Jamaal Charles: A breakpoint season UPDATED

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A comparison of J.C. to Priest may not be the best of comparisons. Think about the offensive lines each of them have played behind. Brian Waters may be the best lineman J.C. has ever played with while Waters was at best the third best offensive lineman Priest played with.

Left tackle Willie Roaf and left guard Will Shields make arguably the best left tackle and the best right guard to play on any offensive line at the same time, in the history of the National Football League. Aside from Brian Waters, left tackle Branden Albert may be the next best lineman Jamaal Charles has ever run behind. In fact, at the other end of the performance spectrum lies a pair of lineman no one wants to mention much less remember: left guard Mike McGlynn and right tackle Barry Richardson. Together these two represent the worst offensive linemen that have ever pulled on a Chiefs jersey.

Considering all that… Jamaal Charles current accomplishment of 5.5 yards per carry — ranking first among all NFL running backs in the modern era — becomes all the more impressive.

Plus, Jamaal Charles road to success with the Chiefs has been anything but easy. In fact, it’s been “the long road around.” Life was rough for Charles as a youngster. In a speech J.C. gave at the Special Olympics in July he stated,

"“I was afraid. I was lost. When I was a boy, I had trouble reading. I found out I had a learning disability. People made fun of me. They said I would never go anywhere…. When I was 10 years old, I had the chance to compete in the Special Olympics… the Special Olympics gave me my first chance to discover a talent I did not know I had.”"

Then of course Jamaal had to play “backup” running back in his first season as a Chief. His second year was marked initially by the news that he could be traded or released. His third year was a breakout season but his fourth year began with an ACL injury. A season in which he only gained 83 yards and then it was questioned whether or not he’d ever be the same running back when he returned. J.C. did bounce back in his fifth season which was his best but then it ended with personal and team tragedy.

His wife’s cousin Kasandra Perkins was murdered by her boyfriend Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Belcher and Perkins shared a child together before he not only shot and killed her and then drove to Arrowhead and ended his own life in the parking lot in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli. Charles had introduced the two to each other so the loss was intimately devastating as well as personal. On the field, the past two seasons haven’t matched his production from his third and fifth seasons so the question now surfaces as to whether or not J.C. is on a downslide… or he’s just been having a tough road to get to where he is now… and his best is yet to come.

Considering Jamaal’s story in totality, it’s hard to believe anyone could survive all that Charles has been through while he’s continued to perform at a level that places him as one of the best in the game today.

Next: What will Charles legacy be?