Being a fullback in the NFL these days usually means that you usually do not find yourself in the spotlight. These days, it seems that’s just how hard working NFL fullbacks like it. The fullback position has gone through many changes over the years in the NFL and had many different variations of players who took up the position. Here’s a brief history lesson of the two types of fullbacks that the NFL has seen over the decades.
First, you have your rushing fullback. These types of fullbacks are known for their downhill style of running and bruising clashes with defensive lineman and linebackers. These fullbacks were no strangers to having the ball put in their hands many times in a game and serving as their teams primary short-yardage and goal line back. In the 1970’s and 80’s this type of fullback was predominant in the NFL. Examples of these fullbacks included such names as Larry Csonka and John Riggins. A more recent example is Mike Alstott. These names are well known as much as any running back of their era because of what they were able to do with the football in their hands.
The other type of fullback is the prototypical blocking back. This fullback sees very few carries and is basically an extension of the offensive line. They are big and mean and can get to the second level with their blocks quite frequently. They have paved the way for some of the most successful running backs in NFL history. These fullbacks include Daryl Johnston, who blocked for Emmitt Smith, Tom Rathman, who blocked for Roger Craig, and more recently Lorenzo Neal, who blocked for the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Eddie George, and Corey Dillon (yes, Neal is a former Bengal). Although these names are rather familiar to most readers, there are other fullbacks in this category that go virtually unnoticed by fans.