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Published: June 15, 2017 at 10:45 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2018 at 02:47 p.m.

Gil Brandt's 25 greatest NFL running backs of all time

NFL Media senior analyst and personnel guru Gil Brandt ranks the best running backs in NFL history. Take a look at how they stack up.

25 Photos Total

  • San Francisco 49ers, 1948-1960 and 1963; Baltimore Colts, 1961-1962<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing yards twice and rushing touchdowns once<br>
&raquo; 8,378 career rushing yards, 53 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame<br> 25

    Associated Press

    25. Joe Perry

    San Francisco 49ers, 1948-1960 and 1963; Baltimore Colts, 1961-1962
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » Led league in rushing yards twice and rushing touchdowns once
    » 8,378 career rushing yards, 53 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Cardinals, 1952-1958; L.A. Rams, 1959-1962; Detroit Lions, 1963; Philadelphia Eagles, 1964-1966<br>
&raquo; Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times<br>
&raquo; Traded in 1958 for nine players<br>
&raquo; 12,799 career all-purpose yards second only to Jim Brown when he retired<br>
&raquo; 5,173 career rushing yards, 40 career rushing touchdowns, 23 career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame<br> 24

    NFL/Associated Press

    24. Ollie Matson

    Chicago Cardinals, 1952-1958; L.A. Rams, 1959-1962; Detroit Lions, 1963; Philadelphia Eagles, 1964-1966
    » Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro seven times
    » Traded in 1958 for nine players
    » 12,799 career all-purpose yards second only to Jim Brown when he retired
    » 5,173 career rushing yards, 40 career rushing touchdowns, 23 career receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Green Bay Packers, 1958-1966; New Orleans Saints, 1967<br>
&raquo; Four-time NFL champion, one-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; NFL MVP in 1962<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing yards once and rushing touchdowns twice<br>
&raquo; 8,597 career rushing yards, 83 career rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame<br> 23

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    23. Jim Taylor

    Green Bay Packers, 1958-1966; New Orleans Saints, 1967
    » Four-time NFL champion, one-time Super Bowl champion
    » NFL MVP in 1962
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » Led league in rushing yards once and rushing touchdowns twice
    » 8,597 career rushing yards, 83 career rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Miami Dolphins, 1968-1974<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; 8,081 career rushing yards, 64 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame 22

    Al Messerschmidt/Associated Press

    22. Larry Csonka

    Miami Dolphins, 1968-1974
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » 8,081 career rushing yards, 64 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • L.A. Raiders, 1982-1992; kansas City Chiefs, 1993-1997<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing touchdowns twice and rushing yards once<br>
&raquo; 12,243 career rushing yards, 144 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame<br> 21

    Mark Avery/Associated Press

    21. Marcus Allen

    L.A. Raiders, 1982-1992; kansas City Chiefs, 1993-1997
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro once
    » Led league in rushing touchdowns twice and rushing yards once
    » 12,243 career rushing yards, 144 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Cleveland Browns, 1946-1953; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1955<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted First Team All-Pro twice<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing yards in 1950<br>
&raquo; 4,720 career rushing yards, 31 career rushing touchdowns, seven career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame<br> 20

    Pro Football Hall of Fame/Associated Press

    20. Marion Motley

    Cleveland Browns, 1946-1953; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1955
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Voted First Team All-Pro twice
    » Led league in rushing yards in 1950
    » 4,720 career rushing yards, 31 career rushing touchdowns, seven career receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Denver Broncos, 1995-2001<br>
&raquo; Two-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing one season, rushing touchdowns two seasons<br>
&raquo; 7,607 career rushing yards, 60 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Elected to Pro Football hall of Fame 19

    Eric Lars Bakke/Associated Press

    19. Terrell Davis

    Denver Broncos, 1995-2001
    » Two-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to three Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » Led league in rushing one season, rushing touchdowns two seasons
    » 7,607 career rushing yards, 60 career rushing touchdowns
    » Elected to Pro Football hall of Fame

  • N.Y. Jets, 1971-1975; Washington Redskins, 1976-1979, 1981-1986<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion, one Super Bowl MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to one Pro Bowl, one First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing touchdowns twice<br>
&raquo; 11,352 career rushing yards, 104 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame 18

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    18. John Riggins

    N.Y. Jets, 1971-1975; Washington Redskins, 1976-1979, 1981-1986
    » One-time Super Bowl champion, one Super Bowl MVP
    » Voted to one Pro Bowl, one First Team All-Pro
    » Led league in rushing touchdowns twice
    » 11,352 career rushing yards, 104 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame

  • L.A./St. Louis Rams, 1993-1995; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996-2005<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro two times<br>
&raquo; 13,662 career rushing yards, 91 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame 17

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    17. Jerome Bettis

    L.A./St. Louis Rams, 1993-1995; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996-2005
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to six Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro two times
    » 13,662 career rushing yards, 91 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame

  • Buffalo Bills, 1988-1999; Miami Dolphins, 2000<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; 12,074 career rushing yards, 88 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame 16

    Doug Mills/Associated Press

    16. Thurman Thomas

    Buffalo Bills, 1988-1999; Miami Dolphins, 2000
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » 12,074 career rushing yards, 88 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame

  • San Francisco 49ers, 1954-1956; Detroit Lions, 1957-1959; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1960-1965; Houston Oilers, 1966<br>
&raquo; Two-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to four Pro Bowls<br>
&raquo; 6,803 career rushing yards, 48 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame 15

    NFL/Associated Press

    15. John Henry Johnson

    San Francisco 49ers, 1954-1956; Detroit Lions, 1957-1959; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1960-1965; Houston Oilers, 1966
    » Two-time NFL champion
    » Voted to four Pro Bowls
    » 6,803 career rushing yards, 48 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame

  • Minnesota Vikings, 2007-2016; New Orleans Saints, 2017; Arizona Cardinals 2017<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Four-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; Three-time NFL rushing yards leader, two-time NFL touchdowns leader<br>
&raquo; NFL-record 296 yards in single game<br>
&raquo; 12,276 career rushing yards, 99 career rushing touchdowns 14

    Mike Stone/Associated Press

    14. Adrian Peterson

    Minnesota Vikings, 2007-2016; New Orleans Saints, 2017; Arizona Cardinals 2017
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Four-time First Team All-Pro
    » Three-time NFL rushing yards leader, two-time NFL touchdowns leader
    » NFL-record 296 yards in single game
    » 12,276 career rushing yards, 99 career rushing touchdowns

  • New England Patriots, 1995-1997; N.Y. Jets 1998-2006<br>
&raquo; Five-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time First Team All-Pro<br>
&raquo; NFL rushing yards leader in 2004<br>
&raquo; 14,101 career rushing yards, 90 career rushing touchdowns, 10 career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame 13

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    13. Curtis Martin

    New England Patriots, 1995-1997; N.Y. Jets 1998-2006
    » Five-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time First Team All-Pro
    » NFL rushing yards leader in 2004
    » 14,101 career rushing yards, 90 career rushing touchdowns, 10 career receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football hall of Fame

  • Indianapolis Colts, 1994-1998; St. Louis Rams, 1999-2005<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl seven times; First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; 12,280 career rushing yards, 100 career rushing touchdowns, 767 career receptions, 36 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 12

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    12. Marshall Faulk

    Indianapolis Colts, 1994-1998; St. Louis Rams, 1999-2005
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl seven times; First Team All-Pro three times
    » 12,280 career rushing yards, 100 career rushing touchdowns, 767 career receptions, 36 career rushing touchdowns
    » Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Dallas Cowboys, 1990-2002; Arizona Cardinals, 2003-2004<br>
&raquo; Three-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl eight times; First Team All-Pro four times<br>
&raquo; NFL career leader in rushing yards (18,355) and rushing touchdowns (164)<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing four times and rushing touchdowns four times<br>
&raquo; Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 11

    Kevin Terrell/Associated Press

    11. Emmitt Smith

    Dallas Cowboys, 1990-2002; Arizona Cardinals, 2003-2004
    » Three-time Super Bowl champion, one-time Super Bowl MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl eight times; First Team All-Pro four times
    » NFL career leader in rushing yards (18,355) and rushing touchdowns (164)
    » Led league in rushing four times and rushing touchdowns four times
    » Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Buffalo Bills, 1969-1977; San Francisco 49ers, 1978-1979<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl five times, First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing four times, rushing touchdowns two times<br>
&raquo; 11,236 career rushing yards, 61 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 10

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    10. O.J. Simpson

    Buffalo Bills, 1969-1977; San Francisco 49ers, 1978-1979
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl five times, First Team All-Pro five times
    » Led league in rushing four times, rushing touchdowns two times
    » 11,236 career rushing yards, 61 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Dallas Cowboys, 1977-1987; Denver Broncos, 1988<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl four times; First Team All-Pro once<br>
&raquo; NFL-record 99-yard run from scrimmage<br>
&raquo; 12,739 career rushing yards, 77 career rushing touchdowns, 13 career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 9

    Tony Tomsic/Associated Press

    9. Tony Dorsett

    Dallas Cowboys, 1977-1987; Denver Broncos, 1988
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » Voted to Pro Bowl four times; First Team All-Pro once
    » NFL-record 99-yard run from scrimmage
    » 12,739 career rushing yards, 77 career rushing touchdowns, 13 career receiving touchdowns
    » Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing three times, rushing touchdowns twice<br>
&raquo; 9,407 career rushing yards, 74 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 8

    Al Messerschmidt/Associated Press

    8. Earl Campbell

    Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls, First Team All-Pro three times
    » Led league in rushing three times, rushing touchdowns twice
    » 9,407 career rushing yards, 74 career rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Detroit Lions, 1989-1998<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to five Pro Bowls 10 times, First Team All-Pro six times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing four times, rushing touchdowns once<br>
&raquo; 15,269 career rushing yards, 99 career rushing touchdowns, 10 career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 7

    Greg Trott/Associated Press

    7. Barry Sanders

    Detroit Lions, 1989-1998
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to five Pro Bowls 10 times, First Team All-Pro six times
    » Led league in rushing four times, rushing touchdowns once
    » 15,269 career rushing yards, 99 career rushing touchdowns, 10 career receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • L.A. Rams, 1983-1987; Indianapolis Colts , 1987-1991; L.A. Raiders, 1992; Atlanta Falcons, 1993<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl six times; First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing four times<br>
&raquo; Holds NFL record for most rushing yards in a season (2,105)<br>
&raquo; 13,259 career rushing yards, 90 career rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 6

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    6. Eric Dickerson

    L.A. Rams, 1983-1987; Indianapolis Colts , 1987-1991; L.A. Raiders, 1992; Atlanta Falcons, 1993
    » Voted to Pro Bowl six times; First Team All-Pro five times
    » Led league in rushing four times
    » Holds NFL record for most rushing yards in a season (2,105)
    » 13,259 career rushing yards, 90 career rushing touchdowns
    » Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • San Diego Chargers, 2001-2009; N.Y. Jets, 2010-2011<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl five times; First Team All-Pro three times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing twice, rushing touchdowns three times<br>
&raquo; Holds NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a season (28)<br>
&raquo; 13,684 career rushing yards, 145 career rushing touchdowns, 17 career receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 5

    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    5. LaDainian Tomlinson

    San Diego Chargers, 2001-2009; N.Y. Jets, 2010-2011
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl five times; First Team All-Pro three times
    » Led league in rushing twice, rushing touchdowns three times
    » Holds NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a season (28)
    » 13,684 career rushing yards, 145 career rushing touchdowns, 17 career receiving touchdowns
    » Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • L.A. Raiders, 1987-1990<br>
&raquo; One Pro Bowl selection<br>
&raquo; 2,782 career rushing yards, 16 career rushing touchdowns<br> 4

    NFL Photos/Associated Press

    4. Bo Jackson

    L.A. Raiders, 1987-1990
    » One Pro Bowl selection
    » 2,782 career rushing yards, 16 career rushing touchdowns

  • Chicago Bears, 1965-1971<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl four times; First Team All-Pro five times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing twice<br>
&raquo; 4,956 rushing yards, 39 rushing touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 3

    Vernon J. Biever/Associated Press

    3. Gale Sayers

    Chicago Bears, 1965-1971
    » Voted to Pro Bowl four times; First Team All-Pro five times
    » Led league in rushing twice
    » 4,956 rushing yards, 39 rushing touchdowns
    » Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Chicago Bears, 1975-1987<br>
&raquo; One-time Super Bowl champion<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, First Team All-Pro seven times<br>
&raquo; 16,726 career rushing yards, 110 career rushing touchdowns, 15 receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame 2

    Tom DiPace/Associated Press

    2. Walter Payton

    Chicago Bears, 1975-1987
    » One-time Super Bowl champion
    » One-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, First Team All-Pro seven times
    » 16,726 career rushing yards, 110 career rushing touchdowns, 15 receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Cleveland Browns, 1957-1965<br>
&raquo; One-time NFL champion<br>
&raquo; Three-time NFL MVP<br>
&raquo; Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, First Team All-Pro eight times<br>
&raquo; Led league in rushing yards eight times and rushing touchdowns five times<br>
&raquo; 12,312 career rushing yards, 106 career rushing touchdowns, 20 receiving touchdowns<br>
&raquo; Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame 1

    Associated Press

    1. Jim Brown

    Cleveland Browns, 1957-1965
    » One-time NFL champion
    » Three-time NFL MVP
    » Voted to Pro Bowl nine times, First Team All-Pro eight times
    » Led league in rushing yards eight times and rushing touchdowns five times
    » 12,312 career rushing yards, 106 career rushing touchdowns, 20 receiving touchdowns
    » Enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

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