FanDuel - WFBC

July 06, 2006

The 2,000-yard Rushers: An unlikely source (The KC Chiefs homepage) for an insightful article. Especially interesting is the game-by-game: in Sanders' 2,000-yard season, he was shut down in week 1 and 2. Overall, it sure puts into perspective how tough the feat is to accomplish.

posted by rexthewonderdog to football at 12:16 PM - 49 comments

Looking at this list really makes me angry. If Barry Sanders hadn't retired, he would have smashed the rushing record. Then, he came back way past his prime as a corner. Really a waste of talent.

posted by redsoxrgay at 12:56 PM on July 06

I personally have no doubt that had he not retired when he did Sanders would be the number one rusher of all time. Probaby with a record that wouldn't be broken for many years to come. In my mind he was the best pure runningback of all time and one like him only comes along once in a generation. I've seen many great backs, but he was the only one that could leave me in a state of awe after one of his great runs. You just shake your head and realize he had a god-given talent that can't be taught.

posted by commander cody at 01:23 PM on July 06

If Barry Sanders hadn't retired, he would have smashed the rushing record. Then, he came back way past his prime as a corner. Really a waste of talent. Huh??

posted by T.C. at 01:43 PM on July 06

Then, he came back way past his prime as a corner. Really a waste of talent. I think you're talking about Deion Sanders. Once Barry retired, he never returned.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:43 PM on July 06

I totally agree with commander cody, I would literally watch a lions game for Barry only. There have been some great backs, but None in my lifetime that were as remotely fun to watch as Barry!!!

posted by skins fan at 02:02 PM on July 06

Yeah my bad- thats what I meant. lol

posted by redsoxrgay at 02:04 PM on July 06

Sanders no doubt would be the number 1 all time had he not retired. Davis could have been in that discussion had his knees not given out. There are just too many ifs in football to say he would be the best, for most guys. Sanders wasn't most guys. He was the force in the NFL that no coach could prepare for. The only team that beat him was the Lions.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 03:02 PM on July 06

Taking nothing away from Barry Sanders I need to mention Gale Sayers. Gale never gained 2,000 yards but his 5.0 average per carry was the same as Barry. He averaged 11.7 yards per reception while Barry had 8.3 yards and Gale returned kickoffs where he averaged 30.6 yards per. Just like Davis--Gale had to retire due to a bad knee. So in the discussion of 'if he had not retired he would have'......we have to add Gale Sayers to the mix.

posted by Termite at 03:16 PM on July 06

Oh yeah. Definately. He was one of the greatest of all time. He is one of the few players you can take from way back in the early days and place in todays NFL and he would still be one of the best.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 03:25 PM on July 06

I agree that Barry should have stayed at least two more years, but if he wants to play baseball thats up to him. I am just mad that he is playing outfield for Kansas City. I wish he was somewhere that he could have a chance at a ring. What a total waste of talent.

posted by steelcityguy at 03:34 PM on July 06

I agree that Barry should have stayed at least two more years, but if he wants to play baseball thats up to him. I am just mad that he is playing outfield for Kansas City. I wish he was somewhere that he could have a chance at a ring. What a total waste of talent. Um, I believe you are talking about Reggie Sanders.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 03:39 PM on July 06

No, I am pretty sure that I am talking about Barry.

posted by steelcityguy at 03:43 PM on July 06

Hey, if the guy wants to retire, I say let him. After all, he was pretty successful with his fried chicken franchise, so I'm sure he's not complaining. BTW, what's with all the mistaken identity going on here? ;-)

posted by rexthewonderdog at 03:44 PM on July 06

Nope. Barry never played baseball. Deion played but for the Reds. Reggie Sanders plays for the Royals currently.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 03:45 PM on July 06

He is one of the few players you can take from way back in the early days kid, Your making me feel old! The early days?

posted by Termite at 04:01 PM on July 06

Sorry

posted by kidrayter2005 at 04:03 PM on July 06

No, I am pretty sure that I am talking about Barry. No, you're not. Barry Sanders does not play professional baseball, never has, and likely never will. Interesting stat table on the FPP link. All the guys on that list had serious breakaway speed at some point in their career, and four of the five were less than 220 lbs (Dickerson, 218; Sanders, 200; Davis, 210; Simpson, 216). A couple of other things that stand out to me: Jamal Lewis was the heaviest to break 2,000 yards, at 245. Considering that he was the heaviest (and, therefore, probably the slowest) of the bunch, his achievement (to me, anyway) is even more impressive; O.J. is the only one to pull three 200-yard+ games in his 2,003 yard season; With the exception of Barry (2), all of these backs were held to under 100 yards at least three times...Terrell Davis was held under 100 yards five times, and still managed his 2,000, while O.J. was held under the century mark three times, and still finished with over 2K in two games less than the other four! Also, as far as I know, O.J. is the only one of the five to make it into the Stabbin' Hall of Fame.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:26 PM on July 06

Nice Rex. Now I need a new keyboard.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 04:26 PM on July 06

I agree that Sanders was the greatest back to watch, and had he hung around he would be the leading yardage gainer of all time. Of course the article does point out that the greatest single season mark still has to be O.J Simpsons over 2000 yards in only 14 games. Nobody has ever done that. Even Dickerson during his all time record season, had to play 15 to break 2000. That OJ could do just about anything, even get away with murder. Got to give credit where credit is due.

posted by Atheist at 04:27 PM on July 06

Give Barry his props, the guy was going to be the best of all time. Emmitt Smith was great, but had Barry had that line, I believe he goes for 2300 in a season. Nothimg taken away from the greats like Sayers and Simpson, but Sanders had to earn his yardage more than any other back in the league!! I wish he would have stayed for just 2 more years just to see how far he would have set the bar!

posted by DallasFan at 04:59 PM on July 06

I think Sanders would have definitely broken the record if he hadn't gone on to do movies.

posted by grum@work at 05:06 PM on July 06

Nothimg taken away from the greats like Sayers and Simpson, but Sanders had to earn his yardage more than any other back in the league!! I don't know about that...O.J. played for some pretty crappy Buffalo teams. From 1969-1977 (the Juice years) the Bills went 43-81-2. There weren't a whole lot of easy yards on that team, which for a few years was easily the worst in the entire league. It got to the point that "troublemakers" were threatened with a trade to Buffalo.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:17 PM on July 06

I think Sanders would have definitely broken the record if he hadn't gone on to do movies. True, but his talk show kicked ass.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:22 PM on July 06

wow what would of happened if OJ would of played 16 games....but I am glad he didn't though

posted by sgtcookzane at 06:48 PM on July 06

O.J. Simpson - ... In the last two weeks of the season in freezing cold, on fields that were snow covered he ran for a total of 419 yards. Pure Athlete. Wish we could remember him for his playing...

posted by DudeDykstra at 07:03 PM on July 06

DallasFan, I've always said the same thing. Emmet always knew there'd be a hole for him and where it would be. He'd fly through it and not get touched for 4 or 5 yards. Barry not only couldn't count on a hole, he usually had to avoid one or two of his own linemen as they got blasted into the backfield. I only have two complaints about Barry. First, the way he waited until the last minute to tell the Lions he was retiring just plain sucked. It really hurt the team and, by extension, his fans. The management may have deserved it, but the other players didn't. Second, he'd complain that he couldn't get blocking, so they'd draft or sign what were supposed to be quality linemen, then he'd never even bother to go to any of the mini-camps or anything. The new guys would have to learn a new system, which takes some pretty substantial effort, but then they had to try to figure out how to deal with all the quirks that made up Barry's running game...and he didn't bother to show up until he had to. He didn't need the extra practice, but the new guys needed to practice WITH him as much as possible, but he couldn't be bothered.

posted by ctal1999 at 08:32 PM on July 06

Pure Athlete. Wish we could remember him for his playing... That's all I really remember him for. As far as I'm concerned the jury said not guilty, end of story. And he sure was a sight to see on the field, but I still have to give it to Barry by an edge.

posted by commander cody at 09:27 PM on July 06

I always thought barry retiring was the smartest move he ever made. He didn't have to even work to pass payton, because, you know, he would have anyway if he had kept playing. We'll ignore that he might have gotten injured, or he might have lost a step the next season and since he depended on quickness it certainly would have made a difference. Emmet always knew there'd be a hole for him and where it would be. He'd fly through it and not get touched for 4 or 5 yards. Barry not only couldn't count on a hole, he usually had to avoid one or two of his own linemen as they got blasted into the backfield. We've had this argument here before, so I'm not going to bother going back and forth, but that's a ridiculous statement. Barry needed holes to run through. Why was he average at the goal line? Why did the lions take him out? I mean, if he didn't need a hole, it shouldn't have made a difference. Barry is in a no lose situation. On plays where he lost yards, blame the sorry line. On plays where he gained yards, he did it all on his own. Barry may very well be the best back ever, but this whole idea that he did everything on his own while giving emmitt no credit because his line gave him huge holes to run through is simply ignorance. They're both great backs. That's all I really remember him for. As far as I'm concerned the jury said not guilty, end of story. And juries make mistakes all the time (or I'll just go with the civil jury that found hiim guilty).

posted by justgary at 10:13 PM on July 06

How can you say that he needed a hole! The Lions WERE the worst team in the league then and still are. And with the goalline thing, he was average because his line sucked! If he had an average line we would be talking about him being the career touchdown leader too. He found ways to make it work out in the open because he had room to go around three or four or 11 guys! At the goalline you need the big uglies to push and move people and the Lions couldn't do that. They had to put the guy in the backfield that could run over guys. And yes when he lost yards it was his sorry lines fault because they couldn't stop a 4 man rush why would you think they could stop 7 guys in the box because it was 2 and 3 and everyone and there mother knew they where going to run. If he gained yards in that situation it was because he found ways to split defenders and use his linemen as almost a pick to get through.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 10:45 PM on July 06

When I was a kid I thought the 1,000 mark was a pretty big accomplishment. Then I read Marcus Allen's autobiography. The part about the century mark only equalling about 62.5 ypg changed my attitude. So, to me, what Larry Johnson did last season was amazing. Even moreso was the fact that he's a Penn State alumni and those guys (RBs) never do well as pros. At least not recently. Now, if you want to talk about an outfielder who played for Kansas City, Bo Jackson is your guy. If he had stuck with football ... well, that's neither here nor there. But that game between his Raiders and Barry Sanders' Lions on Monday Night, to me that's one of the best MNF games ever. I'll admit that just could be one of those childhood memories that stands out larger than it was, but I sure would love to see it again.

posted by forrestv at 11:13 PM on July 06

Okay Gary, you win. It's not accurate to say that the Lions never made holes for Barry. It's an exaggeration, but I don't think it's far off to say that, on plays where he gained yardage, they opened a hole about 1/3 of the time, he found a little crease to squirt through another 1/3 and the final 1/3 was when he just did some of that jaw dropping shit that could make Pro Bowl defenders look like idiots. It's amazing how many times he got a 3 or 4 yard gain, but only because he made 3 guys miss in the friggin' backfield! That doesn't mean that Emmet wasn't great, but I have to believe that if the teams were swapped, the records would be, too. We all know what Sanders did with the Detroit OL, and you know that there wasn't a single season in there where they could compare to the guys in Dallas.

posted by ctal1999 at 01:04 AM on July 07

I imagine they took Barry out at the goalline, because you had 11 players defending 11 yards of field. There's no room to make something happen on your own after your line lets the defence blow past them.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:04 AM on July 07

People can forever argue that Sanders was the greatest ever and the only guy on the field running around by himself out there, whereas Emmitt was apparantly protected by some sort of missille defense system. But if you want to look it up http://probowlonline.com/pro-bowl-past.php you will make note that while Emmitt obviously had the better team and a better line Barry did take at least one (and in 1995 two) offensive lineman with him to Honolulu every year from 1990 through 1997. And Barry never rushed for over a hundred yards in the second half against the Giants with a seperated shoulder. You may all now continue worshipping at the altar of Barry.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 06:41 AM on July 07

The part about the century mark only equalling about 62.5 ypg changed my attitude. 62.5 ypg over 16 games is nothing to sneeze at. It's of course, only half the accomplishment that 2,000 yards is, but it's still noteworthy. Also, what's with all the Emmitt hate? I hate the Cowboys as much as anyone, but clearly he's one of the best (and most durable) running backs of all time. I know people reserve a special place in their hearts for flashy backs like Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, but credit where credit is due. To my mind, the greatest back I ever saw was Earl Campbell. Unfortunately, the Oilers ran him into the ground as they had few other weapons, otherwise he may well have had a shot at the all time rushing record (in his day, held by Jim Brown... who may be forgiven for the disrespectful things he said of Franco Harris).

posted by psmealey at 06:56 AM on July 07

Some people just do not get sarcasm. Kind of like Barry Sanders in that one episode of 90210 where he had no idea what Brenda was talking about.

posted by steelcityguy at 07:27 AM on July 07

My bad, that should have said the 1,000 mark, not century. It's interesting to note that, if adjusted for game totals (14 game seasons), in the 60s there would have been an average of five 1,000 yard rushers. Since 2000, there has been an average of 18 a year. I don't know if expansion has watered down the league or RBs are better or defenses are worse. But there are lot more 1,000 yard rushers going around.

posted by forrestv at 07:37 AM on July 07

kyrilmitch_76, most of what you said in your last comment is true, but one Pro Bowl lineman and 4 bumblers don't exactly make for a great ground attack. Having said that, there's no question in my mind that Emmet had more grit, determination and heart. After his retirement, Barry came right out and said that it wasn't that hard for him to walk away because football was just a job to him. It wasn't a way of life, but a means to an end. The year Okoye won the rushing title, Barry could have had it. He knew how close it was and he chose to sit out the second half of the Lions' last game. He wasn't hurt or anything. He said later that the team didn't need him to play the second half and that personal records didn't mean much to him. That attitude is why he could walk away from the game the way he did. Emmet showed a determination that simply wouldn't allow him to quit before he reached his goals. Barry never displayed that kind of drive. I think he took pride in doing his job well, but he never took it to the level of trying to be a leader. Well, except leading "by example", which boils down to "he tried really hard and he had a good demeanor". Yeah that's gonna really rally the troops. Emmet was the total package. Barry only had freakish talent...which still would have been enough to get him the career rushing title, even with the Lions. Nobody who looks at it dispassionately can seriously argue that he wouldn't have done better yet behind the Cowboy line. Would he have become the best statistical RB? Barring a career ending injury, there's not much doubt. Was he the best running back ever? Well, I guess that depends on how you define "best".

posted by ctal1999 at 10:13 AM on July 07

ctal - It's spelled Emmitt, and you're right he had more heart and desire than Barry, at least when it came to the all-time rushing record. Barry was a great runner, but an avegare overall back in my opinion. Didn't see much blitz pickup from Barry nor did he seem extremely comfortable catching the pass. Barry could take it to the house at any moment though and that's why we miss him. As for the tired debate about who had what line and Barry could've done this with Emmit's line, I don't think it had much of anything to do with the offensive lineman. I'll tell you the difference maker for Emmitt, his name was Darryl "Moose" Johnston. Moose opened those holes for Emmitt, more so than anyone else, especially at the goaline. We can agree that had Barry stayed on a couple more years he would have broken Payton's record, no doubt. However, we cannot measure what that title means to Emmitt Smith or his desire to own it so we can not say for sure he would not have continued playing as long as possible trying to break Barry's record. After all, the two were not that far apart when Barry retired. Both were great for the NFL and I think thye helped push each other towards greatness. I miss them both. My personal top 5 RB of all time Emmitt Smith Walter Payton Earl Campbell Barry Sanders Tony Dorsett

posted by ampto11 at 11:00 AM on July 07

Amp, good point about Moose. I loved the guy. Of course, if Sanders played in Dallas, he'd have had Johnston, too. Other than picking that little nit, can't argue with anything you said (except I might swap Barry and Campbell, and I can't help thinking that Jim Brown has to be in the top 5 somewhere).

posted by ctal1999 at 12:16 PM on July 07

Top Five. Sanders Payton Brown Smith Simpson Sanders number one with the next 3 tied for second, Simpson taking up the rear.

posted by commander cody at 12:52 PM on July 07

To my mind, the greatest back I ever saw was Earl Campbell. Unfortunately, the Oilers ran him into the ground as they had few other weapons, otherwise he may well have had a shot at the all time rushing record (in his day, held by Jim Brown... who may be forgiven for the disrespectful things he said of Franco Harris). Excellent point. There were a few years where campbell was absolutely unstoppable. Truly did not need a hole, at the 50 or at the goal line. Then, he was done. Amazing runner though. whereas Emmitt was apparantly protected by some sort of missille defense system. Ha, ain't that the truth. Barry did take at least one (and in 1995 two) offensive lineman with him to Honolulu every year from 1990 through 1997. That's the majority of his career. I simply don't believe it. Must be a typo. Sanders did it all on his own. kidrayter2005 told me so.

posted by justgary at 01:12 PM on July 07

I realize that Barry Sanders did not do it on his own while Emmitt Smith was a lucky to be in the right place at the right time. However, the trio of Smith, Aikman, and Irvin helped each other have the amazing careers that they had. They are all talented and would have been great individually, but, together, they were outstanding.

posted by bperk at 02:16 PM on July 07

Jim Brown is one of the best RBs of all-time but I never personally got the chance to watch him play. I was only listing those backs I've seen in my lifetime. Had Detroit utilized a fullback on a more regular basis Sanders may have seen some bigger holes and his line may have suffered less criticism. Hell, he may have had the record when he reitred. If I remember correctly, the Lions for a number of years were using a one-back, three WR offense as their base. In that offense, with no extra tight end or H-back, there is little room for errors on the OL. I realize that Barry Sanders did not do it on his own while Emmitt Smith was a lucky to be in the right place at the right time. However, the trio of Smith, Aikman, and Irvin helped each other have the amazing careers that they had. They are all talented and would have been great individually, but, together, they were outstanding. So their accomplishments mean less because they played together? All great teams are made up of individuals who make each other better. That's what your superstars are supposed to do, raise the level of play on their teams. Is Vinny Testaverde a better QB then Montana just because Montana played with Rice, Craig, and Clark? Vinny's got the yardage and he did it all by himself, he never played with any mega stars. I suppose Montana was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, anyone could QB those 49ers teams to SB victories, right? Same with Bradshaw, E. Smith, Starr, Aikman, Irvin, Rice, Reed, Thomas, White, all great players but not great as they were lucky, right?.

posted by ampto11 at 04:10 PM on July 07

I do have to say that of all of the sports debates I have always loved this one. My top 5: Smith Simpson Sanders (barry not the colonel) Brown Payton but then there's Dickerson, Sayers and Thorpe? Its easy to end up with ten guys in your top 5...

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 09:08 PM on July 07

Some great RB's mentioned in here, but one name is missing I think. Sanders was (imho) the greatest, but not my favorite. That would be the great Rocky Bleier. Any man with that much drive and determination would have been an elite back and one of the top rushers of all time if not for Vietnam. Now he's a hero. He's an athlete I can look up to.

posted by commander cody at 10:57 PM on July 07

CC, Rocky didn't have heart. He was ALL heart. We know how good he was. We'll never know how good he could have been, but I'd take him on my team anytime.

posted by ctal1999 at 11:02 PM on July 07

That's true ctal. If I was putting a fantasy team together I don't know if I could do better then him and Sanders in the backfield.

posted by commander cody at 11:30 PM on July 07

Just for fun, how about a top 5 of your favorite blocking fullbacks. Here's mine: Rocky Bleier Darryl Johnston Rob Carpenter Robert Newhouse Matt Suhey Since this was my position in high school ball, I'd always been bitter that there was never a pro-bowl position to honor these unsung heroes. I know it's not glamorous, but it's not like it's not a real position.

posted by psmealey at 09:32 AM on July 08

No Lorenzo Neal?

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:52 AM on July 08

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