When we stop and think about some of the best players to ever play the game of football, numerous legends come flooding into our heads. Quarterbacks usually lead the way with some generational defensive talents following close behind, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that running backs are one of the first few positions we comb through when we’re discussing some of the best to ever do it.
I mean, how couldn’t you think of running backs? The late, great Jim Brown is always at the forefront of these types of discussions, alongside names like Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Walter Payton.
So how is it that the position these legends played and transcended is at an all-time low point in the history of the sport? We’ve all seen it happen over the past five to seven years, right? The big-name backs all signed their contracts and just about every team who handed out massive contracts came to regret it soon after pen was put to paper.
The Rams and Todd Gurley.
The Cardinals and David Johnson.
The Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott.
These are just a few examples of teams learning how swiftly things can turn once you invest long-term money into a position with one of the shortest shelf lives in the NFL.
Fortunately, the Chargers knew better than to add themselves to this list when they chose not to sign former first-round back Melvin Gordon to a big extension following the 2020 season. They chose to roll with Austin Ekeler and we’ve all seen how well that has turned out for the team.
Recently, Gordon made an appearance on the Jim Rome Show to discuss his outlook on his future in the NFL and the overall vibes around his position as of late.
“You have a lot of running backs out there and we just don’t get no love,” claimed Gordon. “It’s literally the worst position to play in the NFL right now. It literally sucks.”
Melvin Gordon to @jimrome about his future: "It's so tough for running backs right now, man. You have a lot of running backs out there and we just don't get no love. It's literally the worst position to play in the NFL right now. It literally sucks."pic.twitter.com/6IfR50tdOI— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) June 23, 2023
Since the Chargers moved on from Gordon, the former 15th-overall pick in the 2015 draft has spent most of the past three seasons with the Broncos. After his fumbling issue became too much of a liability in Denver, the Broncos released Gordon after 10 games of the 2022 season. He spent the rest of the season on the Chiefs’ practice squad and somehow lucked into a Super Bowl ring. So depending on who you ask, it has either worked out just fine for him or it’s been an absolute mess.
But despite Gordon’s past with the Chargers and the lack of a stellar career since leaving the team, he still brings up a validpoint. However, the NFL is a business and the decisions that best provide for the bottom line will always win out. That, and it’s hard to find many backs in the NFL that are worth investing in long-term as opposed to running with your promising young backs who were signed in the mid-late rounds.
As someone who loves the old-school style of play where the team who could best execute the ground-and-pound approach would normally win, I would love to see the running back position make a resurgence in the NFL. But unless the league’s top quarterbacks somehow stop being literal aliens with rocket launchers attached to their shoulders, I don’t see how that’s going to happen anytime soon.