Top 20 Rushers

At the Start of the 2004 NFL Season

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Three running backs - Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Jets' Curtis Martin, and Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans - ran past Hall of Famers on the Top 20 all-time rushing chart during the 2003 NFL season.

Bettis (right), who climbed four spots during the season, surpassed the career rushing marks of three Hall of Fame running backs. He cruised by Franco Harris in Week 15, then Marcus Allen one week later and finally past the legendary Jim Brown in the final week of the regular season to claim his spot as the sixth ranked rusher in NFL history.

Martin advanced four positions among the career leaders. After moving ahead of Ricky Watters and Marshall Faulk, Martin surpassed Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson and John Riggins to reach eleventh place among the rushing elite.

Despite missing five games early in the season, the St. Louis Rams' Marshall Faulk rushed for 818 yards on 209 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in 2003. His 10-year total now stands at 11,213 yards and 14th on the all-time rushing chart.

George moved past Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Joe Perry on the Top 20 to move into 17th place among the career rushing leaders.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 includes one other active player. The game's all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith played the 2003 NFL season with the Arizona Cardinals. His 14-season rushing yardage now stands at 17,418 yards.

At the Start of the 2004 Season
 
Rank   Player League
Yrs.
Att.
Yards
Avg.
TD
1 (1) EMMITT SMITH NFL
14
4,142
17,418
4.2
155
2 (2) Walter Payton * NFL
13
3,838
16,726
4.4
110
3 (3) Barry Sanders * NFL
10
3,062
15,269
5.0
99
4 (4) Eric Dickerson * NFL
11
2,996
13,259
4.4
90
5 (5) Tony Dorsett * NFL
12
2,936
12,739
4.3
77
6 (10) JEROME BETTIS NFL
11
3,119
12,353
4.0
69
7 (6) Jim Brown * NFL
9
2,359
12,312
5.2
106
8 (7) Marcus Allen * NFL
16
3,022
12,243
4.1
123
9 (8) Franco Harris * NFL
13
2,949
12,120
4.1
91
10 (9) Thurman Thomas NFL
13
2,877
12,074
4.2
65
11 (15) CURTIS MARTIN NFL
9
2,927
11,669
4.0
73
12 (11) John Riggins * NFL
14
2,916
11,352
3.9
104
13 (12) O.J. Simpson * AFL-NFL
11
2,404
11,236
4.7
61
14 (14) MARSHALL FAULK NFL
10
2,576
11,213
4.4
97
15 (13) Ricky Watters NFL
10
2,622
10,643
4.1
78
16 (16) O.J. Anderson NFL
14
2,562
10,273
4.0
81
17 (19) EDDIE GEORGE NFL
8
2,733
10,009
3.7
64
18 (17) Joe Perry * AAFC-NFL
16
1,929
9,723
5.0
71
19 (18) Earl Campbell * NFL
8
2,187
9,407
4.3
74
20 (20) Terry Allen NFL
10
2,152
8,614
4.0
73
 
2003 Notes:
No new players entered the Top 20 rushers during the 2003 season.
Next in Line:
Players active in 2003 who rank closest to a Top 20 ranking: COREY DILLON (8,061), GARRISON HEARST (7,885), STEPHEN DAVIS (7,234), CHARLIE GARNER (6,986), PRIEST HOLMES (6,692), FRED TAYLOR (6,356), and RICKY WILLIAMS (6,354).
 
ACTIVE IN 2003
* Pro Football Hall of Fame Member
( ) - indicates rank at the start of the 2003 season