Dec 23, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) rushes for yardage against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A Jamaal Charles Christmas: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Merry Christmas, Addicts!

As a miserable 2012 campaign for the Kansas City Chiefs draws to a close, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on one of the precious few things that makes me happy about this team. He’s a Christmas miracle who’ll celebrate his 26th birthday on Thursday of this week. I’m talking about Kansas City’s fourth all-time leading rusher, Mr. Jamaal RaShaad Jones Charles. The man who’s run his way into the hearts of thousands of people in Chiefs Kingdom. It pains me to see this team stumbling its way to the season finale at 2-13, but I’d like to spend today being grateful about this gift we have in #25.

Priest Holmes is still my favorite runningback (and perhaps player) in the history of this franchise. I feel privileged to have seen him play. Holmes was never a freakish athlete with breakaway speed, but he played the position the way it was meant to be played. He had great field vision, he was patient, he understood angles, he had great forward lean, and had a nose for the end zone. I’d put his 2001, 2002, and 2003 seasons up against any three-year stretch from any other runningback in league history. Priest Holmes was that good. I never thought I’d see myself swooning over another runningback the way I did Holmes; then came Jamaal Charles.

The franchise moved on from the debacle known as Larry Johnson late in 2009. There was some concern that their backfield fortunes were in jeopardy with the smallish Charles as the new starter. Few people believed he could be a workhorse back and carry the ball twenty or more times per game. Jamaal allayed those fears the following season when he posted a career-best 1,467 rushing yards and was invited to play in the Pro Bowl; then came 2011.

I’m sure you remember that fateful September day in Detroit. Charles ran off-tackle to the right side trying to outrun a defender to the first down marker. When Charles extended his leg and stepped out of bounds, he tore his ACL. He was placed on injured reserve just two games into the season. No one knew if he could rebound from such a serious injury. It’s not uncommon for a runningback to be forever changed by a torn ACL. The Chiefs had two other ACL injuries in 2011, but no comeback was more highly-anticipated than his. Charles had an uneventful 15 carries to start this year’s pre-season; then came the season opener.

Charles had been fairly quiet through the opening twenty minutes of the game against Atlanta, but midway through the second quarter he burst through the right side of the line for a 46-yard gain. The run was bittersweet. Fans were happy to see that Charles was still explosive, but concerned that he’d lost his world-class speed, since he was caught from behind. That’s something fans aren’t used to seeing. I told you back in September not to be concerned though. Will Moore got ahold of Charles’ foot, caused him to stumble, and gave Thomas DeCoud a chance to catch him and make the stop. Remember I said that wasn’t any indication that he’d lost speed? Do you believe me now?

There’s only one game to play in this woeful Chiefs’ season, but Jamaal Charles is wrapping up the finest single-season performance of his NFL career. Charles needs just 12 rushing yards to surpass his highest rushing yard total in a season (1,467). He has gone over 100 yards seven times in 2012. He’s twice gone over 225 and has had three runs of over 80 yards this season. This has been an absolutely brilliant comeback for Jamaal Charles. If not for Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning, he’d absolutely be Comeback Player of the Year. His 226-yard rushing day against Indianapolis last Sunday was jaw-dropping. Jamaal averaged 10.3 yards per carry and helped the Chiefs mount a beastly ground game that produced more than 350 yards.

I’m thankful that we have one of the league’s best runningbacks right here in Kansas City. His efforts in 2012 have been wasted on a miserable offensive unit (currently the worst scoring offense in the NFL). The offense desperately needs a makeover and for Charles’ sake, I hope they add West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the NFL Draft. With his help, Charles might actually get to play meaningful football some December in the future. For now, he’ll keep giving us his Christmas best and the organization will keep giving him the same ugly sweaters he’s gotten the past five seasons. Despite the ungrateful behavior of the organization, Charles is a cheerful giver. For that, we should all be thankful.

Enjoy time with the people you love the most today!
May God’s peace be with you during this holiday season.

Until next time, Addicts!

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