This is the third part in a 10-part series which breaks down in detail the top 10 running backs in NFL history.
The eighth-best NFL RB of all time is Bo Jackson of the Los Angeles Raiders.
Jackson was originally drafted first overall out of Auburn by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, he did not sign with them. The Los Angeles Raiders would draft him the following year in the seventh round. He would then play for both the Los Angeles Raiders of the NFL and the Kansas City Royals of MLB. Due to his obligations with the Royals, Jackson only played partial seasons for the Raiders.
Even though he played football part time, he managed to make one Pro Bowl in his injury-shortened career.
Jackson's career rushing yard and rushing TD totals do not compare to the other nine RBs of this series. However, as you know from the opening paragraphs of the first part of this series, I value greatness during the prime period of a back's career more than anything else.
So what made Jackson so great?
His yards per attempt numbers are absurd. During his best year he averaged a gaudy 6.8 yards per attempt. For his career he averaged 5.4 yards per attempt. That is the second-highest total in the history of the NFL (minimum 500 attempts). It beats the other nine backs of this series. Yards per attempt is the single most important statistic when considering greatness for a RB.
Jackson's history of super-long runs also works in his favor. During his career he ripped off runs of 92, 91 and 88 yards each. Just how impressive are those long runs? Only O.J. Simpson's career long run of 94 yards can surpass Jackson's lengths for running backs of this series.
Jackson only played for four seasons before he had a career-ending hip injury. The fact he had so many long runs in such a short amount of time is mind boggling.
Jackson once had 221 rushing yards in a single game, which is the 24th-best single game total in the history of the NFL.
When you factor all of those numbers together, coupled with the fact he was putting up all of these numbers on a part-time basis due to baseball, only played four seasons before injuring his hip and even had to share carries while there due to the presence of future Hall of Fame RB Marcus Allen, it is a no-brainer to rank Jackson as highly as I do.
He was the greatest combination of speed and power at RB the NFL has ever seen. My doubt is not about whether or not Jackson deserved a spot on in this series, but that I have him ranked too low.
I rank him as the eighth-best RB in the history of the NFL.