In the old days fullbacks were 60-minute men, blockers and short-yardage bangers on offense, linebackers on defense. In today's game fullbacks are on the field only in some formations, on the bench when the offense goes with multiple wideouts or two tight ends. They block and catch passes and, except for a couple of them, carry the ball about once a month. Between the old-timers and today's part-timers you had blocking and ball-carrying fullbacks who shared the load with halfbacks, the Jim Taylor-Paul Hornung combo on the Lombardi Packers being the best example.
How much value do I attach to the durability of old-time fullbacks in rating my alltime top 10? A lot. Jim Brown is my top runner, but he's not on this list because, although the program listed him as a fullback, he had few of the responsibilities of the position. He was really a featured back. Earl Campbell, near the top of my ball-carrying list, falls into the same category.
1. Marion Motley
Browns, Steelers; 1946-53, '55
A thundering runner, he also caught passes and was the greatest pass-blocking back I've ever seen.
2. Bronko Nagurski
Bears; 1930-37, '43
Bigger than defensive linemen of his day, he played with relentless fury.
3. Clark Hinkle
Old-timers in Green Bay will still argue that this explosive 207-pounder was more devastating than Nagurski.
4. Joe Perry
49ers, Colts; 1948-63
The first of the new-style fullbacks, he was sleek and powerful, and he had a takeoff that earned him the nickname Joe the Jet.