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List of Famous Football Halfbacks

Updated June 14, 2019 8.6k views447 items

List of the most famous (American) football halfbacks in the history of the sport, listed by popularity with photos of the players when available. There have been many legendary halfbacks in the NFL and NCAA, and you'll find all of them on this list below. Some of these men are considered to be the best halfbacks to ever play the game, and if you're looking for a specific football player you can look for them by using the "search" function on this list. These amazing halfbacks may currently be active while others have been retired for quite sometime. This list of the top halfbacks in American football includes all the greats from both the NFL and college football.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different items, like Burt Reynolds and Joe Biden.

This list answers the questions, "Who is the greatest halfback of all time?" and "Who are the best halfbacks of all time?"
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  • 1

    Floyd Little

    Halfback

    BirthplaceNew Haven, Connecticut

    Age79

    TeamsDenver Broncos, Syracuse Orange football

    Floyd Douglas Little (born July 4, 1942 - January 1, 2021) was an American football halfback, and a three-time All-American at Syracuse University. In 1967, he was the 6th selection of the first...  more
  • 2

    Frank Gifford

    Running back, Cornerback

    BirthplaceSanta Monica, California, United States of America

    Age91

    TeamsUSC Trojans football, New York Giants

    Francis Newton Gifford (August 16, 1930 – August 9, 2015) was an American football player, actor, and television sports commentator. After a 12-year playing career as a halfback and flanker for the...  more

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  • 3

    Ollie Matson

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceTrinity, Texas

    AgeDec. at 80 (1930-2011)

    Ollie Genoa Matson II (May 1, 1930 – February 19, 2011) was an American Olympic medal winning sprinter and professional American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL)...  more
  • 4

    Doak Walker

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceDallas, Texas

    AgeDied at 71 (1927-1998)

    TeamsSouthern Methodist University Mustang football, Southern Methodist University Mustangs football, Detroit Lions

    Ewell Doak Walker II (January 1, 1927 – September 27, 1998) was an American football player. He played college football as a halfback at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where he won the Heisman...  more

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  • 5

    Mercury Morris

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplacePittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Age74

    TeamsMiami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers

    Eugene Edward "Mercury" Morris (born January 5, 1947) is a former American football running back and kick returner. He played for seven years, primarily for the Miami Dolphins in the American...  more

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  • 6

    Bobby Mitchell

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceHot Springs, Arkansas

    Age86

    Robert Cornelius Mitchell (born June 6, 1935) is a former American football halfback and flanker who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins....  more

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  • 7

    Mike Tolbert

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceDouglasville, Georgia

    Age35

    TeamsCoastal Carolina Chanticleers football, Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers

    William Michael Tolbert (born November 23, 1985) is an American football fullback who is currently a free agent. He was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played...  more
  • 8

    Johnny Lattner

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Age88

    John Joseph Lattner (October 24, 1932 – February 12, 2016) was an American football player. While playing college football for the University of Notre Dame, he won the Heisman Trophy in 1953. He...  more
  • 9

    Charley Trippi

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplacePittston, Pennsylvania

    Age99

    Charles Louis Trippi (born December 14, 1921) is a former American football player. He played professionally for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL) from 1947 to 1955....  more

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  • 10

    Billy Vessels

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceCleveland, Oklahoma

    AgeDec. at 70 (1931-2001)

    Billy Dale Vessels (March 22, 1931 – November 17, 2001) was a gridiron football player. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy in 1952. Vessels went on...  more
  • 11

    Jim Kiick

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceLincoln Park, New Jersey

    Age75

    James Forrest Kiick (born August 9, 1946) is a former professional American football player, a running back for the Miami Dolphins in the American Football League (AFL) from 1968 to 1969 and in the...  more
  • 12

    Vic Janowicz

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceElyria, Ohio

    AgeDec. at 66 (1930-1996)

    Victor Felix "Vic" Janowicz (February 26, 1930 – February 27, 1996) was an American football halfback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins. He played college football at Ohio...  more

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  • 13

    George Gipp

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceLaurium, Michigan

    AgeDec. at 25 (1895-1920)

    TeamsNotre Dame Fighting Irish football

    George Gipp (February 18, 1895 – December 14, 1920), nicknamed "The Gipper", was a college football player at the University of Notre Dame under head coach Knute Rockne. Gipp was selected as Notre...  more
  • 14

    Clem Daniels

    Running back, Return specialist

    BirthplaceMcKinney, Texas

    Age84

    Clemon C. Daniels Jr. (October 3, 1937 – March 23, 2019) was an American professional football player who was a halfback in the American Football League (AFL) and the National Football League (NFL)....  more
  • 15

    Alex Webster

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceKearny, New Jersey

    AgeDec. at 80 (1931-2012)

    Alexander "Red" Webster (April 19, 1931 – March 3, 2012) was an American football fullback and halfback in the National Football League for the New York Giants. He was also the head coach of the...  more
  • 16

    John Kuhn

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceDover, Pennsylvania

    Age39

    TeamsPittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers

    John Allen Kuhn (born September 9, 1982) is a former American football fullback. After playing college football for Shippensburg University, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted...  more
  • 17

    Emil Sitko

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceFort Wayne, Indiana

    AgeDec. at 50 (1923-1973)

    Emil "Red" Sitko (September 7, 1923 – December 15, 1973) was an American football player. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 7, 1923. He was of Polish descent. He earned the nickname of "Red"...  more
  • 18

    Jack Concannon

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceDorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

    AgeDec. at 62 (1943-2005)

    John Joseph "Jack" Concannon, Jr. (February 25, 1943 – November 28, 2005) was an American football player. He played professionally as a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) with the...  more

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  • 19

    Kyle Rote

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceSan Antonio, Texas

    AgeDec. at 74 (1927-2002)

    William Kyle Rote, Sr. (October 27, 1928 – August 15, 2002) was an American football player, a running back and receiver for eleven years in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York...  more
  • 20

    Harry Gilmer

    Halfback, Quarterback

    BirthplaceBirmingham, Alabama

    Age95

    Harry Vincent Gilmer Jr. (April 14, 1926 – August 20, 2016) was an American football halfback and quarterback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. He was...  more

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  • 21

    Johnny Morris

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceLong Beach, California

    Age80

    Johnny Edward Morris (born September 26, 1935) is a former American football running back/wide receiver in the National Football League. He spent his entire ten-year career with the Chicago Bears,...  more
  • 22

    Johnny Cain

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceMontgomery, Alabama

    AgeDec. at 68 (1908-1977)

    John Lewis "Hurri" "Sugar" Cain (November 17, 1908 – August 18, 1977) was an American football player, coach of football, baseball, and tennis, and college athletics administrator. He played college...  more
  • 23

    Howard Cassady

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceColumbus, Ohio

    Age87

    Howard Albert "Hopalong" Cassady (born March 2, 1934) is a former professional American football running back. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1955, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of...  more

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  • 24

    Bruce Smith

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceFaribault, USA, Minnesota

    AgeDec. at 47 (1920-1967)

    Bruce Phillip Smith (February 8, 1920 – August 28, 1967), nicknamed "Boo", was an American football player best known for winning the Heisman Trophy in 1941. Smith was born in Faribault, Minnesota,...  more
  • 25

    Jim Crowley

    Running back, Halfback

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    AgeDec. at 83 (1902-1986)

    James Harold "Sleepy Jim" Crowley (September 10, 1902 – January 15, 1986) was an American football player and coach. He gained fame as one-fourth of the University of Notre Dame's legendary "Four...  more