Buffalo Bills

Top 10 NFL Running Backs of All-Time Series: No. 9, O.J. Simpson‏

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 5:  OJ Simpson stands during sentencing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center December 5, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Simpson and co-defendant Clarence 'C.J.' Stewart were sentenced on 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy related to a 2007 confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel. (Photo by Issac Brekken-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
Leo FlorkowskiAnalyst IIIJune 3, 2012

This is the second part in a 10-part series that breaks down in detail the top 10 running backs in NFL history.

The ninth-best NFL RB of all-time is Orenthal James Simpson from his time with the Buffalo Bills.

Better known as O.J. Simpson or The Juice, he was drafted first overall out of USC by the Buffalo Bills. Unlike most RBs, his prime window actually occurred midway through his career as opposed to the beginning of his playing days.

Simpson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985, made six Pro Bowls and was named to five All-Pro first teams.

Simpson had three seasons where he rushed for 1,500-plus yards. His best season, when he ran for 2,003 yards, currently ranks as the sixth-highest rushing yard total in a single season. Since that rushing yard total was accomplished in a 14-game season (this was before the NFL played 16 games a year), it can be argued that it was the single greatest season any RB has ever had in the history of the NFL.

He also had 1,817- and 1,503-yard rushing seasons, which rank 17th and 78th best all-time respectively. The 1,817 rushing yard season could have turned into a second 2,000 rushing yard season (something that no RB has ever done) had the NFL utilized a 16-game schedule several years earlier.

During his 2,003-yard season, Simpson averaged a career-best 143.1 rushing yards a game, which ranks as the highest single season total ever. Other individual seasons ranked as fifth and 35th highest in NFL history. For his career, he averaged 83.2 rushing yards a game, which ranks 12th all-time.

His career year of 1973 also saw him tally 6.0 yards per attempt. For his career, he averaged a great 4.7 yards per attempt.

Simpson's highest rushing TD total for a season was 16, which is the 30th-highest single season total ever. For his career he ranks 40th all-time for rushing TDs.

Simpson's career rushing yard total of 11,236 only places him 18th on the all-time list. However, the dominance he displayed during his five-year prime window vault him into the top 10 all-time. He had two of the greatest individual seasons any RB has ever had—including possibly the greatest of all-time. During that time frame, he also recorded his career long run of 94 yards.

Simpson's career totals would have been even greater had he been used properly sooner in his career. His first three years in the NFL he was underutilized. Simpson was best known for his blazing speed on the gridiron. That speed helped him rush for an NFL record six 200-yard rushing games in his career. His personal best of 273 yards ranks as the sixth-highest single game total ever.

For me, Simpson's monster numbers for individual games and seasons place him among the elite. I rank him as the ninth-best RB in NFL history.


For No. 10 click here.

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