The Green Bay Packers are a proud franchise, one that boasts seemingly-endless accolades. But it’s success at the running back position may actually be it’s greatest source of pride.
Sure, the team is known first for it’s three legendary modern day quarterbacks–and rightly so–but this list of talented running backs stretches far beyond three names.
For the sake of this list, the term “running back” refers simply to players that routinely ran the ball. Thus, tailbacks and fullbacks alike are found on this all-time list (but not modern day fullbacks that received limited touches throughout their careers).
Championships, statistics, awards, leadership, intangibles — it all plays a role in determining a players’ legacy. But these backs are ranked purely by their greatness with the ball while playing for Packers.
Unlike wide receiver and quarterback, the essence of the running back position has remained largely unchanged since formation of professional football. Thus, numerous names from the Packers’ distant past were not only eligible for this list, but necessary.
The future at the position in Green Bay appears to be AJ Dillon; we hope he finds a way to quickly fly up this all-time list.
Honorable Mention, Elijah Pitts (1961-1969, 1971):
Although Elijah Pitts never really got to be “the guy” in Green Bay–serving as Paul Hornung’s backup for years–he was still an internal part of all five championships in Lombardi’s dynasty. He is the only back on this list that boasts five rings; that means something.
Despite his role, he scored 37 total touchdowns for the Packers, including three in the 1966 playoff run. In fact, in the 1966 regular season he registered a career-high 10 touchdowns — 1966 happened to be Hornung’s last season, in which he was riddled with injuries. This serves as proof that Pitts could have been “the guy” had he needed to be.
What follows are the top 15 running backs in Green Bay Packers history.
15. Donny Anderson (1966-1971):
With two Super Bowl championships and one Pro Bowl appearance under his belt, Donny Anderson quietly put together a quite impressive rushing career. In just six seasons in Green Bay he scored 30 touchdowns and averaged a respectable 4.0 yards per carry.
Although Anderson was known for being a revolutionary punter and a solid runner, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield really set him apart. He caught 125 passes for the Packers and averaged a whopping 13.8 yards per reception. As far as athletes go, he was as complete as one could be for the Packers.
14. Edgar Bennett (1992-1996):
Edgar Bennett was never the Packers’ featured back and he only spent five years in Green Bay. However he made a big enough impact in those years to land on this list. In 1995 he rushed for 1067 yards and three times he amassed at least seven touchdowns in a single season.
As a versatile running back he helped lead the Packers to their first Super Bowl championship since the Vince Lombardi era in 1996 (with three touchdowns in that playoff run). Bennett was a premier pass-catcher out of the backfield. The evidence? In 1994 alone he recorded 78 receptions. Bennett gave Brett Favre a valuable weapon out of the backfield as he evolved into the game’s top quarterback.
13. Ted Fritsch (1942-1950):
One of the great fullbacks in team history is no doubt Ted Frisch. Despite playing in an era of relative low scoring, Fritsch put up 33 touchdowns. In his only true playoff game, the 1944 World Championship victory for the Packers, he punched-home two touchdowns. Not a bad legacy.
He was named First-Team All-Pro once and put up at least four rushing touchdowns in five consecutive seasons from 1943-1947. Fritsch also kicked field goals and returned kickoffs; his versatility is not to be questioned. Just like his place in the Green Bay Packers’ impressive running back history.
12. Eddie Lacy (2013-2016):
One of the most powerful runners in team history and one of the most successful “big” backs is Eddie Lacy. However his size didn’t save him from ample injury troubles throughout his four years in Green Bay. Had he re-signed withe the Packers he probably would have made his way up further on this list.
As a rookie he made the Pro Bowl, rushing for a career-high 1178 yards, and was named AP Rookie of the Year in 2013. In both of his first two seasons he rushed for more than 1100 yards and scored at least 11 total touchdowns. His third and fourth seasons were injury-riddled, despite adding to his impressive career highlight reel. His strength, balance, and trademarked spin move was a combination that often required more than one tackler to bring him down.
When healthy, he was an incredibly dangerous threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, with 101 career receptions and six receiving touchdowns. That was one area where he was underrated while in Green Bay. He averaged 4.4 yards per rush in his career (4.8 in the playoffs) for the Packers and will be missed for the next few seasons.
11. Verne Lewellen (1924-1932):
And we’ve reached the top 10.
Perhaps the most unheralded name on this list is one of the most accomplished in Verne Lewellen; he truly was the Packers’ first special running back. Playing in the NFL’s barbaric first decade was a tough time to play, but Lewellen was clearly a special talent.
He scored 49 total touchdowns for the Packers, including 37 on the ground. Four times First-Team All-Pro, he was a leader on Green Bay’s first three World Championship seasons. Not many players in that era of NFL football scored as frequently as Lewellen. His place on this list, despite his obscurity in the minds of Packers fans, is incredibly deserved.
Backs 10-6 found on the next page