How Much Do You Know About the Greatest Running Backs in NFL History?



By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you ever wonder why that defender just fell down in the open field? Well, it's probably because he was making a business decision in not tackling that Pro Bowl running back!

There are many running backs throughout the history of the league that were respected and productive players, but then there were the running backs that put fear into a defense. These running backs were faster, hit harder, and were simply beasts on the field. Most of the time they couldn't be stopped, not by single defenders. Instead, it took an entire defensive effort to bring down these monsters.

The best of these running backs produced in the most important moments, when legacies were on the line. They made Pro Bowls, led the league in yards, and carried their teams to the Super Bowl. And though many of these guys would rather give credit to the team or their offensive lines, you could tell they were special as soon as the ball touched their hands because all eyes were on them, waiting for something spectacular to happen.

If you're a football expert and know everything about the greatest running backs in NFL history, take this quiz and put that knowledge to the test!

Who holds the NFL rushing record for a career?

Emmitt Smith was drafted as the 17th pick in 1990 by the Dallas Cowboys. He earned the NFL MVP award in 1993 after rushing for 1,486 yards.


For what team did Barry Sanders play?

Barry Sanders led the league in rushing four different times during his career. The last time he accomplished this was in 1997.


When did Walter Payton win a Super Bowl?

Walter Payton failed to score a touchdown during the Super Bowl in 1986. He was so upset by this after the game that he locked himself in a closet.


What team drafted LaDainian Tomlinson?

When Tomlinson joined the NFL, he was one of the most explosive running backs the league had ever seen. However, injuries eventually caught up to Tomlinson, and his career was cut short.


What was Jerome Bettis' nickname?

Jerome Bettis spent his NFL career with both the Rams and the Steelers. He was named to six Pro Bowls during his career.


Who had the most rushing yards in a season?

Eric Dickerson was accused of taking money to play college football at SMU. Some people joked that he took a pay cut to go to the NFL.


How many Super Bowls did Emmitt Smith win?

The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s were led by three players; Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin. They won all three of their Super Bowls together.


Where did Tony Dorsett play college football?

Tony Dorsett played college football at the University of Pittsburgh from 1973 until 1976. In his senior season, he won both a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship.


With what team did Jim Brown play his entire career?

Jim Brown made it to the Pro Bowl nine times while playing for the Cleveland Browns. This was astonishing considering he only played in the NFL for nine seasons, meaning he made it every year.


Who has the most rushing touchdowns in a season?

LaDainian Tomlinson scored 28 touchdowns during the 2006 season, setting the record. Before then, the record was held by both Priest Holmes and Shaun Alexander at 27 touchdowns.


What team drafted Priest Holmes?

After playing at the University of Texas, Holmes went undrafted in the 1997 draft. He was later signed by the Baltimore Ravens, with which he would win a Super Bowl.


How many Super Bowls did Terrell Davis win?

Terrell Davis had a short NFL career that lasted from 1995 until 2001. This was mainly due to nagging injuries after tearing both his ACL and MCL.


Where did Shaun Alexander play college football?

Shaun Alexander made three Pro Bowls during his career. He was also named the NFL MVP in 2005.


Which offense did Marshall Faulk play for during his time with the Rams?

With Marshall Faulk leading the way, the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000. They would go back to the Super Bowl in 2002, but lost to the New England Patriots.


What team drafted Marcus Allen?

Marcus Allen helped lead the Raiders to a huge Super Bowl win over the Washington Redskins in 1984. He was named the Super Bowl MVP after rushing for nearly 200 yards.


What was John Riggins' nickname?

In Super Bowl XVII, John Riggins scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave the Washington Redskins their first lead of the game against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins would never take the lead back.


In what year was O.J. Simpson named the NFL's MVP?

After his career ended, Simpson's life was surrounded by controversy, particularly after the murder of his ex-wife and a friend, Ron Goldman. Simpson was later arrested for trying to steal merchandise in Las Vegas.


Which running back won Super Bowl I?

Jim Taylor was a member of the Green Bay Packers when they won the first Super Bowl. Quarterback Bart Starr was named the MVP of the game.


Where did Barry Sanders play college football?

Despite making the Pro Bowl ten times in his career, Barry Sanders never played in a Super Bowl. He retired early to save himself from further physical punishment.


Who drafted Earl Campbell?

Earl Campbell played college football at the University of Texas. While there, he won the 1977 Heisman Trophy.


With what team did Jamal Lewis win a Super Bowl?

Jamal Lewis was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2003. During that season, he rushed for more than 2,000 yards.


How old was Curtis Martin when he was the rushing yards leader in the NFL?

Curtis Martin was the oldest running back to earn the title of rushing yards leader. He accomplished this in 2004.


When did Jerome Bettis win a Super Bowl?

The Steelers defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Heins Ward was named the Super Bowl MVP after catching five passes for more than 100 yards.


What number did Walter Payton wear?

Walter Payton made it to nine Pro Bowls during his career. He was also named NFL MVP in 1977.


Where did Frank Gore play college football?

Frank Gore won a National Championship with the Miami Hurricanes in 2001. He was taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft.


What other sport did Bo Jackson play?

Bo Jackson was named to both the All-Star team in MLB and the Pro Bowl in the NFL, two amazing accomplishments. His career was cut short because of an injury.


Which running back went to four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills?

The Buffalo Bills went to four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s. Despite their prolific offense, the team lost all four games.


Who holds the rushing record for the St. Louis Rams?

Despite the many great Rams running backs that preceded him, Steven Jackson holds the team's rushing record. He rushed for more than 10,000 yards while playing for the Rams.


Who drafted Warrick Dunn?

After being drafted 12th overall by Tampa, Warrick Dunn went on to have an outstanding rookie season. When it was over, he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.


How many Super Bowls did Franco Harris win?

Led by a dominant defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in the late '70s. Franco Harris was the Super Bowl MVP in the team's first Super Bowl of that era.


For what team did Franco Harris play after he left the Steelers?

Franco Harris only played one season with the Seattle Seahawks. In 1990, he became a member of the Hall of Fame.


With what team did Corey Dillon win a Super Bowl?

In Super Bowl XXXIX, Corey Dillon was the leading rusher with 75 yards. However, Deion Branch won Super Bowl MVP with 11 catches for 133 yards.


Where did Ricky Watters play college football?

Despite spending part of his college career as a wide receiver, Ricky Watters had a very successful professional career as a running back. He rushed for more than 10,000 yards and went to five Pro Bowls.


Who drafted Edgerrin James?

Edgerrin James was the fourth overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, and he did not disappoint. He led the league in rushing his rookie season, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year.


What number did Adrian Peterson wear with the Vikings?

Adrian Peterson was one of only seven running backs to rush for more than 2,000 yards. He came within eight yards from breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record.


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