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best runningback in NFL history


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who's the best?  

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  1. 1. who's the best?

    • Jim Brown
    • Walter Payton
    • Eric Dickerson
      0
    • Earl Campbell
    • Emmit Smith
      0
    • Curtis Martin
    • Barry Sanders
    • Marshall Faulk
    • L.T.
    • other


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Actually Brown was so much better and quit at his PEAK. He averaged over 5 yard a carry. Was, big,strong, sprinter speed and needed to be gang tackled. It is a shame so many of you never saw him [lay. He was the single most dominate player ever to step on a football field. The funny thing The Browns never had him block because just being on the field tied at least one or two defenders. There is Jim Brown, then all the rest. Sanders had great moves and quickness, but was not a real thrat around the goal line or when only a yard was needed. Jim had had it all.

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Actually Brown was so much better and quit at his PEAK. He averaged over 5 yard a carry. Was, big,strong, sprinter speed and needed to be gang tackled. It is a shame so many of you never saw him [lay. He was the single most dominate player ever to step on a football field. The funny thing The Browns never had him block because just being on the field tied at least one or two defenders. There is Jim Brown, then all the rest. Sanders had great moves and quickness, but was not a real thrat around the goal line or when only a yard was needed. Jim had had it all.

Pretty much what I hear from everyone who saw him play.

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Huh?

I still have no idea how that rumor got started. Sanders pretty much ALWAYS played with a solid OL.

Amazing as he was, he also used to lead the league in carries for lost-yardage virtually every season.

I just remember seeing defenders knifing through to get to Sanders, and he would do a 180 and make something out of nothing.

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Actually Brown was so much better and quit at his PEAK. He averaged over 5 yard a carry. Was, big,strong, sprinter speed and needed to be gang tackled. It is a shame so many of you never saw him [lay. He was the single most dominate player ever to step on a football field. The funny thing The Browns never had him block because just being on the field tied at least one or two defenders. There is Jim Brown, then all the rest. Sanders had great moves and quickness, but was not a real thrat around the goal line or when only a yard was needed. Jim had had it all.

while much of this is true, look at who Brown was playing against

the evolution of the game makes it harder to be a running back

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Huh?

I still have no idea how that rumor got started. Sanders pretty much ALWAYS played with a solid OL.

Amazing as he was, he also used to lead the league in carries for lost-yardage virtually every season.

Sperm,

I started that rumor. I just thought that since defenders always seemed to be at his ankle as soon as he got the ball, that it meant he had a bad o-line.

Apologies.

Me

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Sperm,

I started that rumor. I just thought that since defenders always seemed to be at his ankle as soon as he got the ball, that it meant he had a bad o-line.

Apologies.

Me

I don't see how anyone here would have seen enough complete Lions games from 1989-1990 onward to make that judgment. What you're referring to are his many highlights. And they were damn impressive. Most of his career had Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover on his line, in addition to other solid starters, veterans, or future stars (Zefross Moss, Jeff Hartings, Mike Compton, etc).

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I never really saw Brown, but I don't think I think everybody that saw him play thinks he was the best. I didn't pick him because I didn't see him.

I don't think laziness was the problem. The Lions played a spread out offense with a lot or WRs. That gave Sanders the room to run. I believe that he was not as successful in a conventional offense. While Sanders was amazing, I don't really consider guys that aren't true do it all backs for GOAT. Doesn't mean he wouldn't be above average or better no matter how he was used, just not GOAT in my opinion. I'd take a Payton/OJ/Jim Brown type over a Faulk or Sanders.

Not if you had seen him play. Earl Campbell was so much better than Dickerson it's not even funny. I always thought of him as a compiler, but you can't argue with 100+ypg. Quality back, but I never really considered him the best back in the league. It feels kind of like picking Franco Harris, who isn't even in the ballpark.

Again, I disagree. I think the Bo Jackson hype machine is one of the biggest farces in sports. He had a nice season or two. I have to admit that I was surprised how good his numbers were the time I looked them up, but I don't think he earned the right to be mentioned with these guys and if he didn't get hurt I'd have expected a nice career, but not the HOF. That TD where he Knocked Boz down has to be the most overrated run in sports. With the angle Bo had it was almost impossible not to score. There were other guys whose careers were destroyed by injuries I liked better. Billy Simms for one.

I'm the guy that picked Earl Campbell. His career numbers were down because of injuries, but he was the single most dominant back I have seen. I kind of look at GOAT as who I would pick if there were a draft of all these players. That's why I couldn't pick a chicken arm like Montana for GATQB. Even considering the injuries and overuse I'd pick Campbell. You can like somebody better, but there is no way you'll ever convince me anybody I have seen was a better back. I concede Jim Brown, but I never really saw him.

I guess I only go by what I have seen. There are knocks on most of these guys-careers cut short by injuries, just compilers and not amazing, great moves, but lost too many yards. I know from what I've seen that I would watch any Oiler game I could to see Campbell crush people and no matter what offense he played in or what D was played against him he would gain his yards. IMO, if you just look at it rationally it should be between OJ, Payton, Sanders and Brown.

Only thing I'd add re Bo Jackson is that every player uses the off-season to recover from injuries. Then spring comes and you get the chance to get eased in. To new plays, new players, and new schemes. Played a full season of baseball & then jumped right into football season with no break. Then football season ends & with in a month he's off to Florida for spring training in baseball again. So I think his accomplishments on the football field (including like 7 yards per carry as a rookie) amounted to more than a one-time showing- up of Brian Bustworth.

But I'd agree that his career is still largely (if not mostly) "what if" because of baseball and the injury.

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Jim Brown was by far the best running back ever to play in the NFL, IMHO.

I will say that I would have voted for Gale Sayers if his career hadn't been cut short by injury. The most exciting running back I've ever seen.

God, I'm old. ;)

It does suck to be getting old but ...

I can say I saw Gale Sayers run with a football,

I saw Sandy Koufax pitch a baseball,

I saw Oscar Robertson play basketball ...

We will never see their likes again.

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Huh?

I still have no idea how that rumor got started. Sanders pretty much ALWAYS played with a solid OL.

Amazing as he was, he also used to lead the league in carries for lost-yardage virtually every season.

Sanders was often substituted for in goal line and short yardage situations.

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Brown Hands Down. He was the Babe Ruth of Football. You can say athelettes are better now but he was so head and shoulders better than the rest at his time. Only thing I have seen that comes close is Cambel in his prime, Power, speed and dominance. Just remeber that football was a lot MEANER then. No love lost between teams and players. Extra punching kicking spearing after the play was common. We may have had LT in our generation but juys like Butkus nad nitchke would be very happy to hurt and cripple you. I don't think it was ever easy to be a running back.

Next for me would be Earl, Sayers, OJ (scumbag but damm was he great) and I have to give TOmlison some potential cudos here

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Brown Hands Down. He was the Babe Ruth of Basketball. You can say athelettes are better now but he was so head and shoulders better than the rest at his time. Only thing I have seen that comes close is Cambel in his prime, Power, speed and dominance. Just remeber that football was a lot MEANER then. No love lost between teams and players. Extra punching kicking spearing after the play was common. We may have had LT in our generation but juys like Butkus nad nitchke would be very happy to hurt and cripple you. I don't think it was ever easy to be a running back.

Next for me would be Earl, Sayers, OJ (scumbag but damm was he great) and I have to give TOmlison some potential cudos here

I knew he was a monster lacrosse player, but basketball? It was meaner then and there were less teams back then. That may have may have made it easier to win a title, but the competition was also less watered down.

For those that knew Sayers: Were there any more modern backs he was like? I know that he had unbelievable moves and speed, but I kind of think of him more like Sanders. Homerun threat, not as much power. I kind of think of him as the ultimate scat back and I don't mean that as an insult.

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For those that knew Sayers: Were there any more modern backs he was like? I know that he had unbelievable moves and speed, but I kind of think of him more like Sanders. Homerun threat, not as much power. I kind of think of him as the ultimate scat back and I don't mean that as an insult.

That is a common misperception about Sayers. It is easy to understand given he was not real big and he had so many 70 yard run highlights. But Sayers was actually a very complete back. He was not a dancer at all. He was a great inside runner. A lot of his long TD runs started as up the middle or off tackle blasts. He hit the LOS faster than anybody I have ever seen. He could get the tough first downs and goal line TD thrusts. He was extremely strong for his size and just blasted thru the line. You did not see the fancy moves until he got in the open field. And then, baby, it was all over.

He was actually quite different than Sanders. Sanders was like a quicksilver waterbug. He would go sideways, backwards, anything to try to set up the long run. That, and a poor o-line, is why he got tackled behind the LOS a lot. He was great, but a very different kind of runner than Sayers.

The only guys I ever saw that were anywhere near the style of Sayers were O.J. and Tony Dorsett. And as great as they were, they weren't even close in pure ability.

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That is a common misperception about Sayers. It is easy to understand given he was not real big and he had so many 70 yard run highlights. But Sayers was actually a very complete back. He was not a dancer at all. He was a great inside runner. A lot of his long TD runs started as up the middle or off tackle blasts. He hit the LOS faster than anybody I have ever seen. He could get the tough first downs and goal line TD thrusts. He was extremely strong for his size and just blasted thru the line. You did not see the fancy moves until he got in the open field. And then, baby, it was all over.

He was actually quite different than Sanders. Sanders was like a quicksilver waterbug. He would go sideways, backwards, anything to try to set up the long run. That, and a poor o-line, is why he got tackled behind the LOS a lot. He was great, but a very different kind of runner than Sayers.

The only guys I ever saw that were anywhere near the style of Sayers were O.J. and Tony Dorsett. And as great as they were, they weren't even close in pure ability.

Thanks. I don't have a real perception because I don't remember seeing the guy, but most of the clips were loooooong runs. Made it feel like everything was a kick return.

whats interesting about sanders is what was said about him recently that he didn't really try. if the guy had worked harder and had a dying passion for it, then what would he have been

I've heard that too. I wonder how true it is. First of all, he obviously gave plenty to the game. That many carries beats on your body, even at the lowest levels. I also wonder if putting more into the game would have made him that much better. One person may be able to get a real good grade on a test without really studying, while another studies all day for the same grade. Sometimes the first guy simply can't bring himself to study or won't get any better grade by studying.

Sometimes what these guys do is like art. There was a creativity and spontaneity to Sanders that more study or reps wouldn't necessarily have helped and sometimes more working out just makes them break down or crack.

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Based upon the traditional way of judging "the best" (career achievements, impact, etc.) - Jim Brown. Based on pure ability, albeit a career shortened by injuries - Gale Sayers.
That's my argument for Earl Campbell. Bum Phillips didn't have a playbook; hand it to Earl, let him run some defensive guys over, line it up and keep doing it. They knew it was coming, and in his prime he couldn't be stopped. It took a BS call (which led directly to replay) vs. the Steelers to deny him a Super Bowl. But that kind of use took a toll, and he was done very quickly. Still, if pure dominance is the criteria, Campbell was far and away the most dominant, if only for a short time.
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Thanks. I don't have a real perception because I don't remember seeing the guy, but most of the clips were loooooong runs. Made it feel like everything was a kick return.

That's the other thing about Sayers. He did it all. Runs, pass receptions, kickoffs and punt returns. In his rookie year in 1965 he averaged 5.2 on runs, 17.5 per receptions, 31.4 on kickoff returns and 14.9 on punt returns. While scoring 22 TDs in a 14 game season in which Halas did not start him until the 3rd game.

Think about those numbers compared to the best in the NFL last year. His rushing average was more than LT (the best runner of this era), his receiving average was more than Randy Moss (keep in mind Sayers was a runningback catching mostly screen passes), his kickoff and punt returns were more than Hester (who is a return specialist that many are calling the best of all time). One guy. Who as a rookie, averaged better than the best of the best today in four different categories.

Somebody once said Sayers looked like he came down to the NFL from a higher league. It was so true.

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