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The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

Updated July 31, 2020 361.3k votes 37.9k voters 628.9k views206 items

List RulesOnly 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
    Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    10,278
    3,758

    Jim Brown

    Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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  • 2
    Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    12,001
    4,517

    Walter Payton

    Chicago Bears
  • 3
    Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    13,590
    5,254

    Barry Sanders

    Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions
  • 4
    Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    7,838
    3,837

    Bo Jackson

    Los Angeles Raiders

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  • 5
    Adrian Peterson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    7,958
    4,515

    Adrian Peterson

    Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
  • 6
    Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    5,336
    2,982

    Gale Sayers

    Chicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football
  • 7
    Marshall Faulk is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    6,031
    3,416

    Marshall Faulk

    Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams

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  • 8
    LaDainian Tomlinson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    6,901
    3,952

    LaDainian Tomlinson

    TCU Horned Frogs football, New York Jets
  • 9
    Eric Dickerson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    6,115
    3,673

    Eric Dickerson

    Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts
  • 10
    Earl Campbell is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    6,463
    3,965

    Earl Campbell

    New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers
  • 11
    Marcus Allen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    4,290
    2,552

    Marcus Allen

    USC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders
  • 12
    Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    8,169
    5,344

    Emmitt Smith

    Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals

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  • 13
    Tony Dorsett is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    4,151
    2,718

    Tony Dorsett

    Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Panthers football
  • 14
    Frank Gore is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    2,755
    1,759

    Frank Gore

    San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts
  • 15
    Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,354
    2,266

    Jim Thorpe

    Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians

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  • 16
    Thurman Thomas is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,017
    2,113

    Thurman Thomas

    Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
  • 17
    Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,373
    2,391

    Herschel Walker

    Georgia Bulldogs football team, New Jersey Generals
  • 18
    Terrell Davis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,400
    2,510

    Terrell Davis

    Denver Broncos, Georgia Bulldogs football team

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  • 19
    Jerome Bettis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,640
    2,847

    Jerome Bettis

    Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams

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  • 20
    Marshawn Lynch is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,506
    2,633

    Marshawn Lynch

    Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills

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  • 21
    Franco Harris is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    3,003
    2,349

    Franco Harris

    Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 22
    John Riggins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    2,731
    2,127

    John Riggins

    Washington Redskins, New York Jets
  • 23
    O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    5,092
    4,191

    O. J. Simpson

    Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers

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  • 24
    Larry Csonka is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    2,359
    1,858

    Larry Csonka

    Syracuse Orange football, Miami Dolphins

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  • 25
    Eddie George is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
    1,670
    1,339

    Eddie George

    Tennessee Titans/Oilers, Ohio State Buckeyes football

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