NFL: Jim Brown and the Top 10 NFL Power Running Backs of All Time
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As a football fan, I absolutely love having NFL Network. My favorite show on NFL Network, NFL Top 10. This show is a rankings show where the top weather games or linebacker corps are ranked.
My favorite episode is easily the top 10 "power backs" of all time. I think the reason that I really enjoy watching running backs who can stiff-arm or truck over the defenders. The backs who can be more physical than the defensive players who are supposed to be the physical and vicious ones.
Those are the power backs.
As with most rankings and lists I really disagreed with the NFL Network's rankings of the Top 10 power backs, so I decided to make my own. This slideshow will highlight my opinion of who the 10 greatest power backs of all time are. Please voice your opinions or come up with your own lists below.
NFL Network's List is:
10. Mike Alstott
9. Christian Okoye
8. Bronko Nagurski
7. Marion Motley
6. Jerome Bettis
5. Jim Taylor
4. Larry Csonka
3. Earl Campbell
2. John Riggins
1. Jim Brown
Honorable Mention: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
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I was very very tempted to put him in the top ten. He is an absolute athletic specimen.
Adrian Peterson so far in his career has not let up one bit, and if he continues his violent running style that he has for the remainder of his career he will no doubt be in the top five power backs of all time.
Honorable Mention: Christian Okoye, Kansas City Cheifs
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Christian Okoye just looks scary. He was a huge man who had a knack for breaking tackles.
Dubbed "the Nigerian Nightmare" he won the rushing title in 1989 and was a two-time Pro Bowler. Just look at the man.
10. Jerome Bettis, Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers
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"The Bus" was the 10th pick in the 1993 draft and instantly was a beast. Bettis racked up over 1,400 yards, was an All-Pro choice and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Since that year, he has put together a Hall of Fame career built largely upon his head-down, run-you-over rushing style. "The Bus" used this running style to rush for the fifth most yards all time and to a Super Bowl victory in his home town of Detroit in 2005.
The six-time Pro Bowler's rushing style can be epitomized in this picture where he is running over one of the best linebackers of his era. It's hard to stop "the Bus."
9. William "the Refrigerator" Perry, Chicago Bears., Philadelphia Eagles
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The loveable smile. The gap-toothed grin. He looks like just a friendly and easy-going guy not wanting to hurt anyone. Not true on the gridiron.
Drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears, William Perry was meant to be a defensive tackle. During the 1985 Bears training camp, defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan called the Fridge "a wasted draft pick" and did not want him on his side of the ball.
Coach Mike Ditka then decided after seeing Perry run sprints to put him at fullback. Perry proved to be deadly in short-yardage situations. Perry weighed 382 pounds. Are you kidding me? How can someone stop that?!?
No one had the answer during that 1985 season, and Perry trucked over players all the way to Super Bowl XX in which he scored a touchdown.
8. Bronko Nagurski, Chicago Bears
The name says it all. He sounds like a man who would rather lose an arm than be tackled.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Nagurski played fullback for the Chicago Bears from 1930-1937 and once again in 1943. If you were wondering what he did from 1937 to 1943, he decided to pursue a career as a professional wrestler. H
e was incredible at that too becoming a three-time heavyweight champion of the world. Nagurski set the precedent for physical fullbacks like Marion Motley or Jim Brown. Nagurski was bigger than most lineman in his day and actually played offensive tackle when called upon.
A hard runner who led the way for many power backs in the NFL, Nagurski was elected to the NFL's 75th-Anniversary All-Time team.
7. Bo Jackson, Los Angeles Raiders
Possibly the greatest combination of size and speed to ever play in the NFL. Bo Jackson was a talent that is disappointing to all not to have seen for longer.
The Heisman Trophy winner out of Auburn was athletic enough to play both in the NFL and MLB. He reportedly ran a 4.12 40-yard dash, (Chris Johnson ran a 4.24).
In four years Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards on 5.4 yards-per-carry with 18 touchdowns as technically a "second-string back" to Marcus Allen. Jackson's career is usually summarized to one game on Monday Night Football versus the Seattle Seahawks.
This game is nicknamed Bo vs. the Boz. headlining Bo Jackson versus Brian Bosworth the Seahawks' touted linebacker. Bo ran over Brian Bosworth and proved himself as a man among boys.
6. John Riggins, New York Jets, Washington Redskins
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John Riggins' career as a power back can come down to one play.
In Super Bowl XVII on a key fourth-down play, the Redskins handed the ball off to their stud running back to gain one yard and keep their drive alive. The Redskins only needed the yard, but instead Riggins stiff-armed the Dolphins' Don McNeal and ran for a 43-yard touchdown.
The rush sealed the deal for the Redskins to win Super Bowl XVII, and Riggins was named the Super Bowl MVP. This iconic run shows exactly what kind of football player John Riggins was.
Here is the run.
5. Larry Csonka, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
The name says it all. Larry Csonka, it sounds like what you would see in a comic book after someone got trucked, just CSONK!
Maybe I'm getting carried away with the name. But the only owner of a perfect Super Bowl season was an absolute one-man wrecking crew on his way to winning Super Bowl VII and VIII.
Leading the way for running back Mercury Morris, Csonka absolutely knocked every opposing player out of the way leaving gaping holes for Morris to run through.
If you need one last reason why Larry Csonka should be on this list, just look at his face mask and mustache. Awesome.
4. Walter Payton, Chicago Bears
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This may be biased because Walter Payton is without a doubt my favorite player on this list. Payton was simply a man among boys. Payton goes down as arguably the greatest running back of all time.
It is very hard to be the icon of a team so established and recognized as the Chicago Bears, but Payton's hard-nosed downhill running style makes him as beloved by fans as any other Bear.
Nicknamed "Sweetness," Walter Payton was anything but on the field. Payton absolutely loved contact, always hitting players in bounds wanting to be tackled rather than pushed out of bounds.
On one play that I've watched of his, while stumbling forward instead of simply falling Payton dived at the nearest defender to hit him to the ground. It seemed that no yards were gained, but Payton just relished the hit.
Off the field Walter Payton was a tremendous human being as well. While that may not be important to this list, he deserves to have this facet of his life recognized no matter what.
3. Marion Motley, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
Marion Motley perhaps was the toughest NFL player to ever play the game.
Physically, Motley was a power fullback who carried bodies with him whenever he ran the football. He set a record for most yards per carry in a game with over 17 yards per carry versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1950.
Motley absolutely destroyed both his defensive and offensive (he played linebacker too) counterparts on simply every play. He ran as if he wanted to inflict some of the pain that was inflicted on him every single play.
That pain is the reason that Motley is ranked so highly on this list. Motley played football in the mid-'40s to mid-'50s as an African American. He was the Jackie Robinson of football, breaking the color barrier that for so long separated the sport.
He is by no means as glorified as Jackie Robinson and was absolutely demeaned after every tackle. He could be called racial slurs, hit far after the whistle, spat on or even kicked in the stomach once he was down, on any play.
This could happen from other players, his own teammates and even officials. Motley is so high on this list because he absolutely triumphed over this evil with his physicality and greatness as a power back.
2. Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns
Jim Brown is a legend.
If you do not know why Jim Brown is on this list ,you should go talk to any football fan over the age of 50, and they will tell you.
Brown is widely known as the greatest running back, greatest power back (NFL Network ranked him No. 1) and even the greatest football player of all time. His north-south running ability led him three MVP awards, nine Pro Bowls, eight All-Pro nominees and the running back spot on the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
He averaged 5.2 yards per carry, and when he retired led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, all by never shying away from contact. Never getting hit but by hitting back.
1. Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints
The greatest power back of all time is Earl Campbell. An absolute monster out of the University of Texas who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Oilers.
In his rookie year, Campbell was the Rookie of the Year as well as the Offensive Player of the Year. Campbell trucked over defensive players on every rush during his Hall of Fame career.
To me, Earl Campbell is the most fun running back in the game of Madden ever. He trucks over everyone.Turn on a highlight film and its the absolute same way.
One reason for this is the sole reason that Earl Campbell is physically one of the scariest running backs to ever play the game. His body exemplified a power back, at 5'11" and 244 lbs.
Campbell was impossible to bring down by only one tackler. Couple that with his 4.5 speed, and you have one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game.
But by far the most impressive portion of Campbell's frame were his 34-inch around thighs, which were often compared to tree trunks. That's almost three feet around one leg!
To see one example that completely shows why he is the greatest Power Back of all time watch this run versus the Rams.
He headbutts the defender to the ground and then has to be tackled by three Rams, getting his jersey torn off in the process, before he falls to the ground. Power back.