Jim Brown led the league in rushing for eight seasons, including five consecutive seasons from 1957 to 1961 and three consecutive seasons from 1963 to 1965.
In American football, running (also referred to as rushing) is, along with passing, one of the two main methods of advancing the ball down the field. A running play generally occurs when the quarterback hands or tosses the ball backwards to the running back, but other players, such as the quarterback, can run with the ball. In the National Football League (NFL), the player who has recorded the most yards through running is considered the winner of the rushing title. In addition to the NFL rushing champion, league record books recognize the rushing champions of the American Football League (AFL), which operated from 1960 to 1969 before being absorbed into the National Football League in 1970.
The NFL did not begin keeping official records until the 1932 season. The average amount of yardage the rushing champion has gained has increased over time - since the adoption of the 14-game season in 1961, all but two rushing champions have recorded over 1,000 yards rushing, and the adoption of the 16-game season in 1978 has resulted in many rushing champions recording over 1,500 rushing yards. Seven rushing champions have recorded over 2,000 rushing yards, a feat first accomplished by O. J. Simpson in 1973 and most recently accomplished by Adrian Peterson in 2012.
The player with the most rushing titles is Jim Brown, who was the rushing champion eight times over his career. Emmitt Smith, O. J. Simpson, Steve Van Buren, and Barry Sanders are tied for the second-most rushing titles, each having won four times. Jim Brown also holds the record for the most consecutive rushing titles with five, having led the league in rushing each year from 1957 to 1961. Steve Van Buren, Emmitt Smith, and Earl Campbell each recorded three consecutive rushing titles. The Cleveland Browns have recorded the most rushing titles with eleven; the Chicago Bears rank second, with six rushing titles. The most recent rushing champion is Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, who led the league with 2,097 yards rushing over the 2012 season.