Running backs are one of the most important positions in the National Football League. They can change the hands of a game at a moment’s notice. They also can be called upon to control the flow of a game in its last few minutes.
But the recent trend with great running backs has been going on for a long time now. I call this trend the “Great Running Back Curse”.
Most of the great running backs that have broken records and have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame have played on mediocre teams for most of their entire career.
Here are a few examples of what I am talking about. Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders the list is longer than that but those are the few names that came off the top of my head at the time. You guys are probably wondering why Walter Payton is on the list?
Walter Payton played on losing teams for most of his entire career until Mike Ditka arrived. By the time Ditka arrived Walter Payton’s career was on the decline. It has been reported that Mike Ditka embarrassed Payton at Super XX when he let William Perry score a rushing touchdown at the goal line.
It seemed like a joke to everyone else but not to Walter Payton. Great running backs cannot even shine on the biggest stage even if they wanted to. Barry Sanders was a human highlight reel with the Detroit Lions. But he had only been to the postseason five times in his career and made one trip to the NFC Championship Game in 1991.
In my honest opinion if you made the postseason only five times in a ten year career that’s pretty bad. But there have also been great running backs that were surrounded by other talented players that went on to win championships.
Tailbacks such as Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, and Franco Harris were all fortunate enough to have an outstanding front office management and a solid coaching staff to be successful throughout their careers in regards to being on a competitive team year end and year out.
I do not understand why superstar caliber running backs must endure such hardship throughout their career and never show any signs of complaining.
Barry Sanders could have bolted out of Detroit a long time ago but opted to stay and endure the hardship of struggling with the Lions. One running back that had endured great success throughout his career is the great Jim Brown.
He won his first ever NFL title and retired right after to pursue a successful acting career. I guess if running backs begin to pout about how their team suck and that they want to request a trade they will get tagged with the so called “Diva Label”. Star running backs have always showed a great deal of sportsmanship on and off the field.
The “Diva Label” belongs to the quarterbacks and wide receivers. If these guys show so much humility on and off the field then why don’t the front office reward them by surrounding them with great talent so that they can compete for a Super Bowl title?
The next running back that may become a victim of this curse is Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. If he does not express some kind of concern for the team in regards to being competitive in the future, he will fall right in the company of Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson.
I know that he wants to break records and secure his legacy in NFL history. But if I was him I would challenge the front office to make some personnel moves so that the team can compete for a Super Bowl.