Best White NFL Running Backs of All Time

1. John Riggins

John Riggins, known affectionately as “The Diesel,” is widely regarded as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, regardless of race. Riggins’ career spanned from 1971 to 1985, during which he played for the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins. His most memorable years were with the Redskins, where he became a franchise icon.

Riggins was a powerful and bruising runner, known for his ability to break tackles and grind out tough yards. His signature moment came in Super Bowl XVII when he broke free for a game-winning 43-yard touchdown run, sealing a victory for the Redskins and earning MVP honors.

Over the course of his career, Riggins amassed 11,352 rushing yards and 104 rushing touchdowns, earning him induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.

2. Christian McCaffrey

In recent years, Christian McCaffrey has emerged as one of the most dynamic and versatile running backs in the NFL. Drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2017, McCaffrey quickly established himself as a dual-threat playmaker capable of impacting the game as a rusher and receiver.

McCaffrey possesses exceptional speed, agility, and elusiveness, making him a nightmare for opposing defenses to contain. In 2019, he became only the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, joining elite company.

Despite battling injuries in recent seasons, McCaffrey’s skill set and playmaking ability continue to make him a force to be reckoned with on the field.

3. Peyton Hillis

Peyton Hillis may not have the same name recognition as some of the other players on this list, but his impact during the 2010 NFL season cannot be overstated. Playing for the Cleveland Browns, Hillis burst onto the scene with a breakout campaign that saw him rush for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Hillis’ bruising running style and ability to churn out tough yards endeared him to fans in Cleveland and earned him a spot on the cover of the Madden NFL 12 video game.

While injuries and inconsistency hampered the latter part of his career, Hillis’ remarkable season in 2010 remains a testament to his talent and resilience.

4. Danny Woodhead

Danny Woodhead may not have possessed the prototypical size and stature of an NFL running back, but what he lacked in physicality, he more than made up for with heart, determination, and versatility.

Undrafted out of Chadron State College, Woodhead defied the odds to carve out a successful NFL career, playing for teams like the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, and Baltimore Ravens.

Woodhead’s ability to contribute as both a rusher and receiver out of the backfield made him a valuable weapon for his teams. He finished his career with over 2,200 rushing yards, nearly 1,700 receiving yards, and 32 total touchdowns.

5. Toby Gerhart

Toby Gerhart may be best remembered for his standout college career at Stanford University, where he was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2009. However, Gerhart also enjoyed a solid but relatively brief NFL career as a running back.

Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Gerhart served primarily as a backup to Adrian Peterson but showcased flashes of potential when given the opportunity.

While injuries and a lack of consistent playing time limited his production at the professional level, Gerhart’s college achievements and brief moments of brilliance in the NFL earn him a place on this list.

In conclusion, while the NFL has historically been dominated by African American players, the contributions of white running backs should not be overlooked or dismissed. Each of the players mentioned in this article achieved success through hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence on the field. Whether breaking records, earning MVP honors, or simply defying expectations, these individuals have left an indelible mark on the sport of football and inspired generations of players to come.

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