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Who is the Fastest Running Back of All Time?

To be on the winning team as a running back in the NFL, you must have a speed that no one can get ahead of. So who is the fastest running back of all time? Bo Jackson is the fastest running back of all time. He is also known as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He played not only in the NFL, but he played major league baseball as well. 

Jackson could be considered an unreal physical specimen at 6’1″ and 227 lbs. He ran an amazing 4.12 seconds—hand-timed, that is—40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and that still remains the fastest verifiable 40-yard dash time ever recorded at any NFL Combine. During his four seasons in the NFL, Jackson raced for 2,782 yards (2,544 m) and 16 touchdowns with an average yard per carry of 5.4. 

Key takeaways

  • Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson is the fastest running back of all time.
  • Bo Jackson owns the record for the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL history (ran in February of 1986). While rumors went on for years about the actual time, Jackson himself shared the true story with, and it was 4.13.

Bo Jackson’s Background 

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson, born on the 30th of November 1962, is an American former professional football and baseball player. In fact, he is the only professional athlete in history that has an All-Star title in both baseball and football. As mentioned earlier, he is one of the greatest athletes of all time. And he earned this reputation all thanks to his elite talent in multiple sports. 

Jackson played college football for the Auburn Tigers, and in 1985, he won the Heisman Trophy. [1]

He played as a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders in the National Football League and for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels in Major League Baseball. In 1996, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. [2]

In 1989 and 1990, Jackson’s name spread like wildfire beyond just sports through the “Bo Knows” advertising campaign. Nike made a series of advertisements that starred Jackson alongside musician Bo Diddley, promoting a cross-training athletic shoe named Jackson. In 1991, he suffered a hip injury on the field that ended his football career, and his baseball career ended in 1994.

Below are his football career highlights and awards:

  • Pro Bowl (1990)
  • Heisman Trophy (1985)
  • Walter Camp Award (1985)
  • Sporting News Player of the Year (1985)
  • UPI Player of the Year (1985)
  • 2× Consensus All-American (1983, 1985)
  • 3× First-team All-SEC (1982, 1983, 1985)
  • Auburn Tigers No. 34 retired

Some of The Fastest Running Backs Next To Bo Jackson

If you want to know who is the fastest running back next to Bo Jackson, below is a list to cover that together with a few pieces of information about them.

Chris Johnson; Tennessee Titans 

Christopher Duan Johnson, born on the 23rd of September 1985, is a former American football running back. Johnson was born in Orlando, Florida, so he came out as a senior for East Carolina University where he rushed for 2,960 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns. In the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans after he ran a then-record breaking 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

In 2009, he successfully earned the NFL rushing title with 2,006 yards (the sixth of only seven players ever to gain over 2,000 in a season). He even broke Marshall Faulk’s record of total yards from scrimmage with 2,509. Because of this, he got the nickname CJ2K. He has been to three Pro Bowls and was named as the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. Johnson has played for the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals as well. 

Lamar Miller, Houston Texans 

Lamar N. Miller, born on the 25th of April 1991, is an American football running back who is a free agent. Miller played college football at the University of Miami. In the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Since he has rushed for 720 yards and two touchdowns with a 4.2 yards per carry average, he has been quite a pickup for the Texans. He has caught 22 passes for 124 yards and a score as well. 

It’s undeniable that Miller possesses all the skills needed to be one of the top backs in the NFL, plus he also has the 4.34 speed needed to run away from the defense. Unfortunately, Miller tore his ACL during the Texans’ third preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, which prematurely ended his season. On August 26, 2019, He was placed on injured reserve.

Final Words 

In conclusion, the 40-yard dash has always been the traditional test of speed in American football. There’s no question that the fastest players on the field are typical—but not always—the best performers in the 40-yard dash. And to draft players with raw speed ability, there’s a higher chance that they will play fast on the field and bring the trophy home. What can you say about this? Do you agree that being fast contributes a lot to every team’s success? Let us know what you think!


1. “Heisman Trophy.” Accessed 23 Jul. 2020.
2. “College Football Hall of Fame – Wikipedia.” Accessed 23 Jul. 2020.

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