Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith: By the Numbers

>> 10.27.2010

Forget what you know.  Forget what you’ve heard.  Forget what you thought you understood about the circular arguments that have swirled ‘round and ‘round these men for nearly two decades.  Here are the numbers; this is the truth.



Age Year Year Att Att Yds Yds TD TD Y/A Y/A Rnk Rnk PBL PBL
21 1989*+ 1990* 280 241 1470 937 14 11 5.3 3.9 2nd 10th 0 0
22 1990*+ 1991* 255 365 1304 1563 13 12 5.1 4.3 1st 1st 1 0
23 1991*+ 1992*+ 342 373 1548 1713 16 18 4.5 4.6 2nd 1st 1 2
24 1992* 1993*+ 312 283 1352 1486 9 9 4.3 5.3 4th 1st 1 3
25 1993* 1994*+ 243 368 1115 1484 3 21 4.6 4 5th 3rd 1 3
26 1994*+ 1995*+ 331 377 1883 1773 7 25 5.7 4.7 1st 1st 1 4
27 1995*+ 1996 314 327 1500 1204 11 12 4.8 3.7 2nd 8th 1 4
28 1996* 1997 307 261 1553 1074 11 4 5.1 4.1 1st 12th 1 2
29 1997*+ 1998* 335 319 2053 1332 11 13 6.1 4.2 1st 5th 1 2
30 1998* 1999* 343 329 1491 1397 4 11 4.3 4.2 4th 4th 0 2
T 10* 6+ 8*, 4+ 3062 3243 15269 13963 99 136 5 4.3 - - - -


These numbers are from Pro Football Reference.  “Y/A” is raw yards-per-attempt, “Rnk” is ordinal rank amongst NFL running backs, by yards.  “PBL” is the number of Pro Bowl offensive linemen on the each player’s team that season.  A “*” denotes Pro Bowl selection. “+” denotes First Team All-Pro.  Barry’s Pro Football Reference page; Emmitt’s Pro Football Reference page.  As you see, I have aligned the stats to begin at their rookie years, and end when Barry retired.  I have also bolded the “better” of each statistic pair.

A few talking points:

  • Barry Sanders went to the Pro Bowl at the end of every season he played in the NFL, and was first-team All Pro in six of those ten seasons.  Emmitt went to Hawaii eight of fifteen seasons, and was first-team All Pro four times.
  • In 1993, Barry missed five games due to a season-ending injury, but was still 5th-best in the NFL with 1,115 yards on 243 attempts.
  • Omitted are Emmitt’s last five seasons, where he added 4,392 yards on 1,166 attempts (3.77 YpC).  He finished 13th, 15th, 20th, 61st, and 21st in the NFL in rushing in those seasons.
  • Lately I have heard talk of Barry having run behind “two Pro Bowl offensive linemen,” and this is true—but never both at the same time.  Left tackle Lomas Brown was a Pro Bowler from 1990 until the Lions let him walk in 1995.  Center Kevin Glover was a Pro Bowler in '96 and ‘97—and then the Lions let him walk.

Let’s discuss in the comments.

63 comments:

Andrew October 27, 2010 at 2:29 PM  

This might be obvious, but what do the totals under rank means?

Ty October 27, 2010 at 2:40 PM  

Andrew--

They mean I made a mistake! A byproduct of copy-paste errors; I have corrected them. Thanks!

(BTW, there is color formatting in those tables that makes it plain who's who and what's what. They are not rendering in my browser for reasons I cannot divine. Working to fix.)

Peace
Ty

A Lion in ViQueen Territory,  October 27, 2010 at 3:58 PM  

Barry was better. END OF STORY.

Ty October 27, 2010 at 5:08 PM  

ALiVQT--

Yeah. I'll accept Jim Brown or Sweetness as answers, but on the question of Barry vs. Emmitt, Emmitt was only great for a few years, and those years coincided with Dallas being an unstoppable juggernaut.

The Pro Bowl stuff kind of illustrates it: even with all the media love, He spent over half of his career NOT being one of the top four running backs in the NFC. Barry was never not one of the best in the business. He was great the second he stepped on the field, and he was great until he hung 'em up.

Peace
Ty

NorthLeft12 October 28, 2010 at 7:44 AM  

Even though the numbers are amazing, they don't do the man justice. I can't say much about Barry's blocking or pass catching, but Barry was a runner. I consider myself very lucky to have been a fan of the Lions during his time in Detroit.

Anonymous,  October 28, 2010 at 10:09 AM  

It's a playoff game ourdoors in the middle of winter. Who do you want as your RB? The answer is easy. Emmitt Smith. Barry Sanders killed as many drives with 5 yard losses on 1st down as he scored long TDs.

Emmitt was more consistent game to game.

Ty October 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM  

NorthLeft12--

I'm not sure where that criticism comes from. Honestly, for a chunk of Barry's career, I was simply too young to understand the finer points of pass protection. But from my memory, Barry was definitely a willing blocker--he gave his all. He was too small to routinely level defensive ends one-on-one, but I recall many times when Barry'd throw his body at someone and buy just enough time.

I didn't include the receiving numbers in this comparison, because A) they were essentially a wash, and B) neither player's offense asked them to do much receiving.

Peace
Ty

echo,  October 28, 2010 at 10:31 AM  

Anonymous:

I know who I would have wanted around my RB. And it would certainly be the HOF QB, HOF WR, Pro Bowl TE, Pro Bowl FB and the best offensive line in football compared to what the Lions surrounded Barry with.

Had Emmitt been a Lion they would never have even reached the playoffs. How many rushing titles, MVPs, All-Pros, Pro Bowls, playoff seasons and Super Bowls would Emmitt have won in Detroit?

Now ask yourself that same question with Emmitt in Detroit and Barry in Dallas at the same time. Barry in Dallas would have done a Jerry Rice to the rushing records. Despite the huge disadvantage Barry had, he still outperformed Emmitt.

Those who say Barry was helped by Lomas Brown should take note that Barry had his 2,053 yd 6.1 ypc season AFTER Brown had left for Arizona as a free agent. Once the Dallas dynasty began to crumble after J.Johnson left and free agency started Emmitt's numbers plummeted. Smith's last 9 seasons, 0 rushing titles, 2 Pro Bowls, 3.9ypc.

Ty October 28, 2010 at 10:31 AM  

Anonymous--

There were not a lot of times when Barry's improvising cost him yards he would otherwise have gotten--he danced because there was no daylight straight forward. Look at what we're seeing with Jahvid Best right now; when there's room, he looks like Barry. When there's no room, he gets stuffed. As Greg Eno beautifully put it earlier in the week, Barry ran like a man on fire, looking for the nearest source of water. I gladly accept all the times he turned no gain into -3 for all the times he turned -3 into 5, 10, or 50.

Peace
Ty

echo,  October 28, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

Barry had career 99 rushing TDs to Emmitt's 164. But Barry's average TD distance was 19.6 yds compared to Smith's 8.4 yds. Only OJ Simpson had a bigger average TD distance of all RBs with over 40 TDs. Smith comes 48th.

When you look at median distance of TDs Barry is a clear #1 of all-time at 11yds. Emmitt Smith's median distance of TDs is 3 yds.

Sanders had the most TD runs of more than 10 yards (51), 20+ yards (30) and every 10-yard increment up to 80+ yards. He scored a record 15 TDs of 50 yds or more from his 99 rushing TDs. Of Emmitt's 164 TDs only 6 came from 50+ yds.

By 1995, the year Emmitt led the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns, he was playing behind four Pro Bowl linemen and the fifth was a four-time Pro Bowler in the prime of his career. His tight end, a strong blocker, would make the Pro Bowl for the fifth straight season, too. His fullback had made the Pro Bowl the prior two seasons, and only missed it in '95 because Larry Centers had 101 receptions that season. So Smith was playing with an insane seven Pro Bowl caliber blockers that season, in addition to having a HOF QB and HOF WR on his team, too. Only one player in the starting eleven -- WR2 Kevin Williams -- would not make a Pro Bowl in his career. In fact, the '95 Cowboys had 10 offensive players who would make 55 Pro Bowls in their career, the most in NFL history.

Lets compare their offensive teammates.

Barry's 10 seasons: (15,269yds and 5.0 ypc)
13 career Pro Bowls among 3 players - Moore and 2 OL (Brown and Glover).
0 Pro Bowls from the QBs
6 Pro Bowls from Lomas Brown (who had moved to Arizona in 1996, a year before Barry's 2,053, 6.1 season).
4 1st team All-Pros among 2 players - Moore (3) and Brown (1)

Emmitt's first 10 seasons: (13,963yds and 4.3 ypc)
40 career Pro Bowls among 10 players (6 of them on the OL)
22 career Pro Bowls alone from those 6 Offensive Linemen.
6 Pro Bowls from the QBs
10 1st team All-Pros among 5 players (8 of those All-Pros between Larry Alle, Erik Williams and Nate Newton)

echo,  October 28, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

When Dallas were dominant (91-95) it coincided with Smith's prime years for a RB. But Smith's numbers dropped off a cliff when the talent around him faded away. His ypc fell from 4.7 in 1995 (Dallas' last SB title) down to 3.7 in 1996. TDs dropped from 25 to 4 in just two seasons (95-97). The rest of his career from 1996 Smith's ypc was 4.1, 4.2, 4.2, 4.1, 3.9, 3.8, 2.8 and 3.5. He did bounce back with two good seasons aged 29 and 30 but they still pale in comparison compared to what Sanders and Payton did at the same age.

Sanders had FIVE seasons where he averaged at least 5 yards per carry, including a 5.7 in 1994 and an incredible 6.1 in 1997. His worst season was 4.3 in his last year (1998) and 1992 when his OL collapsed because of injuries and tragedy (Utley paralysed and Andolsek killed.) And despite being on a mediocre team with a mediocre OL, and a carousel of poor QBs, Sanders was an All-Pro in every one of his 10 seasons (6 1st team), was twice OPOTY, MVP, had 4 rushing titles, was a Top 2 rusher 7-times and was never out of the Top 5 in rushing (even when he missed 5 games in 1993).

By comparison Emmitt had just ONE season where he averaged at least 5 ypc. Sanders averaged 5 ypc for HIS ENTIRE CAREER. Emmitt only had FOUR seasons where he averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry, which matched Barry's worst season. That means Emmitt had 11 seasons out of 15 where he averaged 4.2 yards or less, including SIX seasons with an average of LESS than 4 yards. And for a good number of those years he did it behind one of the most dominant O-lines in NFL history with a HOF QB, HOF WR, Pro Bowl TE and Pro Bowl FB clearing his path. Despite playing 5 more seasons than Barry, Smith was selected to 2 less Pro Bowls and 2 less 1st team All-Pros and 5 All-Pros in total.

From 1996, when the Cowboys began to be hit hard by free agency, to his final season in 2004, Emmitt had 0 rushing titles, 2 Pro Bowls, 0 All-Pros and a 3.9 ypc. And which RB was the only unanimous choice for the official 1990s team? Barry Sanders.

From 1996, when he was aged 28, to 2004 Smith was never more than a 1996 2nd team UPI All-Conference pick. Sanders was rushing for 2,053 and 6.1ypc aged 29 and Payton was in his 30's when he had seasons of 1,684 and 1,551.

* Another myth is that Sanders was not a good receiver. While he was definitely not going to remind anyone of Marshall Faulk, he was not a bad one either and certainly no worse than Smith.

In Barry's 10 seasons he had:
352 catches, 2,921 yds, 10 TD's with an 8.3 ypc.

Emmitt's first 10 seasons:
442 catches, 2,728 yards, 11 TD's with a 6.2 ypc.

Emmitt had 90 more receptions, but Barry still had nearly 200 MORE yards and just 1 less TD. The ypc gives Sanders a clear 2.1 yard advantage. Heck, Emmitt finished his career with 3,224 yds receiving...that's barely 300 more yards than Barry and it took him FIVE seasons longer. So why is Emmitt labelled a much better receiver than Barry?

* Most 100 yard rushing games in an NFL career

1- Emmitt Smith 78 in 226 games
2- Walter Payton 77 in 190 games
3- Barry Sanders 76 in 153 games

Barry rushed for more than 100 yards in almost half (49.7%) of the games he played in the NFL. He had one less 100yd game than Payton in 37 fewer games and 2 less 100yd games than Smith in 73 fewer games.

Ty October 28, 2010 at 12:28 PM  

Echo, you're killing it. KILLING it.

Peace
Ty

DetFan1979 October 28, 2010 at 4:32 PM  

Awesome comparisons everyone! Great Stats!

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 4:28 AM  

At 50 years old I was old enough to watch and appreciate both running backs in their prime. Emmitt was good, on a good team with many weapons. So not too many teams could even key up on him. Also what a line he had, that you had to get through to get him. Barry did most of his real work in open feild on his own. Fred Astaire in pads, poetry in motion. Comparing these two on actual individual running talent leaving their teammates out of it would be like comparing the hare and the tortise. I could even hit Emmitt, even though I probably would never be able to stop him. With Barry I would not even be able to see him till he stopped in the endzone.
T. Paulk

NorthLeft12 October 29, 2010 at 6:00 AM  

Ty, My comments were not a criticism, but like you, an admission that I did not pay attention to [or appreciate] the other parts of his game. I really did not think they were that important.

The man could run with the football. With or without anyone's help.

One of my favourite Barry and Lion memories was the last game of the 1997 season. The Lions played the Jets in Detroit in essentially a playoff game. The winner would get into the playoffs, the loser was out. Barry followed his blockers for most of the game and the Lions ground out a hard fought win against a good opponent. He also reached 2000 yards rushing, so that was nice.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 6:28 AM  

To all Barry fans posting here:

If others can't understand or appreciate what Barry was as a player, that's fine.

I, for one, feel fortunate to have witnessed his career. Some fans felt jilted when he walked away. I feel privileged to have been around to watch him. He was the greatest athlete I've ever seen and nothing comes close. And the thing I miss most is the humility. The man posted unbelievable numbers without even caring about numbers at all.

To all the guys who posted here, with the stats, numbers, arguments, etc...I salute you. I do the same from time to time, but get tired of pointing the same things out, over and over and over. The O-line thing, for example...Lomas and Kevin were alltime great Lions, but seriously...they played a number of years without Barry...how many pro bowls did they go to during those years?

Peace guys,

Tabs2020

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

Listen folks, Sanders was a total stud. Nobody is disputing that. A couple of points though:

1. The 'pro-bowl OL' argument is overused. The Pro Bowl is a popularity contest...Dallas had good records back then, and thus had a high number of OLs voted to the Pro Bowl...not all deserved it. More likely, some of them made it solely b/c of the numbers that Emmitt was putting up.

2. Oh...Barry quit on you guys. He flat out quit and left the team high and dry, with no warning.

3. Everyone is throwing out stats. Here are some:

1997 playoffs 18 atts for 65 yards and a loss
1995 playoffs 10 atts for 40 yards and a loss
1994 playoffs 13 atts for -1 yards and a loss
1993 playoffs 27 atts for 169 yards and a loss
1991 playoffs 12 atts for 69 yards and a win
1991 playoffs 11 atts for 44 yards and a loss

He simply wasn't 'money' when the games were most important. He didn't have a champion's heart and it showed when he retired...saying football wasn't fun for him anymore.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM  

I equate Barry to more of a Home Run hitter, might strike out a lot but also hits a lot of home runs and Emmit to more of a guy who hits for average.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 10:33 AM  

Interesting. So Barry Sanders is Dave Kingman and Emmitt is Ty Cobb.

Matt,  October 29, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

That 1991 Play-off win. . .y'know, the only one the Lions have, like, ever. . .what team was that against again? Who was their running back? I forget (not really).

Anonymous,  October 29, 2010 at 10:57 AM  

When comparing Emmitt Smith to Barry Sanders, a friend of mine put it best.

"When I'm a grandfather, I'm going to be telling the grandkids I saw Barry play."

Seriously, Emmitt had a great career. But Barry Sanders did things on the football field that nobody has seen before or since.

Matt,  October 29, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

The Pro Bowl argument is "overused" because it's sound. You can't just dismiss it as a popularity contest. Each and every one of those Dallas linemen was better than each and every one of Detroit's (with the exception of Lomas). If there were stats for OL, I have no doubt in my mind Dallas' would have blown Detroit's out of the water. Those Dallas OLs are widely considered one of the greatest units of all-time.

Emmitt was a great back and would have been a great back just about anywhere, but he wouldn't have the records & rings had he not played in Dallas. I know that's a purely hypothetical arguments, but it's pretty tough to come up with a good hypothetical counterargument.

It's interesting to me that Emmitt's defining quality is his toughness/durability. He rarely missed games during his long career and could punch in those short TDs (even if it took him 3 or 4 tries). Given that, it's not really surprising that he eventually captured the career yardage and TD records. On the other side, Barry's defining quality is that he was a truly unique talent. A player the likes of which had never been seen before and may never be seen again.

Matt,  October 29, 2010 at 12:13 PM  

Now, to put the play-off games in perspective:

1997 - Lions were 9-7 and playing at 10-6 Tampa in the wildcard game. Tampa's D included Warren Sapp, Hardy Nickerson, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch. Lions QBs Scott Mitchell & Frank Reich combined to go 21 of 40 for just over 200 yards, no TDs, and pick. Barry caught 5 of those passes for 43 yards (or 108 total yards on 23 total touches). Tommy Vardell got the 1 yard TD. Lions lost 20-10.

1995 - The 10-6 Lions visit the 10-6 Eagles in the wild card round. Rodney Peete goes 17 of 25 for 270 yards, 3 TDs, 0 picks. . .for the Eagles. Scott Mitchell goes 13 of 29 for 155 yards, 4 picks, and 2 TDs (one to the Eagles). In the third quarter, with the score 51-7, Don Majkowski came in and went 14 of 23 for 203, 2 picks, and 4 TDs (one to the Eagles). Final score, 58-37.

1994 & 1993 - Both of these were wild card games versus the Packers. Green Bay was 10-6 both years. The Lions were 10-6 in '93, 9-7 in '94. '93 was at home (after beating the Pack at home Week 17 to win the division); '94 was in Green Bay. Interestingly, Green Bay lost to Dallas in the next round both seasons.

'93 was Brett Favre's first play-off game. Predictably, he went 15 of 26 for 204, 3 TDs (all to Sterling Sharpe), and 1 pick (which was returned by Mel Jenkins for a TD). Erik Kramer could only match Favre in throwing a Pick 6 (101-yard return by George Teague). Lions lose 28-24 in Barry's best statistical play-off game (though Derrick Moore stole a 5-yard TD). I was at this game.

'94 was an odd game. Green Bay had 38 passes and 35 runs to Detroit's 35 and 15. Barry was completely bottled up while both Favre and Dave Krieg were also largely ineffective (no picks, though). Krieg actually hit Herman Moore in the end zone on 4th and 14 for what would/could have been the game-winning score, but was ruled out of bounds. The Lions lost 16-12 after an intentional safety by the Packers.

1991 - First Detroit humiliates the Cowboys before being humiliated by the soon-to-be Champion Redskins (they were simply amazing that season). Emmitt: 16 touches, 82 total yards, 0 TDs. Barry: 17 touches, 99 yards, 1 47-yard TD. That's all that needs to be said about 1991.

All-in-all, with the exception of 1994, you can't put any of the losses on Barry (and give him solid credit for the win). He was just on mediocre teams that Barr-ely slipped into the play-offs anyway. He had less than 15 carries in most of those games (that's just poor play-calling/game-planning). Without him, they would have been, well, the Millen Era Lions.

Ty October 29, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

T. Paulk--

"Comparing these two on actual individual running talent leaving their teammates out of it would be like comparing the hare and the tortise."

That's the way I felt at the time, to be sure. As the years go by, I only grow more convinced of Barry's greatness--but I think Emmitt deserves a place on the next shelf down, in the Marcus Allen/Curtis Martin tier.

Peace
Ty

Ty October 29, 2010 at 12:40 PM  

Anonymous--

"Interesting. So Barry Sanders is Dave Kingman and Emmitt is Ty Cobb."

A better comparison might be Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, if Bonds had retired after his last injury and not broken the record. Bonds was the more remarkable talent, and at his best was the best ever--but Aaron compiled the big career number by being consistently very good in a notorious hitter's park.

A-Rod and Jeter might be a more apt comparison.

Peace
Ty

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

* Sanders was often labelled as a guy who could not run anywhere near as well on grass as he could on turf. Lets look at the numbers though.

TURF
109 games
11,105 yards
5.0 avg
101.1 yards per game

GRASS
44 games
4,254 yards
5.0 avg
96.7 yards per game

__________________

HOME
77 games
7,933 yards
5.0 avg
103 yds per game

AWAY
76 games
7,336 yards
5.0 avg
96.5 yds per game

__________________

INDOORS
95 games
9,461 yards
5.0 avg
99.6 yards per game

OUTDOORS
58 games
5,808 yards
5.0 avg
100.1 yards per game


His numbers for home/away, and indoors/outdoors are again almost identical. On all 6 categories he averages at least 96.5 yards per game and exactly 5.0 yds per carry. I guess if a lie is told often enough people will begin to believe it.

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 1:33 PM  

* Lets take a look at who Sanders had to work with at QB compared to Emmitt - Hipple, Gagliano, Peete, Ware, Krieg, Mitchell, Batch and Reich. Apart from Dave Krieg who was at the end of his career and played very briefly, all those guys were either career backups or a bust (Andre Ware).

Lets look at how Detroit's QBs performed 1989-98

CMP ATT YD YPA TD INT
1989 - 229 450 3282 7.29 11 24 (Gagliano, Peete, Hipple and Long)

1990 - 242 460 3328 7.23 24 20 (Peete, Gagliano and Ware)

1991 - 252 459 2974 6.48 16 17 (Kramer, Peete and Ware)

1992 - 231 406 3150 7.76 16 21 (Peete, Kramer and Ware)

1993 - 264 435 2943 6.77 15 19 (Peete, Kramer and Ware)

1994 - 250 459 3085 6.72 24 14 (Dave Krieg had a 14-3 td-int ratio. With some good QB numbers Sanders rushes for 1,883yds and a 5.7 ypc.)

1995 - 362 605 4510 7.45 33 12
(Great year for Scott Mitchell but it was a great year for all QBs and WRs in 1995) * In Barry's 7th year this was the first that an individual QB was consistent enough to throw for more than 2,000 yards. Every other year, the starter was either benched or injured.

1996 - 309 541 3463 6.40 20 21 (Mitchell and Majkowski)

1997 - 304 540 3605 6.68 19 17 (Mitchell and Reich). Barry's 2,053 yd season with a fulltime blocking fullback for the 1st time in his career. God help the NFL had he been in Dallas with Moose Johnston at FB behind the best OL unit in football.

1998 - 274 489 3398 6.95 17 13 (Batch, Mitchell and Reich)

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

* Barry was criticised for not showing up in the playoffs. However Walter Payton played 9 games in the postseason and has the same number of 100 yd games as Barry - 1. Payton's career playoff ypc was also 3.51 compared to Barry's 4.24. Even Jim Brown had a postseason 3.65 ypc, one 100-yd game and just 1 TD in 4 postseason games. Barry gets criticised for his negative 1 yd game vs Green Bay but people forget Brown was held to 8 yds on 7 carries vs the NY Giants in 1958. Nobody seems to penalise Gale Sayers who never even played a postseason game in his career. Sayers (and Butkus) of course had the misfortune of being stuck on some dreadful Bears teams. Either way, the sample size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

While Dallas in the early to mid 90's were a juggernaut, its worth noting Payton's Bears (pre 1984) and Barry's Lions were never built to go far in the playoffs. Those teams were often just about good enough to reach the playoffs but go no further when faced against superior opposition (often on the road). Usually those teams were only in the playoffs because of Payton and Sanders. An example being Payton's Bears getting crushed 37-7 by a far better Dallas team in 1977 after Payton had the best season of his career (1,852 yds in 14 games). In fact Payton didn't experience his first playoff win until he was 30 which proves you can't build a team around your RB when you don't have either a franchise QB or a Top 10 defense. Thankfully Payton got the ring his incredible career deserved as his twilight years coincided with the Bears brutal Defense in the mid 80's. Barry sadly wasn't so fortunate being stuck on the worst-run franchise in the NFL.

I can also remember Detroit giving up 41 and 58 pts to Washington and Philadelphia in the playoffs in the 90s. Both times Sanders was effectively taken out of the game and never allowed to get into a rhythm with only 11 and 10 carries respectively. Can't blame Barry for the Lions throwing 6 interceptions against the Eagles and going into HT down 38-7. Even when Dallas got beaten badly by the Lions in the 1991 playoffs the Cowboys swarmed around Sanders. Their gameplan that day was if the Lions are going to beat us they will have to do it with the passing game, which Detroit duly did when Erik Kramer had the game of his life. Proof that the sheer fear of stopping Barry opened up the so many oppotunities for his teammates.

* Jim Brown and Sanders are 1st and 2nd for yds/game and yds/carry for the 72 RBs with over 6,000 career yds rushing. Smith is not in the Top 10 for either. Even if you took Smith's 10 best seasons they still do not compare with Brown/Sanders. Payton and Sanders both proved they could totally dominate for longer with far less talent around them. They would dominate on any team in any era no matter how bad their teammates were imo. I'm not quite so certain the same can be said for Emmitt.

How many rings, MVPs, rushing titles, Pro Bowls and All-Pros would Smith have had he played his career in Detroit in the 1990s? Would Emmitt have achieved what Barry did under those circumstances? Does he average 1,500 yds per season at 5ypc for 10 years with an MVP, a 2k season, two OPOTYS and 10 All-Pros like Barry did? IMO he doesn't come close. Emmitt got dealt a royal flush landing in Dallas and fair play he took full advantage of it. But he didn't even come close to Barry's numbers even with that huge advantage.

Now ask yourself that same question only this time with Barry in Dallas during the 90s. Barry with those Cowboys would have been utterly ridiculous. I have no doubt that Sanders would have done a 'Jerry Rice. to the record books and ripped them to shreds.

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

* Barry was criticised for not showing up in the playoffs. However Walter Payton played 9 games in the postseason and has the same number of 100 yd games as Barry - 1. Payton's career playoff ypc was also 3.51 compared to Barry's 4.24. Even Jim Brown had a postseason 3.65 ypc, one 100-yd game and just 1 TD in 4 postseason games. Barry gets criticised for his negative 1 yd game vs Green Bay but people forget Brown was held to 8 yds on 7 carries vs the NY Giants in 1958. Nobody seems to penalise Gale Sayers who never even played a postseason game in his career. Sayers (and Butkus) of course had the misfortune of being stuck on some dreadful Bears teams. Either way, the sample size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

While Dallas in the early to mid 90's were a juggernaut, its worth noting Payton's Bears (pre 1984) and Barry's Lions were never built to go far in the playoffs. Those teams were often just about good enough to reach the playoffs but go no further when faced against superior opposition (often on the road). Usually those teams were only in the playoffs because of Payton and Sanders. An example being Payton's Bears getting crushed 37-7 by a far better Dallas team in 1977 after Payton had the best season of his career (1,852 yds in 14 games). In fact Payton didn't experience his first playoff win until he was 30 which proves you can't build a team around your RB when you don't have either a franchise QB or a Top 10 defense. Thankfully Payton got the ring his incredible career deserved as his twilight years coincided with the Bears brutal Defense in the mid 80's. Barry sadly wasn't so fortunate being stuck on the worst-run franchise in the NFL.

I can also remember Detroit giving up 41 and 58 pts to Washington and Philadelphia in the playoffs in the 90s. Both times Sanders was effectively taken out of the game and never allowed to get into a rhythm with only 11 and 10 carries respectively. Can't blame Barry for the Lions throwing 6 interceptions against the Eagles and going into HT down 38-7. Even when Dallas got beaten badly by the Lions in the 1991 playoffs the Cowboys swarmed around Sanders. Their gameplan that day was if the Lions are going to beat us they will have to do it with the passing game, which Detroit duly did when Erik Kramer had the game of his life. Proof that the sheer fear of stopping Barry opened up the so many oppotunities for his teammates.

* Jim Brown and Sanders are 1st and 2nd for yds/game and yds/carry for the 72 RBs with over 6,000 career yds rushing. Smith is not in the Top 10 for either. Even if you took Smith's 10 best seasons they still do not compare with Brown/Sanders. Payton and Sanders both proved they could totally dominate for longer with far less talent around them. They would dominate on any team in any era no matter how bad their teammates were imo. I'm not quite so certain the same can be said for Emmitt.

How many rings, MVPs, rushing titles, Pro Bowls and All-Pros would Smith have had he played his career in Detroit in the 1990s? Would Emmitt have achieved what Barry did under those circumstances? Does he average 1,500 yds per season at 5ypc for 10 years with an MVP, a 2k season, two OPOTYS and 10 All-Pros like Barry did? IMO he doesn't come close. Emmitt got dealt a royal flush landing in Dallas and fair play he took full advantage of it. But he didn't even come close to Barry's numbers even with that huge advantage.

Now ask yourself that same question only this time with Barry in Dallas during the 90s. Barry with those Cowboys would have been utterly ridiculous. I have no doubt that Sanders would have done a 'Jerry Rice. to the record books and ripped them to shreds.

Ty October 29, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

Echo--

Dude, where are you pulling these numbers? This is incredible stuff.

Peace
Ty

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 2:15 PM  

** I should reiterate that Brown's 8yds on 7 carries was a postseason game.

* The vast majority of those with a neutral outlook will tell you Sanders was easily the superior player. Smith was great, don't get me wrong, but even he would tell you Sanders was the better player and probably the best ever. Emmitt was interviewed by Dan Patrick the day before he was announced as a HOFer. Patrick asked him if he could hand the ball off to any RB in history who would it be? His reply was 'Barry Sanders'. Not really surprising when one of the first things Emmitt did at the end of every game was to check on how Barry performed that day. He knew what the measuring stick was.

Every player poll during that era had Barry clearly ahead. ESPN had Barry among the 10 greatest players ever and the #2 RB behind Brown in an experts poll. TSN had Barry ranked #12 best player ever while Emmitt wasn't even in the Top 50. NFLN's current Top 100 series has Barry ahead too.

Ask nearly all of their peers from the 1990's, the likes of Terrell Davis, Curtis Martin and Robert Smith. Ask the defenders who faced them both. Every player/executive poll I have seen from that era had Sanders a clear winner. Davis, Martin and Smith have Sanders not only better than Emmitt but as the greatest ever. Jim Brown, not one for giving out praise lightly to say the least, said Sanders was simply fantastic with ''god-given talent''. Walter Payton said during Barry's rookie season: ''I was never that good'' when asked to compare himself. Reggie White said Barry was the only player he was truly scared of and admitted he once pretended he was injured by limping off the field after Sanders had made him look foolish.

Like I said. Why not ask the NFL players themselves.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1113700/index.htm

Based on a survey of 354 NFL players in 2004.

Who Is the Greatest Player You Ever Saw?

Barry Sanders 30%
Running Back, Lions

Walter Payton 20%
Running Back, Bears

Joe Montana 8%
Quarterback, 49ers-Chiefs

John Elway 7%
Quarterback, Broncos

FAST FACTS: Only one active player, Ravens CB Deion Sanders (fifth, 7%), was among top eight vote-getters. He got 11% of the overall vote from defensive players.... Barry Sanders, who retired in 1998 at age 30, got 42% of the vote among players with eight or more years experience.

And that is greatest PLAYER, not just RB. Sanders got 42% of the vote from those vets who would have played against both.

I'll leave the final word to Gale Sayers: Its worth noting that Sayers' comments came just weeks before the start of the 1997 season when Barry had his greatest season ever.

"I wish Barry had a better line to run behind. I'd like to see what would happen then. Many times when you see him, he's making moves behind the line of scrimmage, trying to get away. A lot of times Emmitt isn't touched until he's five yards past the line. When Barry's five yards into the secondary, he's gone. People talk about whether Barry can gain 2,000 yards in a season. Well, if he had Dallas' line, we'd be asking how many years he'd be gaining 2,000 yards. Look at his stats now: He's gaining 1,500 or 1,600 yards anyway. I think Emmitt is a good second-effort runner, a strong runner, but I go with Barry."

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 2:15 PM  

** I should reiterate that Brown's 8yds on 7 carries was a postseason game.

* The vast majority of those with a neutral outlook will tell you Sanders was easily the superior player. Smith was great, don't get me wrong, but even he would tell you Sanders was the better player and probably the best ever. Emmitt was interviewed by Dan Patrick the day before he was announced as a HOFer. Patrick asked him if he could hand the ball off to any RB in history who would it be? His reply was 'Barry Sanders'. Not really surprising when one of the first things Emmitt did at the end of every game was to check on how Barry performed that day. He knew what the measuring stick was.

Every player poll during that era had Barry clearly ahead. ESPN had Barry among the 10 greatest players ever and the #2 RB behind Brown in an experts poll. TSN had Barry ranked #12 best player ever while Emmitt wasn't even in the Top 50. NFLN's current Top 100 series has Barry ahead too.

Ask nearly all of their peers from the 1990's, the likes of Terrell Davis, Curtis Martin and Robert Smith. Ask the defenders who faced them both. Every player/executive poll I have seen from that era had Sanders a clear winner. Davis, Martin and Smith have Sanders not only better than Emmitt but as the greatest ever. Jim Brown, not one for giving out praise lightly to say the least, said Sanders was simply fantastic with ''god-given talent''. Walter Payton said during Barry's rookie season: ''I was never that good'' when asked to compare himself. Reggie White said Barry was the only player he was truly scared of and admitted he once pretended he was injured by limping off the field after Sanders had made him look foolish.

Like I said. Why not ask the NFL players themselves.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1113700/index.htm

Based on a survey of 354 NFL players in 2004.

Who Is the Greatest Player You Ever Saw?

Barry Sanders 30%
Running Back, Lions

Walter Payton 20%
Running Back, Bears

Joe Montana 8%
Quarterback, 49ers-Chiefs

John Elway 7%
Quarterback, Broncos

FAST FACTS: Only one active player, Ravens CB Deion Sanders (fifth, 7%), was among top eight vote-getters. He got 11% of the overall vote from defensive players.... Barry Sanders, who retired in 1998 at age 30, got 42% of the vote among players with eight or more years experience.

And that is greatest PLAYER, not just RB. Sanders got 42% of the vote from those vets who would have played against both.

I'll leave the final word to Gale Sayers: Its worth noting that Sayers' comments came just weeks before the start of the 1997 season when Barry had his greatest season ever.

"I wish Barry had a better line to run behind. I'd like to see what would happen then. Many times when you see him, he's making moves behind the line of scrimmage, trying to get away. A lot of times Emmitt isn't touched until he's five yards past the line. When Barry's five yards into the secondary, he's gone. People talk about whether Barry can gain 2,000 yards in a season. Well, if he had Dallas' line, we'd be asking how many years he'd be gaining 2,000 yards. Look at his stats now: He's gaining 1,500 or 1,600 yards anyway. I think Emmitt is a good second-effort runner, a strong runner, but I go with Barry."

Matt,  October 29, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

Wow. . .just. . .wow

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM  

Ty - Many thanks and sorry for the duplicate post. I didn't think my first attempt had worked. If a moderator could delete the duplicate post it would be much appreciated.

I have done tons of research and number crunching on Barry's career because I was tired of all the myths and lies I was hearing about how he couldn't do this or couldn't do that. Even as a neutral he's my favourite player ever along with my Raiders hero Bo Jackson. Pro Football Reference is an excellent website where I gather some of my info. Other bits and pieces are just my own research on the subject.

Here's another one. The critics said Barry could not run at the goalline. Well Sanders is the first and, still I believe, only RB in NFL history to score all of his team's rushing TDs (excluding QBs) in 5 separate seasons. He scored 47 TDs in the first 3 years of his career and 21 of them came from 1-4yds with 8 of them from 1 yard. Quite clearly he could run close to the goalline. It was from 1992 onwards that Fontes decided to not use Barry so much at the goalline. I have read a quote from Fontes where he said at times he had to resist giving Barry the ball on every play. I believe Fontes' thinking was that Barry had a very heavy workload (he retired with the 2nd most carries ever after 10 seasons) and put a bigger bruising RB like Vardell to keep Barry fresh. My favourite Barry goalline run was the spin move and jump out to the left against Buffalo in, I think, 1990. For Barry at the goalline, it was a case of 'didn't' for most of his career rather than 'couldn't'.

Matt,  October 29, 2010 at 2:36 PM  

Barry = 41 career fumbles
Emmitt = 61

Tomlinson = *28*
Curtis Martin = !29!

Sayers = 34
Faulk = 36
Bettis = 41
Brown = 57
Dickerson = 78
Sweetness = 86
Dorsett = 90

Philip Zaroo October 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

Note to Anonymous who said the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest: You're right. When the playoffs hit, Barry just couldn't figure out how to run. He was really good at embarrassing the hell out of every defender in the NFL, but once the post-season came along -- GULP! -- he simply forgot how to run. OR...

The NFL playoffs generally contain the best teams in the league, right? Right. And those best teams in the league, for the most part, have anywhere from solid to great defenses, right? Right. And those solid to great defenses probably had some strong corners who could, say, cover Lions receivers one-on-one while stuffing the box with eight and nine guys, right? Right. Six guys blocking eight or nine. You do the math. And welcome to Barry's world.

echo,  October 29, 2010 at 2:56 PM  

Payton (postseason)

9 Games
180 att
632 yds
3.5 avg
2 TDs
100 yd games - 1

Brown (postseason)
4 Games
66 att
241 yds
3.65 avg
1 TD
100 yd games - 1

Sanders (postseason)

6 games
91 att
386 yds
4.2 avg
1 TD
100 yd games - 1

The criticism that Barry gets for his playoff performances is very harsh when I never hear the same criticism pointed at Payton or Brown.

Some quotes on Barry.

"I missed him the first time he went by me and then, on the same play, he came back again and I missed him again. I was embarrassed. So I limped off the field. I hoped people thought I failed to tackle him because I was hurt but I'm not sure I fooled anyone." - Reggie White.

"He's in a class by himself." - Emmitt Smith

"He's better than I ever was. I was never that good." - Walter Payton during Barry's rookie season after the Lions won at Soldier Field.

"I've been fortunate to be around some good backs over the years, but Barry is truly special. He is the player who truly keeps you on the edge of your seat. If I was voting, and this is no offence to Jim Brown, I would vote Barry Sanders the best running back of all time." - Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson.

"If they get you a fullback and a tight end, you'll be unstoppable." - Lawrence Taylor to Barry after a Lions v Giants game in his rookie season.

"Even if I am in the equation, Barry Sanders is the best back I've ever seen." - Jim Brown

"Here's what I see. Emmitt is a great player in a great system, a system that suits him perfectly. He is a hell of a warrior, and he fits into the Dallas system better than anybody. I don't think Barry's ever been used properly, but that's a different story. If I had my pick of anybody in the league, and I was picking in terms of just pure talent, I'd take Barry. He's the most talented running back in the NFL." - Jim Brown in the summer of 1997.

"Barry is truly gifted, from the size of his thighs, his ability to move and change direction.. he's a fantastic runner." - Jim Brown on NFL Films.

Neil October 29, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

Goddamn.

This is like watching a movie where someone is possessed by a computer or to get super nerdy, like watching one of those hybrids who powered the Cylon ships in Battlestar Gallactica.

"3.14159265358979323846 equals pi. Pie comes in many varieties including apple, blueberry and pumpkin. Pumpkins are a traditional Halloween decoration meant to simulate a carved skull. The skull holds the human brain which is capable of doing complex equations and assigning meaning to symbols such as pi, which has a value of 3.141592 . . ."

This is amazing.

Anonymous,  October 30, 2010 at 10:28 AM  

Echo, I noticed that you didn't list Emmitt's playoff stats....would be curious to compare those 3 to Emmitt's.

Anonymous,  October 30, 2010 at 11:39 AM  

Payton (postseason)

9 Games
180 att
632 yds
3.5 avg
2 TDs
100 yd games - 1

Brown (postseason)
4 Games
66 att
241 yds
3.65 avg
1 TD
100 yd games - 1

Sanders (postseason)

6 games
91 att
386 yds
4.2 avg
1 TD
100 yd games - 1


Emmitt Smith
17 games
349 attempts
1586 yards
4.5 avg
19 TDs
100 yard games - 7 (2 more with 99 yards)

As someone said earlier, the playoffs are against the best competition. Emmitt was simply at his best in the big games.

echo,  November 3, 2010 at 7:03 AM  

Anonymous - You missed the point I was trying to make. Sanders gets criticised (very unfairly imo as its a team sport) for his postseason play yet I never hear the same thing for Payton and Brown.

Brown, Payton, Sanders have been the consensus Top 3 in every player or experts poll I have seen. They include the SI player poll I posted above, The Sporting News' book of 100 Greatest Football Players, an ESPN experts poll with the likes of Don Shula and Raymond Berry, and the current NFL Network Top 100 Series.

Emmitt's postseason record is impressive but so was that of Franco Harris and Terrell Davis. Harris won 4 rings with the Steelers and his postseason numbers are similar to Smith with 19 games, 400 att for 1,556 yds and 16 TDs. Was Harris even a Top 10 RB? Nope.

When you compare the list of all the HOFers, Pro Bowlers and All-Pros Franco and Emmitt had compared to Payton in his prime or Barry's entire career in Detroit, then its obvious they were both part of juggernaut teams. Emmitt had 3 offensive teammates alone in the NFL Network Top 100. The 1995 Cowboys had 10 offensive starters who between them had 55 career Pro Bowls - the most of any team in history. But as soon as those teams began to crumble after Jimmy Johnson departed and free agency started, Emmitt's numbers began to fall sharply. By comparison Barry was an All-Pro in all 10 of his seasons with not even half the talent around him. Teams knew they could focus on stopping Barry a lot more than Emmitt in Dallas' offense, yet Sanders still outperformed Smith.

If you honestly think Emmitt could have achieved what Barry did in Detroit with over 15,000 yds in 10 seasons, 99.8 ypg, 5,0 ypc, 4 rushing titles, 7 Top 2 finishes, 10 All-Pros, 2 OPOTYs, a 2k season and an MVP you are deluding yourself. Now ask yourself that same question only this time with Barry on those juggernaut Dallas teams. What would Emmitt's postseason record be like under such a scenario? Does he even have a postseason record? Remember Gale Sayers never played a playoff game in his career and still finished ahead of Smith in the Top 100 and in the Sporting News book.

Emmitt fans can point to longevity but Barry was DOMINANT for longer. Consider what Emmitt did in those last 5 seasons, where he added 4,392 yards on 1,166 attempts (3.77 YPC), finishing 13th, 15th, 20th, 61st, and 21st in the NFL in rushing. Those are hardly numbers which are going to elevate him above Barry who outperfomed him in those first 10 seasons. Playing longer than everyone else simply does not make you a better player. Sanders and Brown retired at the top and in their prime. Payton played 13 seasons and retired as soon as the decline started. Smith hung around way past his best because he was motivated in breaking individual records in a team sport. Arizona were the only team interested in signing Smith after Dallas released him, and lets face it, he didn't go there with any Super Bowl aspirations.

Basically there are two camps in the Barry v Emmitt debate.

Emmitt - Dallas fans
Barry - Everyone else.

Anonymous,  November 5, 2010 at 8:28 PM  

Sanders didn't retire on top...he quit on his teammates and left his franchise in a bind.

echo,  November 9, 2010 at 11:06 PM  

Living in denial Anon. The only thing Emmitt has over Barry are SB rings and the all-time rushing record. The former is a TEAM achievement which is why Franco Harris' name is never mentioned in these Greatest Ever lists. And yes, Emmitt was much better than Franco or Roger Craig who also won 3. The latter is simply Emmitt playing 5 seasons longer than Barry. A 3.77 ypc and finishing 13th, 15th, 20th, 61st, and 21st in NFL rushing in those 5 seasons is not an indicator of greatness. He's the Brett Favre of RBs without the annoying retirements every summer. How many extra games did it take Emmitt to get to where Barry finished on 15,269 after 10 seasons? A: In his 12th season and 173rd game - 20 games more than Barry.

The Lions organisation quit on Barry. Lomas Brown, Bennie Blades, Chris Spielman, Kevin Glover were all allowed to leave via free agency. The Ford's didn't care about winning as long as Barry was packing the Silverdome. Like Barry said in his book, the Lions constant losing and non commitment to building a winning team robbed him of his competitive spirit. Watch his interview with Steve Sabol when he explained that once you lose the love for the game, then its time to leave. He simply wasn't going to hang around just to break individual records. Jim Brown retired at 29 after 9 seasons while filming on the set of the Dirty Dozen. Are you going to label him a quitter too? As much as I wish Barry had played another 3 seasons I'd much rather see a player leave at the top compared to someone hanging on until they are a shadow of their former greatness. Brown and Barry did that. Payton left as soon as the decline started in his 13th season. Emmitt was nothing more than mediocre for the last 5 seasons of his career.

echo61,  July 16, 2011 at 7:03 AM  

Sanders faced Bears defenses with Singletary, Dent and Hampton – all 3 are HOFers. Hampton mentioned on NFL Films he broke some of his fingers trying to tackle Barry. Singletary got turnstiled on one of Barry’s most famous runs at Soldier Field in 1992. In fact Barry told NFL Films it was the favourite run of his career. The Bears D early 90s were still Top 6 in the NFL. (1993 – 3rd in pts and 4th in yds).

He faced the Vikings who had the best DL in football at one point with John Randle, (HOF), Chris Doleman (150 sacks and future HOFer) and Keith Millard (2 All-Pros and 18 sacks in 1989 which is insane for a DT) not to mention Pro Bowlers like safety Joey Browner. They had the NFL’s #1 D in 1989 and 1993. Sanders rushed for 220yds and 4 TDs at the Metrodome in 1991.

The Bucs had Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks (future HOFers) and Pro Bowlers like Lynch and Barber. They were ranked #2 in pts conceded and #3 in yds in 1997 when Barry rushed for 215 yds and 3 TDs at Tampa Stadium.

The Packers won the Super Bowl in the 1996 season and were always serious SB contenders with Reggie White, maybe the greatest defensive player ever, on the DL. They were #1 in yds and pts in 1996. They were 9th, 5th, 4th, 1st and 5th in points conceded from 93-97 and 4th best in yds in 1998, 2nd best in yds in 1993 to go with their #1 rankings in 1996.

And Barry also went to Dallas in 1994 and rushed for 194 yds at Texas Stadium when the Cowboys were back-to-back defending Super Bowl champions. The Dallas D that season were ranked #1 in pts and #3 in yds.

From 1992-99 Dallas’ D was ranked as follows in pts: 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 13th, 3rd, 5th. In yardage they were ranked #1 in 92 and 94, #2 in 97 and #3 in 96. So not only was Emmitt getting help from a legendary offense loaded with Pro Bowlers the defense was consistently Top 5 and had the likes of Haley, Deion (HOF), Norton, Lett and Darren Woodson.

By comparison not only did Barry have a mediocre OL and backup calibre QBs for most of his career the Defense was also very average. The Lions D from 1989-98 was ranked as follows in points conceded: 19th, 26, 11, 20, 15, 19, 14, 22, 10, 24. In yardage they were: 18th, 28 (dead last in 1990), 15, 20, 6, 24, 23, 20, 14 and 15.

Detroit’s D had just 1 Top 10 ranking (#6 in 1993 yardage) out of both categories (pts and yards) in Barry’s entire career. From 1992-99 Dallas’ D had 11 rankings in the TOP 5 from both categories.

RB researcher,  January 30, 2012 at 9:41 PM  

Heh - I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I am not sure which messageboard Echo and I share but he sure has lifted a lot from my posts.

Mgshaw30,  April 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM  

Oh really! I also post as boknows34 and all that research is my own Mr RB researcher. I challenge you to show us which message boards I am accused of lifting your posts from. Total rubbish!

Echo61,  April 7, 2012 at 5:22 PM  

Oh really! I also post as boknows34 and all that research is my own Mr RB researcher. I challenge you to show us which message boards I am accused of lifting your posts from. Total rubbish!

Echo61,  April 7, 2012 at 5:24 PM  

Mods please delete my mgshaw30 duplicate comment echo61 is my correct username.

RB researcher,  June 5, 2012 at 9:53 AM  

The critics said Barry could not run at the goalline. Well Sanders is the first and, still I believe, only RB in NFL history to score all of his team's rushing TDs (excluding QBs) in 5 separate seasons

--- You didn't do that research. That is lifted from several posts I have been made for years. If you claim that is your research I would like you to tell me how you did it. Perhaps some SQL queries as well.

Luke Kerr September 8, 2012 at 5:07 PM  

Barry won no rings. part of the reason is because his running style was not conducive to controling a game. he did a lot of east west running, which accounted for a lot of negative running plays and made it more difficult for his line to block for him. Emmitt was a down hill runner. Which is easier to block for. His style was conducive to ball control. He routinely picked up 3 to 5 yrds per carry, enabling the offense to control the ball and the clock. The end result is by the 4th qtr the opposition's defense will be worn, while your own defense will still be going strong. Which would put a team in a better position to win championships. Emmitt won 3, Barry won 0.

echo61,  September 14, 2012 at 5:57 PM  

Which message boards are these again? I have produced thousands of words of facts and figures and yet you cherry pick one small sentence which you claim to have exclusive rights to? And you get all butthurt? Grow up.

echo61,  September 14, 2012 at 7:10 PM  

1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1996 are the 5 seasons where Sanders was the only Lions RB to score a rushing TD. In 1993 Barry missed 5 games with Derrick Moore and Eric Lynch also scoring on the ground. 1994 was Moore with 4 rush TDs, a year later Lynch scored one. In 97 and 98 Tommy Vardell and Lynch scored 6 and 1 rushing TDs respectively in both seasons.

Emmitt only had 1 season as the only RB to score all the non QB rushing TDs and that was funnily enough his first season with Arizona when the
Cards only scored 5 rushing TDs for the entire season. Emmitt scored twice and the other 3 were by QBs Jeff Blake and Josh McNown. In Emmitt's 13 seasons as a Cowboy there was always at least another RB to score on the ground every year - incl Moose Johnston, Derrick Lassic, Curvin Richards, Tommie Agee, Lincoln Coleman, Kevin Williams, Troy Hambrick, Blair Thomas, Sherman Williams and Herschel Walker in 1996.

sexyme September 30, 2012 at 8:20 PM  

Emmitt Played In The Toughest Division-The NFC East
and since people like to say how Barry Ran so good against The Mighty Dallas Cowboys back then how come he never won a Superbowl? He was a good open field runner thats all, But Emmitt Smith is the Best. Deal With It. All time Rushing Leader-

sexyme September 30, 2012 at 8:35 PM  

Emmitt Smith was money- When he didnt play, The Dallas cowboys couldnt do shit. But when he did play It was no stopping them :-) Emmitt never let us Down Go Cowboys Oh and if Barry Sanders Played in the NFC East (BEAST) like Emitt Did he wouldn't have half the numbers that he has now. The NFC Central is not as tough as the NFC EASt. NFC EAST have been to and won the most Superbowl's of any division. Green bay is the only team that Could play in the east the rest of your teams are shit. Chicago 1 superbowl, Detroit and Minnesota none.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2012 at 6:06 PM  

Emmitt was a great back, but didn't quite match Barry Sanders. The only way it is debatable is if you throw in hometown bias.

blue,  February 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM  

you need a life.

Jay Underhill July 17, 2013 at 4:06 PM  

During Barry's career with the Lions they had 1103 rushes for 4291 yards not by Barry. The Lions averaged 3.89 yards a rush

During Emmitt's career with the Cowboys they had 2090 rushes for 7719 yards not by Emmitt. The Cowboys averaged 3.69 yards a rush

The Lions O-line was a better rushing team without Barry then Dallas was without Emmitt
So that blows your O-line theory up

Meanwhile Detroit had Barry miss 7 games...their record in those games 4 wins 3 losses

Emmitt also missed 7 games with Dallas...their record 1 win 6 losses

Oh and everyone needs to quit saying that Sanders ended his career with a 5.0 yards per carry also

Learn to use a calculator 15269 yards on 3062 carries is a 4.98 average...while impressive is NOT 5.0

Paul McD,  July 30, 2013 at 9:54 PM  

Barry Sanders ran for NEGATIVE 2 totals yards in a playoff game against the Packers on December 31, 1994. You should include playoff stats in your analysis

Paul McD,  July 30, 2013 at 9:59 PM  

You must also remember the scheduling. Cowboys always to play a harder schedule because they were a better team...Barry and the Lions played a LOSERS schedule.

obamaiscarter,  September 11, 2013 at 10:18 PM  

When Emmitt Smith is polishing his multiple Super Bowl rings, I doubt he really cares that Barry Sanders had more yards per carry.

obamaiscarter,  September 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM  

Unless two guys play the same exact schedule every year, trying to determine who is the best wholly by statistics is a totally pointless endeavor.

Jeff Travis April 13, 2014 at 7:46 PM  

The idea that the "Pro-Bowler argument is overused" because the Pro Bowl is a "popularity contest" doesn't hold water, cuz when the hell were linemen "popular"?! Linemen make the Pro Bowl because they earned it. Also, Lomas Brown and Glover were both on the Lions in '95. The big myth is that Sanders never had anything but scrubs on his line his whole career. Bullshit. Don't disrespect those guys blocking for him, and don't disrespect the league with lies and revisionist history.

Jeff Travis April 13, 2014 at 7:52 PM  

And Lomas Brown was a full-time starter for the Lions from his rookie season through '95 with the Lions. That's '88 -'95, making the Pro Bowl '91-'95. Glover was a full-time starter for them from '88-'97, also making multiple Pro Bowls. And when either didn't make the Pro Bowl, it wasn't that they were just garbage those seasons. Stop making shit up to fit your storyline. Sanders was awesome, but so were many other rb's and other players.

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