List of National Football League rushing champions

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Jim Brown led the league in rushing for eight seasons, including five consecutive seasons from 1957 to 1961 and three consecutive seasons from 1963 to 1965.

In American football, running (also referred to as rushing) is, along with passing, one of the two main methods of advancing the ball down the field.[1] A running play generally occurs when the quarterback hands or tosses the ball backwards to the running back,[2] but other players, such as the quarterback, can run with the ball.[1] In the National Football League (NFL), the player who has recorded the most yards through running is considered the winner of the rushing title.[3] In addition to the NFL rushing champion, league record books recognize the rushing champions of the American Football League (AFL), which operated from 1960 to 1969 before being absorbed into the National Football League in 1970.[4]

The NFL did not begin keeping official records until the 1932 season.[5] The average amount of yardage the rushing champion has gained has increased over time - since the adoption of the 14-game season in 1961, all but two rushing champions have recorded over 1,000 yards rushing, and the adoption of the 16-game season in 1978 has resulted in many rushing champions recording over 1,500 rushing yards. Seven rushing champions have recorded over 2,000 rushing yards, a feat first accomplished by O. J. Simpson in 1973 and most recently accomplished by Adrian Peterson in 2012.

The player with the most rushing titles is Jim Brown, who was the rushing champion eight times over his career. Emmitt Smith, O. J. Simpson, Steve Van Buren, and Barry Sanders are tied for the second-most rushing titles, each having won four times. Jim Brown also holds the record for the most consecutive rushing titles with five, having led the league in rushing each year from 1957 to 1961. Steve Van Buren, Emmitt Smith, and Earl Campbell each recorded three consecutive rushing titles. The Cleveland Browns have recorded the most rushing titles with eleven; the Chicago Bears rank second, with six rushing titles. The most recent rushing champion is Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, who led the league with 1,607 yards rushing over the 2013 season.

List of NFL rushing title winners[edit]

Cliff Battles led the league in rushing in 1932, the first season in which official statistics were kept, and in 1937.
Byron "Whizzer" White, a future associate justice of the US Supreme Court, won the league rushing title in 1938 and 1940.
Joe Perry won the rushing title in 1953 and 1954, recording over 1,000 rushing yards in both seasons.
Gale Sayers led the NFL in rushing in 1966 and 1969.
Eric Dickerson led the league in rushing in 1983 and 1984, his first two seasons in the league, and won two more titles in 1986 and 1988.
Emmitt Smith was the league's rushing champion four times, including three consecutive years from 1991 to 1993.
LaDainian Tomlinson won back-to-back rushing titles in 2006 and 2007, and is the most recent player to do so.
Adrian Peterson led the league in rushing in the 2008 and 2012 seasons.
SeasonThe season in which the rushing title was won
WinnerThe player who won the rushing title
GamesThe number of games played in that season[A]
Yds.Rushing yards
^Pro Football Hall of Fame member
*Player is active
daggerPlayer won the AP Most Valuable Player award in the same year
double-daggerPlayer won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award in the same year
±Player won the title in his first season of professional football
List of National Football League (NFL) rushing title winners by season
1932Cliff BattlesBoston Braves57610[6]
1933Jim MusickBoston Redskins80912[7]
1934Beattie Feathers±Chicago Bears1,00413[8]
1935Doug RussellChicago Cardinals49912
1936Tuffy LeemansNew York Giants83012
1937Cliff Battles^Washington Redskins87411
1938Byron "Whizzer" White±Pittsburgh Pirates56711
1939Bill Osmanski±Chicago Bears69911
1940Byron "Whizzer" WhiteDetroit Lions51411
1941Pug MandersBrooklyn Dodgers48611
1942Bill DudleyPittsburgh Steelers69611
1943Bill Paschal±New York Giants57210
1944Bill PaschalNew York Giants73710
1945Steve Van Buren^Philadelphia Eagles83210
1946Bill Dudley^Pittsburgh Steelers60411
1947Steve Van Buren^Philadelphia Eagles1,00812
1948Steve Van Buren^Philadelphia Eagles94512
1949Steve Van Buren^Philadelphia Eagles1,14612
1950Marion Motley^Cleveland Browns81012
1951Eddie PriceNew York Giants97112
1952Dan TowlerLos Angeles Rams89412
1953Joe Perry^San Francisco 49ers1,01812
1954Joe Perry^San Francisco 49ers1,04912
1955Alan Ameche±Baltimore Colts96112
1956Rick CasaresChicago Bears1,12612
1957Jim Brown^dagger±Cleveland Browns94212
1958Jim Brown^daggerCleveland Browns1,52712
1959Jim Brown^Cleveland Browns1,32912
1960Jim Brown^Cleveland Browns1,25712
1961Jim Brown^Cleveland Browns1,40814
1962Jim Taylor^Green Bay Packers1,47414
1963Jim Brown^Cleveland Browns1,86314
1964Jim Brown^Cleveland Browns1,44614
1965Jim Brown^daggerCleveland Browns1,54414
1966Gale Sayers^Chicago Bears1,23114
1967Leroy Kelly^Cleveland Browns1,20514
1968Leroy Kelly^Cleveland Browns1,23914
1969Gale Sayers^Chicago Bears1,03214
1970Larry BrownWashington Redskins1,12514
1971Floyd Little^Denver Broncos1,13314
1972O. J. Simpson^Buffalo Bills1,25114
1973O. J. Simpson^daggerdouble-daggerBuffalo Bills2,00314
1974Otis ArmstrongDenver Broncos1,40714
1975O. J. Simpson^Buffalo Bills1,81714
1976O. J. Simpson^Buffalo Bills1,50314
1977Walter Payton^daggerdouble-daggerChicago Bears1,85214
1978Earl Campbell^double-dagger±Houston Oilers1,45016
1979Earl Campbell^daggerdouble-daggerHouston Oilers1,69716
1980Earl Campbell^double-daggerHouston Oilers1,93416
1981George Rogers±New Orleans Saints1,67416
1982Freeman McNeilNew York Jets7869[B]
1983Eric DickersonLos Angeles Rams1,80816
1984Eric Dickerson^Los Angeles Rams2,10516
1985Marcus Allen^daggerdouble-daggerLos Angeles Raiders1,75916
1986Eric Dickerson^Los Angeles Rams1,82116
1987Charles WhiteLos Angeles Rams1,37415[C]
1988Eric Dickerson^Indianapolis Colts1,65916
1989Christian OkoyeKansas City Chiefs1,48016
1990Barry Sanders^Detroit Lions1,30416
1991Emmitt Smith^Dallas Cowboys1,56316
1992Emmitt Smith^Dallas Cowboys1,71316
1993Emmitt Smith^daggerDallas Cowboys1,48616
1994Barry Sanders^double-daggerDetroit Lions1,88316
1995Emmitt Smith^Dallas Cowboys1,77316
1996Barry Sanders^Detroit Lions1,55316
1997Barry Sanders^daggerdouble-daggerDetroit Lions2,05316
1998Terrell Davisdaggerdouble-daggerDenver Broncos2,00816
1999Edgerrin James±Indianapolis Colts1,55316
2000Edgerrin JamesIndianapolis Colts1,70916
2001Priest HolmesKansas City Chiefs1,55516
2002Ricky WilliamsMiami Dolphins1,85316
2003Jamal Lewisdouble-daggerBaltimore Ravens2,06616
2004Curtis Martin^New York Jets1,69716
2005Shaun Alexanderdaggerdouble-daggerSeattle Seahawks1,88016
2006LaDainian Tomlinsondaggerdouble-daggerSan Diego Chargers1,81516
2007LaDainian TomlinsonSan Diego Chargers1,47416
2008Adrian Peterson*Minnesota Vikings1,76016
2009Chris Johnson*double-daggerTennessee Titans2,00616
2010Arian Foster*Houston Texans1,61616
2011Maurice Jones-Drew*Jacksonville Jaguars1,60616
2012Adrian Peterson*daggerdouble-daggerMinnesota Vikings2,09716
2013LeSean McCoy*Philadelphia Eagles1,60716

List of AFL rushing title winners[edit]

List of American Football League (AFL) rushing title winners by season
1960Abner Haynes±Dallas Texans87514
1961Billy CannonHouston Oilers94814
1962Cookie GilchristBuffalo Bills1,09614
1963Clem DanielsOakland Raiders1,09914
1964Cookie GilchristBuffalo Bills98114
1965Paul LoweSan Diego Chargers1,12114
1966Jim NanceBoston Patriots1,45814
1967Jim NanceBoston Patriots1,21614
1968Paul Robinson±Cincinnati Bengals1,02314
1969Dickie PostSan Diego Chargers87314


  1. ^ The NFL did not have a set number of games for teams to play until the 1935 season, instead setting a minimum.
  2. ^ The 1982 season was reduced from 16 to 9 games due to a 57-day players' strike.[9]
  3. ^ The 1987 season was reduced from 16 to 15 games due to a 24-day players' strike.[9]
  1. ^ a b "Beginner's Guide to Football". National Football League. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Run". Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Miami's Bush eyeing NFL rushing title". August 16, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ "2012 NFL Record and Fact Book". pp. 625–626. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ "NFL's Passer Rating". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ "1932 Boston Braves". Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ "1933 Boston Redskins". Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  8. ^ "1934 Chicago Bears". Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "NFL History by Decade: 1981-1990". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 

General references[edit]

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