him for the rest of the '78 season might have left him more fully recovered and ready to truly bounce back in 1979.

    Foreman was a far more productive touchdown machine than Mitchell or McCutcheon, and was reputed to be an excellent blocker, too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I became a fan of Tom Woodeshick by playing the Strat-O-Matic pro football board game. He seemed to be one of the better fullbacks of the late 60's, even stuck on a bad Eagles team.

    ReplyDelete