Running backs are the heart and soul of any football team. They’re the players who carry the weight of offense on their shoulders and the ones fans look to for explosive plays and game-changing moments. However, there is more to being a great running back than sheer talent and speed; It’s about tenacity, determination and the ability to make something out of nothing. In this article, we take a look at the top five running backs of all time, players who have set the standard for excellence at that position and left a lasting legacy in the game. From Barry Sanders to LaDainian Tomlinson, these players are true legends of the grid and their achievements will be remembered for years to come.
The 5 best running backs of all time
#1 Barry Sanders
Sanders played for the Detroit Lions from 1989-1998 and was one of the most elusive and dynamic running backs in NFL history. He rushed for 15,000 yards and scored 99 touchdowns. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro, and a one-time MVP. Sanders was known for his speed, agility and ability to thwart defenders.
#2 Walter Payton
Payton played for the Chicago Bears from 1975-1987 and was one of the most complete running backs to ever play the game. He rushed for 16,000 yards and scored 110 touchdowns. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro. Payton was known for his toughness, longevity, and ability to run, catch, and block.
#3 LaDainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson played for the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets from 2001-2011 and is one of the most prolific and enduring running backs of his time. He rushed for 13,000 yards and scored 145 touchdowns. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro. Tomlinson was known for his vision, patience and ability to see defenders fail.
#4 Eric Dickerson
Dickerson played for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders and Atlanta Falcons from 1983 to 1993 and is second all-time in rushing yards for over 13,000 yards. He also has 90 touchdowns and was a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro. Dickerson was known for his speed and power, and his ability to break up long runs.
#5 Emmitt Smith
Smith played for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals from 1990 to 2004 and is the all-time leading rusher in the NFL with 18,355 yards. He also had 164 touchdowns, was an eight-time Pro Bowler, and was a four-time First-Team All-Pro. Smith was known for his strength, determination, and ability to gain extra yards after contact.
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