I like to look at employment as a sort of partnership between entrepreneurs. Each employee is a business owner selling his or her own products and services. They decide who they trust, what rules they have, what they are willing to do, and what values they emphasize. They choose what to do with the skills and other resources they have. Each employee tells the stories of their own work by action.
With that, the NFL running back is a position. Today, modern NFL running backs seem to think they should be treated with the same reputations as those running backs of days past. But the times, rules, and circumstances were vastly different. Quarterbacks are expected to do some of the work of running backs in many cases. This confuses defenses, lightens the workload expectations of running backs, and makes the workload of running backs easier.
The NFL running back situation is simple capitalism. It may not feel good at the moment. But if they want a future in the NFL, the running backs have to change the rules of how they work. If even quarterbacks, the highest paid and most reputable position in the NFL, have to upgrade their brand for more money, the same goes for NFL running backs. Thanks to the same simple capitalism that put them in this position to be forced to change, they can upgrade their brand in so many creative ways. Many of those methods are already precedented by other running backs of the past.
1. GOST Running Back: (Named after the greatest show on turf- but the acronym went to greatest on turf show to make it make sense) Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson, Christian McCafferey: These multi-task running backs have managed to upgrade their game by adding an extra element of skill that defenses have to consider when they step on the field. Today’s NFL running backs should be going to their coaching staffs about changing the game by begging to be given plays where they throw the football. It will expand the field, excite the fans, and give running backs some star power. It also escalates the direction of the NFL with the increases in passing that they have been wanting.
2. Celebrity Running Back: Clinton Portis, DeAngelo Williams,Warrick Dunn, Marshawn Lynch, There have not been many celebrity running backs in NFL History. It is traditionally a more humble role on NFL teams. The best way a running back can gain celebrity appeal is to be charitable such as Warrick Dunn. But Marshawn Lynch has found a niche as the defiant silence that brought some laughs to the NFL. Clinton Portis dressed in costumes and acted as a clown in 2005 during a funny run when he was at the same time heavily productive all over the NFL. Deion Sanders was a cornerback, returner, and sometimes wide receiver whose Prime Time status gained appeal throughout the NFL. In today’s world, being a celebrity figure is a much more difficult task. With so much access to learn about so many people, maintaining centralized attention is a tall order. An intelligent running back can help protect a quarterback from media scrutiny by becoming a spokesperson for the offense similar to the way a White House Press Secretary speaks for a President. If the quarterback is not necessarily great with handling media issues or questions, a good leader at running back can step forward.
3. Double Trouble Running Backs: Jamal Lewis and Priest Holmes, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Walter Payton and William Perry, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner/Mike Tolbert, LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, Jonathan Stewart and Cameron Artis-Payne/Fozzy Whitaker/Mike Tolbert, The fact that running backs were primarily sharing the workload with a partner for many years declined their workload per season but extended most of their careers. Running backs can consider contract negotiations by forming partnerships in some way with some of their teammates. "Where he goes, I go. If you trade him, you trade me with him"/ "When he earns a bonus or I earn a bonus, you pay both of us" types of contracts don’t seem to have ever been done. But if running backs partner up, it could force the hands of NFL teams and prevent some of the mistreatment they have faced. Such a move could gain some celebrity appeal and be adored by fans. Running back partnerships are important in preventing injuries and keeping people healthy.
Now that the topic of how running backs may upgrade their own products, it is important that the Carolina Panthers recognize the importance of the position in its own history. The Carolina Panthers have never made an NFL playoff season happen without a great running attack. In fact, after George Seifert was fired, running back was not much of a position of concern even when running backs were injured. The early seasons featured highlights from Biakabutuka, Anthony Johnson, and Fred Lane. Later came Stephen Davis and the rise of DeShaun Foster. With Jim Skipper as the assistant coach, the running back position never looked back. Nick Goings, DeAngelo, JStew, CMac, and more, the Carolina Panthers had an ignored history of running backs carrying the Panthers to three NFC Championship appearances, two Super Bowls, and a wild ride of stiff-arming Ronde, bulldozing Eagles, flipping over Jaguars, and running the Lions three hundred yards short of a playoff appearance. Duce Staley is now taking Jim Skipper’s former role and it seems to have the appearance of being more of the same results coming into the Panthers’ future. But it should be noted that Stephen Davis did in fact, score that touchdown over Washington in 2003.