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Old 12-30-2019, 01:58 PM
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NFL All-Time 100: RBs


{in no particular order}:

Jim Brown
Walter Payton
Earl "Dutch" Clark
Barry Sanders
Emmitt Smith
Eric Dickerson
O.J. Simpson
Gale Sayers
Steve van Buren
Lenny Moore
Marion Motley
Earl Campbell

Thoughts? Comments?
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:00 PM
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Interestingly, unlike some of the other position lists, which heavily skew towards the last few decades, not a single one of these RBs is currently active; only one of them (Emmitt Smith) played at all in the past 20 years (and he retired 15 years ago).

I'm fairly sure that that's a function of the relative de-emphasis of the running game in the past few decades, and the relative lack of star RBs who have long careers today.

The only guy I can think of from the past 20 years who might belong on this list is Adrian Peterson.

Two older players who I think could have been in the conversation are Franco Harris and Jim Taylor, but I'm not sure that they would be better than who's already on the list.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 12-30-2019 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Interestingly, unlike some of the other position lists, which heavily skew towards the last few decades, not a single one of these RBs is currently active; only one of them (Emmitt Smith) played at all in the past 20 years (and he retired 15 years ago).

I'm fairly sure that that's a function of the relative de-emphasis of the running game in the past few decades, and the relative lack of star RBs who have long careers today.

The only guy I can think of from the past 20 years who might belong on this list is Adrian Peterson.

Two older players who I think could have been in the conversation are Franco Harris and Jim Taylor, but I'm not sure that they would be better than who's already on the list.
There was some discussion about that. A.P. was, indeed, a more recent RB that it was said merited consideration (another was LaDainian Tomlinson).
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Old 12-30-2019, 11:15 PM
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There was some discussion about that. A.P. was, indeed, a more recent RB that it was said merited consideration (another was LaDainian Tomlinson).
I forgot about LT; I agree, he would be a strong candidate, too.
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:43 AM
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Besides those already mentioned, Marshall Faulk is a big omission from this list. Marcus Allen might have some complaints too.
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:47 AM
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Why was Earl Campbell included on the list?
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Old 12-31-2019, 10:26 AM
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Why was Earl Campbell included on the list?
That's an interesting question. Campbell was absolutely dominant for his first three seasons in the league, and was arguably the NFL's best player in those seasons.

I suspect that all of the carries (1043 in those three seasons), and his punishing running style, took their toll, and he was never the same after that.

Are those three seasons enough to merit inclusion on the list? I'm not sure I think so, either.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:28 PM
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I was surprised to see Bronko Nagurski left off this list. I've seen him considered among all-time greats much more often than his contemporary Dutch Clark.
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Old 01-09-2020, 05:54 PM
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I was surprised to see Bronko Nagurski left off this list. I've seen him considered among all-time greats much more often than his contemporary Dutch Clark.
Me, too. He was on both the 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams, after all.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:16 PM
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No Tony Dorsett?
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:59 PM
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The only guy I can think of from the past 20 years who might belong on this list is Adrian Peterson.
Fred Taylor [in addition to LT] has a case, too. Awesome breakaway ability, which is something you rarely see anymore.

Edgerrin James also gets little love from most quarters for some odd reason: also an excellent pass catcher: almost everybody above him on both the rushing & from scrimmage lists are already in.

Last edited by John DiFool; 01-09-2020 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:23 AM
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Me, too. He was on both the 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams, after all.
Yes. Clark, Campbell, and Moore were left off the 75th, but somehow make it to the 100th at Bronko's expense?

I can see the committee wanting to recognize these guys, but Nagurski was a giant of the 1930s game. He was rated the #10 US athlete of the first half of the century. I can see leaving Thorpe and Grange off - they didn't make the 75th Anniversary team, and they were probably better known as college players - but Nagurski came back in 1943 after six years as a pro wrestler to carry the Bears to a championship in one final game at fullback (after a season at tackle). Perhaps the panel thought that Clark had been unfairly neglected, and his record does indicate considerable badassery, but I've never seen him rated over Bronko.

Perhaps the (frankly weird) naming of an award for defensive excellence has obscured collective memory of what a great fullback he was. Beyond that, this is the outstanding omission of the panel. I'm glad Seau was on the team; I'm very glad that Jim Parker was unanimous, and I'm a little disappointed that Polamalu didn't make the cut (though I suppose that's more understandable). Bronko's omission is the only real issue I have.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:36 PM
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John Riggins anyone?
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:28 PM
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John Riggins anyone?
Maybe not among the best ever, but no doubt among the most fun ever.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:21 PM
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Maybe not among the best ever, but no doubt among the most fun ever.
"Take it easy, Sandy baby"
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:24 PM
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Well, Riggins is #19 in career rushing yards and #7 in career rushing TDs, so I'd say among the best.

I don't know that Gayle Sayers played long enough to be included.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:49 PM
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"Take it easy, Sandy baby"
I thought it is was "loosen up, Sandy baby."
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:53 PM
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"Take it easy, Sandy baby"
I thought it was "loosen up, Sandy baby."

I was impressed with Larry Csonka when I was a kid.
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:07 PM
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Tomlinson and Faulk probably belong on the list over OJ and Earl Campbell.

Sayers probably doesn't belong there, but it's basically consensus that he's, what, a top 3 talent at that position and only injuries prevented him from breaking records? Frank Gore is going to finish 3rd on the all time rushing list and he's nowhere near discussion for the list so obviously we don't weight longevity as highly as talent.
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:46 PM
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Maybe not among the best ever, but no doubt among the most fun ever.
I remember one game where John Riggins was trying to dive over the colliding linemen at the goal line. The goal line camera captured the moment. He leaped up, but landed lying on the shoulders and backs of the linemen, and began sliding inexorably back down from whence he came. As he sank toward the ground, Riggins looked right at the camera, while extending the ball with one hand across the plane of the goal line, then returning it to the protective cradle of his arms as he disappeared in the scrum. I swear he was smirking.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:30 PM
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Tomlinson and Faulk probably belong on the list over OJ and Earl Campbell.
For what it's worth:
- When he retired, Simpson had the second-highest career rushing total in league history, behind only Jim Brown
- He was the first running back to rush for 2000 yards in a single season (and the only one to do it in a 14-game season)
- He led the league in rushing four times
- He was an All-Pro in five consecutive seasons

Obviously, in the decades that followed, we discovered that he was a reprehensible human being, and I wouldn't disagree with anyone who feels that he shouldn't be the subject of any further honors for his football career based on that.

But, by the numbers alone, he was definitely one of the best running backs in NFL history.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 01-16-2020 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:50 PM
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For what it's worth:
- When he retired, Simpson had the second-highest career rushing total in league history, behind only Jim Brown
- He was the first running back to rush for 2000 yards in a single season (and the only one to do it in a 14-game season)
- He led the league in rushing four times
- He was an All-Pro in five consecutive seasons

Obviously, in the decades that followed, we discovered that he was a reprehensible human being, and I wouldn't disagree with anyone who feels that he shouldn't be the subject of any further honors for his football career based on that.

But, by the numbers alone, he was definitely one of the best running backs in NFL history.
Yeah, he was. And LT and Marshall Faulk were better.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:25 PM
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Tomlinson and Faulk probably belong on the list over OJ and Earl Campbell.

Sayers probably doesn't belong there, but it's basically consensus that he's, what, a top 3 talent at that position and only injuries prevented him from breaking records? Frank Gore is going to finish 3rd on the all time rushing list and he's nowhere near discussion for the list so obviously we don't weight longevity as highly as talent.
I think they made room for both. Compare the inclusion of "jack-of-all-trades" OL Bruce Matthews on the list to that of C Dwight Stephenson. Bruce Matthews may not have been truly dominant as an offensive lineman but he certainly was versatile (lining up at all positions on the offensive line at different times in his career) and he played for close to two decades. Dwight Stephenson, on the other hand, played for only about 8 seasons (as with Gale Sayers his burgeoning career was cut short by injury) but everything I've read about him suggests that he might very well be THE best center to ever play in the N.F.L.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Snarky_Kong View Post
Sayers probably doesn't belong there, but it's basically consensus that he's, what, a top 3 talent at that position and only injuries prevented him from breaking records? Frank Gore is going to finish 3rd on the all time rushing list and he's nowhere near discussion for the list so obviously we don't weight longevity as highly as talent.
In that case, here's my vote for Bo Jackson.
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