[Was Barry the best? Share your opinion with other fans at: www.LIONSTALK.com!]
By: Justin Dargahi - Fan Columnist
Just when we thought the Barry/Emmitt debate was over, here it is again. When Barry Sanders abruptly retired in July of 1999, the comparisons stopped. But with Emmitt breaking the all time rushing mark last week, a record that that Barry was sure to get late in the ‘99 season, the question arises again, who is the better running back, Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith?
Here are some telling comparisons:
- Barry averaged over 1,500 yards a season over his 10 year career, compared to Emmitt and his 1,315 yard per year average.
- Barry averaged 99.8 yards a game over his entire 10 year career, compared to Emmitt and his 86 yard a game average.
- Emmitt has scored about 45 more touchdowns than Barry, since for some reason the Lions brass never felt as though Barry could score from inside the 5. I guess he can break off 80-yard runs, just not 5-yard scampers, right?
- Barry ran behind an average offensive line his entire career, and had to make his own holes to get yardage, while Emmitt has had parting of the red sea-type holes most of his career, behind the likes of Larry Allen, Erick Williams, and Nate Newton.
- Emmitt had this guy named Aikman to take pressure of the Cowboy running game. Barry, meanwhile, had guys like Peete, Ware, Kramer, Mitchell, and Batch who put more pressure on the Lions running game.
- Barry achieved the number synonymous with running greatness, a 2,000 yard season. Emmitt never came close to the magical 2,000 yard season.
- Barry once had a string of 14 consecutive 100-yards games, Emmitt's longest streak is half of that.
It is easy to see who enjoyed the most team success. Emmitt has 3 super bowl rings, where as Barry only has 1 playoff win to his name. But who is the better back? Emmitt might be the better blocker and pass receiver, but the better runner? That's a no brainer, it's Barry Sanders. Since Barry is the better runner, shouldn't he be considered the better running back? Of course!
It is just a shame that Barry got tired of playing the game in the middle of his prime. If he hadn't retired so soon, we would be talking about Emmitt moving ahead of Walter Payton's numbers for 2nd on the all time list, not first. If Barry Sanders were still playing today, the number 20,000 would be approaching rapidly, just as quickly as number 20 used to blow by, spin and juke around would-be tacklers every single game. This made Sanders the most exciting and best runner ... EVER.
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