5 Best Kansas City Chiefs Running Backs Of All-Time

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
NFL Analysis Network

The Kansas City Chiefs are loaded with star talent right now. With Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce leading the way, they have formed a dynasty in recent years.

In the past, there have been a lot of all-time greats and superstars who have played for the Chiefs. A lot of them have gone forgotten by the influx of fans rooting for Mahomes and Kelce.

However, it’s also worth reflecting on the notable halfbacks who have graced Kansas City’s history. In this piece, we’ll explore some of the most outstanding running backs to have donned the Chiefs jersey over the years.

Without further delay, let’s dive into the list and find out who the five best Kansas City Chiefs running backs of all-time are.

5. Abner Haynes, 1960-1964

During the inaugural year of the Kansas City Chiefs, the team witnessed the remarkable prowess of former running back Abner Haynes, who clinched the MVP title. Excelling in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns for the erstwhile Dallas Texans, Haynes left an indelible mark on the league.

Haynes’ dominance was evident as he topped the league in rushing touchdowns thrice, notably securing 13 touchdowns in 1962, a feat instrumental in propelling the team to clinch the first seed in the Western Conference. His stellar performance extended to the AFL Championship game, where he further etched his name in history by scoring twice, aiding the franchise in clinching their maiden AFL Title.

Haynes’ legacy extends beyond his MVP season, as he currently holds the sixth position in franchise history for rushing yards. Moreover, his exceptional abilities were duly recognized with four selections to the AFL All-Star team, further solidifying his status as a football icon.

4. Christian Okoye, 1987-1992

Once destined for a track and field career representing Nigeria at the Olympics, Christian Okoye’s journey took an unexpected turn when he found himself drafted into the NFL by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987. Despite his initial plans, Okoye’s remarkable talent as a running back couldn’t be overlooked.

Ascending from the relatively obscure Azusa Pacific University, Okoye quickly made his mark in the NFL. In his rookie season, he seized the starting position and demonstrated his prowess with an impressive 660 rushing yards in just 12 games. However, it was during the 1989 season that Okoye truly shone, leading the league with a staggering 1,480 rushing yards and earning the prestigious title of NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

While Okoye’s subsequent seasons didn’t match the heights of his stellar 1989 campaign, he continued to be a formidable force on the field. His legacy with the Chiefs includes one more season surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark, cementing his place in franchise history with a total of 4,897 rushing yards, ranking him fourth overall. Despite his unconventional path to the NFL, Okoye’s impact on the game and the Chiefs organization remains indelible.

3. Larry Johnson, 2003-2009

Larry Johnson, drafted in the first round, initially found himself in the shadows as he began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, serving as the backup to the iconic running back, Priest Holmes. However, fate intervened with injuries sidelining Holmes, providing Johnson with the opportunity to seize the starting position.

Johnson’s prowess was on full display during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, where he achieved remarkable back-to-back rushing yard totals exceeding 1,700 yards each. Accompanying these impressive yardage figures were 37 rushing touchdowns, earning him recognition with two Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro honors (one First-Team and one Second-Team).

Although Johnson’s peak performance years were confined to this exceptional stretch, he nonetheless etched his name in Chiefs history books. His tenure saw him amass the third-highest rushing yards and the second-highest rushing touchdowns in the franchise’s storied history.

2. Priest Holmes, 2001-2007

Formerly a promising running back prospect for the Baltimore Ravens, Priest Holmes commenced his NFL journey with notable potential. He contributed significantly to the Ravens’ Super Bowl triumph and achieved a remarkable feat of surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark once. However, the true magnitude of his impact was yet to unfold until he transitioned to the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent ahead of the 2001 season.

Upon donning the Chiefs’ uniform, Holmes embarked on a remarkable streak of three consecutive First-team All-Pro selections. During this remarkable stretch, he clinched the prestigious 2002 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, while also leading the league in rushing touchdowns twice and rushing yards once. Additionally, he surpassed the 1,400-yard mark on three occasions and recorded over 20 rushing touchdowns twice.

Although Holmes’ performance gradually declined with age, his three-year peak remains unparalleled in the annals of NFL history, solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest running backs of all time.

1. Jamaal Charles, 2008-2016

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is celebrated as the premier running back in the franchise’s history for a multitude of reasons:

Franchise Rushing Yards Leader: Charles holds the record for the most rushing yards in Chiefs history, amassing an impressive total of 7,260 yards on the ground throughout his tenure with the team.

Accolades: He boasts an impressive resume of accolades, including being a two-time First-team All-Pro selection and a four-time Pro Bowler. These honors underscore his exceptional skill and contribution to the team.

Consistent Performance: Charles showcased remarkable consistency throughout his career, recording five seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards. This consistent production speaks to his reliability and effectiveness as a running back.

Yards per Carry Record: With an average of 5.4 yards per carry, Charles holds the highest yards-per-carry average among NFL running backs of all time. This statistic underscores his explosiveness and efficiency every time he touched the football.

Jamaal Charles is not only revered among Chiefs fans but also recognized as one of the premier running backs of his generation. His combination of statistical dominance, accolades, consistency, and efficiency solidifies his place as the best running back in Chiefs history.

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