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Green Bay Packers: Titletown's Top 10 Running Backs of All Time

J FCorrespondent IMay 14, 2011

Green Bay Packers: Titletown's Top 10 Running Backs of All Time

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers are one of the oldest franchises in the NFL. In recent years, the team's offense has been powered by the passing game thanks to star quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

    However, the Packers were first known for their ability to run the ball with the legendary Vince Lombardi drawing up his famous "Packer power sweep." This play gained massive amount of yards with the talented backfield tandem of Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, also known as "Thunder and Lightning," sharing the load.

    No duo ever came close to the production of those two Hall of Famers until the combination attack of Dorsey Levens and Edgar Bennett in the late 1990s.

    Now it appears the Pack could be on the brink of another promising partnership at the running back position with Ryan Grant and James Starks.

    The Packers are now nearly a century old and it is safe to say they've had several great players carry the ball for them over the years.

    Here are the top 10 running backs in the history of Titletown's team.

10. Clarke Hinkle

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    Clarke Hinkle, like many players of his day, lined up on both sides of the football. Although he was small, Hinkle ran hard and had a great desire to win.

    He played fullback and linebacker for a decade in Green Bay and retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher, a record that has obviously been broken since.

    Hinkle was one of the toughest and most physical players of his time which earned him the honor of being selected to the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team.

    He amassed 3,860 yards and 35 TDs as a workhorse back and he was also a tremendous blocker. Although it isn't relevant to this list, I have to mention that he was equally skilled on defense.

    Hinkle was a also a three-time Pro Bowler and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1964.

9. Ryan Grant

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Ryan Grant broke out at the end of the Packers' 2007 season, which ended in a tragic OT loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game.

    Grant broke franchise records for the most yards and touchdowns in a playoff game against the Seahawks in the Divisional Round of the same year. It was his best performance during his four seasons in Green Bay thus far.

    Grant followed up his breakout year with two consecutive 1,200-plus yard seasons and will be looking to continue his success after returning from a season-ending injury in 2010.

    He isn't the fastest back to ever wear the Green and Gold, but his solid play has earned him a spot at the bottom of this list.

8. Gerry Ellis

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    Gerry Ellis played fullback for seven seasons in Green Bay during the 1980s.

    He only picked up 3,826 rushing yards, but he was also an effective receiver. For the majority of his career, he was the Packers' offense.

    Ellis not only led the team in rushing for three seasons, but he managed to score 35 times over the course of his playing years and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

7. Edgar Bennett

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    We will forget that Edgar Bennett finished his career with the Bears and still allow him on this list for his consistent contributions to the Packers in the 1990s.

    Bennett rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1995, but in the next few years his numbers gradually decreased due to injuries and the arrival of Dorsey Levens.

    He amassed nearly 3,353 yards rushing in five seasons for Green Bay, in addition to reaching nearly 2,000 yards receiving.

    Edgar Bennett is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame and is currently the team's wide receiver coach.

6. Dorsey Levens

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Dorsey Levens could have easily jumped up on this list if the Madden curse hadn't claimed him after he appeared on the game's cover in 2000.

    Levens replaced an injured Edgar Bennett in 1997 and had a Pro Bowl year, racking up 1,435 yards and 12 total touchdowns.

    However, in 1998 he hurt his knee and only had one more 1,000-yard season. In addition to his running ability, Levens was also a skilled receiver out of the backfield and an effective blocker.

    Overall, he amassed nearly 4,000 yards in eight seasons with the Packers, who later inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame.

5. John Brockington

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    As the Packers first-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 1971, John Brockington won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and later ran his way to three consecutive Pro Bowls and into the Packers Hall of Fame.

    In the first three of his seven seasons in Green Bay, Brockington rushed for over 1,000 yards and finished his Packer career with 5,024 yards and 29 TD.

    His first partner in the Pack's backfield was Donny Anderson, who deserves to be an honorable mention on this list.

    Brockington was the definition of a power back with his bruising combination of size and speed. However, he was better known for running over defenders rather than outrunning them.

    Brockington broke tackles as well, as he broke into the top five of this list. If you don't think he belongs here, these highlights make a strong case for his inclusion.

4. Tony Canadeo

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    Tony Canadeo joined the Packers as a quarterback in 1941 and after serving for a year in World War II in 1945, he then became the team's workhorse at the running back position.

    In 1949, Canadeo became the third NFL player and the first Packer to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He is a member of the 1940s All-Decade Team, the Packers Hall of Fame, and the NFL Hall of Fame.

    Canadeo wasn't a big back and he wasn't all that fast, but he played his entire 11-year career in Green Bay with determination and tenacity. He performed on offense, defense and even special teams as the punter.

    Tony Canadeo was simply an amazing all-around football player, and his No. 3 jersey was the second ever retired by the Packers in 1952.

3. Paul Hornung

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    Paul Hornung was a big back and wasn't particularly fast, but that didn't mean he wasn't mobile. He was a smart player and had a knack for reading blocks and hitting the holes.

    Hornung was the first overall pick by the Pack in 1957, fresh off winning the 1956 Heisman Trophy for his collegiate play at Notre Dame. He later won the NFL MVP in 1961 and is currently one of five players to win both trophies.

    Often considered one of the best short-yardage backs in NFL history, Hornung was also a prime scorer. In his nine-year career with the Packers, he rushed for 3,711 yards and found the end zone 50 times.

    Hornung is deservedly in every Hall of Fame relevant to his career and sits comfortably in the top three running backs in Packers history.

2. Ahman Green

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Ahman Green arrived in Green Bay in 2000 following a trade with the Seattle Seahawks and wasted no time breaking franchise records, most notably rushing for 1,883 yards in a season. He was selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2001-2004 and his only weakness was his tendency to fumble.

    Green became the Pack's all time leading rusher when the team brought him back for the 2009 season. His 8,322 rushing yards surpassed Jim Taylor's long-standing record of 8,207.

    Green's six 1,000 yard seasons also beat out Taylor's five, however, Taylor still holds the records for the most seasons leading the league and the team in rushing.

     

     

1. Jim Taylor

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    Jim Taylor is the best back to ever carry the ball for Titletown's team. Lombardi described him as a determined battering ram and a powerful blocker.

    His skill set was very similar to Hornung's and, like his teammate and rushing partner, Taylor was quick and ran under control. He was a physical fullback, but he rarely fumbled.

    Taylor had been the Pack's all-time leading rusher for over fifty years before Ahman Green came along, but he still holds the records for single season and career touchdowns (81).

    Taylor dominated the 1960s, reaching five consecutive Pro Bowls, winning four NFL championships, and capturing the MVP award in 1962. 

    After nine seasons with the Packers, including five 1,000 yard campaigns, and one with the Saints, Jim Taylor was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

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