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ESPN.com Top 10 RBs of All Time

Old 10-26-02, 07:51 AM
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ESPN.com Top 10 RBs of All Time

http://espn.go.com/nfl/s/2002/1021/1448989.html

I don't know how to add the table from the article. If someone would post the table with the correct formatting, I'd appreciate it.


1. Jim Brown -- Cleveland Browns, 1957-1965
There were no other backs like Brown during his era and have been very few since his retirement. Brown, 6-foot-2 and chiseled, just literally ran over folks and then had the speed to pull away if he had an opening. His record of 12,312 rushing yards stood until Walter Payton surpassed him in 1984. An eight-time league rushing leader, Brown retired at the age of 30, deciding he'd rather be in movies than star on a football field. In addition to holding the mark for rushing yards, he was the career leader in touchdowns (126) and rushing touchdowns (106). Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.


2. Walter Payton -- Bears, 1975-1987
Payton was simply one of the best -- and most respected -- players of all time. He didn't possess the breakaway speed that some of the other top backs had, but he made up for it with power. Instead of Payton getting hit, he often battered foes as they attempted to take him down. He finished with 16,726 rushing yards, 110 rushing touchdowns (125 overall) and held the single-game rushing record of 275 yards before Cincinnati's Corey Dillon broke it in 2000. Payton was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.


3. Emmitt Smith -- Cowboys, 1990-present
Some fans and media members projected that Smith wouldn't last seven or eight years because of his size (5-foot-9) and the number of carries he got early in his career. But Smith managed to do what so others can't over an extended period of time -- stay healthy. In addition to collecting three Super Bowl rings in four years (1992, '93, '95), Smith finds himself high in a number of noteworthy categories: No. 1 rushing touchdowns (149); No. 2 overall career touchdowns (160); No. 4 most combined yardage (19,634).


4. Barry Sanders -- Lions, 1989-1997
Had Sanders not abruptly retired prior to the 1999 season, he would likely have broken Payton's mark two years ago. Sanders might have been the closest thing to Gale Sayers, an incredible improviser capable of turning a near five-yard loss into an 80-yard touchdown run. In 1997, Sanders became just the fourth back (joining O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson and Terrell Davis) to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He finished with 15,269, gaining over 1,000 yards in all ten seasons he played.


5t. Eric Dickerson -- Rams, Colts, Raiders, Falcons, 1983-1993
Dickerson had power and speed like many of the great ones, but his vision set him apart. Perhaps no other back had the knack for seeing the field like him and knowing how to end up in places where no defenders would be. In his 10-year career, Dickerson was second all-time in rushing yards (13,259) at the time of his retirement; earned four league rushing titles (1983, '84, '86, '88); still holds the Rams mark (7,245); and is No. 3 on the Colts list (5,195). Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.


5t. O.J. Simpson -- Bills, 49ers -- 1969-1979
Over his 11-year career with the Bills and 49ers, Simpson rushed for 11,236 yards and 61 TDs on 2,404 carries (4.7 per carry). Rushed for a then NFL-record 2,003 yards in 1973 and is still the only player to break the 2,000-yard mark in 14 games. Had over 1,000 yards for five straight seasons (1972-1976). Won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 after setting the NCAA regular-season rushing record (1,709) yards. He was the first overall pick in the 1969 draft. Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.


7. Earl Campbell -- Oilers, Saints, 1978-85
Campbell had a brief but spectacular NFL career, rushing for 9,407 yards in only eight seasons with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. He burst into the NFL as a rookie in 1978, rushing for 1,450 yards and 13 TDs and winning MVP, Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. NFL rushing leader in 1978-80, he rushed for 5,081 yards over that three-year span. First overall pick in 1978 draft after winning the Heisman Trophy his senior season at Texas. Campbell was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.


8. Gale Sayers -- Bears, 1965-71
One of the most jaw-dropping runners in NFL history, Sayers made a spectacular, if brief, impression in his seven-year career with the Bears. In a career that was hampered and cut short by injuries, Sayers rushed compiled 9,435 combined yards (4,956 yards rushing on 991 carries). Was named Rookie of the Year in 1965 after scoring 22 touchdowns, an NFL record at the time. Sayers still leads the NFL in highest average kickoff return (30.56 yards). A severe left knee injury in 1970 effectively ended his career. After playing only two games in 1971, his career was over at the age of 28. Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.


9. Marshall Faulk -- Colts, Rams, 1994-present
Faulk has to be the most likely candidate to have a legitimate shot of surpassing Smith. Faulk, with his speed and shiftiness, has made more teams search for backs who are dual threats. In 1999, he became the first player since Roger Craig to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He then went on to record 2,000 offensive yards in each of the next two seasons. Last weekend, he surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards and already has 119 touchdowns.


10. Tony Dorsett -- Cowboys, Broncos, 1977-1988
Dorsett didn't make a living on going straight ahead and carrying two or three defenders on his back en route to touchdowns. He was better known for hitting the corner, and then leaving tacklers in the dust. A Heisman Trophy winner in college (Pittsburgh), Dorsett holds the NFL record for the longest run (99-yard touchdown). Dorsett never led the league in rushing, but still is fifth all-time in career rushing yards (12,739). Dorsett was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

=================================

I must say that I don't really agree with Emmitt as #3, but he definitely deserves to be on the list. Just not that high, IMO.

Tom Jackson was clearly stoned or something when he voted Barry Sanders 10th. Then again, this is the same fool that voted Earl the Pearl 2nd behind Jim Brown. WTF!?! If not for TJ, Sanders would be ranked 3rd in front of Emmitt.

I may be biased, but I think Marshall Faulk is kinda low at #9. I think these "experts" are undervaluing Faulk's versatility. Just because he's not a bruising RB who likes to run between tackles? Bah. I also disagree that he has a legitimate shot at breaking (what will be) Emmitt Smith's record. I think Faulk has a legitimate shot of having the most yards from scrimmage by the time he retires, but I don't think he has a shot at getting the rushing record.

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Old 10-26-02, 09:35 AM
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Results of DVDTalk's informal poll (points in parentheses):

1. Jim Brown (67)
2. Barry Sanders (60)
3. Walter Payton (58)
4. Eric Dickerson (46)
5t. OJ Simpson (31)
5t. Emmitt Smith (31)
7. Marshall Faulk (25)
8. Earl Campbell (17)
9. Gale Sayers (14)
10. Bo Jackson (8)



Last edited by immortal_zeus; 10-27-02 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 10-26-02, 11:12 AM
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Barry Sanders is by far the greatest running back of all time. He put up huge yardage with no offensive line. Imagine the damage he could have done behind a good offensive line. It is just sad that he had to retire early and miss all the glory of demolishing all the records.
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Old 10-26-02, 11:23 AM
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Originally posted by joshd2012
Barry Sanders is by far the greatest running back of all time. He put up huge yardage with no offensive line. Imagine the damage he could have done behind a good offensive line. It is just sad that he had to retire early and miss all the glory of demolishing all the records.
I think it's impossible to say that any pro athlete is "by far" the greatest in their sport. There will always be debate since it's difficult to compare players from different eras.

That said, I personally don't think he's the greatest ever, but I do think that he should be #2 or #3...behind Jim Brown and either behind Payton or ahead of him.

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Old 10-26-02, 11:29 AM
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Kinda bad ranking...

My top 5 rank:

1. Barry Sanders
2. Walter Payton
3. Jim Brown
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Bo Jackson (heck, if he didn't get injuried in first season, he would be on my top 5.)
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Old 10-26-02, 11:31 AM
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Let's do our own poll and I'll tabulate the scores in the same fashion as ESPN....here's my top 10:

1. Jim Brown
2. Barry Sanders
3. Walter Payton
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Emmitt Smith
6. Marshall Faulk
7. Tony Dorsett
8. Marcus Allen
9. OJ Simpson
10. Thurman Thomas

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Old 10-26-02, 11:54 AM
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Here's mine:

1. Jim Brown
2. Barry Sander
3. Erik Dickerson
4. OJ Simpson
5. Walter Payton
6. Marshall Faulk
7. Emmit Smith
8. Earl Campbell
9. Gayle Sayers
10. Thurman Thomas
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Old 10-26-02, 01:10 PM
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1. Jim Brown
2. Walter Payton
3. Barry Sanders
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Marshall Faulk
6. OJ Simpson
7. Earl Campbell
8. Emmitt Smith
9. Gayle Sayers
10. Tony Dorsett
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Old 10-26-02, 02:37 PM
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I posted the results of our informal poll in my 2nd post and will continue to update it as people list their top 10.

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Old 10-26-02, 03:13 PM
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Is there a criteria to use for "greatest"? I mean, the one running back you'd most want to have in their prime? Or, does durability play a role? It's tough without a guide. And of course, most of us are just guessing when it comes to Brown and Sayers (or even OJ). But, I guess I'll use my own criterion, a combo of sorts.

1. Walter Payton (maybe Brown should be here, but I saw Sweetness play)
2. Jim Brown
3. Barry Sanders
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Earl Campbell
6. Emmit Smith
7. OJ Simpson
8. Marshall Faulk
9. Tony Dorsett
10. Bo Jackson (he would have been #1 if he had the longevity)

Apologies to Sayers (never saw you play, and you just didn't play long enough), Thomas and Allen (2 great all-around backs who lasted a long time),
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Old 10-26-02, 05:52 PM
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Originally posted by LurkerDan

10. Bo Jackson (he would have been #1 if he had the longevity)

Apologies to Sayers (never saw you play, and you just didn't play long enough), Thomas and Allen (2 great all-around backs who lasted a long time),
He (Sayers) played longer than Bo.

The only clips I've seen of Sayers were from NFL Films shows on ESPN, and he was simply amazing.
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Old 10-26-02, 06:16 PM
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1. Jim Brown (5.2)
2. Barry Sanders (5.0)
3. OJ Simpson (4.7)
4. Walter Payton (4.4)
5. Gale Sayers (5.0)
6. Emmitt Smith (4.3)
7. Eric Dickerson (4.4)
8. Marshall Faulk (4.4)
9. Earl Campbell (4.3)
0. Marcus Allen (4.0)

Career yards per carry in parentheses

Last edited by Jabx; 10-26-02 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 10-26-02, 06:29 PM
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Originally posted by Jabx
He (Sayers) played longer than Bo.

The only clips I've seen of Sayers were from NFL Films shows on ESPN, and he was simply amazing.
Yes, he only played 2 or 3 games and ended his career after hip injury.
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Old 10-26-02, 06:36 PM
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Updated, and I included total points. McHawkson, do you want to add 5 more to your list or just keep it at 5?

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Old 10-26-02, 06:40 PM
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Originally posted by McHawkson
Yes, he only played 2 or 3 games and ended his career after hip injury.
38 games. 5.4 yards per carry

http://www.football-reference.com/players/JackBo00.htm

I was watching the game against the Bengals when he was hurt
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Old 10-26-02, 06:41 PM
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If Sanders didn't leave his career early, he'd be the undisputed best.
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Old 10-26-02, 07:17 PM
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Originally posted by Ranger02
If Sanders didn't leave his career early, he'd be the undisputed best.
Amen brother.
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Old 10-26-02, 07:38 PM
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There are plenty who I doubt would feel Sanders had supplanted Jim Brown regardless of how long Barry played.

As for Bo v. Sayers, it has nothing to do with leght of playing time, it has to do with which one I saw play. Bo was simply the greatest athlete I have ever seen in my life.
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Old 10-26-02, 07:43 PM
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Originally posted by immortal_zeus
Let's do our own poll and I'll tabulate the scores in the same fashion as ESPN....here's my top 10:

1. Jim Brown
2. Barry Sanders
3. Walter Payton
4. Eric Dickerson
5. Emmitt Smith
6. Marshall Faulk
7. Tony Dorsett
8. Marcus Allen
9. OJ Simpson
10. Thurman Thomas

Holy moly! I just realized that you don't have Earl Campbell on your top 10!!! Are you mad??? Did you see that man run?
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Old 10-26-02, 08:08 PM
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Originally posted by Jabx
38 games. 5.4 yards per carry

http://www.football-reference.com/players/JackBo00.htm

I was watching the game against the Bengals when he was hurt
38 games?? Damn, I need new brain cell... Thanks.
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Old 10-26-02, 08:22 PM
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Originally posted by LurkerDan
Holy moly! I just realized that you don't have Earl Campbell on your top 10!!! Are you mad??? Did you see that man run?
It's all subjective....personally, no, I didn't see him run. Then again, I never saw Jim Brown or OJ Simpson run either.

Campbell had 4 great years, a crap year because of injury, another great year, and then 3 crap years.

I like to reward consistency and longevity.

John Clayton, Merrill Hoge, Mark Malone, Len Pasquarelli, and Joe Theismann didn't think Campbell deserved to be in the top 10, either. Not that that means we're correct.

That's the beauty of these types of topics. People will always have different opinions and it's fun to debate them. Also, that's why I proposed that we have our own little DVDTalk poll so no one person's vote will skew the outcome. For instance, even though I didn't list Campbell in my top 10, as of right now, he ranks 8th based upon everybody's votes.

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Old 10-26-02, 09:12 PM
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Obviously there are many different opinions here. But I dont think that any of the rbs listed here dominated like Brown did. There were years where all of the others were not considered the best back in the league or when they had a down year and werent a top five back in the estimation of most. Payton had many years like that for example. Jim Brown never did. Every year he played he was easily the best in the league, no argument. Barry comes the closest to this, which is why I put him second. Also for anyone who says that Sanders would have been the best if he didnt quit early, remember that Jim Brown retired at an earlier age and at the absolute peak of his career. Had he played another 5 years and with 16 games there would be no question and no records would be broken. He was that good. But of course thats just my .02
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Old 10-26-02, 11:30 PM
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Originally posted by immortal_zeus
John Clayton, Merrill Hoge, Mark Malone, Len Pasquarelli, and Joe Theismann didn't think Campbell deserved to be in the top 10, either.
I think they're mad too... Did you ever see that one run where guys are hanging all over him, ripping his jersey off, and they just couldn't bring him down? Now that's football.
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Old 10-27-02, 06:52 AM
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Originally posted by LurkerDan
I think they're mad too... Did you ever see that one run where guys are hanging all over him, ripping his jersey off, and they just couldn't bring him down? Now that's football.
Yeah, that was a damn fine run.

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Old 10-27-02, 12:31 PM
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Originally posted by Ranger02
If Sanders didn't leave his career early, he'd be the undisputed best.
Jim Brown - 126 TD's in 114 games.
Barry Sanders 109 TD's in 153 games.

I'm sorry but the fact that Barry Sanders was a medicore goal line back keeps him out of the top 3 for me.

My Top 10 (very close to the ESPN list, but I started writing it two years ago)

1. Jim Brown
2. Walter Payton
3. Emmitt Smith
4. Barry Sanders
5. Eric Dickerson
6. O.J. Simpson
7. Gale Sayers
8. Marshall Faulk
9. Earl Campbell
10. Bo Jackson
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