With running back Landainian Tomlinson signing a one day contract and calling it a career Sunday one question popped in my mind. That being will anyone ever break the National Football League career rushing yards record held by former Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith.
Smith holds the record with 18,355 yards rushing, but the thing is he played for 15 years. Being born on May 15th, 1969 that means Smith played until he was almost 36 years old. Something that is really unheard of today in the NFL, but that isn’t the main reason why it will never be broken.
The main problem is the fact that the game has completely changed from the 1990’s. During that time the teams ran the ball more than they passed. In today’s game it is completely the opposite as now teams pass more than run.
A good example is the fact that in Smith’s career he carried the football more than 350 times in a single year three times in 1991, 1994 and 1995. With Tomlinson now retired there are only three running backs in the entire NFL that have more than 350 carries in a single season who are Atlanta Falcon Michael Turner (376 in 2008), Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson (363 in 2008) and Tennessee Titan Chris Johnson (358 in 2009), and they have each only did it once.
Well if those statistics didn’t convince you then how about the fact that the last running back to carry the ball more than 35o times in back to back years was former Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander in 2004 and 2005. Or the fact that no running back has had over 350 carries in the last two years.
One of the things that is contributing to this is the fact that teams like to use two running backs with one getting 20-25 and the other getting 10-15. During Smith’s time teams mainly used one running back with a couple of hand offs a game to a full back, which was around like five carries a game with the running back getting 30.
In the end, nobody is going to break Smith’s record unless they are really talented at making people miss and extremely durable to withstand all the hits over a career.