10 Nov 1991: Running back Rodney Hampton of the New York Giants runs with the ball during a game against the Phoenix Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Giants won the game 21-14.
(Photo via Getty Images)

With five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, former New York Giant Rodney Hampton was one of the top running backs of his era.

Jason Leach

Ground-and-pound used to be the staple of the New York Giants offense in the 1980s with a strong offensive line and running backs Joe Morris and Ottis Anderson.

So with the careers of the aforementioned individuals coming to an end, the Giants knew they needed a running back to help guide them in the 1990s. Thus, general manager George Young selected Rodney Hampton out of Georgia with the No. 24 overall pick in the 1990 draft.

At 5-foot-11, 221 pounds, Hampton was the ideal fit to continue the Giants power running game.

The Giants were so impressed with what they saw from him in the summer that they released Morris prior to the 1990 campaign.

As a rookie, Hampton split time in the backfield with Anderson and finished the season with 455 rushing yards on 109 carries with two rushing touchdowns. He additionally caught 32 balls for 274 yards and a pair of scores through the air.

Thanks to the efforts of Hampton and Anderson along with a defense that only allowed 13.2 points per game, the Giants finished the regular season with a 13-3 record and won their second consecutive NFC East title.

As we know, the Giants would go on to have one of the most impressive Super Bowl runs ever, defeating the two-time defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers by a score of 15-13 in the NFC Championship Game. Big Blue then ousted the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl 25. Nonetheless, Hampton’s playoff run ended abruptly as he broke his leg in the Giants’ 31-3 victory in the Divisional Round over the Chicago Bears.

In 1991, he would appear in 14 games (all starts) and would have his first 1,000-yard rushing season. He finished the year with 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and once again showed he was a valuable receiver coming out of the backfield, as he caught 43 passes for 283 yards.

The following season, Hampton would earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,141 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns.

Then in 1993, he would help lead the Giants back to the playoffs for the first time since the 1990 campaign and also earned another trip to the Pro Bowl. He underwent his third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season (1,077 yards) and found the end zone five times.

But what Hampton is most remembered for in regards to that season happens to be his performance in the Wild Card Round against the Minnesota Vikings.

In what would be the final home game in the careers of Giants greats Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms, Hampton paved the way in a 17-10 win by rushing for 161 yards and two scores on 33 carries. The brutal winds made it difficult to throw the ball that day, so if not for Hampton’s performance, the victory would’ve likely been difficult for Big Blue.

Hampton would surpass the 1,000-yard mark again in 1994 with 1,075 yards. He then put together a career-high 1,182 yards in 1995 and finished that year with 10 rushing touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the physical toll of the running back position slowed him down over time. In 1996, he rushed for 827 yards and just one touchdown. Then in his final season in 1997, he appeared in just two games and rushed for 81 yards and one score on 23 carries.

With five consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Hampton was one of the most productive backs of his era. He wasn’t on the tier of others like Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, or Thurman Thomas, but he was dependable and the focal point of the Giants offense in the early-to-mid-1990s.

His 6,897 career rushing yards are second-most in the history of the franchise and his 49 rushing touchdowns are third-most. Hampton is, without question, one of the best backs to ever play for the Giants organization.

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