A look at the NFL scoring records confirms that the majority of the players who have scored lots of points are kickers. They players tend to score regularly and also enjoy longer than average careers. However, if we research the most number of touchdowns scored, we see some of the all-time finest wide receivers and running backs on the list.
Jerry Rice – 208
The only non-kicker in the list of the top 50 all-time NFL points scorers, Rice was arguably the greater wide receiver in history. During his 20-season career he set a number of impressive records that might never be beaten.
After playing his college football at Mississippi Valley State, he joined the San Francisco 49ers as 16th pick in the 1985 NFL draft. Rice spent 16 seasons with the 49ers as well as having briefer spells with the Oakland Raiders, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Denver Broncos.
His spectacular success over those years meant that he still holds several of the different records for wide receivers, including number of touchdown receptions and total receiving yards. His total number of points (1,256) is ahead of every other non-kicker in NFL history too. Added to that, he won 3 Super Bowls and was chosen for the Pro Bowl 13 times.
The second-best total recorded by a wide receiver was the 157 total racked up by Randy Moss over his 14-season NFL career. You can read more here about Moss and some of the other great NFL wide receivers like Lance Alworth and Terrell Owens.
Emmitt Smith – 175
The only other non-kicker to score more than 1,000 points in the NFL, Emmitt Smith is a legendary running back who spent 15 seasons in the pro game. Most of his career was spent with the Dallas Cowboys, whom he joined in the 1990 draft before going on to earn the title of offensive rookie of the year.
Smith won the Super Bowl 3 times and ended as the all-time leading rusher in the NFL, with an incredible 18,355 yards in total. Another record he gained was for the more rushing touchdowns scored in the league, with 164 of them to his name.
1993 was probably Smith’s finest year, as he won the Super Bowl, was named the Most Valuable Player in the NFL, and also won the MVP award in Super Bowl. He finally moved on to the Arizona Cardinals for the last couple of seasons of his career, during which time he memorably threw his first and only touchdown pass, becoming the oldest NFL player to do this for the first time.
More recently, he has been in the news for promoting the Covid-19 vaccine, on a tour of Dallas. This was perhaps unexpected, as there are reports of many NFL players refusing to receive the vaccine.
LaDainian Tomlinson – 162
During an 11-year pro career LaDainian Tomlinson racked up 972 points, leading many people to call him one of the finest running backs ever to play in the NFL. His pro career began when the San Diego Chargers chose him as the 5th overall pick in the 2001 draft.
His seasons with the Chargers were highly productive, with more than 1,200 years and 50 receptions completed in each of his first 7 seasons with them. He also proved to be adept at throwing touchdown passes and added a list of records to his name over the years.
Tomlinson spent the last part of his career with the New York Jets, joining as a free agent in 2010. Overall, he played in 5 Pro Bowls and was the MVP in the NFL for 2006. Once he retired, the next step was to work as an analyst on TV.
Tomlinson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chargers retired his number 21 shirt. He has recently given his opinion on the current best running backs in the league.