The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

195k votes 19k voters 485k views 198 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Only running backs. Rank the players based on their career achievements in the NFL

This list of top NFL running backs of all time is ranked by football fans worldwide. Who are the best NFL running backs of all time? The goal is to determine the greatest running backs to ever play the game.

They are some of the fastest, most athletic sports stars in the game. These top athletes have been wowing fans across the country for years. Some of them currently play in the league, others are long-retired legends whose legacy will be remembered on and off the field for a long time. 

The list establishes individual rankings of specific running backs and helps answer the question, "Who is the best NFL running back in the world?" This list includes some legendary famous football players with a lot of rushing yards under their belt. Anyone can vote on the top running backs in history, which means these players are truly fan favorites.
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  1. 1
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    Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    Photo: Freebase

    Walter Jerry Payton was an American football running back who played for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League for thirteen seasons. Walter Payton was known around the NFL as "Sweetness". He is remembered as one of the most prolific running backs in the history of the NFL. Payton, a ...more

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    • Teams: Chicago Bears
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Columbia, Mississippi, United States of America
    • Age: Died at 46 (1953-1999)
  2. 2
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    Barry Sanders is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. A member of both the college and professional football halls of fame, he was ranked by NFL Top 10 as the most elusive runner in NFL history, and also ...more

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    • Teams: Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States of America
    • Age: 47
  3. 3
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    Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    James Nathaniel "Jim" Brown is an American former professional football player and actor. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine year career as a running back for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League from 1957 to 1965. In 2002, he was named by Sporting News as the ...more

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    • Teams: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football
    • Position: Running back, Fullback
    • Birthplace: St. Simons, Georgia, United States of America
    • Age: 79
  4. 4
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    Earl Christian Campbell, nicknamed The Tyler Rose, is a former professional American football running back. He, Paul Hornung, and O. J. Simpson are the only Heisman Trophy winners to have also been first overall National Football League draft picks and members of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and ...more

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    • Teams: New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, Texas Longhorns football
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Texas, Tyler, USA
    • Age: 60
  5. 5
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    Eric Dickerson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    Eric Demetric Dickerson is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. Dickerson played college football for Southern Methodist University, and was recognized as an All-American. He was ...more

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    • Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, SMU Mustangs football, Atlanta Falcons
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Sealy, Texas, United States of America
    • Age: 55
  6. 6
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    Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    Photo: Freebase/CC-BY

    Emmitt James Smith, III is an American former college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for fifteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Smith played college football for the University of Florida, where he was a unanimous All-American. A first-round ...more

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    • Teams: Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States of America
    • Age: 46
  7. 7
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    Marshall William Faulk is an American former college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for twelve seasons. He played college football for San Diego State University, and was a two-time consensus All-American. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts ...more

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    • Teams: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, San Diego State Aztecs football
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: USA, New Orleans, Louisiana
    • Age: 42
  8. 8
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    LaDainian Tomlinson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    Photo: Freebase/Public domain

    LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played the majority of his 11-year career with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL ...more

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    • Teams: TCU Horned Frogs football, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers
    • Position: Running back
    • Birthplace: Texas, Rosebud, USA
    • Age: 36
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