Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Running Back Gamble

Your team sucks, you’re 0-4, your quarterback is hurt…and you want to take a chance on a backup running back.

Choice #1 is a 31-year-old former first round pick with nearly 10,000 career yards. Three years ago, he set an NFL touchdown record and was named the league MVP. This offseason, he was released by his old team after two injury-plagued seasons that saw his average-per-carry drop from 5.1 to 3.5. Oh, and he’s an active Christian with a foundation that mentors young men through education, athletics character programs and leadership training.

Choice #2 is a 25-year-old former first round pick with just over 1,500 careers yards. He has never averaged more than 4.1 yards-per-carry in his three years in the league. His former team released him after two alcohol-related arrests (in addition to his obvious ineffectiveness). Both choices present a serious gamble. Is Choice #1 washed up? Or will he be able to regain his old form, if even for just a season? Is three years enough to conclude that Choice #2 is a first-round bust? Or does he just need a change of scenery?

If I was trying to rebuild a franchise and perhaps salvage an 0-4 season, I would definitely go with the high-character veteran. Even if he never regains his old form, he could provide a positive influence in the locker-room and mentor your young starting running back. And who knows, maybe he steps in for a few plays and proves everyone wrong who thinks he always played soft.

But before you decide what you would do, consider this: Your team recently re-signed a player who has been arrested five times since December 2005. Offering a recent arrestee a contract would fit right in with the frequent jokes about your team’s propensity to look the other way when it comes to behavioral issues. So, of course, it should come as no surprise that your team picked Choice #2.

Why would you want to gamble on a few touchdowns from this guy...

When you could have THIS guy?

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