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Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton: four good running backs

Posted by Doug on August 24, 2006

Yesterday I had some fun with Jerry Rice's career. I concluded that he was so good that he probably had two separate Hall of Fame careers in one. Today I'll do the same exercise with Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. Tomorrow I'll try some quarterbacks.

Here are Even-year Emmitt and Odd-year Emmitt, compared to all other running backs who debuted within four years (inclusive) of when Emmitt did.


Player RSH YD TD REC YD TD
==============================================================
1. Marshall Faulk 2836 12279 100 767 6875 36
2. Barry Sanders 3062 15269 99 352 2921 10
3. Thurman Thomas 2877 12074 65 472 4458 23
4. Jerome Bettis 3479 13662 91 200 1449 3
5. Ricky Watters 2622 10643 78 467 4248 13
6. Herschel Walker 1954 8225 61 512 4859 21
7. Even-year Emmitt 2443 9785 98 249 1601 7
8. Charlie Garner 1537 7097 39 419 3711 12
9. Terry Allen 2152 8614 73 204 1601 6
10. Odd-year Emmitt 1966 8570 66 266 1623 4
11. Garrison Hearst 1831 7966 30 229 2065 9
12. John Williams 1245 5006 18 546 4656 19
13. Chris Warren 1791 7696 52 273 1935 5
14. Larry Centers 616 2188 14 826 6797 28
15. Neal Anderson 1515 6166 51 302 2763 20

Here are the supporting numbers. The middle section there is postseason numbers. SBR stands for Super Bowl Rings. PB stands for Pro Bowl.


Player 1000Yd G RshYd TD RcYd TD SBR PB
================================================================
1. Marshall Faulk | 8 | 12 602 6 519 2 | 1 | 7
2. Barry Sanders | 10 | 6 386 1 111 0 | 0 | 10
3. Thurman Thomas | 8 | 21 1442 16 672 5 | 0 | 5
4. Jerome Bettis | 8 | 13 674 9 34 0 | 1 | 6
5. Ricky Watters | 7 | 11 666 8 451 4 | 1 | 5
6. Herschel Walker | 2 | 4 132 0 60 0 | 0 | 2
7. Even-year Emmitt | 5 | 8 724 8 128 1 | 1 | 4
8. Charlie Garner | 2 | 8 462 2 191 1 | 0 | 1
9. Terry Allen | 4 | 6 217 2 29 0 | 0 | 1
10. Odd-year Emmitt | 6 | 9 862 11 214 1 | 2 | 4
11. Garrison Hearst | 4 | 6 259 1 87 0 | 0 | 2
12. John Williams | 0 | 7 101 3 243 1 | 0 | 2
13. Chris Warren | 4 | 3 105 0 22 0 | 0 | 3
14. Larry Centers | 0 | 6 15 0 162 1 | 0 | 3
15. Neal Anderson | 3 | 6 279 1 107 0 | 0 | 4

I think Even-year Emmitt is in on the strength of the touchdowns and the Super Bowl championship. Odd-year Emmitt was pretty darn good but a longshot for Canton I think. He is helped by the two rings, but his overall profile is very similar to Terrell Davis', and while TD has his supporters, I ultimately don't think he'll make it.

Let's do Walter Payton. Again, we compare him to all running backs whose careers started within four years of Walter's:


Player RSH YD TD REC YD TD
==============================================================
1. Tony Dorsett 2936 12739 77 398 3554 13
2. Franco Harris 2949 12120 91 307 2287 9
3. John Riggins 2916 11352 104 250 2090 12
4. Ottis Anderson 2562 10273 81 376 3062 5
5. Odd-year Walter 2027 8868 60 267 2481 11
6. Earl Campbell 2187 9407 74 121 806 0
7. Even-year Walter 1811 7858 50 225 2057 4
8. Lydell Mitchell 1675 6534 30 376 3203 17
9. Wilbert Montgomery 1540 6789 45 273 2502 12
10. Mike Pruitt 1844 7378 51 270 1860 5


Player 1000Yd G RshYd TD RcYd TD SBR PB
================================================================
1. Tony Dorsett | 8 | 17 1383 9 403 1 | 1 | 4
2. Franco Harris | 8 | 13 1044 10 400 0 | 3 | 9
3. John Riggins | 5 | 9 996 12 45 0 | 1 | 1
4. Ottis Anderson | 6 | 8 433 3 14 0 | 2 | 2
5. Odd-year Walter | 5 | 6 398 2 157 0 | 1 | 4
6. Earl Campbell | 5 | 6 420 4 45 0 | 0 | 5
7. Even-year Walter | 5 | 3 234 0 21 0 | 0 | 5
8. Lydell Mitchell | 3 | 4 218 1 127 0 | 0 | 3
9. Wilbert Montgomery | 3 | 7 536 5 193 0 | 0 | 2
10. Mike Pruitt | 4 | 2 67 0 17 0 | 0 | 2

Odd-year Walter is probably in because of the Super Bowl ring and similarity to Earl Campbell. I don't think Even-year Walter has a particularly strong case.

Looked at this way, both Emmitt and Walter are more impressive than I would have thought. But Rice is still the king.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 24th, 2006 at 4:15 am and is filed under General, History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.