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.
|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.