SI Vault
 
Dynamic Dozen
Paul Zimmerman
November 04, 2002
Dr. Z's list of the alltime greatest running backs
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 04, 2002

Dynamic Dozen

Dr. Z's list of the alltime greatest running backs

View CoverRead All Articles

1. JIM BROWN
The man who never missed a game during his nine-year career was so speedy and elusive that people forgot how big he was. But at 228 pounds he could call on his power, too.

2. WALTER PAYTON
Tireless and indestructible, he ran with fury and punished tacklers. His legendary workouts kept him in superb shape and got him through 13 NFL seasons.

3. EMMITT SMITH
His last few years have, unfortunately, blurred the memory of what he once was—a dynamic cutback runner with an explosive burst. He got stronger as opposing defenses sagged.

4. BARRY SANDERS
The most unusual runner ever, he had a crazy-legs style that made one-on-one tackles almost impossible. A cinch to have broken the record if he hadn't retired at age 31.

5. O.J. SIMPSON
He combined world-class speed with amazing cutting ability. Could dart through the smallest creases. Tacklers never got the right angle on him because of his dynamic change of pace.

6. HUGH (THE KING) MCELHENNY
The Barry Sanders of his day, he was a threat as a pass catcher, too. Played in a backfield with two other Hall of Famers, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

7. MARSHALL FAULK
He's the alltime best receiver out of the backfield, forcing defenses to adjust as he lines up all over the field. As a runner he has the great ability of being able to make people miss.

8. ERIC DICKERSON
This silky-smooth glider did it so effortlessly that he'd turn what looked like a two-yard gain into an eight-yarder. Led the league in walk-in touchdowns.

9. TONY DORSETT
Durability was an early concern for this small, elusive back, but he gave the Cowboys II terrific years and showed remarkable toughness. Shockingly fast, with a great takeoff.

10. GALE SAYERS
A darting dragonfly in the open field, catching passes or running sweeps, he also ranks as the best kickoff returner of all time with a 30.6-yard career average.

Continue Story
1 2