Football is a game of yards – a battle that is often won by the running back. These players are some of the most physically fit athletes in any sport, and their job is to run through defenses like they’re not even there. And when it comes to running backs who have dominated on the field, few can compare with those who have amassed the most rushing yards over time.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the top 10 most rushing yards of all time and celebrate these football legends’ incredible achievements!

Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith is a name that will forever be associated with rushing greatness in the NFL. He played for 15 seasons, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys, and amassed an incredible 18,355 career rushing yards.

Smith grew up in Pensacola which is in Florida and was the second highest rusher during his High School football days when he represented the Escambia High School. He later played college football for three years and set numerous records which stand till date as he represented the Florida Gators. After he was named the Unanimous All American in 1989, he decided to check his eligibility and go professional.

After he decided to turn professional he was selected by the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990 NFL draft and in career West for 18,355 yards while he broke the record of the former NFL Legend Walter Payton. He also held the record for the most touchdowns while career rushing which is 164.  Smith is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season (1993).

He was the first one who had the record of most career rushing in the same season while winning the Super Bowl as well for three or more seasons. He is also one of the two players who were non kickers but still had more than 1000 points to their names. Because of his long and illustrious career, he was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the year 2010 and in the College Football Hall of fame in 2006.

Smith’s success on the field was due to his combination of speed and power. He had a low center of gravity which made him difficult to tackle. His vision and ability to make quick cuts allowed him to find holes in opposing defenses.

In addition to being one of the best running backs ever, Smith was also a team player who led by example. He won three Super Bowls as part of the Cowboys’ dynasty in the early ’90s and earned Pro Bowl honors eight times during his career.

Perhaps most impressive about Emmitt Smith’s accomplishments is that he did it all while battling through injuries throughout several seasons. Even when injured or hurt badly, he continued playing at peak level for years beyond what many thought possible.

Emmitt Smith’s legacy as one of football’s greats is secure thanks to his remarkable career achievements both on and off-field!

Walter Payton

Walter Payton, also known as “Sweetness,” was a running back for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 1987. He is considered one of the greatest players in NFL history and has held many records throughout his career.

Payton was known for his agility and strength on the field, often making defenders miss with his quick moves. He rushed for over 16,000 yards during his career, which ranks him second on the all-time rushing list.

Aside from being an exceptional athlete, Payton was also a philanthropist and humanitarian. He founded The Walter Payton Foundation which supported various organizations that helped children in need.

Sadly, in 1999 he passed away due to complications from bile duct cancer at age 45. However, his legacy lives on through his foundation and continued recognition as one of the greatest football players ever.

Walter Payton’s impact on both sports and society cannot be overstated. His contributions have left an indelible mark that will be remembered forever in NFL history.

Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders is a running back who played for the Detroit Lions from 1989 to 1998. He was known for his incredible speed, agility, and elusiveness on the field. Sanders rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his ten seasons with the Lions.

One of Sanders’ most impressive accomplishments was winning four rushing titles during his career. He also holds numerous NFL records, including being the only player to rush for over 1,500 yards in five different seasons.

Sanders retired at the peak of his career in 1999, shocking both fans and teammates alike. Despite playing only ten seasons in the NFL, he still ranks third all-time in career rushing yards with 15,269 yards.

Sanders’ success on and off the field has made him one of football’s greatest legends. His humility and dedication to excellence have earned him respect from players and fans across generations.

Eric Dickerson

Eric Dickerson is considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. He played for four teams during his career, but he is most famous for his time with the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts.

Dickerson was known for his unique running style, which involved an upright stance and long strides that allowed him to cover a lot of ground quickly. His speed and agility made him a dangerous player on the field, and he could often break through tackles or outrun defenders.

In 1984, Dickerson set the single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards. This record still stands today as a testament to his incredible talent and hard work on the field.

Throughout his career, Dickerson amassed over 13,000 rushing yards and scored 90 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 as recognition of his outstanding contributions to football.

Off the field, Eric Dickerson has remained active in football as a commentator and analyst. He also founded The Eric Dickerson Foundation to help support underprivileged children in Los Angeles through sports programs and educational opportunities.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is a running back who has played for several NFL teams. He was born in Texas and attended the University of Oklahoma before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007.

Peterson’s career has been marked by impressive achievements, including winning the league’s MVP award in 2012 after rushing for over 2,000 yards in a single season. He has also been named to multiple Pro Bowls throughout his time in the NFL.

Despite facing personal challenges off the field, Peterson remains one of the most respected and talented players in football today. His powerful running style and ability to break tackles have made him a force to be reckoned with on any team he plays for.

Peterson currently ranks fifth on the all-time list of rushing yards, with over 14,000 total yards racked up throughout his career thus far. As he continues to play at an elite level even into his mid-thirties, it’s clear that he still has plenty left to give as one of football’s greatest running backs ever.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson is a name that has become synonymous with controversy and scandal in the world of football. However, his talent on the field cannot be denied. During his career, he rushed for 11,236 yards and scored 61 touchdowns.

Simpson’s most impressive season came in 1973 when he became the first player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season. He finished the year with an incredible 2,003 rushing yards and was named NFL MVP.

Despite his success on the field, Simpson’s legacy will always be overshadowed by his infamous murder trial in 1995. After being acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, many people began to view him differently.

Although O.J. Simpson may have made some bad decisions off the field, there is no denying that he was one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. His records still stand today as a testament to his talent and ability on the gridiron.

Marcus Allen

Marcus Allen is one of the most notable running backs in the history of American football, having played for both the Raiders and the Chiefs during his career. He was drafted in 1982 by the Los Angeles Raiders and quickly made a name for himself on the field.

During his career, Allen rushed for a total of 12,243 yards which puts him at number seven on our list of top rushers. He was known not only for his impressive rushing skills but also for his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

Allen had an incredible season in 1985 when he rushed for over 1,700 yards and scored an impressive 14 touchdowns. That year he won both the NFL’s MVP award as well as its Offensive Player of the Year honor.

What really set Allen apart from other players though was his versatility – he could run between tackles or catch passes just as effectively. This made him a valuable asset to any team that he played with.

Marcus Allen’s contributions to American football will always be remembered and appreciated by fans everywhere.

Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett was a force to be reckoned with on the football field. He played for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos during his NFL career, racking up an impressive 12,739 rushing yards.

Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy in college at the University of Pittsburgh before being drafted by Dallas in 1977. He made an immediate impact in his rookie season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and helping lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory.

One of Dorsett’s most memorable runs came during Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings in 1983. He broke free for a 99-yard touchdown run that still stands as one of the longest runs in NFL history.

Despite enduring multiple injuries throughout his career, including concussions and knee problems, Dorsett continued to play at a high level until retiring after the 1988 season.

Off the field, Dorsett has advocated for concussion awareness and research after experiencing symptoms related to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) later in life. His contributions both on and off the field make him one of football’s all-time greats.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown is widely considered as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. He played for nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965 and retired at just 29 years old. Despite playing only a short career, Brown left an indelible mark on the sport.

During his time with the Browns, Jim Brown was able to amass an impressive total of 12,312 rushing yards and scored a staggering 106 touchdowns. Not only that, he also led the league in rushing eight times during his career – a feat that no other player has ever matched.

What set Jim Brown apart from other running backs was not just his physical prowess but also his mental toughness. He had an unwavering dedication to training and preparation which allowed him to perform consistently at a high level week after week.

Off the field, Jim Brown became involved in social activism and fought for civil rights during a time when racial tensions were high in America. His legacy transcends football and continues to inspire people today.

Jim Brown’s impact on football cannot be overstated. He remains one of the most iconic players in NFL history whose records still stand decades later.


The top 10 players with the most rushing yards of all time have left a lasting legacy in NFL history. These players were not only great athletes but also dedicated and hardworking individuals who put their heart and soul into every game they played.

Whether you’re a fan of football or just appreciate amazing talent when you see it, these players are sure to inspire awe with their incredible feats on the field. We can only hope that future generations will continue to push themselves as hard as these legends did and create even greater records in years to come!