Sweet in disposition and talent. Payton retired as the NFL's alltime leading rusher (16,726) and is considered by many to be the NFL's greatest running back.
Runner-up: Bo Jackson.
Worthy of consideration: Earl Campbell, Rollie Fingers, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal (Lakers), Kirby Puckett, Nolan Ryan, Herschel Walker (college).
Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./SI