Quarterbacks are allowed to age gracefully in the NFL. Running backs are not.
Ask Eddie George. He became the just the 17th back in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards last season. And he did it all with one franchise. George, 30, thought he’d finish his career with the Tennessee Titans.
But eight years was enough for the Titans, who viewed George as a descending commodity and wanted him to take a pay cut in 2004. When George balked, the Titans released him. Now he begins anew with the Cowboys.
But why should George be surprised? That same Dallas team released the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, in 2003. If Smith isn’t sacred in the pantheon of NFL running backs, who is?
Dan Marino, who passed for more yards than any other quarterback in NFL history, played all 17 of his seasons with the Miami Dolphins. John Elway played all 16 seasons in Denver, as did Bart Starr in Green Bay. Terry Bradshaw played all 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, as did Bob Griese in Miami.
The great quarterbacks often get to finish where they start. Not so the great runners. Walter Payton played his entire 13-year career with the Chicago Bears, the longest stint by one running back with one team in NFL history.
—Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News “Great backs rarely run out career in one spot”