Legendary Bears RBs Walter Payton, Gale Sayers make NFL 100 All-Time Team

The franchise had four finalists, including Red Grange and Bronco Nagurski, but only Payton and Sayers earned spots among the 12 running backs.

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Payton running for the Bears in 1984.

AP

The league announced the 12 running backs on its NFL 100 All-Time Team, and the Bears took two of those spots with legends Walter Payton and Gale Sayers.

Payton is the Bears’ all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards, second in league history only to Emmitt Smith, who also was selected. Payton was a seven-time all-pro selection, Super Bowl champion, the 1977 league MVP and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. The NFL named its Man of the Year trophy after him.

Sayers’ career was cut short by injuries, but he was dominant. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry from 1965 through ‘69 and was all-pro each of those seasons. He is the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, going in at 34 in 1977.

Bears greats Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange were among the 24 finalists, but did not make the cut.

The finalists and all-time team selections were made by a 26-member voting panel that followed guidelines similar to that of the Hall of Fame.

In addition to Payton, Sayers and Smith, the following running backs were selected: Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, Marion Motley, Lenny Moore, Steve Van Buren, Eric Dickerson, Cutch Clark, Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson.

The NFL will announce selections by position each Friday through the end of the year. Running backs were first, and the league will continue with defensive line and linebackers next week.

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