Is Emmitt Smith the NFL’s GOAT at running back? Here’s what ESPN thinks.

·2 min read

One of the more fascinating topics in sports is the discussion that surrounds who the best players were in each respective league, specifically the top athlete otherwise known as the GOAT. As the years pass, the argument for the greatest of all time becomes more and more complex with the introduction of better methodologies for evaluating players as well as the inherent progress that comes with improved sports sciences.

Still, there will always be those who rose above the rest and set the bar high in their respective competition who will forever be cemented in the hallowed halls of the GOATs. For Florida football, there is at least one former Gator who will forever remain in that epic discourse when it comes to the best to ever play in the National Football League.

Running back Emmitt Smith, who dazzled the Gator Nation on the artificial turf of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium back in the late 1980s, is one UF alumnus who fits that bill. ESPN recently took a look at the best players ever at every offensive position in the NFL, and while the Gator great did not take home the prize, he still received a hearty honorable mention behind some extremely worthy candidates, landing fourth overall in the vote. Here is why.

“Durability. No player was as productive or as durable as Smith,” says NFL insider Dianna Russini. “Eleven straight 1,000-yard seasons.”

The top dog in this competition was understandably Jim Brown, one of the greatest to ever grab the pigskin, who earned 23 of the 50 total votes to take home the GOAT crown. Barry Sanders came in second with 14 votes, Walter Payton garnered six and Smith got three, while Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson received two, and LaDainian Tomlinson got one to round out the list of candidates receiving votes.


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