A Highlight Reel of Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Franco Harris's greatest runs would have a lot of this: Franco darts past a cheerleader; Franco leaps over a Gatorade bucket; Franco jukes a ball boy. Harris ran for 12,120 yards in his 13-year career (1972-84). Had he not run out-of-bounds every time he neared a sideline with a tackier in range, that number probably would have been closer to 15,000. Harris (right) was a big man (6'2", 230 pounds) with bullish shoulders and minimal fakes, but in the era of hard-nosed, outta-my-way snowplows like Earl Campbell, John Riggins and—often enough—Walter Payton, Harris was a unicycle. It was so blatant that in 1984, when Harris was nearing the alltime rushing mark, Jim Brown, the record holder at that time, openly pulled for Payton to be the one to displace him.
When people remember Freeman McNeil, it's either for his gutsy lead role in a lawsuit that brought down the NFL's restrictions on player movement or for his endless string of injuries. McNeil, however, was much more than a gimpy crusader. In 12 years (1981-92) with the New York Jets, he accumulated 8,074 rushing yards behind some of the worst NFL offensive linemen this side of Tony Mandarich. He was a thrill ride—Barry Sanders and Warrick Dunn and James Brooks rolled into one—but he was never afraid to wedge his helmet into a linebacker's chest. His numbers won' blow folks away, but McNeil was an artist.