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Dr. Z's Top 10 Big Backs
Issue date: November 24, 1997
2. MARION MOTLEY (Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1946-53, 1955). He played most of his career at 238 pounds, ran with surprising speed, excelled at pass blocking and backed up the line on occasion.
3. BRONKO NAGURSKI (Bears; 1930-37, 1943). In today's game he would routinely crank out 1,500-yard seasons.
4. EARL CAMPBELL (Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints; 1978-85). At 5'11", 240 pounds, the Tyler Rose was explosive and ran low to the ground. He could wear out a defense.
5. COOKIE GILCHRIST (three teams; 1962-67). At 252 pounds, he was the first of the superheavyweights when he entered the AFL in 1962 with the Bills. When aroused, he was frightening.
6. LARRY CSONKA (Miami Dolphins, New York Giants; 1968-74, 1976-79). Best playing weight: 238. Most impressive talent: the ability to get low and tunnel under would-be tacklers.
7. JOHN RIGGINS (New York Jets, Washington Redskins; 1971-79, 1981-85). He began his career as a 230-pound halfback-fullback type with niftiness and moves, and ended it as the 244-pound Diesel, one of the greatest short-yardage runners in history.
8. ERNIE NEVERS (Duluth Eskimos, Chicago Cardinals; 1926-27, 1929-31). A tireless plunger in the middle. He weighed only 210, but in his era that was bigger than most linemen.
9. JIM NANCE (Boston/New England Patriots, Jets; 1965-71, 1973). His best weight was 240, but he got as high as 270. He was a gathering force who always seemed to be running downhill.
10. JOHN HENRY JOHNSON (four teams; 1954-66). He was a punishing 230-pounder with a mean streak.
covers by Daniel Schwartz (Brown), Heinz Kluetmeier (Campbell), Walter Iooss Jr. (Csonka), John G. Zimmerman (Riggins)
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