The NFL’s All-Time Rushing Leaders

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Many different statistics are taken into consideration in the debate of who the greatest NFL running back of all time is. One of the stat-lines that is always taken into consideration is who had the most rushing yards from scrimmage, one of the favorite bets at allpro . There have been many great running backs in the history of the NFL. Some of them were better runners than others, while others were better in the passing attack or as blockers. Some great running backs went on to win Super Bowls while others did not. But if we are talking about all-time rushing records, then the most career running yards from scrimmage is an undeniable statistic for determining greatness.

According to this statistic, these are the three all-time rushing leaders in the history of the National Football League.

Emmitt Smith

In his 15 years as a running back in the NFL, Smith amassed more rushing yards than any other running back in the history of the NFL. Playing from 1990 to 2004, Smith rushed for a total of 18,355 yards. Not only is he the all-time leading rusher by a significant margin, many analysts consider Smith to be the most complete running back of all time. He was as good catching the ball as he was running with it, and there are not many running backs that had the speed, power and elusiveness that he had.

Smith was a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, where he played for the majority of his illustrious career. He went on to win three Super Bowls with the Cowboys and is also the only running back in the history of the league to win four of the most coveted awards in one year. Namely, for the 1993 season, Smith won the Super Bowl with the Cowboys, was named the Super Bowl MVP, the league MVP, and won the rushing crown for most rushing yards by any running back that year. He is also one of only two non-kickers to account for over 1,000 points in his career. Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, being the first player from the 1990 draft class to receive this honor.

Walter Payton

Payton held the rushing record for the longest time of any running back until it was finally broken by Emmitt Smith. He rushed for a total of 16,726 yards in between 1975 and 1987 as a member of the Chicago Bears team. “Sweetness,” as he was called, was easily the most dominant football player of his era. In fact, during his most prolific year, he led the league not only in rushing yards, but also rushing attempts, touchdowns scored, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards, and a slew of other offensive categories.

Payton was even good at throwing the ball. He threw for eight touchdowns in his career, which is more than any other non-quarterback in league history. Payton was selected to the Pro-Bowl nine times in his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. He was also known as a great humanitarian and his legacy of helping others continues to live on through the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which is given to players involved in volunteer and charity work. Payton won a lone Super Bowl as a member of the 1985 Bears.

Barry Sanders

If you ask anyone who the running back was that was most exciting to watch, most would say Barry Sanders. Known as being the most elusive running back of all time, his legacy might be the strongest, considering that he was able to achieve such incredible personal statistics while virtually always playing on a losing team. Sanders amassed 15,269 in his career playing for the Detroit Lions. He never reached a Super Bowl, but is still regarded as being one of the best running backs in the history of the sport. Sanders averaged over 1,500 rushing yards per season, which is even more incredible considering that the Detroit Lions usually had a fairly poor passing game and opponents knew that Sanders would be getting the ball on a majority of the team’s offensive plays.

Leslie writes about sports at his blog and on other sports sites.

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