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.
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.