Top NFL Running Backs of All Time: Who Takes the Crown?
When it comes to the best running back in NFL history, there are many opinions and debates. However, one name that stands out amongst the rest is undoubtedly Barry Sanders.
Sanders had a remarkable career, playing for the Detroit Lions for his entire 10-year career. In his top season, which was 1997, Sanders rushed for a staggering 2,053 yards and 11 touchdowns. Not only did he lead the league in rushing that year, but he also earned the NFL MVP award.
Sanders was drafted third overall in 1989 by the Detroit Lions, and immediately made an impact. In his rookie season, he rushed for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning a Pro Bowl selection and the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He followed that up with three consecutive seasons of over 1,500 yards rushing and double-digit touchdowns.
In 1994, Sanders had what many consider to be his greatest season. He rushed for 1,883 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He also set the record for most rushing yards in a single season without a fumble, with 331 carries and no fumbles lost.
Though Sanders' statistics were incredible, what truly set him apart was his style of play. He was a master of making defenders miss, often juking and spinning his way out of seemingly impossible situations. He had a rare combination of speed, balance, and vision that made him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Despite his immense talent, Sanders' career was not without controversy. In 1999, after just 10 seasons in the league, Sanders abruptly retired from football, citing his desire to not take the physical punishment of the game anymore.
Even with a shortened career, Sanders' impact on the NFL is still felt today. He is the only player in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in ten consecutive seasons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, and his legacy as one of the greatest running backs of all time is secure.
While Sanders was consistently dominant throughout his career, his worst season was in 1993, where he rushed for just 1,115 yards. However, even in his worst season, he still managed to lead the league in rushing touchdowns.
Throughout his career, Sanders earned numerous notable awards, including 10 Pro Bowl selections, 6 First-Team All-Pro selections, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2004.
Sanders' talent on the field was undeniable, making him a true legend in NFL history. His agility, speed, and ability to make defenders miss are still talked about to this day, cementing his legacy as the greatest running back ever.