The fans' top 5 best NFL running backs of all time
1. Jim Brown
Jim Brown isn't only considered one of the best players of all time, he's also considered one of the toughest. Brown racked up 12,312 yards rushing for a 5.2 yards per carry average. He notched 106 rushing touchdowns, fifth most in NFL history, while playing only nine seasons. More times than not it took more than one player to take down Brown, who was known for his rugged style of running. He was a 9-time Pro Bowlerl, 8-time All Pro First Teamer and a 3-time NFL MVP.
2. Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders was perhaps the most elusive running back in NFL history. Sanders was known for his uncanny ability to make defenders stop in their tracks with his jukes and moves. He totaled 15,269 rushing yards (3rd all time) and 99 rushing TDs (9th all time). In 1997, he rushed for 2,053 yards, the third highest single season mark in NFL history. That same season, he rushed for 100+ yards in an NFL record 14 games. He abruptly retired after the 1998 season even though the all time rushing mark was in sight.
3. O.J. Simpson
Despite his off-the-field controversies and legal issues, there's no denying O.J. Simpson's accomplishments on the field. He was the first player to ever rush for 2,000 yards in one season, he was a 6-time Pro Bowler, a 5-time All-Pro and was the 1973 MVP. Simpson also won the rushing title four times, and he was the second leading rusher of all time at the time of his retirement. Simpson was also the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner.
4. Walter Payton
Nicknamed "Sweetness," Walter Payton is widely considered the greatest all-around running back of all time. He rushed for 16,726 yards which was an NFL record until 2002 when Emmitt Smith passed him. He's also fourth all-time with 110 rushing TDs. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler, the 1977 MVP and Super Bowl XX champ. He was also known for his sportsmanship as after scoring a TD he would simply hand the ref the ball instead of celebrating.
5. Gale Sayers
Before suffering two devastating knee injuries, Gale Sayers was one of the most prolific running backs of all time. Sayers' records include most TDs in a rookie season (22 in 1965), most TDs in a game (6, tied with Nevers and Jones), highest career KO return average (30.56) and most KO return TDs (6, tied with four other players). Sayers is also known for his friendship with Brian Piccolo, which was the basis for the movie Brian's Song.