2. Emmitt Smith
The NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards — 17,162 coming during his 13 years in Dallas — will likely keep his crown forever given the league-wide move toward running back by committee and how hard it is for backs to be productive over 10 seasons.
Smith’s toughness was on full display on Jan. 2, 1994, when he overcame a separated shoulder in the first half to literally carry the entire team on his back to the 1993 NFC East title en route to a second straight NFL championship a few weeks later. That game alone — notwithstanding an entire career of amazing carries and plays — is reason enough to make Smith the best running back to wear the star on his helmet.
Not bad for a player 16 other teams passed on because they thought he was too small and not fast enough for the pro game. Fortunately, Jimmy Johnson saw Smith’s potential and Dallas traded up to No. 17 to draft him.