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38.5k voters

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

Updated July 31, 2020 372.3k votes 38.5k voters 632.5k 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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  • Jim Brown1
    10,474
    3,930

    Jim Brown

    Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football
  • Walter Payton2
    12,231
    4,634

    Walter Payton

    Chicago Bears
  • Barry Sanders3
    13,958
    5,298

    Barry Sanders

    Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions
  • Bo Jackson4
    7,985
    4,046

    Bo Jackson

    Los Angeles Raiders

    More Bo Jackson 

    #111 of 511 The Best Baseball Players NOT in the Hall of Fame#196 of 582 The Greatest Baseball Players Of All Time

  • Adrian Peterson5
    8,145
    4,656

    Adrian Peterson

    Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
  • Gale Sayers6
    5,486
    3,076

    Gale Sayers

    Chicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football
  • LaDainian Tomlinson7
    7,041
    4,047

    LaDainian Tomlinson

    TCU Horned Frogs football, New York Jets
  • Eric Dickerson8
    6,295
    3,733

    Eric Dickerson

    Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts

    More Eric Dickerson 

    #27 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time#44 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Marshall Faulk9
    6,143
    3,526

    Marshall Faulk

    Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams

    More Marshall Faulk 

    #5 of 15 The Worst NFL Trades Ever Made#3 of 36 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 90s

  • Earl Campbell10
    6,643
    4,015

    Earl Campbell

    New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers
  • Emmitt Smith11
    8,378
    5,419

    Emmitt Smith

    Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals

    More Emmitt Smith 

    #957 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#423 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Marcus Allen12
    4,382
    2,640

    Marcus Allen

    USC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders
  • Tony Dorsett13
    4,254
    2,781

    Tony Dorsett

    Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Panthers football
  • Jim Thorpe14
    3,439
    2,317

    Jim Thorpe

    Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians

    More Jim Thorpe 

    The Life And Legacy Of Jim Thorpe#448 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Thurman Thomas15
    3,073
    2,187

    Thurman Thomas

    Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
  • Frank Gore16
    2,834
    1,869

    Frank Gore

    San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts
  • Herschel Walker17
    3,463
    2,470

    Herschel Walker

    Georgia Bulldogs football team, New Jersey Generals
  • Terrell Davis18
    3,480
    2,569

    Terrell Davis

    Denver Broncos, Georgia Bulldogs football team

    More Terrell Davis 

    #5 of 26 NFL Players Whose Careers Ended Too Soon#15 of 44 The Best University of Georgia Football Players of All Time

  • Jerome Bettis19
    3,730
    2,906

    Jerome Bettis

    Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams

    More Jerome Bettis 

    #102 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#7 of 80 The Best NFL Player Nicknames

  • Marshawn Lynch20
    3,607
    2,714

    Marshawn Lynch

    Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills
  • Franco Harris21
    3,084
    2,403

    Franco Harris

    Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • O. J. Simpson22
    5,226
    4,250

    O. J. Simpson

    Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers

    More O. J. Simpson 

    Facts About OJ Simpson That Will Make Your Skin Crawl#1053 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • John Riggins23
    2,798
    2,177

    John Riggins

    Washington Redskins, New York Jets
  • Larry Csonka24
    2,432
    1,897

    Larry Csonka

    Syracuse Orange football, Miami Dolphins

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    #7 of 27 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s#10 of 47 The Best Super Bowl MVPs of All Time

  • Curtis Martin25
    2,637
    2,288

    Curtis Martin

    New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Panthers football