12 Greatest Players to Watch in the Open Field in NFL History

Ed OrzaCorrespondent IIAugust 6, 2011

12 Greatest Players to Watch in the Open Field in NFL History

0 of 12

    There are few moments in a football game laced with as much creativity as a great open field run. 

    It's a few heart beats in time where a players style and soul are splattered all over a canvas 100 yards long.  

    Some of the players on the list are all time greats, legends of the game.  

    Others are not. 

    Many are running backs, some are not.

    This is not a list of the best at any position, it is a list of the most exciting, enjoyable and entertaining players with the ball in their hands.

    Sit back, relax and watch some highlights of some of the most special and gifted athletes in NFL history.  

Dante Hall

1 of 12

    Some of you might be asking why is Dante Hall on this list? 

    Watch his highlight video and tell me he doesn't belong.

    The human joystick in space is pure energy zipping around the field like a lightning bug.  

    The little guy busts out Madden jukes, and I'm talking old-school Madden back when you'd hit the juke button and the dude would jump halfway across the field.  

    Hall's ability to change his speeds in and out of cuts is unreal.  

    He makes people miss in a space the size of a phone booth.

Adrian Peterson

2 of 12

    Adrian "All Day" Peterson is the definition of a beast. 

    He's gigantic.  

    With that size comes rare speed and the ability to run through tacklers as well as around them. 

    Peterson's ferocious mentality with the ball in his hands is the catalyst for many of his greatest runs.   

    As if that wasn't enough, we may not have even seen the best he has to offer.

Marshall Faulk

3 of 12

    Marshall Faulk isn't just on this list because he's being enshrined in Canton this weekend.  

    Since his days at San Diego State, Faulk showed truly rare ability in the open field.  

    It didn't matter if he was taking a handoff or catching a ball out the backfield, once Faulk was in space he was almost impossible to bring down.  

    The knock against Faulk when he was coming into the league was that he was too small to be an every down back.  Marshall proved it didn't matter how big you were if no one could touch you.  

O.J. Simpson

4 of 12

    O.J. Simpson may not be the model citizen, but he could run. 

    Simpson was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC.  

    His success continued into the NFL as he dazzled defenses with his natural running style.  

    Simpson was the first back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season in an era when 1,000 yards was a huge year.  

Michael Vick

5 of 12

    The run against the Minnesota Vikings where Michael Vick splits two defenders en route to the winning touchdown is one the greatest plays in NFL history. 

    The most exciting running quarterback of all-time, hands down. 

    What Vick can do in the open field is magical, his running style is effortless it resembles a jungle cat more than it does a human being.  

    Watching him dart out of the pocket and take off down field is like watching a jet take off of an aircraft carrier.   

Bo Jackson

6 of 12

    Bo Jackson is one of the greatest athletes in NFL history.  

    His running style may not be as elegant as some of the other guys on this list but it was no less effective. 

    Jackson had a combination of speed and size that just wasn't fair.  He had legs like tree trunks, but could run like a gazelle.  

    Had his career not been cut short by injury, Jackson could have been one of the all-time greats.  

Jerry Rice

7 of 12

    You know you have to be special to be a receiver and be on this list. 

    There's no arguing Jerry Rice was exactly that. 

    No one revolutionized the importance of yards after the catch the way Jerry did.  

    How many times have you seen a highlight of Rice turn a five-yard slant into a 70-yard touchdown.  

    Once the ball was in his hands, Rice was going to find a way to get into the end zone. 

Eric Dickerson

8 of 12

    Eric Dickerson came into the league like few rookies ever have.  

    He put up 1,800 yards and ran with a size and athletic ability that had rarely been seen before. 

    Dickerson's vision along with his natural ability enabled him to explode onto the scene in a way that was unheard of.  

    Again like Bo Jackson, injuries may have held Dickerson back from an even better career.  

Walter Payton

9 of 12


    Can you really ask for anything more than the show pony kick. 

    No one will ever run with the same flow and gallop as Walter Payton did.  

    Unlike most of the players on this list Payton searched out contact.  

    He could break someone's ankles in the open field, but maybe his greatest attribute was his ability to shed tackles and gain yards after being hit. 

Gale Sayers

10 of 12

    Gale Sayers has got to be the most graceful runner on this list.  

    In an era where players were not as fast or as big, Sayers possessed modern-day speed. 

    His six touchdowns in a single game is still tied for an NFL record. 

Barry Sanders

11 of 12

    Everything has already been said about Barry Sanders. 

    His runs are some of the most exciting plays in all of sports history.  

    Sanders change of direction and flexibility are second to none.  

    There were plays where it seemed like he was horizontal to the ground he was bending and cutting defenders so badly.

Deion Sanders

12 of 12

    Prime Time. 

    There just simply has never been anyone quite like Deion Sanders.  

    The amount of separation that he creates once he touches the ball is insane.  

    He starts high-stepping 30 yards out on some plays and no one is close to him.  Hell, on a few plays he's high-stepping right in the middle of people and they still can't catch him.  

    No one has ever been as dynamic as Sanders in the open field.