Greatest Running Backs

by phbasketball6 | created - 13 Dec 2010 | updated - 04 Apr 2015 | Public

1. Barry Sanders

Actor | Undeclared

Barry Sanders is an American former professional football player who was a running back for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). A Pro Bowl invitee in each of his ten NFL seasons and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Sanders led the league in rushing yards four times ...

"It doesn't matter where the play is blocked; he'll find his own soft spot...The scheme doesn't matter with Sanders. He can run from any alignment. While other people are stuck with joints, he seems to have ball bearings in his legs that give him a mechanical advantage...Sanders' finest runs often occur when he takes the handoff and, with a couple of moves, turns the line of scrimmage into a broken field...Nobody has ever created such turmoil at the point of attack as Sanders has...Knock on wood, he seems indestructible..." Paul Zimmerman

15,269 Rush YDs | 5.0 AVG | 99 Rush TDs • 10x Pro Bowl selection; • 10x All-Pro selection; • 4x NFL Rushing champion (1990, 1994, 1996, 1997)

Awards • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1989) • AP NFL MVP (1997) • NEA NFL MVP (1997) • PFWA NFL MVP (1997) • 2× AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1994, 1997)

Honors • Pro Football Hall of Fame (2004) • NFL 1990s All-Decade Team • Detroit Lions #20 retired • Rated #12 NFL Player of all-time by Sporting News (1999) • Rated #17 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com (2010)

NFL.com stats

2. Jim Brown

Actor | Mars Attacks!

Often mentioned as the greatest player in NFL history, this ruggedly handsome African American fullback for the Cleveland Browns first appeared on movie screens in the western Rio Conchos (1964), followed by a strong supporting role as convict commando "Jefferson" in the terrific WWII action film ...

12,312 Rush YDs | 5.2 AVG | 106 Rush TDs • 9x Pro Bowl selection; • 9x All-Pro selection; • 8x NFL Rushing champion (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965)

Awards • 3x AP NFL MVP (1957, 1958, 1965) • UPI NFL MVP (1958, 1963, 1965) • Pro Bowl MVP (1961, 1962, 1965)

Honors • Pro Football Hall of Fame (1971) • NFL 1960s All-Decade Team • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time • Cleveland Browns #32 retired • Rated #1 NFL Player of all-time by Sporting News (1999) • Rated #2 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com (2010)

NFL.com stats

3. Walter Payton

Self | Saturday Night Live

Walter Payton, nicknamed "Sweetness, " is 2nd on the NFL's All time rushing list. His playing career lasted from 1975 to 1987. In those years, he amassed 16,026 rushing yards. He made a few appearances on television (as a guest star), but he was known as a profoundly personal man.

16,726 YDs | 4.4 AVG | 110 TDs 492 REC | 4,538 YDs | 15 TDs • 9× Pro Bowl selection (1976, 77, 78, 79, 80, 83, 84, 85, 86); • 6× First-team All-Pro selection (1977, 78, 79, 80, 84, 85); • 3× Second-team All-Pro (1976, 83, 86); • Super Bowl champion (XX); NFC champion (1985)

Awards • 1977 NFL MVP • 1977 PFWA NFL MVP • 1977 NEA NFL MVP • 1985 UPI NFC Player of the Year • 1977 UPI NFC Player of the Year • 1978 Pro Bowl MVP

Honors • Pro Football Hall of Fame (1993) • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team • NFL 1980s All-Decade Team • NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team • All-Time NFL Team • Chicago Bears #34 retired • Rated #8 NFL Player of all-time by Sporting News (1999) • Rated #5 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com (2010)

NFL.com stats

4. Earl Campbell

Actor | Necessary Roughness

Earl Campbell was born on March 29, 1955 in Tyler, Texas, USA as Earl Christian Campbell. He is an actor, known for Necessary Roughness (1991), The NFL on CBS (1956) and NFL Monday Night Football (1970). He has been married to Reuna Smith since May 30, 1980. They have two children.

9,407 YDs | 4.3 AVG | 74 TDs

• 5× Pro Bowl selection (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983); • 3× All-Pro selection (1978, 1979, 1980); • 3× NFL Rushing champion (1978, 79, 80)

Awards • AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1978) • AP NFL MVP (1979) • 2× PFWA NFL MVP (1978, 79) • 3× NEA NFL MVP (1978, 79, 80) • 3× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1978, 79, 80) • 1978 UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year • 1979 Bert Bell Award

Honors • Pro Football Hall of Fame (1991) • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team • Tennessee Titans #34 retired • Rated #33 NFL Player of all-time by Sporting News (1999) • Rated #55 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com (2010)

NFL.com stats

5. Emmitt Smith

Actor | How I Met Your Mother

Emmitt Smith was born on May 15, 1969 in Pensacola, Florida, USA as Emmitt James Smith III. He is an actor, known for How I Met Your Mother (2005), CSI: Cyber (2015) and Little Giants (1994). He has been married to Pat Smith since April 22, 2000. They have three children.

18,355 Rush YDs | 4.2 AVG | 164 Rush TDs 515 Rec | 3,224 Rec YDs | 11 Rec TDs

• 8× Pro Bowl (1990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 98, 99); • 6× All-Pro (1991, 92, 93, 94, 95); • 4× NFL rushing leader (1991, 92, 93, 95); • 3× Super Bowl champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)

Awards • AP NFL MVP (1993) • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (1990) • Super Bowl MVP (XXVIII) • NEA NFL MVP (1991, 1992) • PFWA NFL MVP (1993) • Bert Bell Award (1993)

Records • Career rushing yards (18,355) • Career rushing touchdowns (164) • Career 100-yard rushing games (78)

Honors • Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010) • NFL 1990s All-Decade Team • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor • Rated #68 NFL Player of all-time by Sporting News (1999) • Rated #28 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com (2010)

NFL.com stats

6. O.J. Simpson

Actor | The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear

Orenthal James Simpson, nicknamed "the Juice", is an American former football running back, broadcaster, actor, advertising spokesman, and convicted felon. Once a popular figure with the U.S. public, he is best known for being tried for the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her ...

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

7. Eric Dickerson

Actor | CSI: NY

Eric Dickerson was born on September 2, 1960 in Sealy, Texas, USA as Eric Demetric Dickerson. He is an actor, known for CSI: NY (2004), S.W.A.T. (2017) and Hawaii Five-0 (2010).

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

8. LaDainian Tomlinson

Actor | God Bless the Broken Road

From day one, LaDainian Tomlinson showed that he had the talent to be a successful running back in the National Football League. Not only is he the San Diego Chargers' most valuable player, he is also considered by many to be the NFL's most valuable player, and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame ...

9. Tony Dorsett

Actor | Kill Zone

Tony Dorsett was born on April 7, 1954 in Rochester, Pennsylvania, USA as Anthony Drew Dorsett. He is an actor, known for Kill Zone (1993), The Big Bounce (2004) and Necessary Roughness (1991). He has been married to Janet Dorsett since June 3, 2000. They have three children. He was previously ...

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

10. Marshall Faulk

Actor | Arli$$

Marshall Faulk was born on February 26, 1973 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA as Marshall William Faulk. He is an actor, known for Arli$$ (1996), CSI: NY (2004) and Point After (2006).

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

11. Steve Van Buren

Actor | Triple Threat

Steve Van Buren was born on December 28, 1920 in La Ceiba, Honduras as Stephen Wood Van Buren. He was an actor, known for Triple Threat (1948) and The Complete History of the Philadelphia Eagles (2004). He was married to Grace Hewson. He died on August 23, 2012 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

12. Leroy Kelly

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Leroy Kelly was born on May 20, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

13. Marcus Allen

Producer | Searching for Angela Shelton

Marcus Allen was born on March 26, 1960 in San Diego, California, USA as Marcus LeMarr Allen. He is an actor, known for Searching for Angela Shelton (2004), Arli$$ (1996) and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1992). He was previously married to Kathryn Eickstaedt.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

14. Thurman Thomas

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Thurman Thomas is a former American football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Thomas was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Thomas was an important part of ...

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

15. Curtis Martin

Self | The NFL on CBS

Curtis Martin was born on May 1, 1973 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He has been married to Carolina Williams since October 2010. They have one child.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

16. John Riggins

Actor | The Wedding Ringer

As one of football's most colorful personalities, John Riggins is best known for his days as a running back for the Washington Redskins. His bruising, punishing style of play wore down opponents and brought new meaning to the concept of the power running game. He is equally remembered as a renegade...

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

18. Adrian Peterson

Actor | The League

Adrian Peterson was born on March 21, 1985 in Palestine, Texas, USA as Adrian Lewis Peterson. He is an actor, known for The League (2009), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and The NFL on CBS (1956). He has been married to Ashley Brown since July 22, 2014. They have one child.

19. Jim Taylor

Self | The NFL on CBS

Jim Taylor was born on September 20, 1935 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA as James Charles Taylor. He was married to Helen. He died on October 13, 2018 in Baton Rouge.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

20. Larry Csonka

Actor | The Six Million Dollar Man

Larry Csonka was born on December 25, 1946 in Stow, Ohio, USA as Lawrence Richard Csonka. He is an actor, known for The Six Million Dollar Man (1974), Ballers (2015) and Snake Eater (1989). He was previously married to Pamela.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

21. Jerome Bettis

Actor | Chuck

Jerome Bettis was born on February 16, 1972 in Detroit, Michigan, USA as Jerome Abram Bettis. He is an actor, known for Chuck (2007), The Office (2005) and Living Single (1993). He has been married to Trameka Bettis since July 8, 2006. They have two children.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

22. Paul Hornung

Actor | The Devil's Brigade

Paul Hornung was born on December 23, 1935 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA as Paul Vernon Hornung. He is an actor, known for The Devil's Brigade (1968), Run to Daylight (1964) and Semi-Tough (1977). He has been married to Angela Cervilli since 1979. He was previously married to Patricia Roeder.

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

23. Edgerrin James

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Edgerrin James was born on August 1, 1978 in Immokalee, Florida, USA as Edgerrin Tyree James.

24. Tiki Barber

Actor | Knight Rider

Tiki Barber was born on April 7, 1975 in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA as Atiim Kiambu Barber. He is an actor, known for Knight Rider (2008), Orange Is the New Black (2013) and Lack of Will (2016). He has been married to Traci Lynn Johnson since July 19, 2012. He was previously married to Ginny Barber.

25. Terrell Davis

Camera_department | 42:24

Terrell Davis was born on October 28, 1972 in San Diego, California, USA as Terrell Lamar Davis. He is known for his work on 42:24, Arli$$ (1996) and Carjacked (2009). He has been married to Tamiko Nash since September 4, 2010. They have three children.

26. Roger Craig

Actor | Dream for an Insomniac

Roger Craig was born on July 10, 1960 in Davenport, Iowa, USA as Roger Timothy Craig. He is an actor, known for Dream for an Insomniac (1996), Naked Obsession (1990) and Necessary Roughness (1991).

27. Shaun Alexander

Self | The NFL on CBS

Shaun Alexander was born on August 30, 1977 in Florence, Kentucky, USA as Shaun Edward Alexander. He has been married to Valerie Boyd Alexander since May 18, 2002. They have four children.

28. Jamal Lewis

Self | The NFL on CBS

Jamal Lewis was born on August 29, 1979 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA as Jamal Lafitte Lewis. He is an actor, known for The NFL on CBS (1956), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and Bell Rung.

29. Herschel Walker

Superfights

Herschel Walker was born on March 3, 1962 in Wrightsville, Georgia, USA as Herschel Junior Walker. He is an actor and producer, known for Superfights (1995), One Nation Under God and Necessary Roughness (1991). He was previously married to Cindy DeAngelis.

30. Priest Holmes

Self | The NFL on NBC

Priest Holmes was born on October 7, 1973 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA as Priest Anthony Holmes.

31. Ricky Watters

Actor | Any Given Sunday

All-Pro Running Back for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks. Records include rushing for over 1,000 yards for 3 different teams, scoring 5 touchdowns in a playoff game and scoring 3 touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX. Watters earned 5 Pro Bowl selections and 4 All-Madden ...

32. Wilbert Montgomery

Self | The NFL on NBC

Wilbert Montgomery was born on September 16, 1954 in Greenville, Mississippi, USA.

33. Brian Westbrook

Actor | Simms & Lefkoe: The Show

Brian Westbrook was born on September 2, 1979 in Fort Washington, Maryland, USA as Brian Collins Westbrook. He is an actor, known for Simms & Lefkoe: The Show (2018), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and The NFL on CBS (1956).

34. Clinton Portis

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Clinton Portis was born on September 1, 1981 in Laurel, Mississippi, USA as Clinton Earl Portis.

35. Corey Dillon

Producer | Boomie

Corey Dillon was born on October 24, 1974 in Seattle, Washington, USA as Corey James Dillon. He is a producer, known for Boomie (2015), The NFL on NBC (1965) and The NFL on CBS (1956). He has been married to Desiree Antoine since January 30, 2000. They have three children.

36. Charlie Garner

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Charlie Garner was born on February 13, 1972 in Fairfax, Virginia, USA as Charles Garner III.

38. Ottis Anderson

Actor | The Guiding Light

Ottis Anderson was born on January 19, 1957 in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA as Ottis Jerome Anderson. He is an actor, known for Guiding Light (1952), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and The NFL on CBS (1956).

39. Fred Taylor

Self | The NFL on CBS

Fred Taylor was born on January 27, 1976 in Pahokee, Florida, USA as Frederick Antwon Taylor.

40. Chuck Muncie

Self | The NFL on CBS

Chuck Muncie was born on March 17, 1953 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, USA as Harry Vance Muncie. He died on May 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

41. Lenny Moore

Actor | Qualcuno pagherà

Lenny Moore was born on November 25, 1933 in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA as Leonard Edward Moore. He is an actor, known for The Opponent (1988), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and The NFL on CBS (1956). He has been married to Edith Randolph since 1976. They have one child. He was previously ...

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

42. Eddie George

Actor | The Game Plan

Eddie George was born on September 24, 1973 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as Edward Nathan George Jr. He is an actor and producer, known for The Game Plan (2007), Knife Fight (2012) and Ballers (2015). He has been married to Tamara Johnson since June 20, 2004. They have two children.

43. Terry Allen

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Terry Allen was born on February 21, 1968 in Commerce, Georgia, USA as Terry Thomas Allen Jr.

44. Gerald Riggs

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Gerald Riggs was born on November 6, 1960 in Tullos, Louisiana, USA as Gerald Antonio Riggs.

45. Stephen Davis

Self | The NFL on CBS

Stephen Davis was born on March 1, 1974 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA as Stephen Lamont Davis.

46. Steven Jackson

Actor | Think Like a Man Too

Steven Jackson was born on July 22, 1983 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA as Steven Rashad Jackson. He is an actor, known for Think Like a Man Too (2014), Ballers (2015) and The Shores (2012).

47. Maurice Jones-Drew

Actor | When the Game Stands Tall

Maurice Jones-Drew was born on March 23, 1985 in Pinole, California, USA. He is an actor, known for When the Game Stands Tall (2014), The League (2009) and NFL Monday Night Football (1970).

48. Ahman Green

Actor | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ahman Green was born on February 16, 1977 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA as Ahman Rashad Green. He is an actor, known for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Big Stan (2007) and Stretch (2014). He has been married to Heather Walters since February 14, 2004. He was previously married to Shalynn ...

49. LeSean McCoy

Self | The NFL on CBS

LeSean McCoy was born on July 12, 1988 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA as LeSean Kamel McCoy.

50. Jamaal Charles

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Charles was a two-time first-team Class 5A All-State selection and 2005 Parade All-American at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas. Rushed for 4,107 yards and 50 touchdowns his final two high school seasons, breaking the Port Arthur City rushing record. Received the Willie Ray Smith Award ...

51. Pete Johnson

Self | The NFL on CBS

Pete Johnson was born on March 2, 1954 in Peach County, Georgia, USA.

52. Willis McGahee

Actor | Cubed

Willis McGahee was born on October 21, 1981 in Miami, Florida, USA as Willis Andrew McGahee. He is an actor, known for Cubed (2009), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and The NFL on CBS (1956).

53. Michael Alstott

Actor | Adventure Scouts

Michael Alstott was born on December 21, 1973 in Joliet, Illinois, USA as Michael Joseph Alstott. He is an actor, known for Adventure Scouts (2010), The NFL on CBS (1956) and NFL Monday Night Football (1970).

54. Earnest Byner

Actor | Masters of the Gridiron

Earnest Byner was born on September 15, 1962 in Milledgeville, Georgia, USA as Earnest Alexander Byner. He is an actor, known for Masters of the Gridiron (1985), D.T. In 'Dawg Territory' (1988) and NFL Monday Night Football (1970).

55. Brandon Jacobs

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Brandon Jacobs was born on July 6, 1982 in Houma, Louisiana, USA.

56. Michael Turner

Self | The NFL on CBS

Michael Turner was born on February 13, 1982 in North Chicago, Illinois, USA.

57. Curt Warner

Self | The NFL on CBS

Curt Warner was born on March 18, 1961 in Wyoming, West Virginia, USA as Curtis Edward Warner.

58. Larry Johnson

Self | The NFL on CBS

Larry Johnson was born on November 19, 1979 in State College, Pennsylvania, USA as Larry Alphonso Johnson Jr.

59. George Rogers

Self | The NFL on NBC

George Rogers was born on December 8, 1958 in Duluth, Georgia, USA as George Washington Rogers Jr.

60. Chuck Foreman

Self | The NFL on CBS

Chuck Foreman was born on October 26, 1950 in Frederick, Maryland, USA as Walter Eugene Foreman.

61. Emerson Boozer

Actor | Velvet Smooth

Emerson Boozer was born on July 4, 1943 in Augusta, Georgia, USA as Emerson Y. Boozer Jr. He is an actor, known for Velvet Smooth (1976), NFL Monday Night Football (1970) and The NFL on NBC (1965).

62. Chris Warren

Self | The NFL on CBS

Chris Warren was born on January 24, 1968 in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA as Christopher Collins Warren Jr.

63. Deuce McAllister

Self | The NFL on CBS

Deuce McAllister was born on December 27, 1978 in Lena, Mississippi, USA as Dulymus Jenod McAllister.

64. Warrick Dunn

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Warrick Dunn was born on January 5, 1975 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA as Warrick De'Mon Dunn.

65. Frank Gore

Self | The NFL on CBS

Attended Coral Gables (Fla.) High School, where he was one of the nation's most heavily-recruited running backs after setting a Dade County record for rushing yards in a season with 2,953 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior in 2000. Rushed for 1,559 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior in 1999 in ...

66. Joe Morris

Self | The NFL on NBC

Joe Morris was born on September 15, 1960 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA as Joseph Edward Morris.

67. Bo Jackson

Actor | The Pandora Project

Bo Jackson was born on Nov. 30, 1962, in Bessemer, Alabama He was a 6' 1", 222 pounds tailback. He graduated from McAdory High School in McCalla, Ala., and attended Auburn from 1982-85. He went on to play football for the Los Angeles Raiders and baseball for the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago ...

68. Antowain Smith

Self | The NFL on CBS

Antowain Smith was born on March 14, 1972 in Millbrook, Alabama, USA as Antowain Drurell Smith.

69. Bill Brown

Self | The NFL on CBS

Bill Brown was born on June 29, 1938 in Mendota, Illinois, USA as William Dorsey Brown. He was married to Darlene and Kay. He died on November 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

70. Mike Pruitt

Self | The NFL on CBS

Mike Pruitt was born on April 3, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Michael L. Pruitt. He is a talent agent.

71. Neal Anderson

Self | The NFL on CBS

Neal Anderson was born on August 14, 1964 in Graceville, Florida, USA as Charles Neal Anderson.

72. Marion Barber

Self | The NFL on CBS

Marion Barber was born on June 10, 1983 in Plymouth, Minnesota, USA as Marion Sylvester Barber III.

73. Greg Bell

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Greg Bell was born on August 1, 1962 in Columbus, Ohio, USA as Gregory Leon Bell.

74. Wendell Tyler

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Wendell Tyler was born on May 20, 1955 in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA as Wendell Avery Tyler.

75. Rodney Hampton

Self | NFL Monday Night Football

Rodney Hampton was born on April 3, 1969 in Houston, Texas, USA as Rodney Craig Hampton.

76. Rudi Johnson

Diecast

Rudi Johnson was born on October 1, 1979 in Petersburg, Virginia, USA as Rudi Ali Johnson. He is known for his work on Diecast (2009), The NFL on CBS (1956) and NFL Monday Night Football (1970).



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