September 23, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) stiff arms New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas (52) on a run during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
For this week’s installment of my All-Time Team, I turn the focus onto the backfield. The Chiefs have had their share of premium running backs. The joys of lists are to spark debates, get you thinking. That’s why we all love them. I have the feeling that leaving a name off my list may just do that. I pick my top three and fullback below.
Starter – Priest Holmes
Holmes joined the Chiefs in 2001 after four seasons in Baltimore. He then turned into one of the best free agent acquisitions of the 2000’s. Under Dick Vermeil and the Chiefs high-flying offense, Holmes thrived. From 2001 to 2003, Priest reigned on Sundays; earning 3 Pro Bowl invites and made 3 First Team All-Pro selections. He was also named the 2002 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year. Look at these stats. 2001 he led the league in rushing with 1,555. In 2002 he led the league in rushing touchdowns with 21. In 2003 he set the then NFL rushing touchdowns in a season record with 27 TD’s, a record that has since been broken. In both 2002 and 2003 he led the league in combined rushing and receiving yards. He put up video game numbers for 3 ½ years until injuries derailed his career. Despite that, Holmes still sits among the top of most Chiefs rushing records, including the franchise yardage mark at 6,070 and rushing touchdowns at 76. His versatility and numbers during his prime made him my starter.
Backup – Jamaal Charles
It is just a matter of time before Jamaal sits atop this and many other lists. The offensive mind of new Head Coach Andy Reid may help contribute to that. Charles already sits fourth all-time on the franchise rushing yardage list and with a big year could move into first. Charles currently is 1,534 yards from Priest Holmes’ record. When Charles is healthy not many would argue he is the most explosive force in the NFL. After tearing up the NFL in 2010 during his first full season as the feature back, Charles earned his first Pro Bowl birth and First Team All-Pro bid. After losing almost the entire 2011 season due to an ACL injury, Charles bounced back to earn his second Pro Bowl birth in 2012. He proved to be back from his injury in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints, when Charles almost single-handedly won the game. He busted loose on a franchise record 91-yard touchdown run and finished the game with 233 yards. Charles also owns the franchise record for yardage in a game, 259 yards against Denver in the final game of the 2009 season. This past season Charles broke Jim Brown’s career average yards per carry record of 5.22 with his own of 5.82. The record stood for 47 years. As I stated earlier, it’s just a matter of time before his name is first on the list.
Backup – Larry Johnson
Here is where it will get interesting. I have flip-flopped on this spot several times before I ended with LJ. My heart said Christian Okoye, my mind said Larry Johnson. Looking through the numbers, Johnson was just as dominate as Holmes was. But LJ’s exit from Kansas City was so awful that many of us, myself included, forget how dominant he was for a short period of time. After taking over for Priest Holmes, Johnson blew up on the scene. In his prime, Johnson made two consecutive Pro Bowls (2005 & 2006) and also was a First Team All-Pro in 2006. Here are some key stats to LJ’s tenure in KC. He finished second in career rushing yardage at 6,015. Johnson put up the two biggest rushing totals in a Chiefs uniform in his prime years. In 2006, he set the franchise record for single season rushing yardage at 1,789. He followed that up the next year with the franchise second best effort with 1,750. He also finished the 2005 season with an amazing 9 straight games rushing over 100 yards. These are all amazing numbers for a running back. But as the off-field issues grew, the contract got bigger and the offensive line got older, Johnson’s time in Kansas City fell apart. Charles replaced him, just as Johnson replaced Holmes. Let’s just say we have had a nice little run here in Chiefs Nation at running back.
Fullback – Tony Richardson
This was about as home-run of a pick as you could have on this list. T-Rich blocked for two of these running backs on the list and is considered one of the greatest fullbacks of all-time. During his tenure in Kansas City, both Holmes and Johnson benefited by Richardson’s blocking, earning themselves numerous Pro Bowl picks. For his own efforts during those seasons, T-Rich made two Pro Bowls himself. He was named to the All-NFL Decade Team for the 2000’s and set a record, blocking for nine consecutive 1,000-yard rushers (including his time in Minnesota and New York). The perfect teammate, Richardson also led the team in rushing during the 2000 season with 697 yards.
So what do you think Addicts? Let me know. Next installment I will tackle the receivers, so make sure to check it out.