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Top 5 running backs in Buffalo Bills history
The Buffalo Bills have a rich history of talented players that have passed through the organization. From the years in the AFL to the Super Bowl era of the 1990s, the Bills fans have had the opportunity to watch some of the best play the game. One position where the Bills often had exciting players was at the running back position. Here is the list of the top five Buffalo Bills running backs of all-time based on rushing yards, and a summary of their accomplishments with the franchise.
5) Wray Carlton (1960-1967) - 3,368 yards
Wray Carlton was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL in 1959. He could not agree to contract terms with the Eagles so he went to play for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. The Argonauts tried to trade Carlton to Vancouver after only four games, so Carlton left the CFL. In 1960, Carlton signed a contract to play for the Buffalo Bills of the AFL and became the team's starting running back.
Carlton scored the Bills' first AFL touchdown in the 1960 season, and he led the AFL in rushing touchdowns in 1965 with six. He finished his career with 3,368 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns.
Travis Henry was incredibly prolific for his short career with the Buffalo Bills. From 2001-2004, Travis Henry showed the promise of a very successful NFL career. As a Buffalo Bill, he amassed 3,849 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl in 2002.
Towards the middle of the 2004 season, Henry ran into injury troubles that cost him his starting job. Rather than backup Willis McGahee(notes), Henry demanded a trade. In 2005, he was traded to the Tennessee Titans to be the backup there. A series of injuries and legal problems helped to cut Henry's career short. He started the 2007 season with the Denver Broncos and was on his way to another great season until injuries ended his season and, eventually, his career.
3) Joe Cribbs (1980-1985) - 4,445 yards
Joe Cribbs played five out of his first six professional seasons with the Buffalo Bills. For the 1984 season, he signed with the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL. By 1985, he was back with the Bills but he had lost his starting job and his ability to consistently gain yards in the NFL.
In the five seasons he played for the Bills, Cribbs put up 4,445 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, He made the Pro Bowl in three of his Buffalo Bills years, and he finished his career in 1988 first with the Indianapolis Colts, and then with the Miami Dolphins.
2) O.J. Simpson (1969-1977) - 10,183 yards
The football accomplishments that O.J. Simpson are responsible for are impressive. He was the 1973 NFL MVP, 1973 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 1973 Pro Bowl MVP, a three-time AFC player of the year and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the first player to ever rush for 2,000 yards or more in a single season, and in only nine years with the Bills he scored 57 rushing touchdowns.
He finished his professional career in 1979 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. His career rushing average was 4.7 yards per carry, and his average yards per game was 83.2.
1) Thurman Thomas (1988-1999) - 11,938 yards
Thurman Thomas is remembered as the all-purpose running back during the Buffalo Bills Super Bowl years of the 1990's. In his career, he has played in four Super Bowls and five Pro Bowls. He led the NFL in total yards from scrimmage for four consecutive years from 1989 to 1992, and he was the 1991 NFL MVP. In 12 years with the Buffalo Bills, Thomas scored 65 rushing touchdowns.
He finished his career in 2000 with the Miami Dolphins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
"Buffalo Bills Career Rushing Register," pro-football-reference.com
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