(Terrell Davis photo courtesy of Erik Bakke/Denver Broncos)
(Roger Craig photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers)
(Alan Ameche photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)
Talk of Fame Network
LaDainian Tomlinson becomes a first-time eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2017 and figures to have a clear path to enshrinement. There would seem to be little resistance for a player who ranks fifth on the all-time rushing list – the only back in the Top 10 not currently enshrined. He was a two-time NFL rushing champion and a member of the 2000s’ all-decade team.
But the path has not been as smooth for Terrell Davis. Or Roger Craig. Or Chuck Foreman. All were elite backs during their eras who haven’t been able to drum up enough support yet for a bust in Canton. And that will be our poll question this week — who’s the best running back not enshrined in the Hall of Fame?
Here are your six options:
Alan Ameche. The Horse played only six NFL seasons with the Baltimore Colts but was voted to four Pro Bowls, won two NFL championships and was named to the 1950s’ all-decade team. He also won an NFL rushing title in 1955 and scored the winning touchdown on a short plunge in overtime in the 1958 NFL title game against the New York Giants. He rushed for 4,045 career yards and 40 touchdowns.
Larry Brown. An unheralded eighth-round draft pick out of Kansas State, Brown wound up playing eight seasons and was named one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all-time. He won an NFL rushing title in 1970, an NFC rushing crown in 1972 and was voted to four Pro Bowls. He also played in a Super Bowl. Brown rushed for 5,875 career yards and 40 touchdowns.
(Photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)
Roger Craig. The rare player who excelled at both halfback and fullback in his career. He began his career as a blocker and receiver in the first half of the 1980s, then moved to halfback and a featured role in the second half of the decade. In 1985, Craig became the first back in NFL history to collect 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. He won three Super Bowls, went to four Pro Bowls and was named to the 1980s’ all-decade team. He rushed for 8,189 career yards and 71 TDs.
Terrell Davis. For a three-year window, Davis was as outstanding as any back who has ever played the game. He rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1996, 1,750 yards and 15 scores in 1997 and 2,008 yards and 21 TDs in 1998. He won AFC rushing titles in 1997-98 and the NFL crown in 1998. He went to the Pro Bowl all three years, and his Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1997-98. Davis was named the NFL MVP in 1998, but four games into the 1999 season, he tore up his knee and was never the same back. He played two more seasons, appearing in just 13 games.
Chuck Foreman. One of several Vikings whose Hall-of-Fame chances were hurt by Minnesota’s failure to win a Super Bowl in the 1970s. Foreman was a member of teams that lost three Super Bowls. But what a terrific and complete back. He was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1973, led the NFL in touchdowns in both 1974 and 1976 and led the league in receiving with 73 catches in 1975. He rushed for 5,950 career yards and 53 TDs and caught 350 career passes for 3,156 yards and 23 more scores.
(Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)
Edgerrin James. The Colts made a controversial choice of James in 1999, selecting him with the fourth overall pick ahead of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. But James cashed immediate dividends, leading the NFL in rushing in each of his first two seasons. A knee injury in October of the 2001 season denied him that chance at a three-peat, but he returned from the injury to have five more 1,000-yard seasons. He went to four Pro Bowls and was named to the 2000s’ all-decade team. His 12,246 career rushing yards place him 11th all-time.
(Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)