Best Rusher in NFL History? Emmit Smith Vs. Barry Sanders

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Best Running Back In History

Emmit Smith
1
1%
Barry Sanders
42
61%
Walter Payton
9
13%
Jim Brown
17
25%
Gale Sayors
0
No votes
Tony Dorsett
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 69

  • Got into a debate yesterday with a co-worker who is a Cowboy fan about who was the better all around running back.. i argued Sanders, he obviously went with Smith...

    my arguement was, where Emmit had great vision and bennefited from one of the best O lines in history, Barry Sanders not only had great vision but had the ability to find holes and if need be create his own hole.. there has never been a running back like Barry Sanders in the NFL..

    the difference to me is , you put Emmitt in Detroit behind that putrid line and see how successfull he is, you put Barry in Dallas behind that line and watch the rushing record get demolished.. i don't think there is any question had barry continued his career for a few more year, he would be the leagues leading rusher in history.. who do you feel was the best running back in NFL history?
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    hawker84
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  • Sanders is better than Smith, most definitely.

    Brown was better than both of them.
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  • Sanders didn't have the best Oline in that era to run behind. Sanders only played with 1 PB Olineman, who made it only one year. Sanders by a mile.

    Brown is the best ever though, Sanders 2nd.
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  • Vols and Pe beat me to it. Jim Brown. I like Payton too. Way to hard to compare players that played in different eras though.

    As far as the debate between Sanders and Smith. Smith himself said Sanders.
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  • If you take career stats out of the picture, and just go by pure running talent, who was the best pure running back? No matter longevity...

    You probably need to add to the discussion, Bo Jackson, Earl Campbell, OJ Simpson, Eric Dickerson.

    Emmit's not even in the discussion for me.

    I'd probably go with Jim Brown and Bo.
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  • Brown, Sanders, Payton, Sayers,Dickerson, Smith, Not in Record books due to injury Bo Jackson without hip injry could have been better then all of them had he had as long of a career.
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  • Good call on Bo Twisted (Chris just followed your lead so he gets no credit). Bo's the closest thing to Jim Brown we've ever seen.
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  • Based off highlights alone, Jim Brown, dude was a MONSTER!

    Question though, in your minds will Adrian Peterson get in the GOAT debate? to me he's almost in it.
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  • Throwdown wrote:Based off highlights alone, Jim Brown, dude was a MONSTER!

    Question though, in your minds will Adrian Peterson get in the GOAT debate? to me he's almost in it.


    If Petersen added 1600 yards and 12 TDs a year over the next 2 years (He just turned 28, so the 30 mark is a little ways off), it's quite possible he'll get into the discussion as he'd be at 12k and 100TD.
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  • if there was ever a modern day back to be in the discussion it would be Adrian Peterson for sure.. barring injury he has the ability to surpass them all...
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  • People like to try to omit him from the history books (and possibly rightfully so) but OJ Simpson was one of the most amazing athletes to ever play professional sports. He flat out dominated. Too bad he had to committ those horrible horrible crimes by making those Naked Gun movies.

    ...I heard he killed some blonde people too.
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  • I'm not gonna make the argument that Shaun Alexander was the GOAT, but he gets severely underrated here. He had that Sanders like elusiveness and goal line instinct. Other than taking the money and running (away from the game, not down the field), I can't see why there is so much disrespect here for the guy.

    I will say Jim Brown is a second to Barry Sanders IMO. Brown was big and a lot of what he did is just running over people. While this can be effective and he was indeed great, I think what Barry had was almost one of a kind. Barry gets my GOAT vote without hesitation.

    Thing is though, I think a great many guys who could have been very "Barrylike", never got the chance because they were "too small" or had (mostly imagined) durability issues and their coached withheld their opportunities to become great; Napoleon Kaufman comes to mind, what a shame he was never a feature back long enough to show what he might have been capable of. Robert Smith also comes to mind, but he retired before he could get in the discussion.

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  • CANHawk wrote:People like to try to omit him from the history books (and possibly rightfully so) but OJ Simpson was one of the most amazing athletes to ever play professional sports. He flat out dominated. Too bad he had to committ those horrible horrible crimes by making those Naked Gun movies.

    ...I heard he killed some blonde people too.


    Very good point, and he wasn't a bad actor either!





    Poor Nordberg!
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  • Juice!!!!!!!!

    OJ was a great runner no doubt.. marcus allen as well.... there wasn't enough choices to put juice in the poll, so out of all the backs listed , i felt they were more worthy than Juice... although i think he's above Emmit, and Emmit was extremely overrated.. but he is the leader in rushing yrds so how do you leave him off the list. i'd take juice over Emmit in a heartbeat.
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  • Gotta give the nudge to Sanders, just a hair better than Brown. Sanders had a crap team pretty much his entire career, and was about the only thing that kept the Lions in it at all. He flowed like water around stones in the field, he was just that good. Other guys ran over the defense, but Sanders didn't need to. After he got done juking them out of their socks, they were too busy nursing broken ankles five yards behind him to worry about tackling. He was awesome to watch!

    Emmit Smif was a very good runner, but he had the benefit of playing for a team with not only one of the best lines in football, but a great passing game as well. When you have championship-caliber guys all around you, it's pretty easy to look good.
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  • Of the players listed in the poll, only 3 of them are in the top ten in average yards per game. 1. Jim Brown (104.3), 2. Barry Sanders (99.8 ), 7. Walter Payton (88.0). Of the 3 only Brown (5.2) and Sanders (5.0) averaged 5 yard per carry. Emmitt Smith (81.2 ypg, 4.2 ypc) doesn't compare well to those players in any of those metrics. What got him the all time rushing yards was longevity and Sanders retiring early.

    Adrian Peterson is the only active player that even compares.
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  • Man, anybody who doesn't rank Barry Sanders as #1 overall RB in NFL history, get the hell outta here. Not only did he never have a great O-line, but his running didn't depend on steroids and crap, with tree-trunk legs.

    Even though he's considered by everyone, pretty much, to be a top 3 of all time RB, he's still criminally underrated by a lot of people. Sanders was a talent we will never again see.
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  • CANHawk wrote:People like to try to omit him from the history books (and possibly rightfully so) but OJ Simpson was one of the most amazing athletes to ever play professional sports. He flat out dominated. Too bad he had to committ those horrible horrible crimes by making those Naked Gun movies.

    ...I heard he killed some blonde people too.



    I think Brown was better than all of those and I've seen all those names play. I do think baring injury Sandars would have put those records out of sight.

    But the Juice broke Jim Brown's records in a 14 game schedule. All the others you mentioned had 16 except Sayers. OJ also broke Jim Brown's consecutive games with 100 yard rushing which at that time I think was 7.

    So for me I've never felt Jim Brown was a fair comparison cause he was so far above all the players of that time. He quit in his prime so might very well have put the total yardarge record out of sight for even Sanders.

    To me

    Brown-absotively the best that ever was.(quit in his prime)
    OJ-only one to ever break or get close to Brown's records and in the same #of games.
    Sanders-also quit in his prime. Hard to number players that did that.
    Sayers-The best of the lot speed wise to this day.
    Smith-About an average back that got to play a long time with a great line.
    Sweetness-another who played a long time behind a great line. But he was really a little guy to have accomplished what he did. I still wish that dipstick coach Mike Ditka, had let him carry that goalline TD in the SB rather than Refridgerator Perry.

    Doub Farrar and I used to talk "who's the best Back" for hours with all types of other people and I think what I have above is pretty close to what we both thought.

    We can argue forever. My argument is I've seen everyone of the named players actually run so it seems easier for me. To me Eric Dickerson is an also ran that did have a very good line to run behind. None of the current bunch over the last few years impress me much tho I think if Peterson can avoid injury he might pass everyone.

    No yelling or screaming allowed, we all have different opinions and they are all valid. Those who haven't seen all the players have to mostly use old videos or sadly most of the young buckeroos just insist their guy is the best no matter they've never seen any of the others.

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  • volsunghawk wrote:Sanders is better than Smith, most definitely.

    Brown was better than both of them.

    This, and if you don't believe us you never saw Brown play.


    BTW, Gale Sayers was better than Emmitt too. So was OJ. So was Walter.
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  • Seahawk Sailor wrote:Gotta give the nudge to Sanders, just a hair better than Brown. Sanders had a crap team pretty much his entire career, and was about the only thing that kept the Lions in it at all............

    But Brown had crap QBs his whole career too unless you think Frank Ryan was good. Defenses were just as focused on him as they were Sanders. Barry is my #2 behind Brown who was almost as elusive as Sanders and had near Earl Campbell power to go with the elusiveness. He was the complete package like none before or since.
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  • hawksfansinceday1 wrote:
    Seahawk Sailor wrote:Gotta give the nudge to Sanders, just a hair better than Brown. Sanders had a crap team pretty much his entire career, and was about the only thing that kept the Lions in it at all............

    But Brown had crap QBs his whole career too unless you think Frank Ryan was good. Defenses were just as focused on him as they were Sanders. Barry is my #2 behind Brown who was almost as elusive as Sanders and had near Earl Campbell power to go with the elusiveness. He was the complete package like none before or since.


    One thing I thing I remember clearly about both Brown and OJ. They didn't try to skip away from contact very much. They tended to hit the pile full on. The difference with them was that many times they came out the other side of the pile and were off and running. And remember especially with Brown it was a running league in those days. 4 yards and a cloud of dust was the norm. Everyone knew Brown was going to get the ball.

    Where the Juice is concerned I always give him credit for his football abilitys as it was. What happened after was off the field by years and really shouldn't be used against him for what he did on the field.

    If/when an athletic gets himself in trouble during his playing/managing/whatever time on the field than they should perhaps be faulted for that. Orenthal James Simpson was a good student at USC, respected and liked by his team mates through out his career. But as we all know something happened to him after football. But it really shoudn't be held against his career stats/accomplishments.

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  • Brown had crap quarterbacks, sure, but quick, name a Lions' quarterback not named Matthew Stafford. But the point of running backs is to run the ball down field, gain yards, and stuff it in the end zone. Even with a crap team behind him, Barry Sanders was set to break almost every running back record there is. The only reason he didn't is a tribute to him suddenly quitting, in what many consider the prime of his career. Much like Brown, I suppose. But Barry had the edge. Very very slightly. Maybe.
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  • The thing that makes comparing Jim Brown with modern day players hard is that the guys on defense he played against were not 300 lb athletes in the D-line or 250 lb super athlete LBers. He was no doubt a freak of his day but who knows if you put him in the time machine. My guess would be he would still be pretty damn good but we will never know. Having said that, I say Barry Sanders and if Bo Jackson would of been dedicated to football and stayed healthy he would of been the greatest of all time by far.
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  • The four best in order: Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, OJ Simpson, Walter Payton.

    I think you can definitely make an argument for any of those guys as to who is the best RB of all-time. Simpson was a terrible person, sure, but I think if people want to be honest with themselves when it comes to skills on the field, you have to at least consider him as one of the best.

    Emmit Smith may have the record, but it wasn't because he was more talented than the previous four and quite honestly, many other running backs had more talent. His record is truly more of an accomplishment to his offensive line in my opinion as he basically had a great O-Line during his career with Dallas. On the other hand, Barry Sanders basically had a below average offensive line and was always way more dynamic than Emmit Smith. Always. Not sure how anyone can compare the two to be honest - I don't even think it is close.

    Someone previously compared Shaun Alexander to Barry Sanders, but I think Shaun compared a lot more to Emmit Smith. Alexander benefited more from a really good offensive line, much like Emmit Smith did, although he was not as good nor did he have the health and offensive line longevity that Smith did. I do agree though that Shaun Alexander is underrated based on some of the things I see posted on this site about him.

    Of the four I mentioned above, I am only old enough to have had watched Barry Sanders, which probably has a lot to do with why he is my personal favorite. The other guys I have watched video, heard the stories and all that.

    Emmit Smith was a damn good back. He was smart and elusive, which is why he lasted as long as he did. But he was not a great back, at least not skill wise and he doesn't really belong in the "greatest RB of all-time" discussion imo. The ONLY time I ever hear his name mentioned is among some biased Cowboy fans - yet never among fans of the sport in general. To be fair, if Alexander had the career Emmit did I think many of us would be the same way.
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  • penihawk wrote:............if Bo Jackson would of been dedicated to football and stayed healthy he would of been the greatest of all time by far.

    Completely agree with this.
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  • TheLargentLine wrote:The four best in order: Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, OJ Simpson, Walter Payton.

    I think you can definitely make an argument for any of those guys as to who is the best RB of all-time. Simpson was a terrible person, sure, but I think if people want to be honest with themselves when it comes to skills on the field, you have to at least consider him as one of the best.

    Emmit Smith may have the record, but it wasn't because he was more talented than the previous four and quite honestly, many other running backs had more talent. His record is truly more of an accomplishment to his offensive line in my opinion as he basically had a great O-Line during his career with Dallas. On the other hand, Barry Sanders basically had a below average offensive line and was always way more dynamic than Emmit Smith. Always. Not sure how anyone can compare the two to be honest - I don't even think it is close.

    Someone previously compared Shaun Alexander to Barry Sanders, but I think Shaun compared a lot more to Emmit Smith. Alexander benefited more from a really good offensive line, much like Emmit Smith did, although he was not as good nor did he have the health and offensive line longevity that Smith did. I do agree though that Shaun Alexander is underrated based on some of the things I see posted on this site about him.

    Of the four I mentioned above, I am only old enough to have had watched Barry Sanders, which probably has a lot to do with why he is my personal favorite. The other guys I have watched video, heard the stories and all that.

    Emmit Smith was a damn good back. He was smart and elusive, which is why he lasted as long as he did. But he was not a great back, at least not skill wise and he doesn't really belong in the "greatest RB of all-time" discussion imo. The ONLY time I ever hear his name mentioned is among some biased Cowboy fans - yet never among fans of the sport in general. To be fair, if Alexander had the career Emmit did I think many of us would be the same way.



    Can't really argue with any of those picks. Can't really argue with a bunch of others either. Its mostly more what you think and have seen. Sayers has always been my favorite but didn't play long enough to be considered the best. But the fact he only played what 6 seasons attests to us now how damned good everyone else thought he was.
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