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?

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).

I forgot about LT; I agree, he would be a strong candidate, too.

Besides those already mentioned, Marshall Faulk is a big omission from this list. Marcus Allen might have some complaints too.

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.

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.

No Tony Dorsett?

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.

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.

John Riggins anyone?

Maybe not among the best ever, but no doubt among the most fun ever.

“Take it easy, Sandy baby”

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.

I thought it is was “loosen up, Sandy baby.”

I thought it was “loosen up, Sandy baby.”

I was impressed with Larry Csonka when I was a kid.

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 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.