PDA

View Full Version : Posnanski: To the end, Priest will be a mystery


tk13
11-10-2005, 02:14 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/13127172.htm

To the end, Priest will be a mystery
JOE POSNANSKI
Kansas City Star


Every so often, for a minute or two, Priest Holmes would let me in. He never did like letting people into his world. He never wanted people to know how much he hurt or how hard he had to work every week just to get ready for a football game.

No, Priest Holmes has always believed that an NFL running back is a warrior.

And a warrior must maintain his mystique.

“People can’t know me,” he told me once while we played one of our weekly chess matches. “You gotta be like a ghost. Nobody can tackle a ghost.”

Wednesday afternoon, Priest Holmes was a ghost again. He did not appear when the Chiefs announced that they put Holmes on the injured reserve list, ending his season. He did not emerge to respond to the reports that he planned to retire. He did not release even a short statement to clear some of the fog.

There were others ready to speak. Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said Holmes was angry about the false stories appearing in the media. Chiefs president Carl Peterson said Holmes is a gallant competitor who has come back from injuries before. Various players voiced their concerns and talked about how the team must go on.

But on this crazy day when everybody wondered what Priest Holmes was thinking, he was a ghost. Nobody can tackle a ghost.

He was the best football player I’ve seen live and up close. Begin there. I don’t know if Holmes will retire or come back one more time. I don’t know if this column is a final appreciation of the greatest running back in Kansas City Chiefs history or just another entry in an ever-mounting “Priest Holmes is great” series.

There are realities, of course. Holmes has suffered significant injuries three of the last four years. More significant: He turned 32 last month. By their 32nd birthday, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers and Earl Campbell had long retired. Walter Payton at 32 was in his last season, Emmitt Smith in his last 1,000-yard season.

Put it this way: A book titled Great 33-Year-Old Running Backs would be slimmer than Terrell Owens’ list of friends.

There are other realities, too. Many people thought Holmes was through after he suffered the devastating hip injury in 2002. The next year, he set the NFL record for touchdowns and led a Chiefs team with a rickety defense to a 13-3 record.

Last year, he missed the final half of the season because of a knee injury, and again, many thought he was through. This year, even behind an unstable offensive line, even while splitting carries with Larry Johnson, he scored seven touchdowns in seven games, broke the longest touchdown run of his Chiefs career and scored on a dazzling 60-yard touchdown reception that made the difference in a victory over Washington.

What will happen now? You can bet against age. You can bet against Priest Holmes.

Neither of those wagers seems like smart money.

So, I won’t speculate here. Instead, I’ll tell you again: I’ve never seen a better football player live. I saw some great ones on television. I watched Campbell tear through defenses on a fuzzy Magnavox television with rabbit ears on top. Saw Lawrence Taylor blast through blockers on a friend’s large projection screen TV. Saw Payton run and block and catch and throw and do everything else on my first television, an Emerson.

But you see different things live. And live, Priest was it. For three and a half seasons — from 2001 to the midway point of 2004 — he simply did more things to win football games than anyone else. Marshall Faulk was more graceful, Barry Sanders more electric, Jerry Rice more regimented, Reggie White more relentless, Derrick Thomas more dynamic.

But Priest Holmes kept coming, week after week. We’ll offer a quick history one more time, for posterity: He was never a full-time starter at the University of Texas. He tore his ACL as a junior and carried the ball only 59 times his senior season (though he did score 13 touchdowns — a sign of things to come). He was not drafted.

He signed with the Baltimore Ravens, played special teams, impressed enough people to become a starting running back and gained 1,000 yards his second season.

He sprained his knee and was sent to the bench. In his last year in Baltimore, he played backup (and mentor) to Jamal Lewis, and the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

The next year, 2001, Holmes signed with Kansas City. There are people with the Chiefs who may claim they knew how good Holmes could be — don’t believe them. Holmes carried the ball seven times in his first game with the Chiefs, eight times the next week.

After that, they gave him the ball, and he led the league in rushing.

He was unstoppable. In 2002, for 13 1/2 games, he was as good as anyone, ever. He was on pace to shatter just about every running back record imaginable — most total yards gained, most touchdowns — and in that 14th game, he was yanked awkwardly to the ground. That was the hip injury. He was out for the year.

The next year, 2003, he broke the touchdown record.

Last year, through eight games, he was on pace to break it again.

All the while, Holmes did whatever it took to win. That’s what I have admired so much about him. He blocked, even though he was small by NFL standards. He caught passes, even though that did not come naturally to him. He became one of the NFL’s best pass-catching backs by catching thousands of extra passes. He ran for all those yards even without the great speed all the other backs seemed to have.

He was the best I ever saw at setting up a block.

I will never forget the way Holmes chased Houston’s Marcus Coleman for 99 yards in a heroic and futile attempt to stop him from scoring on an interception. That was classic Priest Holmes. Everyone who plays pro football cares. He cared a little more.

All of it took a terrible toll on him. But Holmes never wanted people, not even his teammates, to see that. He would sneak away for countless massages. He would play through pain without grimacing. He did not talk on the football field.

“My face is a mask,” he said once. “Nobody knows what’s going on inside me.”

Holmes has 18 Kansas City Chiefs rushing records, but the one I like best is the one titled “Most 10+ yard rushes per game.” Holmes was not a breakaway back, not the kind to give you the 70-yard runs. But he kept coming, picking up 12 yards, 14, 11, time and again. Those are the runs that win games. In Chiefs history, there have been 10 games where a running back broke at least six runs of 10 or more yards.

Priest Holmes had all 10 games.

In those rare moments when he would let me in, Holmes did not seem the kind to stay beyond his time.

“Every year I do something,” he told me once, when we were playing chess in a Hooters restaurant in San Antonio. “I look in the mirror and ask myself: ‘Are you ready to put yourself through this again? Are you committed to playing another season?’ So far, the answer has been ‘Yes.’ But there will come a time when the answer is ‘No.’

“I’m ready for that. I’m prepared. I love football. But football is not who I am.”

He was, for the short span of time he was granted, one of the best running backs ever. He ran for more yards than Leroy Kelly, gained more than Larry Csonka, scored more touchdowns than Tony Dorsett — these are Hall of Famers. He did all of it in less time.

He was never fully appreciated, except by fantasy football owners and Chiefs fans. He was never a media star, like his old college teammate Ricky Williams. He never said provocative things. He only once made the cover of Sports Illustrated, and that was a tiny picture in a cover mostly dedicated to the Oregon Ducks.

Then, he did not want all that.

“How do you want people to see you?” I asked him once.

“As a mystery,” he said.

Rausch
11-10-2005, 02:31 AM
I will never forget the way Holmes chased Houston’s Marcus Coleman for 99 yards in a heroic and futile attempt to stop him from scoring on an interception. That was classic Priest Holmes. Everyone who plays pro football cares. He cared a little more.

That's Priest Holmes to me.

I'll never forget the sickness I felt after that play knowing no one on the team wanted to win more than Priest, and that he was ****ing Davy Crockett at the Alamo...

tk13
11-10-2005, 02:41 AM
That's Priest Holmes to me.

I'll never forget the sickness I felt after that play knowing no one on the team wanted to win more than Priest, and that he was ****ing Davy Crockett at the Alamo...
And to top that off he was on crutches and could apparently barely walk during the week. I remember Teicher writing an article and I think Ivan Carter both saying they didn't see any way he could play. But we were 0-2 and on life support, Priest couldn't freaking walk, but he got out there and carried the whole freaking team and had no help whatsoever. I mean that game is his whole Chiefs career in a nutshell right there. Gave everything he had, played great, and he just couldn't get enough help.

Rausch
11-10-2005, 03:02 AM
And to top that off he was on crutches and could apparently barely walk during the week. I remember Teicher writing an article and I think Ivan Carter both saying they didn't see any way he could play. But we were 0-2 and on life support, Priest couldn't freaking walk, but he got out there and carried the whole freaking team and had no help whatsoever. I mean that game is his whole Chiefs career in a nutshell right there. Gave everything he had, played great, and he just couldn't get enough help.

I compared Homes to Davey mother-****ing Crockett at the Alamo and got one-upped.

Rep the man...

Count Alex's Losses
11-10-2005, 04:21 AM
Does Priest have Social Anxiety Disorder?

Pants
11-10-2005, 04:29 AM
F*ckin-a.

JoPo >> Whitlock.

Rausch
11-10-2005, 05:28 AM
Does Priest have Social Anxiety Disorder?


Why? Sound familiar?

ExtremeChief
11-10-2005, 05:43 AM
I loved watching him run the ball, especially the way he set up his blocks. Awesome in the red zone. Hopefully he comes back next year and becomes the "Marcus Allen" back.

If not, it's been fun Priest.

Fruit Ninja
11-10-2005, 05:49 AM
Great article.

BigChiefFan
11-10-2005, 07:59 AM
He's a great player, who's been phenomenal for the Chiefs.

KCTitus
11-10-2005, 08:08 AM
To me it's pretty obvious 'this' is it...sadly. Whatever his motives, I really dont care. Im just disappointed the team couldnt give him a little more success than he got here.

Extra Point
11-10-2005, 08:17 AM
[QUOTE=ExtremeChief]Hopefully he comes back next year and becomes the "Marcus Allen" back.QUOTE]

Excellent point! Maybe Fatlock is trying to imply that in his article. Pos is the right nickname for Posnanski, as JoPo takes the positive perspective.

oldandslow
11-10-2005, 08:37 AM
This article captures the essence of what PH meant to the Chiefs and Chiefs' fans.

Thank you JoPo for recognizing how so many of us feel about Priest.

jspchief
11-10-2005, 08:43 AM
Great Article.

The Chiefs and their fans will be lucky to ever have another RB like Priest Holmes.

Brock
11-10-2005, 08:46 AM
Great Article.

The Chiefs and their fans will be lucky to ever have another RB like Priest Holmes.

Damn right. 31 is the only chiefs jersey I own or will ever own.

Garcia Bronco
11-10-2005, 09:00 AM
That's Priest Holmes to me.

I'll never forget the sickness I felt after that play knowing no one on the team wanted to win more than Priest, and that he was ****ing Davy Crockett at the Alamo...

I'll always remember him pulling Trent Green down the field on a busted play when Green scramble up field.

ChiTown
11-10-2005, 09:08 AM
To me it's pretty obvious 'this' is it...sadly. Whatever his motives, I really dont care. Im just disappointed the team couldnt give him a little more success than he got here.

Amen!

He deservered a far better fate than this.

dirk digler
11-10-2005, 09:16 AM
Awesome article by JoePO. It is amazing the difference between him and Whitlock.

I will ALWAYS wear my #31 jersey proud.

Molitoth
11-10-2005, 09:42 AM
Great Article.

The Chiefs and their fans will be lucky to ever have another RB like Priest Holmes.


Amen.

Chief Henry
11-10-2005, 09:48 AM
I too agree it's a great article.



I've got one ? however. Maybe its just me, but I don't understand how you could play chess in a HOOters ? Its been several years since I've been in a HOOters so maybe the place has changed.
How could you concentrate enough to play the game with all that tight fitting orange walking around.

I hope Joe can explain that someday in an article...

TrickyNicky
11-10-2005, 10:15 AM
"He was, for the short span of time he was granted, one of the best running backs ever. He ran for more yards than Leroy Kelly, gained more than Larry Csonka, scored more touchdowns than Tony Dorsett — these are Hall of Famers. He did all of it in less time."

Amazing little blurb there.

ChiTown
11-10-2005, 10:35 AM
Amen.

You know, I thought the same thing after Okoye left. He was such a special back at his size. Then Marcus came along for a couple of years, then Priest.....He'll be tough to replace, no doubt. However, I like the upside that LJ gives. I think we'll be allright.

Ebolapox
11-10-2005, 10:53 AM
it sickens me to the pit of my stomach that we never got priest a ring while he was a chief--he played like a hall of famer every f*cking down, and he has almost nothing to show for it

-EB-

ExtremeChief
11-10-2005, 11:04 AM
I've got one ? however. Maybe its just me, but I don't understand how you could play chess in a HOOters ? Its been several years since I've been in a HOOters so maybe the place has changed.
How could you concentrate enough to play the game with all that tight fitting orange walking around.



The HOOters girl's shirt IS the chessboard.

Andoverer
11-10-2005, 11:04 AM
it sickens me to the pit of my stomach that we never got priest a ring while he was a chief--he played like a hall of famer every f*cking down, and he has almost nothing to show for it

-EB-

Who says it's too late to happen? Last I heard we're still in the running.

Ebolapox
11-10-2005, 11:08 AM
Who says it's too late to happen? Last I heard we're still in the running.

eh, barely--as much as I want the chiefs to win the SB, I just don't see it in the cards this year

-EB-

ChiTown
11-10-2005, 11:32 AM
eh, barely--as much as I want the chiefs to win the SB, I just don't see it in the cards this year

-EB-

The only team that looks like a world beater right now is Indy. Other than that, we're on par with the other playoff type teams. I don't see much difference between the top 15 teams. Also, I think Indy's D will eventually show their ass.

Raiderhader
11-10-2005, 11:57 AM
That's Priest Holmes to me.

I'll never forget the sickness I felt after that play knowing no one on the team wanted to win more than Priest, and that he was ****ing Davy Crockett at the Alamo...

When I think of Priest Holmes, I think of this second. My first thought is of the Vikings game in '03. Our O couldn't get anything going and our D was a red carpet to the endzone. We were getting our asses handed to us in a MAJOR way. Then late in the game we put together a drive, Holmes scored, and I will never forget watching him spike the ball, he spiked it with such force, in essence saying, "This ain't over yet, bitches!" He scored a second TD not long after and did the same thing. We actually came back and made a real game of it, of course the D kept letting the Vikes answer. But the only reason we had a real chance at pulling off the come back was because Priest refused to surrender.

To me, that is the quintessential Priest Holmes.

KCTitus
11-10-2005, 12:12 PM
...My first thought is of the Vikings game in '03.

Ugh...That was probably the most sickening game Ive witnessed since the 95 playoff loss to Indy. That was a bad game, KC was never in that one.

Raiderhader
11-10-2005, 12:26 PM
Ugh...That was probably the most sickening game Ive witnessed since the 95 playoff loss to Indy. That was a bad game, KC was never in that one.


The game itself was sickening indeed. But it was also a perfect display of Holmes' desire and heart.

And we were only down 10 or 11 points with ten minutes to go in the 4th. After the Green Bay game earlier in the season, we learned that was by no means an unsurmountable feat.

tk13
11-10-2005, 02:19 PM
The game itself was sickening indeed. But it was also a perfect display of Holmes' desire and heart.

And we were only down 10 or 11 points with ten minutes to go in the 4th. After the Green Bay game earlier in the season, we learned that was by no means an unsurmountable feat.
That is a good example... we went from being down 31-0 to thinking we at least had a shot... pretty incredible.

Tuckdaddy
11-10-2005, 06:44 PM
Probably the best we will ever have at the position. He absolutely brought our offense into this century from the middle ages.

Thig Lyfe
11-10-2005, 06:54 PM
Great article. Great player.