The Best Pro Football Players in Mississippi History, Pt. Two: Running Backs
In part one of this series, I detailed some of the best quarterbacks from Mississippi universities to play pro football.
From Charlie Conerly to Brett Favre, the state of Mississippi has produced some of the best quarterbacks to play pro football. The magnolia state has had plenty of success at other positions as well.
We will look at running backs from Mississippi in this installment. While Mississippi has not produced very many great running backs from the college ranks. The state has produced one of the best ever to run the ball.
Once again there is no particular order and the team they are best known for listed.
Dulymus Jenod "Deuce" McAllister: New Orleans Saints via Ole Miss Rebels
Deuce McAllister could be the best running back to come out of Ole Miss. In his four years with the Rebels, Deuce put his name all over the Ole Miss record books.
At the end of his career at Ole Miss McAllister was the all time leader in rushing yards with 3,060, carries with 616. Deuce also led the Rebels with most rushing touch downs with 36 and total touchdowns with 41, and most 100 yard games with 13.
His senior year at Ole Miss, Deuce won the Conerly Trophy as best college football player and was drafted by the Saints in the first round with the 13th pick in 2001.
In his time in New Orleans McAllister has become a fan favorite. Deuce has spent his entire eight year career with the Saints.
Due to injuries and salary cap implications the Saints had to cut McAllister after the 2008 season.
After spending his whole NFL career In New Orleans Deuce became the Saints all time leader in rushing with 5,586 yards, carries with 1,298 and touchdowns with 49. When McAllister’s career is over he will be honored as one of the Saints all time best players.
Sammy Winder was a walk-on at Southern Mississippi who went on to greatness a running back for the Golden Eagles. To this day he still is in the USM record books more than 25 years after his college career ended.
Winder is first in career touchdowns with 20, second in rushing attempts with 736 and third in rushing yards with 3,114 in school history. USM fans will forever know Winder for “the leap” in 1980 against Ole Miss.
With USM tied 14-14 with the Rebels Winder drive and determination to get in to the end zone will be remembered always by Golden Eagle fans.
Winder’s 11 yard scoring run is so great because of the effort he made to score. Winder looking to avoid a would be tackler dove from five yards outside the end zone to score the go ahead touchdown in an 28-22 USM win.
After his career at USM was over the Denver Broncos drafted Winder in the fifth round with the 131st pick in 1982. Winder would go on to play nine year for the Broncos.
Winder was on a team that went to three Super Bowls (XXI, XXII, and XXIV) but lost each time. Winder was named to the Pro Bowl twice in 1984 and 1986.
Winder is still third all time in Denver history in rushing yards with 5,427, rushing attempts with 1,495 and in touchdowns with 39. Winder was also known to Bronco fans for his touchdown celebration dance the 'Mississippi Mud Walk.'
Walter Payton: Chicago Bears via Jackson State Tigers
One of the greatest and most beloved players to ever come out of Mississippi was Walter Payton. Payton decide to follow in his brothers footsteps and go to Jackson State to play college football.
During his time at Jackson State Payton became well known national and put his stamp on the JSU record books. To this day Payton is still first with 66 touchdowns scored, and third in rushing yards with 3,563.
Payton’s 66 touchdowns was a NCAA record and in 1973-74 also named an All-American and Black College Player of the Year. Payton’s nickname at JSU was “Sweetness” and in 1975 he graduated from Jackson State.
Payton was drafted in 1975 by the Chicago Bears in the first round with the fourth pick. Payton’s first game as a Bear was not stellar rushing the ball eight times for zero yards.
Over the years that changed as Payton when on to break every rushing record in his 13 seasons in the NFL. Payton rushed for 16,726 yards on 3,838 attempts to go along with 110 rushing touchdowns.
As of 2006, he was the NFL's second all-time rusher, and he ranked third in rushing touchdowns scored.
Payton would win Super Bowl (XX) in 1985 as the Bears went 15-1 and had the whole country doing the “Super Bowl Shuffle”.
Payton played in nine Pro Bowls (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986), was named first team All-Pro Six times (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1985), and was the NFL MVP in 1977 and the Pro Bowl MVP in 1978.
The Chicago Bears retired Payton’s number 34 and he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Payton was elected in to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996 as well.
In 1999 Payton lost his battle with a rare liver disease but will be remember for the two awards given in his honor each year.
The best college offensive player in Division I-AA receives the “Walter Payton Award” and the NFL gives the “Walter Payton Man of the Year” Award for player achievements in community service during a particular season. These awards will make sure all of us remember “Sweetness.”
From the last two installments we see the Magnolia State has produced what could be the best quarterback ever in Brett Favre and the best running back ever in Walter Payton.
Next in this series in are great wide receivers and offensive line men and tight ends from the state of Mississippi.
See Part One
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