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    Best New York Jets Running Backs of All Time From Curtis Martin to Matt Snell

    The New York Jets have a rich history of talented running backs. Which player deserves to be rated the best in franchise history?

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    Last modified on June 30, 2024 | 9:34 AM EDT

    Published on June 29, 2024 | 1:00 PM EDT

    The New York Jets have been a football franchise since 1960 with the now-merged American Football League. Throughout their more than half-century existence, some very talented players have walked the halls of the Jets’ facility.

    Perhaps no position group has possessed more talent than the constant stream of top players the Jets have had in recent memory.

    Today, we will rank the five best running backs in Gang Green’s history based on numbers, impact on the team, and NFL history.

    Who Are the Greatest New York Jets Running Backs of All Time?

    The numbers may not exactly show it, but the Jets have had a strong history of running backs throughout their 64-year history. Whether it’s power runners or complete game-changers, New York has never been shy to field top-end players at one of the NFL’s most popular positions.

    Let’s break down who the five best running backs in Jets history are.

    5) Thomas Jones

    Thomas Jones only played for the Jets for three seasons. By that mark, he doesn’t deserve to be on this list at all.

    Except for the fact that those three seasons rank among the more dominant stretches in league history, let alone Jets history.

    In his three years after being a member of the Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl-losing team in 2006, Jones ran for 3,833 yards while helping the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game in 2009. Among this list, only our top-ranked player had a better three-year stretch, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    A big reason for New York’s late 2000s playoff run was its leaders and runners like Jones, who set the tone for the offense. He is more than deserving to be on this list.

    4) John Riggins

    Many NFL fans associate John Riggins, a Hall of Fame running back, with the Washington franchise, but he actually got his NFL start with the Jets, something many non-Jets fans may forget.

    In five seasons with New York, Riggins ran wild, totaling over 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns. He reached the Pro Bowl in his final season with the Jets before leaving to sign a free-agent deal with Washington in 1976.

    Riggins is one of the greatest power running backs of all time, and while people may think of him only as an honorary member of the “Hogs,” his real NFL start began with the Jets.

    3) Freeman McNeil

    NFL history isn’t kind to Freeman McNeil, but during the early 1980s, he was one of the more consistent running backs in the game.

    From 1982-1985, McNeil was considered one of the best runners in the league, making three Pro Bowls and earning an All-Pro nod in ’82. In total, he’s second on the team in career rushing yards with 8,074. He also led the league in rushing once and went over 1,000 yards twice in back-to-back seasons.

    McNeil helped the Jets reach the playoffs multiple times in the ’80s and should be remembered as one of the more underrated running backs of the era.

    2) Matt Snell

    When you score a long offensive touchdown for a team in its lone Super Bowl win, which just so happens to be one of the greatest upsets in sports history, you better believe your name is going to be on here.

    Matt Snell’s numbers do not show a dominant running back by any sense of the imagination, but he was a first-team All-Pro runner in 1969 and a three-time Pro Bowler.

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    He was also instrumental in helping the Jets win Super Bowl 3, rushing for 121 yards on 31 carries and the Jets’ lone touchdown of the contest.

    Snell’s career numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they are certainly worthy enough to be on this list.

    1) Curtis Martin

    Like many top players on the Jets, there really is no contest as to who the top running back in team history is. Martin is New York’s all-time leading rusher, a Hall of Fame player, and is sixth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

    Making his career even sweeter is how he spurned the Jets’ most hated rival.

    Martin was already a household name as a member of the New England Patriots and even helped them get to the Super Bowl in his second season. After his three-year run in Foxboro, Mass., though, Martin followed his former head coach Bill Parcells to the Jets, and the rest is history.

    In total, Martin recorded 10,302 rushing yards in eight seasons with the Jets. He’s the only Jets runner to record over 8,500 rushing yards with the organization, and he clearly deserves to be on this list as the top back in New York history.

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