NFL The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

205k votes 20k voters 376k views 196 items Embed

List Rules 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.
Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Walter Payton


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)

Also Ranked

#1 on The Greatest Chicago Bears of All Time

#4 on The Best Football Players Ever

#42 on Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

#11 on The Best Short Male Athletes

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Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Barry Sanders


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 ...more

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Teams: Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions

Position: Running back

Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States of America

Age: 48

Also Ranked

#3 on The Best Football Players Ever

#3 on Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

#1 on The Best Detroit Lions of All Time

#1 on The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

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Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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170 people just voted on Jim Brown


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 ...more

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Teams: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

Position: Running back, Fullback

Birthplace: St. Simons, Georgia, United States of America

Age: 81

Also Ranked

#5 on Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

#1 on The Best Cleveland Browns of All Time

#6 on The Best Football Players Ever

#17 on Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

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Earl Campbell is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Earl Campbell


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 ...more

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Teams: New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, Texas Longhorns football

Position: Running back

Birthplace: Tyler, Texas, United States of America

Age: 62

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best Tennessee Titans of All Time

#35 on The Best Football Players Ever

#26 on Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

#5 on The Best Heisman Trophy Winners of All Time

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Eric Dickerson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Eric Dickerson


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 ...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

Also Ranked

#8 on The Best Indianapolis Colts of All Time

#41 on The Best Atlanta Falcons of All Time

#23 on The Best Football Players Ever

#2 on The Best Los Angeles Rams of All Time

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Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Emmitt Smith


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 ...more

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Teams: Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys

Position: Running back

Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States of America

Age: 47

Also Ranked

#51 on Athletes Who Spark the Most Fan Arguments

#32 on Athletes Who Should Get a Reality Show

#1 on The Best Dallas Cowboys of All Time

#29 on The Best Arizona Cardinals of All Time

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LaDainian Tomlinson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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161 people just voted on LaDainian Tomlinson


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: Rosebud, Texas, United States of America

Age: 36

Also Ranked

#1 on The Best San Diego Chargers of All Time

#33 on The Best Football Players Ever

#46 on The Best New York Jets of All Time

#31 on The Best Short Male Athletes

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Marshall Faulk is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
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Marshall Faulk


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 ...more

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Teams: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, San Diego State Aztecs football

Position: Running back

Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

Age: 44

Also Ranked

#12 on The Best Indianapolis Colts of All Time

#1 on The Best College Running Backs of the 1990s

#25 on The Best Football Players Ever

#3 on The Best Los Angeles Rams of All Time

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