The running back position has been an integral part of the NFL since its beginnings. In the modern era of American football, where quarterbacks and high-octane speed create the game, a dominant rush assault will prove to be the deciding factor in the outcome of games.

While big passes are exciting to see, nothing beats the joy of a great run defense being carved apart. Even though the running back position has evolved with the modern game of football, the history of the National Football League has a history of great ball carriers.

By the middle of the 2000s, having a backfield standout might be a huge advantage since many of the NFL’s all-time best running backs retired decades earlier. Several current athletes have also achieved legendary status in their respective professions. Check out the top three running backs in NFL history.

3. Walter Payton

The NFL record for rushing yards was held by Walter “Sweetness” Payton until 2002 when Emmitt Smith surpassed him. In addition, his 110 rushing touchdowns rank fourth all-time.

He was the 1977 Super Bowl XX winner and was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times. After scoring a touchdown, he was so proud of himself that he threw the ball to the referee instead of continuing the celebration.

2. Jim Brown

This 8-time All-Pro and 3-time MVP was more than just a fullback; he played in every game of his NFL career. A fearsome combination of size and speed allowed the massive Brown to run on defenseman with ease, and he did it seven times in all but one season, playing in 12 or 14 games each time.

Throughout his career, Brown scored more than one touchdown each game and set a new NFL record of 5.2 meters per track.

1. Emmitt Smith

After 15 years and 226 games in the NFL, Emmitt Smith topped the list of all-time rushers. Smith, who finished last, ran the ball 4,409 times for 18,355 yards in his career.

Averaging 4.2 yards per carry and scoring 175 times. Smith’s career average from scrimmage to reception is 21.579 yards, which he achieved over the course of 13 years with Dallas and two with Arizona.