When I hear a lot of this semi-negative talk about running backs in the NFL getting their “just due” I am puzzled, perplexed and befuddled, stumped, baffled and all of the other adjectives combined. To hear the net worth of NFL running backs being seriously discussed is almost relative to various horse breeders putting a stud stallion out to pasture after he has sired a few Kentucky Derby winners.
Why is it that “star” quarterbacks get their money “from the door,” but running backs generally have to wait a few more years to “prove” themselves when most of the time running backs have to do all of the “heavy lifting” for their team, regardless of what type of offense is being “ran?”
According to statista.com: “the average career of an NFL running back is 2.57 years while the average career of an NFL quarterback is 4.44 years.” These are just “superficial stats” as far I am concerned because running backs seem to be more vulnerable to career ending injuries than most of the other skill positions on an NFL offense. At times the “safeguards” that have been put in place to protect NFL quarterbacks, seems better than the Secret Service protection afforded the President of The United States, Barack Obama.
The economic value of running backs seems to be perpetually under attack as far as the media and the NFL is concerned, especially when a running back issues the ultimate “slap in the face” statement to management; “show me the money.”
This is evidenced by a piece that was recently written by Mark Maske for the washingtonpost.com asking the question; “How much do running backs like DeMarco Murray still matter in the pass-first NFL?”
Maske writes that: ”There were mixed signals on that issue over the past week as the Dallas Cowboys were poised to allow 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray to hit the open market in free agency and the Philadelphia Eagles traded away 2013 NFL rushing champ LeSean McCoy, but the Minnesota Vikings appeared to try to mend their relationship with Adrian Peterson and the Seattle Seahawks struck a lucrative new deal with Marshawn Lynch.
The takeaway from all of that is that, yes, the standout running backs still matter and they come with a very considerable price tag. But they generally don’t matter as much as those who throw and catch passes, and they don’t matter for all that long.”
Now, now, now wait a minute. “They don’t matter for all that long” Are you kidding me? The Dallas Cowboys made the playoffs because of a strong and time consuming running game, ditto for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. The Minnesota Vikings certainly suffered starting a rookie quarterback without the sure footing and confidence of running back Adrian Peterson when he was suspended for the season as a result of pleading out for child abuse charges.
“How much do running backs matter in the pass-happy NFL?”
Could the reason that; “they don’t matter for all that long,” be because of too much melanin in their skin? Remember the White NFL running back Peyton Hillis? All I heard was how valuable he after he was traded by the Denver Broncos to the Cleveland Browns and how he deserved to get paid. This guy was originally a 7th round draft choice. Why did Peyton Hillis matter so much?
The Cowboys and the Seahawks ranked #1 and #3 in time of possession in 2014. The Vikings were #26 in TOP because of an inefficient running game and the Eagles were #32 based partially on the fact of their spread out, no huddle offense, fast moving approach. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers had an excellent running game and ranked 2nd in time of possession. Teams like the Denver Broncos with their Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning were exposed terribly exposed at the end of the 2014 season and the postseason why? Well because the Broncos with all of their “GPS” passing schemes ranked #11 in time of possession forcing more passing than running, possibly exposing the age and the possibly “suspect arm” of Peyton Manning, who just might be the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame while continuing to perform as a player in the NFL.
But even as great as Manning was and is, he still lacked a running game in the 2014 season that was capable of pushing his offense over the top and that failure combined with being blown out by the Seattle Seahawks 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII, certainly was one of the factors that cost the Broncos Head Coach John Fox his job.
Having a Rottweiler in the yard would have certainly helped the Broncos provided their “pocket-back” Peyton Manning with a few more rushing first downs. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the wildcard round of the 2014 playoffs. Why? The primary reason may be that it was because their star running back LeVeon Bell was forced to miss the game because of a knee injury.
The fans, the media and almost every other NFL aficionado seems to get up in arms when the “Rottweiler” protecting a sacred patch of NFL real estate, jumps the fence to chase after the money of a franchise that may be “in heat” in regards to acquiring his services.
Maybe if the “money-fence” was built a bit higher in the first place, the guard dogs disguised as running backs in professional football would have no reason or desire to escape from the yard. (The washingtonpost.com was a source for this article)
Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.583.6741 He is also a contributing columnist to urbanmediatoday.com Follow him on Twitter@ultrascribe