Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Jun 2012

MMQB: The Bounty Years

This week, Mr. King hits on the lack of available evidence in the bounty scandal, talks LaDainian Tomlinson's place in history, and takes on the Brian Banks story.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 18 Jun 2012

99 comments, Last at 22 Jun 2012, 12:13pm by chemical burn


by White Rose Duelist :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 10:12am

Darren Sproles is nice and all, but I don't see him as the 4th-best "versatile runner" of the last 30 years. Even maintaining the arbitrary cut-off, I'd take the second hald of Payton's career.

by Independent George :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:01am

By arbitrarily cutting it off at 30 years, it also conveniently leaves out Gale Sayers.

As big of a tool as he's become since retiring, Tiki Barber was also far better than Sproles as a player. Emmit Smith was an underrated receiver. I'd also argue for Brian Westbrook, Edgerrin James, Garrison Hearst, Robert Smith, and (sigh) Ricky Watters.

by dryheat :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 10:57am

Is he even the 4th best active "versatile runner"? I don't want to read PK to find what that means, exactly, but I'm assuming a 3rd down screen-and-draw type? Has he had a better career than guys like Kevin Faulk, Ronnie Brown, Joe Addai, Mewelde Moore? Does King suffer from such short-term memory loss that much more productive guys like Warrick Dunn has already been forgotten? Do LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice not count as "versatile" because they're 3-down backs? Isn't that what "versatile" actually means? Just a puzzling, puzzling statement.

by tuluse :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:13am

I'm pretty sure I'd rather have Matt Forte or MJD than Sproles.

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:51pm

Ok, I actually clicked through and skimmed the PK article, and will translate it here (totally understand the group not wanting to look at it. I was on the page for under 30 seconds and already was getting enraged).

His definition and rankings are far worse than what you're guessing here. I assumed, like you, that because Sproles is #4 on his list "versatile" must mean 3rd-down-style RBs. Nope. King simply means "threats as both receivers and runners." Here's his rankings of the top five:

"1. Faulk. Super Bowl win helps -- plus the Super Bowl that New England based its entire game plan on stopping him.
2. Tomlinson. But it's very, very close.
3. Thurman Thomas. His prime wasn't quite as productive as Tomlinson's, but great anyway.
4. Darren Sproles. State of the art today, and perfect in Saints offense.
5. Marcus Allen. Strange to put him behind Sproles, but Allen wasn't as explosive."

This is INSANE. Emmitt Smith doesn't make your list? He was a very good receiver. Roger Craig doesn't make your list ahead of Darren freaking Sproles?? Hell, as has been mentioned here, there are at least two RBs in the league RIGHT NOW that I would put ahead of Sproles as all-purpose rushing/receiving threats.

The man is utterly out of his mind.

by Eddo :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 1:03pm

Right. Sproles being fourth maybe (maybe) makes sense if your criteria is "running backs for whom non-rushing value is higher than their rushing value". Then you are at least comparing him to guys like Kevin Faulk. You can tweak that criteria ("almost as high, or higher") so that Marshall Faulk and maybe Thurman Thomas sneak in there. But of course, that should bump Sproles down.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 1:20pm

Great Roger Craig reference.

He had a 90+ 1,000 yard receiving season back in '85 and was over 400 receiving yards in all of his first 7 seasons. (Sproles has been past 400 the last three seasons, but missed all his first three.)

Last season was Sproles' best as a runner with 603 yards. Craig topped that every year of his first 7. Sproles' second best runshing season was 343 yards--Craig's final season before retiring was the only year he didn't surpass that.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 4:06pm

You could also give due regard to Craig beginning his career at fullback and so being able to pass block and lead block.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 1:54pm

So, PK and most of the other "experts" were convinced that Reggie Bush was going to be all but irreplaceable. Sproles comes in and surpasses everything Bush did. And the logical answer isn't "the Saints system plays a huge part" but that "Sproles is one of the 5 best of the last 30 years"? Wow.

When I initially clicked through to the article, I figured he'd include kick returns in with "versatile" and thus knock a ton of guys out of the running. But he doesn't even mention that.

PK's said some stupid things, but I'm not sure anything can top this one. Not only is it completely out of left field but it's based entirely on one good year.

by Theo :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:23pm

The man is an obvious troll.
And should be treated as such.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 5:47pm

But this sums up Peter King so very well. The intent of that whole section was to give props to Tomlinson. But instead of just doing that, he throws together some dumb list with zero forethought and the praise for Tomlinson gets lost in the absurdity of his list.

Let's say for a moment one actually believed Sproles belonged on that list. That'd be a whole topic by itself, that he's rubbing elbows with all those current/future Hall of Famers. Instead King throws it in there like it's some given and everybody is just going to nod in agreement.

He's ALREADY got him ahead of Marcus Allen?! It would take Sproles about 5 years at last season's amazing pace to catch Allen in receiving yards. And he's never, ever going to sniff Allen's rushing numbers.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 6:20pm

Seems like King does what a lot of writers/commenters do with these lists, which is hugely over-value recent performance and assume it's going to continue.

I'm willing to bet that if you could get Peter King to assume that Darren Sproles never plays another down, PK would agree that he doesn't belong anywhere near that list. But when making the list, he allowed himself to assume that Sproles current play will continue for some years. It seems to be a pretty common problem - sort of a recency effect.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 7:11pm

Agree with you wholeheartedly. But even just looking at last year's numbers, Sproles doesn't belong in there. Ray Rice had 4 less receiving yards last season but outrushed him by over 750 yards.

But let's say he forgot about Ray Rice, Jones-Drew, etc. and somehow forgot Roger Craig played, too. He's got Allen on the list, so he should know what he did. Sproles had 1300 total yards last season and his best prior year was 840. Marcus Allen's first 7 years in the league: 1098, 1604, 1926, 2314, 1212, 1164, 1134. And then after his run-in with Al Davis and subsequent escape to KC he was over 1000 again four straight years.

He gives Sproles credit for being more of a big play threat...he had 9 TDs last year. Allen's first 4 years: 14, 11, 18, 14.

by Tim Wilson :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:22am

Agree, it's insane. The problem almost seems that King doesn't even know what the criteria are for his own list, and that he even changes these criteria WITHIN THE SPAN OF THE LIST, as he moves from RB to RB. He talks about "versatile" backs, but then only cites rushing and receiving statistics as the two metrics. He puts a guy like Marcus Allen on there, and at that point in the column he is probably judging Allen based on his prowess as an all-around back, but then moments before he puts Sproles on there based on what I can only assume is his prowess as a receiver and a unique third-down weapon.

If you're rating "all-around" backs, including receiving, rushing, and blocking ability, then Emmitt Smith and Roger Craig absolutely need to be in this conversation. If you're talking about "versatile backs who provide threats beyond their rushing ability," then you might include Sproles (I'd argue you'd need at least 2-3 more seasons like 2011 in order for him to be historically remarkable, but whatever), but you could just as easily include someone like Larry Centers or Reggie Bush, in my opinion.

For me, the only way Sproles really gets on the list is if you add KR/PR ability to your definition of "versatile." But even then, I'd put Tiki Barber much higher, a RB who was an elite rushing/receiving threat late in his career and an excellent punt returner before he gained feature back duties.

Just such a weird, arbitrary, poorly thought out column section-- the point that was made here that, in classic King fashion, a random offshoot of utter idiocy distract from the actual goal of praising Tomlinson, is spot-on.

by Independent George :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 10:26am

How much of this is a holdover from the old media environment? It wasn't long ago that you could fire off a bunch of completely inane offseason filler columns while working your sources in preparation for the real work ahead.

I don't want to overdo the self-congratulations, but virtual communities like the FO boards puts together a lot of intelligent folk who've already been spending the offseason debating things like "the best all-purpose back of the last 20 years". We've been debating Tanier's Top-5 RB lists. We've been debating how good a punter would have to be to merit being taken with the #1 overall pick. We're used to debating these things, and put a lot of effort into picking apart each others' arguments. Even when we disagree (which is to say, almost always), we learn a lot and can (usually) respect the thought that goes into opposing arguments. Together, the sum of all FO commenters are a pretty knowledgeable bunch.

And then when we get to PKs list, we exhale a collective "WTF?". We recognize filler when we see it, and take it almost personally that a professional puts less effort into something that we amateurs do all the time.

That's an unfair comparison judgement in a lot of ways (we can't see the grunt work he does in cultivating sources, and even if we could we'd be bored to tears by it), but not completely (publishing the list makes it open for debate, and everything we say is completely valid).

I think this was all a roundabout way of saying expectations are a lot higher now (and that's a very good thing). It's easy to shrug off the yobs on talk radio, but not so much with football communities like this. There are an awful lot of knowledgeable people who are going to (1) see through the artifice, (2) demand more of the "experts" and professionals, and (3) produce quality content of their own (especially now with the relase of coach's film).

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 11:06am

Lots of dumb stuff gets written during silly season, but this is bad enough to be memorable even compared to all the other junk. Two running backs had over 700 receiving yards last season. One of them also finished 1st in total yards. Peter passed him over for the guy who came in at 21st.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:22pm

One other thought, where on earth is Brian Westbrook?

by chemical burn :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:41pm

With King, who knows? Westbrook certainly has a tiny peak compared to the others on the list. He basically has 2 world-class years in 2007-2008 and then a couple pretty good season. If you're just looking at the peak, he's as good (and "versatile") as they come. If you take his whole career, he doesn't belong on King's list. I guess return yards is a factor? That would be a point in Westbrook's favor, I suppose...

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 6:13am

But surely he'd rank higher than Sproles?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 2:19pm

True. Although I have no idea why Sproles came out of 2011 being praised as one of the most valuable RB's in the league, so I just figure I can't even understand the question I guess. It won't stop me from chiming in, though.

by jimbohead :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:21pm

Lets do the same exercise, but with a narrower window! 2002-2012, who are the top all-around backs? Selecting from the top ten in combined yards completely arbitrarily:

1. Steven Jackson
2. Clinton Portis
3. LdT
4. Brian Westbrook
5. Frank Gore

Plus a link. http://tiny.cc/ycu5fw

by tuluse :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 11:32am

For fun I looked up all running backs in the past 20 years and sorted them by receiving yards per game. http://pfref.com/tiny/JHM0d

Sproles comes in at 44.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:12pm

This is cool. Thanks for posting it.

I've been struggling with PK's "explosive" compliment on Sproles, particularly as an edge over Marcus Allen. All I can figure is he's talking about his receiving TDs and/or his 5 yards per carry average (which is buoyed considerably by the fact he average almost 7 last season). But from your list, Brian Westbrook had 30 receiving TDs in 8 seasons while Sproles has 18 in 6. And I was blown away that Larry Centers had 28 for his career.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:55pm

I think what you may be struggling with is that this list is just off the top of Peter King's head and is likely not researched in any way other than a few moments thought. I very much doubt there was a comprehensive look at all the candidates, or any kind of criteria considered. It's more of a bar-room conversation where if nobody remembers to include someone, they don't make the list, and recent performance is over-valued.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 5:55pm

A big difference being the guys at the bar don't cover the NFL for a living or have a vote on the Hall of Fame like King does.

by dbostedo :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 12:53pm

But this column... and especially particular small features within this column... are often done in that fashion. The Hall of Fame stuff is taken much more seriously, as are some of Peter King's longer feature-type pieces. I don't think you can equate the two.

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:35pm

That very interesting table does show Sproles leading in one facet: TD catches compared to total receptions (7.8%), at least if one cherrypicks only those with at least 10 TDs. Faint praise, and all...

by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:16am

Peter King has a crippling disease that causes him to lose brain cells with every thought he produces. Unfortunately, as his arguments become more complicated, his conclusions get dumber. That's why every MMQB reads like a 90 year-old with dementia recounting his last six birthdays.

by Marko :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:45pm

It's probably linked to his massive consumption of Starbucks coffee. Quick, someone tell Mayor Bloomberg to limit the size of coffee cups in NYC.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:31am

Re: Ballard -- do the Patriots think that they can just cut out Ballard's functioning knee and put it in Gronkowski?

by tuluse :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:40am

I find King's comments on Reece's quote curious. Reece didn't say anything about an unwritten rule, he did say it was something that happened that he didn't think would happen (yeah he didn't outright say this was my fault, but he got pretty close).

by JasonK :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:05pm

I think the "unwritten rule" stuff comes from the reporters' questions that Reese was responding to, rather than the excerpted response. After the transaction was announced, a lot of reporters followed that line of questioning, and everybody they asked (Belichick, Reese, Coughlin) denied that there was any such thing.

Anyhow, it's pretty clear that the Giants thought the risk of a waiver claim was low, and took that risk on so that they wouldn't have to cut somebody else to bring Rocky Bernard back. (Which really would suck for the player involved-- to be signed as an undrafted free agent, only to get cut before training camp even started.)

by tuluse :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:45pm

That makes more sense. I sure wish some editor had realized some context might be nice for those of us who don't spend our free time watching GM press conferences.

by are-tee :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:19pm

Maybe some Giants fans can chime in on this one - Ballard impresses me as a slow tight end with not such great hands. Yet somehow, he often manages to get wide open because the defense forgets or doesn't bother to cover him. Maybe it's something about the Giants' scheme, that also helped Kevin Boss look more talented than he is.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 2:01pm

I think having 2 excellent Wr's and a dangerous (if inconsistent) slot WR plus a dangerous backfield means that you're probably right - defenses rightfully don't focus on the plodding TE when there's so much else going on around him...

by JasonK :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:38pm

Pretty much. He's an easy cover, but when the option route combinations work well, somebody is going to come open. And when defenses are paying extra attention to Nicks and Cruz, that guy is often the TE.

Ballard's most impressive performance was in the regular season game @NE. So the Pats' in-person assessment may be weighing more heavily on their opinion.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 4:10pm

Don't you also get a niggling sense that the Pats snatched him up just to screw with the team that has bested them twice in the SB? If any team doesn't actually need a slow-ish, un-athletic TE, it's New England...

by JasonK :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 5:00pm

I have more respect of Belichick than to think that he'd factor that into his decisionmaking. Makes little sense to expend extra resources in trying to weaken a "rival" who you only play once every 4 years based on revenge or the extraordinary unlikelihood of another SB matchup.

He saw a player with potential worth developing who he could get for cheap and who was beginning to excel on a team with a similar approach to coaching and management (i.e., likely a good locker-room fit).

by jimbohead :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 8:39pm

I've heard stories (sorry, do not have time to hunt down sources) of BB signing someone off of another team's practice squad purely out of retaliation for that team signing someone off of his practice squad. And remember, this is the 53-man roster we're talking about, not the 90-person camp roster. Even brilliant people are not above being horribly petty.

by dryheat :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 7:33am

I don't know if it's petty, rather than a Hail Mary to get a player he really liked to the practice squad. The particulars, rookie 6th? round pick FB/TE Garrett Mills, out of Tulsa, who had an impressive pre-season. Belichick decided he didn't have room for him on the 53 and wanted to send him to the Practice Squad. Childress put a claim in on him, per league rules. Belichick called him and said that the Patriots were on the fence about putting in a claim for LB David Herron, but they wouldn't if Childress withdrew his claim on Mills. Childress said something to the effect that he was willing to take that chance, and Mills and Herron switched teams. Childress then told the media what had happened, with the insinuation that Belichick thought he could roll over him to get his way. Herron didn't stick with New England, as they needed some injury re-enforcements at a different position and cut him. Mills played sparingly a few years for the Vikings before coming back to New England last season to the practice squad.

I think Belichick can be petty. I just don't know if either case is a good example. What I find odd about the whole Mills thing is that a PS player can be signed off the PS at any point during the year, so even if Childress withdrew the claim, he or any other coach could have done it again at a later date.

by jimbohead :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:11pm

Coolest thing about FO comment boards: I refer to a vague memory of a story I read years ago, and within 24 hrs, someone responds with all the particulars. Thanks man. I personally get uncomfortable whenever you start talking about one coach making a gentlemen's agreement with another coach, but that may just be me. Better examples of general pettiness probably include whatever was going on between him and Mangini.

In any case, it really is impossible to say with certainty that Belichick, with great malice of forethought, evilly signed away players on the waiver wire to his evil castle in the evil state of MA for the purpose of messing with his enemies. It may be that he really is that guy, but we don't know. More likely, he's a talented individual who happens to have a big ego and sometimes rubs competitors the wrong way.

by chemical burn :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 1:37pm

I don't think he's evil, but you've got to imagine that the Giants are a team that really sticks in his craw. It's only a normal human response to being a heavy favorite in a competition and losing. Twice. And the Giants are the one team in the league that has beaten him with any kinda of consistency. Doing the little things to weaken the Giants might be driven by that sort of real, human frustration, but it also make a fair amount of strategic sense to attempt to weaken an opponent that has always had your number. Belichick's not stupid - in the event that he faces them again sometime soon in the SB, he's going to have done everything he can to have weakened them. It certainly makes some sense to address his potential NFC SB opponents, considering the weakness of the AFC in general and the fact that the patriots are constantly knocking on the door of the championship.

It's not like he lacks a history of similar tactical decisions - he clearly rebuilt his offense to address the fact that his divisional rivals (the Jets) had built their defense specifically to stop his spread offense. He went to innovative 2 TE designs and the Jets haven't had any good answers after a run of surprising effectiveness at shutting down one of the greatest offenses of all time. He's not evil, he understand that part of the game is taking away your opponent's strength any way you can...

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 2:12pm

Perhaps I'm missing something in the land of "pettiness" because it seems to me that in the story as told ... Belichick wanted to stop Childress from signing his player so he (potentially) made up a story that he was going to sign one of Childress' players. Childress called his bluff, Belichick followed through. I don't think that's petty, I think that's sending the guy a message that you do what you say you're going to do.

Anyway seems like Belichick got his value in the 3rd rounder for Moss ...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 4:14pm

I think it's sending a message to the NFLPA that coaches are colluding against the players.

by Paddy Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 7:45am

Just a little point, but the Giants are hardly the "one team" that's beaten the Patriots with consistency. The Pats have consistently struggled against the Colts since 2005, and have generally always had major problems with Denver. The Giants have beaten the Pats 3 times in a row, but the Patriots very consistently beat that franchise when Fassel was the coach. All three games were nailbiters. Seems like too small a sample size to be motivating serious coaching/personnel decisions. The Colts on the other hand have humiliated the Patriots on occasion, sending a clear message that a team must be able to handle them in order to be able to succeed in the conference...

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:31pm

For that matter, one could consider the Chargers as a team that has repeatedly dashed the Colts' hopes in the playoffs, yet how many ex-Chargers have been on the Colts?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:32am

"Ever sit through a bad movie or read 200 pages of complete garbage & feel like you've just wasted a few hours of your life?''

Every Monday, Scott.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:57am


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 11:49am

It seems to me that if the NFL has evidence that bounties were being offered then the money must have been being paid.

Because if the bounties weren't getting paid then it's only going to be a couple of weeks before all the players become disillusioned and stop believing in the programme.

by are-tee :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:06pm

One comment of PK's that I agree wholeheartedly with is regarding the one-day contracts, like the one Tomlinson just signed to "retire as a Charger". What's the point?

by drobviousso :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:30pm

Good PR. Lots of people like to be loved by the fans that cheered for them most of their career. Teams, in general, are selling happy emotions, and this kind of thing reminds people of their past happy emotions.

And maybe, just maybe, some players actually liked the teams they played for.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:43pm

Yup, if LDT wants to open a restaurant or buy a car dealership in San Diego, retiring as a Charger is PR gold.

by tuluse :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 12:43pm

I think it's a nice touch, Tomlinson will be linked with the Chargers as long as he's remembered, might as well end everything with them.

Yeah it doesn't actually mean anything, but it also doesn't really cost anyone anything. So why not do it?

by are-tee :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 2:13pm

Doesn't cost anything? What about legal fees?

by tuluse :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 2:49pm

Let me rephrase: doesn't cost anyone involved anything of significance.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:04pm

Do you think Brett will signing that 1-day contract with the Packers any time soon? ;-)

by Theo :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:27pm

Yeah right after Romanowski.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:35pm

Can't do that. Suppose the bugger changed his mind to retire after signing the contract?

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:33pm

They'll wait until he signs his retirement papers, for sure.

by Marko :: Mon, 06/18/2012 - 3:42pm

He'll probably have his agent talk to the Falcons and Jets first.

by Lance :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:39am

Really? I can't imagine that there's much to this. You're signing a guy for the league minimum with no bonuses, etc., and cutting him the next day. (Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding what's going on?) I doubt any lawyers are needed, and there's no cap hit.

by chet (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 11:17pm

I would guess the symbolic "one day contract" isn't even a real player's contract, as that would affect rosters and so on.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:36pm

I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what is entailed if AJ Smith has to sign off on the contract.
After all, he's driven what may be the two most popular players in the NFL away from the Chargers.

by Lance :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:34am

Re this point: I think it makes sense. If you're Tomlinson, what makes more sense? Giving a retirement speech in a Jets facility and answering questions with New York reporters in front of you? Or doing it in San Diego with their reporters? The former have no real connections with him and would-- just by virtue of their jobs-- be focused on his final few years playing for the Jets where he was hardly at his best, and where there are limited things to discuss. Conversely, the San Diego media would have tons of things to ask him to reflect on and he would probably have some good working relationships with some of them.

Likewise, guys like Emmitt Smith, Zach Thomas, Tony Boselli, Issac Bruce, and Jerry Rice are all associated with particular teams and having them retire with another one (and engage in all the retirement pomp and circumstance) wouldn't make sense elsewhere.

by apk3000 :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 7:34am

It's a retirement speech. You go back to SD, make a speech about how you were always a Charger at heart. The club gives you a few gifts and praises you as one of the greatest Chargers of all time. You don't need a gimmicky one day contract. Either you were a guy who played his entire career with one team or you weren't.

by Purds :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 8:56am

Agreed. Who are you fooling here? Everyone knows you played most of your career in SD. Everyone knows you ended your career somewhere else. If you don't sign with SD for one day, does that mean you can't wear your old SD jersey at retirement? Pure foolishness.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 12:26pm

I can appreciate the aesthetic of ending by returning to the begining. It's all part of the hero's journey. People have been describing that kind of moment for as long as there has been language, clearly it speaks to some psychological need. While perhaps not strictly necessary, it seems somewhat incredible characterise that yearning as 'pointless' given the ubiquitious nature.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:37pm

If NY sports reporters are such shits, why would anyone want to retire there?

by Honest Abe (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 4:48am

If Peter King is as inane, misinformed and just wrong as some of you guys say every week, why do you read him so closely? Why spend the time denouncing somebody you regard as so dumb as not to deserve comment? Just asking.

by Dean :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 8:58am

For the same reason the opposition party listens to the State of the Union Address. You may be clueless, Peter, but you're still the single loudest voice (football division) of the Media-Entertainment Complex.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 9:11am

"If you don't like it, don't read it" applies to comment threads as well as articles.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 5:58pm

Why do you read the comments so closely every week? The answer to the one question may help you answer the other!

But glad you checked in this week, Abe. What is your take on the "Darren Sproles, All-Time Great" list Peter did this week? You were wondering just last week why people find him to irritating. This is an excellent example.

by tuluse :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 11:11am

Why spend time trolling FO?

by Lance :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 11:46am

Because we are passionate about football, and want to know what one of the biggest names in football journalism-- who writes a column for one of the biggest publications in sports journalism-- has to say.

One thing i'll give King credit for is that his column format makes for excellent discussion. Instead of focusing on one topic, he throws a lot out there-- several main stories, some brief football musings, and then other observations or experiences about life. It makes great fodder for us to talk about, and that's the point.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:41pm

Me, I just wait for the inevitable comment from "Honest Abe (unverified)" asking the inane question why everyone here despises PK, without providing any evidence that we should take him seriously.

by milo :: Tue, 06/19/2012 - 10:49pm

Here is a list of RBs in the DVOA era who had a Receiving DYAR & Rushing DYAR greater than 150. The second table further restricts to Rec and Rush DVOA greater than 15% and also restricts the percentage of Rec DYAR out of total to between 40 and 60% to restrict to those RBs who were most balanced between rushing and receiving.

Year  Player      Team  Total  Rec  Rush  Rec   Rush  % rec  Rank
                        DYAR  DYAR DYAR  DVOA   DVOA  DYAR
2000 M.Faulk      STL     840  367  473  42.3%  35.0%   44%    1
2002 P.Holmes     KC      805  267  538  45.6%  31.1%   33%    2
2003 P.Holmes     KC      734  254  480  35.1%  24.8%   35%    3
1999 M.Faulk      STL     732  453  279  71.2%  19.4%   62%    4
2002 C.Garner     OAK     659  405  254  51.3%  25.6%   61%    5
2001 M.Faulk      STL     658  363  295  47.6%  17.1%   55%    6
2010 A.Foster     HOU     574  197  377  25.6%  18.0%   34%    7
2005 T.Barber     NYG     551  209  342  43.8%  15.3%   38%    8
1992 Lo.White     HOIL    550  214  336  39.5%  14.6%   39%    9
2001 P.Holmes     KC      539  161  378  28.0%  20.1%   30%   10
2000 E.James      IND     530  203  327  28.8%  10.6%   38%   11
2004 E.James      IND     482  175  307  41.1%  12.5%   36%   12
1992 T.Thomas     BUF     480  220  260  30.0%  11.6%   46%   13
2011 D.Sproles    NO      472  274  198  27.7%  47.9%   58%   14
2003 M.Williams   MIN     432  254  178  38.8%   9.8%   59%   15
2010 L.McCoy      PHI     403  179  224  20.0%  17.8%   44%   16
2010 D.Woodhead   NE      403  156  247  56.3%  41.3%   39%   17
1992 R.Watters    SF      383  178  205  43.7%  14.2%   46%   18
2011 R.Mathews    SD      380  158  222  35.2%  13.7%   42%   19
2007 R.Brown      MIA     372  160  212  52.0%  21.2%   43%   20
2008 K.Faulk      NE      370  192  178  34.1%  46.5%   52%   21
1995 C.Heyward    ATL     362  176  186  56.5%  10.1%   49%   22
1999 C.Garner     SF      321  165  156  25.1%   8.1%   51%   23

Year  Player      Team  Total  Rec  Rush  Rec   Rush  % rec  Rank
                        DYAR  DYAR DYAR  DVOA   DVOA  DYAR
2000 M.Faulk      STL     840  367  473  42.3%  35.0%   44%    1
2001 M.Faulk      STL     658  363  295  47.6%  17.1%   55%    2
2011 D.Sproles    NO      472  274  198  27.7%  47.9%   58%    3
2010 L.McCoy      PHI     403  179  224  20.0%  17.8%   44%    4
2007 R.Brown      MIA     372  160  212  52.0%  21.2%   43%    5
2008 K.Faulk      NE      370  192  178  34.1%  46.5%   52%    6

Marshall Faulk looks to be clearly the most "versatile" RB of the DVOA era. Priest Holmes was a monster, too. Sproles can be considered in the conversation (especially when you add in his return duties=NFL record all purpose yards). LT not so much. (Note: the list was culled from the top 4 total DYAR in each year.)

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 7:55am

That's a lot of good info there, and it helps to inform the discussion quite a bit. However, I'd only say that "Sproles can be considered in the conversation" if we're making some assumptions --
1) that "Sproles" refers only to "2011 Sproles"
2) that King intended "versatile" to be defined in this way

Neither of those things is expressed or implied in the article. In fact, as you mention, Tomlinson doesn't stack up well against this method, which would seem to imply that King did not do an analysis like this before creating his list.

That said, I like your list a lot better. I'm ashamed to admit that I'd completely forgotten about Charlie Garner. He helped me win a couple of fantasy leagues when I was able to get him a couple rounds later than he should have gone.

by Tim Wilson :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 11:59am

Well, what that second table really is really doing is defining the above-average backs for whom receiving made up 40+% of their value, right? So that actually hurts some backs who were excellent receivers but drop out of the list because their running was, even with their receiving production, a much higher percentage of their value. Doesn't mean that Sproles is a better receiver than all those guys on the first list, just that his receiving stacks up more favorably to his rushing than theirs does.

by Independent George :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 12:30pm

Actually, it's defining it as backs who were about evenly split between rushing and receiving, which I don't think I agree with. I love this chart, but by limiting it to 40-60% DYAR, it defines the criteria to favor backs like Sproles and Garner, who hover in that range by design.

In other words, Priest Holmes, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, and Arian Foster seem to be penalized for being too good as runners, and continuing to be used to grind clock. If anything, that makes them more versatile, not less. Heck, 1999 Marshall Faulk is eliminated for being too productive as a receiver.

by milo :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 1:45pm

Actually, just the opposite. Sproles has the highest Rushing DVOA on the list. But he was more lightly used than nearly everyone on the list, certainly those at the top of the list.

Since versatile running back is undefined, I chose to look at those backs who had really good seasons and were also balanced in their proportion of success between running and receiving. This would seem to provide the offense with the most opportunity for success as the defense will be more off balance when these players are in the game. I would have added FO numbers for returns if I could get them as a further indication of versatility.

And yeah, the second table was sort of designed to highlight 2011 D. Sproles, since the first comment on the thread seemed to diminish what he accomplished and was followed by further speculation on the qualities of other backs who didn't make the cut on the first table. I'm a Saints homer, through and through, (been that way since I saw John Gilliam run back the opening kickoff) just pointing out how good the Saints O was last season.

by Independent George :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 2:51pm

I love Darren Sproles, and I'd most certainly dance a jig if he should miraculously wind up on the Giants. I think most people here appreciate just how good he is, particularly in the passing game. I just take exception to putting him on any sort of all-time great list, especially as defined (or not defined) by PK.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 11:36am

I agree with George's sentiment. I would also say my objections to Sproles have to do with work-load. As FO implicitly acknowledges by dividing their DYAR/DVOA lists up between heavy-use backs and limited-use backs, the nature of a back's work-load deeply influences their effectiveness. It's easier for a back to look great with a limited number of carries for all the reasons mentioned: no running him into the line in losing battles, no clock-killing, less fatigue, less risk of minor niggling injuries reducing his effectiveness, all of that. Sproles is pretty great, but for a variety of reasons he's tough to compare to, say, Steven Jackson - a guy receiving an abusive amount of carries on crappy team with zero relief from his passing game. It doesn't make one better or worse than the other, just deeply hard to compare.

by milo :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 5:24pm

And yet, using DYAR which is a measure for workload, Sproles led the league at 472 DYAR combined. Second place was Ray Rice at 390.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 12:13pm

Uh, incorrect, DYAR is the measure of production. His # of carries of is the measure of his workload. Again, more carries probably reduces his effectiveness for the reasons outlined. No one is denying he had very impressive production - the argument is how that compares to other backs who had an entirely different role and work-load.

by milo :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 9:34am

Previous list with corrections. (Apologies to G.Hearst, B.Westbrook, S.Jackson)

Year  Player      Team  Total  Rec  Rush  Rec   Rush  % rec  Rank
                        DYAR  DYAR DYAR  DVOA   DVOA  DYAR
2000 M.Faulk      STL     840  367  473  42.3%  35.0%   44%    1
2002 P.Holmes     KC      805  267  538  45.6%  31.1%   33%    2
2003 P.Holmes     KC      734  254  480  35.1%  24.8%   35%    3
1999 M.Faulk      STL     732  453  279  71.2%  19.4%   62%    4
2002 C.Garner     OAK     659  405  254  51.3%  25.6%   61%    5
2001 M.Faulk      STL     658  363  295  47.6%  17.1%   55%    6
2010 A.Foster     HOU     574  197  377  25.6%  18.0%   34%    7
1998 G.Hearst     SF      572  409  163  31.1%   8.4%   72%    8
2005 T.Barber     NYG     551  209  342  43.8%  15.3%   38%    9
1992 Lo.White     HOIL    550  214  336  39.5%  14.6%   39%   10
2001 P.Holmes     KC      539  161  378  28.0%  20.1%   30%   11
2000 E.James      IND     530  203  327  28.8%  10.6%   38%   12
2007 B.Westbrook  PHI     524  190  334  12.6%  19.9%   36%   13
2004 E.James      IND     482  175  307  41.1%  12.5%   36%   14
1992 T.Thomas     BUF     480  220  260  30.0%  11.6%   46%   15
2011 D.Sproles    NO      472  274  198  27.7%  47.9%   58%   16
2003 M.Williams   MIN     432  254  178  38.8%   9.8%   59%   17
2010 L.McCoy      PHI     403  179  224  20.0%  17.8%   44%   18
2010 D.Woodhead   NE      403  156  247  56.3%  41.3%   39%   19
2006 S.Jackson    STL     394  151  243   7.4%   8.0%   38%   20
1992 R.Watters    SF      383  178  205  43.7%  14.2%   46%   21
2011 R.Mathews    SD      380  158  222  35.2%  13.7%   42%   22
2007 R.Brown      MIA     372  160  212  52.0%  21.2%   43%   23
2008 K.Faulk      NE      370  192  178  34.1%  46.5%   52%   24
1995 C.Heyward    ATL     362  176  186  56.5%  10.1%   49%   25
1999 C.Garner     SF      321  165  156  25.1%   8.1%   51%   26

by Independent George :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 12:31pm

Thank you for the list, by the way. I had Priest Holmes in my head from the other thread, but somehow I'd forgotten just how good he was during those Vermeil years. That was a fun offense to watch. I hope Will Shields joins Roaf in the HOF soon - they were absolute beasts.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 2:35pm


by Honest Abe (not verified) :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 5:31am

My take on Sproles? Totally agree, as usual, with Peter King. He's certainly a better judge than some guy sitting around in an insurance office and pretending to be working while actually reading this thread and ripping King.

by dryheat :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 7:49am

I applaud you, sir. Really well done. Praise for Peter King is the new greta coach

by Dean :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 8:32am

"He's certainly a better judge than some guy sitting around in an insurance office"

And by what determination do you make that assessment?

by markus (not verified) :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 11:59am

What job are you pretending to do while licking Peter's shoes?

And feel free to tell all your buddies how Sproles is better than Marcus Allen. That ought to produce some fun moments for you.

by jds (not verified) :: Wed, 06/20/2012 - 1:09pm

C'mon you guys. You feed the trolls and you risk turning this into the ESPN message boards.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 11:38am

I dunno. I kinda like the idea of a "Peter King super-defender" gimmick poster. Maybe he'll bring on some kind of FOMBC for King.

by Dean :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 1:41pm

Also, the guy is entitled to his opinion. And it's not like he's being a dick about it or anything. He's playing nice. That kinda DQs him from being a troll, doesn't it?

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:53pm

Actually, I think this "Honest Abe" does qualify as a troll. He never defends any of King's statements or provides any reasoning why he thinks we should take King seriously. All he does is come on here and question why any of us should question anything that King writes. Yes, he's polite and all that. But it's the same kind of thing that Scientology supporters do when they question any negative thing that's written about them in the media.

by tuluse :: Thu, 06/21/2012 - 10:12pm

No it doesn't disqualify him. The best trolls are the ones who can do it without being obvious.

by Independent George :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 8:22am

The best trolls are funny, and not obvious about being trolls until about fifty posts in.

by dryheat :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 8:48am

Actually, the best trolls are 9 feet tall and can regenerate themselves of injury.

by tuluse :: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 10:27am

Well the best trolls are actually the ones that turn to stone in daylight.