Who has the most rushing yards in NFL history?

Dallas Cowboys vs San Diego Chargers
Dallas Cowboys vs San Diego Chargers

Many great running backs have taken the field in the NFL since its inception, but only one boasts the all-time rushing crown.

Emmitt Smith is the NFL's all-time rushing leader, having accumulated 18,355 yards during his 15-year career.

Smith is 1,629 yards ahead of second-place Walter Payton. The late Chicago Bear totaled 16,726 rushing yards across 13 seasons.

Third on the list is Frank Gore (15,952), followed by Barry Sanders (15,269) and Adrian Peterson (14,747). Gore and Peterson are still active in the league, with Gore currently playing for the New York Jets and Peterson playing for the Detroit Lions.

Smith has held the NFL rushing record since 2002. He is also just one of six players, and the total yards-leader of the group with 1,586, to notch 1,000 postseason rushing yards.

Emmitt Smith had a standout NFL career

Smith primarily played for the Dallas Cowboys during his NFL career, but he also spent time with the Arizona Cardinals.

After becoming the second-leading rusher in high school football history and playing college football for the University of Florida Gators, Smith was drafted by Dallas with the No. 17 overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft.

Smith played for the Cowboys from 1990-2002. He ran for 937 yards during his rookie season before going on a streak in which he rushed for at least 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons.

Smith's best NFL season was in 1995, when he rushed for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also caught a career-high 62 passes for 375 yards that year.

That 1995 season marked the first time a player rushed for 1,400+ yards in five-straight seasons; he also set the league record for rushing touchdowns in a single season.

In 2003, Smith signed with the Arizona Cardinals. He ran for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns during his two seasons with the franchise before announcing his retirement from the NFL.

Smith did end his career as a Cowboy, though. He signed a one-day contract, worth $1, with Dallas right before retiring.

Among his many accomplishments, Smith is also the league's all-time leader in rushing attempts with 4,409, holds the record for both most games in a season with a touchdown and most games in a season with a rushing touchdown, and the only player in league history to record 19+ touchdowns in three consecutive seasons.

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Edited by Amaar Burton
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