On Wednesday, that running back -- Peyton Hillis -- earned the distinction of being on the cover of "Madden NFL 12" after a tournament-style, head-to-head voting by fans in which Hillis bested two of the game's most exciting players, Michael Vick in the final vote and Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers in the semifinal.
In between those two monumental events, Hillis captured the fancy of fans everywhere. Relive his magical 2010 season with these select moments:
What happened: Hillis takes a handoff from QB Jake Delhomme, sprints left and outraces Tampa Bay's defense to the end zone. The score was Hillis' first of 11 on the season for the Browns. While the fresh face in the backfield showed promise, the result on the scoreboard was an all too familiar and painful one for Cleveland: 17-14, Buccaneers.
What happened: Hillis takes a handoff from QB Seneca Wallace and blasts through the front line of one of the more notoriously stingy defenses in the NFL. Hillis sprints through the secondary for a 48-yard scamper that earns the running back his first career 100-yard game. Listen carefully on the highlight as the game play-by-play announcer even goes as far as to say about Hillis, "This guy is good television."
What happened: Hillis storms through the Saints' defense for the Browns' only offensive touchdown of the game. The score helped the Browns pull off a shocking upset of the defending Super Bowl champions (it also marked the third consecutive year in which the Browns had defeated the previous season's Super Bowl winner).
What happened: Hillis caps a career day (a season-high 184 yards rushing) and seals another amazing upset win for the Browns with a 35-yard fourth-quarter scoring run that ices a Cleveland win and cools off the red-hot Patriots. It was Hillis' second touchdown run of the game (he also scored a 2-yard TD). In a surprising twist, on one play Hillis lines up out wide and hauls in a 29-yard reception.
What happened: Hillis continues to show his versatility out of the backfield, reeling in a short pass from QB Colt McCoy, breaking a tackle after attaining a first down, and then rambling an additional 30-plus yards for a 47-yard gain.
What happened: Hillis sprints left and beats the pursuing Panthers defenders to the end zone by diving for the pylon. The score was Hillis' 10th in 10 games, becoming just the fourth Browns player to accomplish that feat. Hillis had a dominant performance in the win over the Panthers, scoring two more touchdowns in the game, the second on a 5-yard run and the third came from six yards out.