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Old 10-12-2004, 02:31 PM  
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Priest Holmes Chronicles

Priest Holmes Chronicles
Oct 10, 2004, 9:35:04 AM by Bob Gretz

This is the first of a three-part series on the remarkable production of Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, who this past Thursday celebrated his 31st birthday.


It seems like Priest Holmes has reached a point in his Chiefs career where in every game heís setting some sort of new team mark or doing something that very few other backs have done in pro football history.

For instance, it was just two games ago that Holmes played on a sore ankle and became the leading rusher in Chiefs history, passing Christian Okoye and doing it in just 49 games.

Then, last week Holmes ran for 125 yards against the Baltimore defense. That pushed him over 5,000 yards with the Chiefs in just 50 games. Thatís something that only three other running backs have bettered or matched over their careers.

And there is so much more ahead. What Holmes is doing is starting to veer into territory that very few running backs have experienced: success, great success after the age of 30.

Letís update where Holmes stands in the world of NFL rushing right now:

CURRENT 2004 PACE
Through four games, Holmes has run for 476 yards. That leads the league. If he continues that pace, he will finish the 16-game regular season with 1,904 yards. That obviously would be short of the 2,000-yard goal that Holmes has supposedly set for this season, and more than 200 yards behind Eric Dickersonís NFL record of 2,105 yards, set in the 1983 season.

It breaks down like this:

Per-Game Average after first four games: 119 yards.
Per-Game Average needed over last 12 games for 2,000 yards: 127 yards.
Per-Game Average needed over last 12 games for 2,106 yards: 135.8 yards
CHIEFS CAREER
Through 50 games in a Chiefs uniform, Holmes has run for 5,066 yards. At his current 2004 pace, he would finish the year with 6,494 yards with the Chiefs.

NFL CAREER
Right now, through 98 NFL games and 69 starts, Holmes has run for 7,168 yards. At his current 2004 pace, he would finish the year with 8,596 yards.

AMONG CAREER RUSHERS
At 7,168 yards, Holmes currently ranks 37th among all-time rushers. He is eight yards behind George Rogers in the 36th spot. Holmes began the season in the 44th spot and this year in four games heís passed Chuck Muncie, Wilbert Montgomery, John Henry Johnson, Robert Smith, Curt Warner, Rodney Hampton and Charlie Garner. Only Garner is still active, but he ran for just 111 yards before going to the injured-reserve list two games ago.

Should Holmes continue the season at his current pace, he would project into somewhere between 21st and 23rd depending on what other current running backs do during the season. The current active backs ahead of Holmes on the all-time rushing charter are Stephen Davis, Garrison Hearst, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis.

All of those backs, like Holmes, are over 30 years old and that will be the subject of part two of the Priest Holmes Chronicles.
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Old 10-12-2004, 02:31 PM   #2
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Priest Holmes Chronicles - Take 2
Oct 11, 2004, 12:30:00 PM by Bob Gretz

This is the second of a three-part series on the remarkable production of Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, who this past Thursday celebrated his 31st birthday.


Age is a relative thing. There are 50-year old spirits living in the bodies of 20-year olds. There are 60-year olds who think and act like someone half that age. Age is mind over matter.

Unless however, one should happen to be a running back in the National Football League. Then, it becomes nearly impossible for the mind to overcome the bumps, bruises, aches, pains and major injuries that accumulate over the career of a talented running back.

Think about the hits that running backs absorb in every game and itís not hard to understand the NFL axiom that once a running back hits 30, itís all downhill.

Thatís the history that Priest Holmes is running up against right now. Holmes celebrated his 31st birthday last week. After four weeks of the 2004 season, he was leading the NFL in rushing and was on pace to have the best season of his career.

What Holmes is doing would be impressive for a running back of any age. For a back over the age of 30, itís uncharted territory. On his current pace, Holmes would finish the season with 1,904 yards. The most yards by a running back at 30 or older came in 1984 when Walter Payton ran for 1,684 yards when he was 30 years old.

Quarterbacks frequently play into their late 30s. Linemen on both sides of the ball are contributors well into their third decade. Not so at running back. Research shows that while the age barrier may not be exactly 30, itís close. More like 31, maybe 32 years of age is where the production falls off dramatically at that position.

In NFL history, there have been 422 cases where a running back gained 1,000 yards or more during a season. The first was Beattie Feathers of the Chicago Bears, who ran for 1,004 yards in 1934, the first season of professional football. Last year, there were 18 backs who gained over 1,000 yards.

Of those 422 seasons of 1,000 yards or more, only 28 have come from running backs 30 years or older. Thatís just seven percent. Hereís the list:



As that charts shows, the bulk of the running backs with 1,000 yards when they were 30 or older were 32 and younger. Only four backs older than 32 have been able to gain 1,000 yards in a season:





There are always exceptions. Kansas City fans saw the greatest one in the 1990s with Marcus Allen, who remained an effective NFL runner at the age of 37. He gained 505 yards on 124 carries during the 1997 season. No running back in NFL statistical history has carried that many times and gained that many yards at the age of 37. The legendary Jim Thorpe scored two rushing touchdowns in 1926 at the age of 39, but there are no statistics available on rushing attempts and yardage.

In fact, few come close to matching Allen for productivity into his later years. Only John Riggins (176 carries for 677 yards during the 1985 season) and John Henry Johnson (70 carries for 226 yards in 1966) were able to top 100 yards rushing at the age of 36. Allen carried 206 times for 830 yards in 1996 when he was 36 years old.

Consider the names youíve just read: Allen, Riggins, Johnson, Franco Harris, Payton. Thatís the kind of company Holmes is running with right now.
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Old 10-12-2004, 03:42 PM   #3
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Wow, that's some good stuff.

BTW, who were the four backs older than 32 who gained 1,000 yards in a season?
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Old 10-12-2004, 07:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lzen
Wow, that's some good stuff.

BTW, who were the four backs older than 32 who gained 1,000 yards in a season?
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Old 10-13-2004, 08:28 AM   #5
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Priest Holmes Chronicles - Take 3
Oct 13, 2004, 3:57:49 AM

This is the third of a three-part series on the remarkable production of Chiefs running back Priest Holmes, who this past Thursday celebrated his 31st birthday. Take 1 - Take 2


Heís had a major injury in the last three seasons. He considered retirement after last season. It takes him almost six days to recover from the beating he takes each game day. He is now 31 years old.

All the signs of a running back on the downhill side of his career are popping up for Priest Holmes. At a position where careers are shorter than any other spot on the football field, history is ganging up on Holmes the way opposing tacklers take shots at him.

Yet, Holmes is responding in ways that could soon open up avenues into the record books and beyond, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is on the verge of proving heís an exception; since he turned 30 years old on October 7, 2003, Holmes has run for 1,413 yards (11 games last season, four games this season) and heís done it on 326 carries.

Recent history thus tells us that 30-plus running backs are seldom the featured performer in an effective offense. Among the top rushers in pro football history, the evidence is conclusive. Emmitt Smithís production dropped like a stone at the age of 33; thus he and the Cowboys parted ways. With Walter Payton, the drop came as a 33-year old, when he ran for 800 yards less than the season before. Barry Sanders played only as a 30-year old in 1998 before retiring. Eric Dickerson was a sub-1,000-yard rusher in all four seasons he played after turning 30.

Tony Dorsettís production dropped at 32, while Franco Harris had a 1,000-yard season at 33, but only after failing to reach that mark for three consecutive years. O.J. Simpson never saw a 1,000-yard season after he turned 30.

Among the top 20 backs with the most rushing yardage in football history, Holmes has already gained more yards than these backs did after 30 years of age: Jim Brown (7th/0 yards), Marshall Faulk (12th and still active with 1,182 yards ), Eddie George (17th and still active with 1,212 yards) and Earl Campbell (18th /643 yards.)

Hereís the list of the top 20 rushers in pro football history, with their total carries and yards; their carries and yards after the age of 30 and the percentage of their career yards that came after turning 30.



Holmes hasnít even played 16 games Ė the equivalent of a full NFL season Ė after turning 30, yet 20 percent of his career yards have come in the last 53 weeks. Thatís an early indication that Holmes may join Marcus Allen and John Riggins in being an exception to the 30-year old running back rule.

Allen gained 41 percent of his 12,243 career yards after 30, while Riggins gained half of his 11,352 career yards after that age. Thereís no question that both players longevity was helped by having points in their career where there production was limited. With Allen, it was a feud with Raiders owner Al Davis that limited him to less than 100 carries in the 1991-1992 seasons when he was 31 and 32 years old.

The then 31-year old Riggins sat out the 1980 season in a contract dispute. In the next two seasons, he was either not the featured back in the Redskins offense (1981 it was Joe Washington with more carries) or the season was shortened by a strike (only 9 games in 1982.) In the 1983 season, when he was 34 years old, Riggins ran for 1,347 yards on 375 carries.

While Holmes has been plenty active in his late 20s and now early 30s, he played in only seven games as a rookie in 1992 with Baltimore and did not carry the ball. He ran for 1,008 yards in his second season, but did it on 233 carries. In the 1999 season, he missed seven games due to injury and carried only 89 times and the next season, with rookie Jamal Lewis as the Ravens featured back, Holmes ran with it 137 times.

So, in his first 48 games played in the NFL, Holmes averaged 9.6 carries per game. In the last 50 games heís played Ė all with the Chiefs Ė heís averaged 21.3 carries per game.

How long can Holmes continue that pace? NFL history would tell us not very long. Right now, Holmesí four-game numbers project to carrying the ball 428 times for 1,904 yards in the 2004 season. No back in NFL history over the age of 30 has produced numbers like that. Few backs under the age of 30 have done it either.

In the 12 weeks ahead, Priest Holmes may not only be running to help the Chiefs make something of their season, he may be running into inclusion among the upper echelon of backs in NFL history.
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:00 AM   #6
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Yep, that answers the question.
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:00 AM   #7
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test
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:03 AM   #8
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It just occurred to me that you may be posting something that my browser won't allow me to see. I'm using Firefox. Can any of you IE users see if KingPriest2 posted anything in post #4?
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:16 AM   #9
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Nevermind.
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:17 AM   #10
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And another chart.
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:44 AM   #11
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It just occurred to me that you may be posting something that my browser won't allow me to see. I'm using Firefox. Can any of you IE users see if KingPriest2 posted anything in post #4?

Thanks for posting that. (charts) I tried posting it yesterday but couldn't. HOw did you do that?
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Old 10-13-2004, 11:23 AM   #12
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Thanks for posting that. (charts) I tried posting it yesterday but couldn't. HOw did you do that?
I just saved the gif images from kcchiefs.com onto my computer and then posted them as attachments.
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Old 10-13-2004, 11:28 AM   #13
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I just saved the gif images from kcchiefs.com onto my computer and then posted them as attachments.
Huh I did that as well but it says I can't it is not a valid extentsion.
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