For the second installment in underappreciated NFL players, we have the running backs. There were so many running backs that were just absolute workhorses in the last 2 decades, but just didn’t get the recognition they deserved. The qualifications will be a little different because running backs typically have such short careers, but still similar.
- 3+ Years as a starting RB
- 2 or less Pro Bowls
Fred Jackson – Fred Jackson was the type of dude that always showed up when the Bills needed him to. He always balled out against some of the best teams. 5646 and 30 TDs in 8 years with the Bills is very consistent, especially since he only started 4 games in his first 2 seasons. He just never had that one big season that gave him a pro bowl bid.
Rudi Johnson – Honestly I forgot about Rudi Johnson myself. He’s always just the guy after Corey Dillon, but man he was way better than people remember. 3 straight seasons with 1300 yards and 12 TDs. That’s some all-pro consistency, but its too bad he burned himself out in those 3 years. He only played 2 more seasons after that and his career ended before he turned 30. There’s no disrespecting the work Rudi put in.
Willis McGahee – McGahee took a tragic knee injury and turned it into a very solid NFL career. He rushed for 1000 yards with 3 different teams. He had a serious nose for the end zone, averaging 6.5 TDs a season, and found himself in the Pro Bowl twice. Injuries might have always come back to bite him, but when McGahee was healthy he was a horse.
Ronnie Brown – Ronnie Browns wasn’t the type of running back that was gonna grind out 1000 yards every season for you. In fact, he only did it once. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t consistent. He was the type of back that could do a little bit of everything. He would grind between the tackles, swing out and catch some passes, and even throw some in the wildcat. In Miami he had 4815 rushing yards, and 1491 receiving yards, and that in itself is enough. He kind of fell off after leaving and playing for the Chargers and Eagles, but that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments in Miami.
Travis Henry – Yeah I know, this is kind of turning into Bills running backs of the 2000s. But these guys were stuck on such bad teams they didn’t get the recognition they deserve. Henry was never a high profile back, but he busted out his rookie season with 729 yards, followed up by 2 1300+ yard seasons. Then after a couple of injury plagued seasons, busted out another 1000 yarder in Tennessee. He only got 1 Pro Bowl bid in his second season, but with only 7 seasons and a couple cut short by injury, people forget about the productivity he actually had.
Domanick Davis/Williams – A lot of people might not even remember who this is. He came into the league as Domanick Davis, and changed his name to Williams in 2006. Davis/Williams actually only had 3 seasons in the league, but he came out hot with 2 straight 1000 yard seasons and a combined 21 TDs. He followed up with 976 yards and 2 TDs, in only 11 games, and was never heard from again.
Brian Westbrook – Westbrook is easily one of the most disrespected RBs, arguably of all time. He came out of Villanova, where you don’t see too many NFL players come from. Not only that, he was probably the biggest dual threat back of his time next to Marshall Faulk and LT. 2 1000 yard rushing seasons, and 4 600 yard receiving season made him an absolute nightmare for defenses. Westbrook did end up with 2 Pro Bowl appearances, but he just gets overshadowed by so many other backs.
Matt Forte – Forte was a force even into his late years in the NFL. He had 5 1000 yard seasons, and finished his career with 9796 rushing yards and 4672 receiving. Talk about a dual threat. He had 75 career combined TDs, and he could terrorize defenses from anywhere on the field. He got his respect twice with 2 Pro Bowls, but with how many years he broke the top 10 in rushing that’s absolutely lowballing Mr. Forte.
Thomas Jones – This was one of those guys that just showed up to put in work year in and year out. 5 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, over 10,000 career yards and 68 TDs. And only ONE pro bowl to show for it. His first 4 years he was disrespected by the Cardinals and Bucs, and never really got a shot at starting until he got to Chicago. He just turned into a machine, churning out rushing yards for the Bears and the Jets. He even put up 896 yards and 6 TDs at 32 years old with the Chiefs. Jones never really had a solid home, but that absolutely did not stop him from having a solid NFL career.
Michael Turner – Michael Turner was the definition of a workhorse in ATL. Still, the first thing that comes to mind was his 83 yard clinching run against the Colts as a Charger. He lead the league in carries twice as a Falcon, and was a yard short of 1700 yards in his first year as a starter in 2008. With 6081 yards in only 5 years in Atlanta, he only landed himself in 2 Pro Bowls. He had double digit TDs in every single season he played in Atlanta, resulting in 60 total in those 5 years. Lets remember Michael Turner for the workhorse he was.
Use Promo code “couchguy20” or “LLP” at Manscaped.com and grab some of the best tools in men’s below the belt grooming. Using the code will get you 20% off of your order AND free shipping. Help out the site and help out yourself by buying some products from Manscaped TODAY.
-Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)