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Dynamic Dozen Dr. Z's list of the alltime greatest running backs

Nov. 04, 2002
Nov. 04, 2002

Table of Contents
Nov. 4, 2002

Scorecard Extra

Dynamic Dozen Dr. Z's list of the alltime greatest running backs

1. JIM BROWN The man who never missed a game during his nine-year
career was so speedy and elusive that people forgot how big he
was. But at 228 pounds he could call on his power, too.

This is an article from the Nov. 4, 2002 issue Original Layout

2. WALTER PAYTON Tireless and indestructible, he ran with fury
and punished tacklers. His legendary workouts kept him in superb
shape and got him through 13 NFL seasons.

3. EMMITT SMITH His last few years have, unfortunately, blurred
the memory of what he once was--a dynamic cutback runner with an
explosive burst. He got stronger as opposing defenses sagged.

4. BARRY SANDERS The most unusual runner ever, he had a
crazy-legs style that made one-on-one tackles almost impossible.
A cinch to have broken the record if he hadn't retired at age 31.

5. O.J. SIMPSON He combined world-class speed with amazing
cutting ability. Could dart through the smallest creases.
Tacklers never got the right angle on him because of his dynamic
change of pace.

6. HUGH (THE KING) MCELHENNY The Barry Sanders of his day, he
was a threat as a pass catcher, too. Played in a backfield with
two other Hall of Famers, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

7. MARSHALL FAULK He's the alltime best receiver out of the
backfield, forcing defenses to adjust as he lines up all over the
field. As a runner he has the great ability of being able to make
people miss.

8. ERIC DICKERSON This silky-smooth glider did it so effortlessly
that he'd turn what looked like a two-yard gain into an
eight-yarder. Led the league in walk-in touchdowns.

9. TONY DORSETT Durability was an early concern for this small,
elusive back, but he gave the Cowboys 11 terrific years and
showed remarkable toughness. Shockingly fast, with a great
takeoff.

10. GALE SAYERS A darting dragonfly in the open field, catching
passes or running sweeps, he also ranks as the best kickoff
returner of all time with a 30.6-yard career average.

11. EARL CAMPBELL He smacked into the line with amazing power and
starting speed. A 240-pounder who punished tacklers, he played
too tough for his body, and at 29 he was effectively through.

12. MARION MOTLEY An AAFC terror, he entered the NFL at 30 on two
bad knees. The finest pass blocker ever. "Motley takes the
romance out of the blitz," Weeb Ewbank once said.

--Paul Zimmerman

COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFERCOLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONOCOLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIERCOLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHOCOLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR.COLOR PHOTO: ANDY HAYTCOLOR PHOTO: MANNY RUBINCOLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVERB/W PHOTO: APCOLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLERCOLOR PHOTO: JOHN G. ZIMMERMANB/W PHOTO: COURTESY CLEVELAND BROWNS