Walter Payton Unanimous Choice as Top RB of Super Bowl Era


When you consider the best of the best running backs, Walter Payton stands alone. ranked the top 10 running backs of the Super Bowl era and Sweetness was the top choice among all three writers who chimed in with their list.  Here are what the three analysts had to say about Payton.

Elliott Harrison

"This took all of one second to decide. Payton could run, block, catch and even throw. And on top of all that, “Sweetness” had longevity, to boot. There really isn’t anything missing on his résumé, other than the infamous lack of a Super Bowl touchdown. (Who cares?) Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. I always felt the most impressive thing about his career was the fact that he led the NFC in rushing every year from 1976 to 1980, despite the Bears being thoroughly mediocre. Earning a Super Bowl ring in the 1985 campaign was almost obligatory, considering the grand scope of Payton’s career."

Dave Dameshek

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"When people talk about how Barry Sanders never had the benefit of being on a good team, tell ’em about Payton, who spent his prime taking handoffs from non-Hall of Famers Bob Avellini, Mike Phipps and Vince Evans. In 1977, “Sweetness” put up one of the two or three best seasons by a running back in the Super Bowl era, going for 1,852 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns — plus 269 receiving yards and a couple more TDs — in 14 games. (If you extrapolate the rush yards per game over a 16-game season, it’d be an NFL-record 2,117 yards … and with the receiving yards, over 2,400!) But those are just numbers. No need to overthink this: Payton is football’s all-time combo of might and grace — and he was versatile! He had almost 500 catches, he was a great blocker, he threw eight touchdown passes, he jumped over entire defenses and he wore Roos."

Bucky Brooks

"Though he ranks second on the all-time rushing list, Payton is unquestionably the greatest running back of the Super Bowl era. “Sweetness” topped the 1,000-yard mark 10 times in 13 seasons and finished his career with 77 100-yard games. Most impressively, he claimed the NFC rushing title five straight seasons and scored 110 rushing touchdowns (fourth-most all time). Considering his feats as a standout receiver out of the backfield (492 career receptions) during a time when teams rarely put the ball in the air, there is little doubt Payton deserves the top spot on this list."

When you consider others on the list include the likes of Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson, OJ Simpson, Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson, that’s some tall timber.  The fact the Payton was the unanimous choice makes that much more impressive.  Mad respect Sweetness.