Oakland Raiders: Top Ten Running Backs In Team History

At the Kansas City Chiefs game, seeing Marcus Allen among the rest of the Raiders Hall of Fame players made me think of the Oakland Raiders good ole days. Running the ball well and throwing deep off of it has always been what Raiders football is all about.

When the Raiders were successful, they always had a great running back that drew the attention of the defense on play action.

That's how they won their championships so for every championship team or good team the Raiders had, there was such a player on the team. These running backs were team-oriented men that were versatile and whatever the team needed at the time is what they did.

Some of these backs might not have been threats to go the distance on a single carry, but again, they did what was asked of them--block, move the chains, keep drives moving and hold onto the ball.

So I rated the top 10 based on the eye test, career statistics with the Raiders, impact, especially on good teams and championships.

No. 10: Bo Jackson

Legendary Raiders owner Al Davis always went out and found the biggest, strongest, fastest, most freaky athletes around. And Bo Jackson was the freakiest at 6'1", 235 pounds and running a combine-record 40-time of 4.12 seconds in 1986.

No disrespect to Deion Sanders, Jim Thorpe and Bruce Jenner but Jackson was the best athlete to ever walk this planet.

Why he made the list

I couldn't leave him off of the list because of his amazing 5.4 yards per carry over his short career, he once ran for 950 yards in nine games and the eye test. He simply did things that no other human being could do with that 4.1 speed and power to run over linebackers (Brain Bosworth).

On top of outrunning ridiculous angles, Jackson is the only running back I ever saw run over someone without breaking stride.

Why he's not higher

He's not on the Raiders' all-time rushing list nor did he win any championships with the Raiders as his career was cut short by a hip injury.

He couldn't even maximize his numbers for the time he played with the Raiders because he was only available for half the season because he played Major League Baseball.

He should be No. 1 as well as the all-time leading rusher for the Raiders and the NFL, but playing part-time and a short career ruined that.

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No. 9: Napoleon Kaufman

Al Davis brought Napoleon Kaufman on board as a small, strong, fast, freak athlete as Kaufman was only 5'9", 185 pounds. But Kaufman was a spark plug as he was fast enough to run a 4.3 40 and strong enough to bench press 500 pounds.

He was also a jitterbug as he regularly made defenders look stupid while making them miss but still had power to break tackles.

Why he made the list

Kaufman was a regular on SportsCenter with his long, breakaway runs to showcase that speed he had. He should be higher, but the Lord came calling for him to preach and he stopped playing after six years at No. 4 on the Raiders' all-time rushing list.

Kaufman also averaged an outstanding 4.9 yards per carry and he's tied for fourth in postseason touchdowns.

Why he's not higher

He quit too soon, as he would have been on the team that lost the "Tuck Rule" game at the end of the 2001 season. He may have changed that game and the Raiders' blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl to end 2002.

He also didn't have an impact on a team that won something and didn't make a single Pro Bowl in his career.

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No. 8: Hewritt Dixon

At 6'1", 230 pounds and fast, Hewritt Dixon had the height, weight and speed combination Al Davis coveted in running backs. He also had the versatility as Dixon was a good blocker and an excellent receiver out of the backfield as Davis employed him as in the '60s.

Dixon was a punishing runner to go with that speed as his 230 pounds was huge for a running back in that era.

Why he's on the list

Dixon was a team-oriented, versatile running back that was even moved to tight end at times while with the Raiders. He's No. 13 on the Raiders all-time rushing list and No. 18 on the Raiders all-time receiving list, proving that versatility.

Dixon was also 1st-team All-Pro once with four Pro Bowl Selections, including when he helped the 1967 team win the AFL Championship.

Why he's not higher

Dixon didn't have enough numbers compiled and didn't win a Super Bowl to put him in front of the guys ahead of him. If he were higher on the Raiders all-time rushing list, that would have made up for not winning Super Bowl II.

His contributions would have been taken more into account if they had led to a Super Bowl victory for the Raiders.

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No. 7: Marv Hubbard

Marv Hubbard was an authentically tough man and a punishing runner for the Raiders from the fullback position. Back in the '60s and '70s, the Raiders' fullbacks ran the ball a lot too and he was the Raiders' version of Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers, running the Raiders sweep.

Hubbard was the Raiders' closer as he got the drive-sustaining first downs when the Raiders were ahead late in the game.

Why He's on the List

Hubbard's toughness exemplified Raiders football, and he is the Raiders fifth all-time leading rusher. He also averaged 4.8 yards per carry over his career as there aren't many that played as long as he did with that high of an average.

Hubbard was also a Pro Bowl fullback three times, which is fourth-most among all Raiders running backs.

Why He's Not Higher

For whatever the reason, Hubbard never made an All-Pro team and his efforts never led to winning a championship. His body gave out from his punishing style of running in 1975, and the Raiders didn't beat the then dominant Pittsburgh Steelers to go to the Super Bowl of until 1976.

If Hubbard had only made it to 1976, he would have been part of a Super Bowl winner, and he would have been as high as No. 2.

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No. 6: Clarence Davis

Al Davis once coached at USC so he's always had a place in his heart for players coming out of there and it often didn't work out. In 1971, Davis chose his school and his namesake when he picked running back Clarence Davis in the fourth round, and it did work out.

At 5'10" and 195 pounds, Davis wasn't the biggest running back but he was a slashing type of runner with speed and he ran hard.

Why he's this high

Davis is the ninth-leading rusher and fifth in rushing touchdowns in Raiders' history while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

He was also clutch as while he wasn't known for having good hands, he made the catch in the famous "Sea of Hands" game in the playoffs following the 1974 season against the Miami Dolphins.

He also should have been co-MVP with Fred Biletnikoff in Super Bowl XI as he rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries.

Why he's not higher

Davis was really talented, but too much like current Raiders running back Darren McFadden—he just couldn't stay healthy. He also didn't catch the ball well out of the backfield as he was known as "hands of wood" and wasn't the greatest blocker.

Raiders' running backs are traditionally known as guys that can do a multitude of jobs and Davis wasn't good enough as just a runner to be higher.

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No. 5: Pete Banaszak

Pete Banaszak was the typical whatever-the-team-needs type of running back the Raiders always had in their stable. The hard-charging runner played halfback and fullback, could block and catch the ball out of the backfield but helped the most in short yardage.

It was there that he got the Raiders' drive-sustaining first downs and touchdowns from two yards in.

Why he's this high

Banaszak is No. 7 on the Raiders all-time rushing list, No. 2 in rushing touchdowns and No. 6 in total touchdowns. He's also No. 3 in career playoff touchdowns as his 3.9 career yards per carry average is skewed by all the short yardage plays he made.

Banaszak helped the Raiders win the AFL Championship in 1967 and the Super Bowl to close 1976 by scoring two touchdowns in the game.

Why he's not higher

Even though he was given the short-yardage role, Banaszak was far from a 1-trick pony but wasn't quite as versatile as the guys above him. He also wasn't as explosive so while he'll keep the chains moving for you, he's not going to take it the distance on a long run.

The four in front of him all have more versatility and career accomplishments, as well as more hardware.

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No. 4: Kenny King

For the Raiders fans that were around in 1980, who could forget the sight of Kenny King carrying the ball like a loaf of bread en route to an 80-yard touchdown catch and run.

Al Davis traded for King that year because of his versatility and speed to make big plays like that which he and quarterback Jim Plunkett combined for a Super Bowl record for longest touchdown pass until Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman broke it in Super Bowl XXXI.

Why he's this high

The speedy, versatile King is No. 16 on the Raiders all-time rushing list and could catch the ball well out of the backfield. He showed that versatility by unselfishly moving to fullback to block for Marcus Allen when he was drafted by the  Raiders.

He helped the Raiders win Super Bowl XV with 93 yards receiving out of the backfield and Super Bowl XVIII by blocking for the MVP of the game (Allen).

Why he's not higher

The top three on this list were truly special and game changers that put the Raiders offense on their back at times. They all had better individual statistics to further confirm just what they did for the Raiders in their respective times as Raiders.

They also had some kind of hardware to validate them as valuable pieces that increase the chance of winning championships.

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No. 3 Clem Daniels

At 6'1" and 220 pounds back in the '60s, Clem Daniels was a freaky combination of size, speed and power with a lot of skill. Daniels would be considered a big, strong and fast running back in today's game so imagine what he was back in the '60s.

Al Davis, who had just gone to Oakland, recognized his skills and used them to make Daniels the MVP of the AFL and himself the Coach of the Year.

Why he's this high

Daniels is the Raiders' No. 3 rusher, No. 16 receiver and No. 5 touchdown scorer of all time and changed the game in doing so. Davis was among the first to use running backs as receivers, and the first to use running backs in the vertical game and Daniels was a big part of it.

To go with his MVP, two All-Pros and four Pro Bowls, Daniels led the Raiders to an AFL Championship and is the AFL's all-time leading rusher.

Why he's not higher

Daniels AFL Championship counts because the AFL was its own league, but Daniels' Raiders lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl after. No. 1 and No. 2 on this list are higher on the Raiders' all-time rushing list and the have Super Bowl wins on their side.

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No. 2: Mark Van Eeghen

Mark Van Eeghen is in the mold of Marv Hubbard and Pete Banaszak before him as he simply worked to get four yards for the company. He was also a good receiver out of the backfield and got it done in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

To complete his versatile skill set, he was a great blocker, as he played halfback and fullback depending on the situation and who was in there with him.

Why he's so high

Van Eeghen is No. 2 on the Raiders' all-time rushing list and No. 10 all-time in touchdowns for the Raiders. He did whatever the team needed him to do as he was the ultimate chain-mover on third- or fourth-and-short situations.

Doing whatever the team needs him to do helped the Raiders win Super Bowls XI and XV too.

Why he's not No. 1

There can only be one No. 1 and that No. 1 did a whole lot to carry the Raiders to their many victories. While Van Eeghen was versatile, he didn't have the speed to be a game-changer nor did he ever truly carry the load.

I know all that is nitpicking but like I said before, there can only be one No. 1 and he did all the things Van Eeghen didn't.

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No. 1: Marcus Allen

Forget about who he played for after leaving the Raiders, Marcus Allen was the greatest running back the Raiders ever had. As a matter of fact, he the best football player the ever put on the silver-and-black Raiders uniform.

You can even make a case that Allen is the best football player the NFL has ever seen if you look at what he did and how.

He and O.J. Simpson made running with the football look the prettiest of any running backs I've ever seen. He caught the ball well out of the backfield and he could run routes down the field well enough that you could line him up at receiver.

LaDainian Tomlinson threw more touchdowns than any running back, but Allen could throw the ball deep down the field like a quarterback.

If that isn't good enough, Allen moved to fullback to block for Bo Jackson when he went to the Raiders, like Kenny King did for him. That's the same versatility and whatever-the-team-needs-me-to-do mentality that Raiders running backs are traditionally known for.

And we can't forget the third-and-1, fourth-and-1 and goal-line situations Allen also made his money on.

Allen is No. 1 on the Raiders all-time rushing list, No. 5 on the Raiders receiving list and No. 2 behind Tim Brown in touchdowns. He was the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1982, the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII and NFL MVP in 1985 with the Raiders.

He also went to six Pro Bowls, was 1st-team All-Pro twice and was 2nd-team All-Pro once in his illustrious career.

He also won a Heisman Trophy and college and won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year but not with the Raiders.

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Bottom Line

This was a really hard list to make as the Raiders have had some phenomenal running backs over the years. But when I narrowed it down, the eye test was involved, but it was mainly all about what these players did for the Raiders.

For example, Eric Dickerson was one of the greatest running backs ever, but he didn't play with the Raiders long enough.

Tyrone Wheatley put up some solid numbers around the turn of the century and Justin Vargas sneaked onto the club's top-10 list playing for some of the not-so-good Raider teams of the 2000s.

There were also some that didn't have as high of yards per carry average, but they scored touchdowns, and that's more important. Then, of course, the value has to be there as what they did to contribute to championships was pretty big too.

But those are my Raiders' Top 10 running backs, and I would put this list against anyone's.