10. Earl Campbell
The 1978 Rookie of the Year and MVP, Oilers star Earl Campbell punished defenses in his short career, earning Offensive Player of the Year honors in three consecutive seasons. Campbell topped 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns in five of his first six seasons thanks to a vicious running style that saw him run directly into the teeth of defenses—frequently. (He set a record with 373 carries in one season.) Unfortunately, Campbell paid a price for that bruising mentality, putting up just five healthy seasons in the NFL.
9. LaDainian Tomlinson
Today he’s a change-of-pace back for the Jets who’s grooming a successor and chipping in the occasional goal-line carry. But it wasn’t long ago that LT was the premiere running back in the game, scanning the field in his trademark visor and dissecting his opponents for nine straight double-digit touchdown seasons to open his career. He’s also the owner of one of the most dominant seasons in history, when he crushed the single-season record with 31 TDs and 186 total points in 2006. (Listen closely and you can still hear his fantasy owners bragging about it.)
8. Eric Dickerson
It can be hard to take him seriously when you see that Jheri curl, but Dickerson scampered for 13,259 yards in his 11-year career, leading the league in rushing three times and becoming the first halfback to gain 1,000 yards in seven straight seasons. A thoroughbred in the open field—albeit one in goofy goggles—Dickerson still owns the single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards, set in 1984. And the three-time Pro Bowler also came up big in the post-season, with a record 248 rushing yards in one 1986 game against the Cowboys in which he broke off TD runs of 55 and 40 yards.
7. Gale Sayers
The Kansas Comet put up giant numbers in an injury-shortened, 68-game career. Sayers started off with a bang, scoring 22 touchdowns in his rookie season and crossing the goal line six times in one December game, a record that still stands and a performance that none other than George Halas called “the greatest football exhibition I have ever seen.” Oh, and he’s also the best kickoff returner in NFL history with an unreal 30.56 yard average.