Thursday, March 25, 2004 - The Denver Broncos Thursday signed free agent running back Garrison Hearst, Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced. The 11-year NFL veteran became a free agent after being released Feb. 27 by San Francisco, with whom he had played since 1997.
Hearst (5-11, 215 lbs.) started 12 games for the 49ers last season and rushed for 768 yards and three touchdowns on 178 carries (4.3), while adding 25 receptions for 211 yards (8.4) and a score. He injured his knee Nov. 30 at Baltimore and was inactive for the season&rsquos final four games.
A two-time Pro Bowl selection (1998, '01), Hearst has played in 119 career games (105 starts) with the Cardinals (1993-95), Bengals (1996) and 49ers (1997-2003) and rushed for 7,885 yards and 29 touchdowns on 1,811 carries (4.4), with a long of 96 yards. He has also caught 227 passes for 2,045 yards (9.0) and nine touchdowns with a long of 81 yards, and has 19 career 100-yard rushing performances. Hearst has posted four 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1995, '97, '98, '01) during his career, including a career-best 1,570 yards in 1998.
Hearst, 33, is the only player in NFL history to win the league&rsquos Comeback Player of the Year award twice, being honored in 1995 and 2001. He missed the 1999 and 2000 seasons after suffering a severe left ankle injury in a 1998 Divisional Playoff Game at Atlanta (1/9/99), but came back in 2001 to start 16 games and rush for 1,206 yards. He entered the NFL in 1993 as the Cardinals' first round draft choice, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.
Hearst starred in college at Georgia, where he was the 1992 recipient of the Doak Walker Award as the nation's outstanding running back. As a junior that year he led all collegians with 21 touchdowns and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Hearst ranks second in school history behind Herschel Walker with 3,232 rushing yards in three seasons, and third with 35 touchdowns.
A native of Lincolnton, Ga. (born Jan. 4, 1971), Hearst was a prep All-American at Lincoln County High School.
More Broncos News
Pro Bowler Hearst agrees to one-year deal with Broncos - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Friday, March 26, 2004 - Aging Pro Bowl selections continue to flock to Denver as if it were a pre-retirement home. The latest to call it home is running back Garrison Hearst, who reached agreement Thursday on a cap-friendly, one-year deal that will help the Broncos line up an experienced ball carrier.
Character fetch - Denver Post - Adam Schefter
Friday, March 26, 2004 - The two enduring images from Denver's playoff loss in Indianapolis were the Broncos defense getting exposed, and then wide receiver Rod Smith exposing his team even more. "Right now we have, in my personal opinion, a few stragglers," Smith said after the wild-card loss. "What I mean by that is, we have some guys that don't live and breathe football, simple as that.
Broncos add veteran Hearst - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
March 26, 2004 - At Dove Valley, every day is veteran's day lately. The Denver Broncos added another thirty-something player to their roster Thursday, the fourth such athlete to join their ranks in a week. In signing 33-year-old running back Garrison Hearst to a one-year, minimum-type contract, the Broncos receive an experienced insurance policy to add to an already competitive situation in the post-Clinton Portis era.
Broncos turn attention to offense, sign Hearst - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
March 26, 2004 - Good comeback? After trading Clinton Portis earlier this offseason, the Denver Broncos will try to fill the void at running back with Garrison Hearst, signing the 11-year veteran to a one-year deal on Thursday.
Broncos Add Hearst to Running Back Stable - DenverBroncos.com
Thursday, March 25, 2004 - Shortly after finalizing the contract that will bring running back Garrison Hearst to Denver for the 2004 season, General Manager Ted Sundquist smiled at the obvious comparison to half of the Broncos' recent lineage of 1,000-yard runners. "He's a Georgia guy," Sundquist said. "Georgia guys seem to do pretty well around here." Hearst joins the Broncos with far more experience than fellow former Bulldogs Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary had when they arrived in Denver as draft picks. Furthering the connection is the fact that Davis served as Hearst's backup with the Bulldogs.
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