In the old days fullbacks were 60-minute men, blockers and
short-yardage bangers on offense, linebackers on defense. In
today's game fullbacks are on the field only in some formations,
on the bench when the offense goes with multiple wideouts or two
tight ends. They block and catch passes and, except for a couple
of them, carry the ball about once a month. Between the
old-timers and today's part-timers you had blocking and
ball-carrying fullbacks who shared the load with halfbacks, the
Jim Taylor-Paul Hornung combo on the Lombardi Packers being the
How much value do I attach to the durability of old-time
fullbacks in rating my alltime top 10? A lot. Jim Brown is my
top runner, but he's not on this list because, although the
program listed him as a fullback, he had few of the
responsibilities of the position. He was really a featured back.
Earl Campbell, near the top of my ball-carrying list, falls into
the same category.
1. MARION MOTLEY Browns, Steelers; 1946-53, '55 A thundering
runner, he also caught passes and was the greatest pass-blocking
back I've ever seen.
2. BRONKO NAGURSKI Bears; 1930-37, '43 Bigger than defensive
linemen of his day, he played with relentless fury.
October 30, 2000
3. CLARK HINKLE Packers; 1932-41
Old-timers in Green Bay will still argue that this explosive
207-pounder was more devastating than Nagurski.
4. JOE PERRY 49ers, Colts; 1948-63 The first of the new-style
fullbacks, he was sleek and powerful, and he had a takeoff that
earned him the nickname Joe the Jet.
5. ERNIE NEVERS Duluth Eskimos, Chicago Cardinals; 1926-27,
'29-31 As player-coach of the Cardinals he played every minute
of the 1931 season and in a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers
called his own number 16 consecutive times.
6. COOKIE GILCHRIST Bills, Broncos, Dolphins; 1962-67 At 252
pounds he was the first of the oversized monsters, and
frightening when he got in a groove.
7. JIM TAYLOR Packers, Saints; 1958-67 The muscle and heart of
Green Bay's offense, he was a key man in rugged weather
8. LARRY CSONKA Dolphins, Giants; 1966-74, '76-79 He had the
unique ability to get low and tunnel for yardage, and he was
terrific at finishing a play.
9. JOHN RIGGINS Jets, Redskins; 1971-79, '81-85 A runner with
exceptional goal line and short-yardage instincts, he started his
career as a featured tailback.
10. DARYL JOHNSTON Cowboys; 1989-99 The Moose was the best of the
modern breed--Emmitt Smith's dynamic blocker, Troy Aikman's