Predicting the Legacy of Jamaal Charles

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Before we jump into it, wow. How about those Chiefs? I picked the Chiefs to win this game after watching how hapless New England looked against the Raiders but even then I did not see this coming.  This is the team we all knew Kansas City could be. Fourteen more weeks of this and I just may die and go to heaven (which I imagine looks suspiciously like the playoffs). Let’s just look at this for a moment:

Final. 14. 47. 41. 124

Phew. Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, I want to talk about something that is frequently a talking point in many discussions on sports: Legacy. More specifically, I want to talk about what legacy Jamaal Charles may leave when he hangs up his cleats for good (hopefully some breakthrough in sports medicine prolongs this for twenty years). You’re probably asking yourself, isn’t this premature? 

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Make no mistake, it is. Charles looks as healthy as ever, and with a contract extension signed this offseason he’s going to be in a Chiefs uniform at the very least until 2017. By the end of this contract, Charles will be 30 years old, but if his career path thus far is any indication, he just may not be done then. I feel strongly that I’d like to see Charles spend his entire career in Kansas City, and I’m sure the sentiment is shared with many of the fans. Regardless, however his career ends, I think it’s important that we start to consider the legacy he’ll leave behind in Kansas City.

We’re talking about one of the most historically fortunate running franchises of all time

As you know, Kansas City has historically seen its fair share of success at the running back position. Seriously, just look at the names on this list. We’re talking about one of the most historically fortunate running franchises of all time. Throughout history, the Chiefs have time and again managed to find themselves with elite backs. Especially in the last decade or so, where the run game has become strongly tied to the very identity of the Kansas City Chiefs.

We had Priest Holmes capture the NFL rushing title in 2001 and then superman leaped his way into the end zone for a franchise record 76 rushing touchdowns while also earning the franchise marks for most rushing yardage (6,070) and career touchdown total (83). When the wear-and-tear of being such a physical rusher finally caught up with him, the Chiefs had to rely on backup Larry Johnson, who turned out to be equally amazing. It’s easy to write off Larry Johnson because of how he left the team, but we can’t forget that at the time of his dismissal he was only 75 yards from becoming the all-time leading rusher in franchise history.

Jamaal Charles arrived on the team in the middle of a running renaissance

These are the backs that Jamaal Charles replaced. It wasn’t like Jamaal came to town and revitalized a running game that had been historically great but had fallen into turmoil; Rather, Jamaal Charles arrived on the team in the middle of a running renaissance. Given the high standards set before him on the field, it would’ve been easy for Jamaal to succumb to the pressure and be an average back. Instead, Jamaal excelled so much that I’m calling it right now; despite having yet captured the all-time leading mark for rushing yards for the Chiefs (a distinction he can earn this Sunday with a 133 yard game), I firmly believe that Jamaal Charles is the best back to ever play for the Chiefs, a team that historically has had no shortage of quality backs.