The Las Vegas Raiders have had some terrific running backs throughout their history. In this article, I’ll attempt to rank their top four. That’s gonna be hard, as you can probably imagine, but here are the four I came up with.
Daniels is an artifact in Raiders’ history. He graced the Silver and Black from 1961-67, and was very well-rounded. He stood at 6’1″ and weighed in at 220 pounds. He was a tackle-breaking machine, one with speed as well. Also, he was an pioneer of running backs that catch passes out of the backfield. Likewise, he was excellent in the return game as well. Daniels trophy cabinet includes two All-Pro teams, four Pro Bowls and a spot in the AFL Hall of Fame.
Davis would be the physical opposite of Daniels, checking in at 5’10” and 190 pounds. Davis ranks only eighth on the Raiders’ All-Time rushing list. However, taking a deeper look at his play, we see that this is really an example of his team-first identity. When he first joined the Raiders, they already had Mark Van Eeghan in the backfield, which meant Davis’ small stature was destined for fullback duties. He would spend a majority of the time blocking for Van Eeghan but was able to make big rushing plays himself when needed. This explains why he only comes in at eighth. Nevertheless, he was actually much more important to the Raiders.
Now, on to the top four.
Kaufman wore the Silver & Black from 1995-2000, and he is the prime example of heart. He was small, standing at 5’9′, and just 185 pounds. Somehow, the man bench pressed 500 pounds, and could squat a whopping 600.
Kaufman tallied an impressive 16 carries of at least 40 yards in just six years. He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and had great vision. He was well on his way to potentially become one of the greatest running backs in football history.
Then, Kaufman decided to retire and become a preacher at the age of 27. In just six years, he became the Raiders’ fourth all-time rushing leader, and it’s easy to think about how great of a career he might have had. At the end, we can’t fault him for his own life decisions, and I’m glad he was able to do what really made him happy.
Mark Van Eeghan
Mark might have been different from Kaufman, coming in at 6’2″ and 223 pounds. Nonetheless, they did share one thing in common: They loved to hit people.
Like Davis, Van Eeghan was a team-first player who didn’t care much for his own accomplishments. Van Eeghan could shake a defender or two, but his primary option was to physically punish defenders. He actually played fullback for the Raiders, would block for Davis, and vice versa. The two made a great tandem and would end up defeating the Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
Van Eeghan wound up second on the Raiders’ all-time rushing list, and he did it in the way of a true Raider.
You knew Jackson was going to be here before you read the article. He might have had the greatest four-year stretch in NFL history.
Jackson was 230 pounds, and ran a 4.2 40-yard dash. That shouldn’t even be possible. He was the ultimate running back. He could truck a defender without breaking stride, while being able to juke any defender out of their cleats.
🏴☠️🏈📚 #60Seasons Series
On November 5, 1989 #Raiders Bo Jackson had a 92-yd TD run versus the Bengals @ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
This score stood as the team's longest rushing play until it was eclipsed by QB Terrell Pryor's 93-yarder in 2013. @BoJackson pic.twitter.com/K34aYETIau
— AFL GODFATHER (@NFLMAVERICK) November 5, 2019
Jackson had three runs over 80 yards in his career. In 15 years, Emmit Smith had one run over 70 yards. Jackson would miss the 1990 AFC Championship game with a hip injury. That same injury would tragically end his career. Like Kauffman, you just have to wonder how great of a career Jackson was going to have.
Yeah, no surprises here either.
Allen is the greatest running back in Raiders’ franchise history, and it’s not close. He is the only Hall of Fame running back to wear a Raiders uniform, and he is easily first on the Raiders’ all-time rushing list.
Allen’s trophy cabinet included the Hiesman Trophy, 1982 NFL Rookie of the Year, Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, and NFL MVP.
Allen also had what I believe to be the greatest run in NFL history, seen below:
Marcus Allen. So, so good. pic.twitter.com/49iDLXbVCe
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) April 20, 2020
Allen would move to fullback to finish his career with the Raiders after Jackson came along.
There is a constant theme among the players on this list: They were all ultimate team players. They were all willing to sacrifice their personal accolades for the betterment of the organization. They all should be commended. I think there are some very under appreciated players on this list, and I hope you enjoyed reading it.
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Top Photo: George Rose/Getty Images