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  • (Larry) Johnson runs like greatest runner ever

    http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...s/13482726.htm

    Johnson runs like greatest runner ever


    One blasphemous thought echoed in my mind again and again on Christmas Eve while I watched Larry Johnson run through the mud and the San Diego Chargers. “Man,” I thought. “This guy’s like another Jim Brown.”

    I kept trying to stifle the thought. You have to understand that for a kid who grew up in Cleveland, who was raised on the gospel of St. Paul Brown and learned long division by figuring out Jim Brown’s rushing averages, comparing a young man like Larry Johnson to the great Jim Brown is sacrilegious. Bus drivers and bank tellers and bakery workers in Cleveland would cuff you in the head for saying something like that aloud.

    But it’s unmistakable. The moves. The power. The speed. The anger.

    If Larry Johnson starts wearing a kufti, you might need fingerprints to tell them apart.

    Saturday was a bittersweet day to be a Chiefs fan. On the good side, the Chiefs did pound the Chargers into the mud 20-7, a great performance all around. On the coal side, though, the playoff chase more or less died when Pittsburgh edged Cleveland 41-0. Now, the Chiefs need Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World to make the playoffs. According to the NFL tie-breaker rules, they need pigs to sprout wings, they need monkeys to write “Hamlet,” they need Republicans and Democrats to unite as one and, most improbably, they need Detroit to win at Pittsburgh. Long odds, folks.

    But the overpowering joy of the day was watching Larry Johnson run. He gained 131 yards against the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. It was his eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, which is even more impressive when you consider he’s only started eight straight games. Saturday, he had a catch-and-run for the eternal highlight reel, a 28-yard optical illusion where he caught a pass, blasted through one tackle, danced by another and beat the last defender to the end zone.

    Chiefs left tackle Willie Roaf, who has been making Pro Bowls pretty much since Jim Brown’s day, said: “That’s one of the best plays I’ve ever seen a running back make.”

    It was amazing. It was a Jim Brown play. For those of you who don’t know, Jim Brown was the best running back who ever lived. This is not an opinion. This is pure fact, like saying that the Taipei 101 Tower is the world’s tallest building or that two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen make water.

    Brown played before my time, which made him even bigger by the time I grew up in Cleveland. I can remember the awe in my father’s voice when he talked about going to the stadium and seeing Jim Brown run. I can remember people I barely knew — teachers, neighbors, the pizza guy — reciting his amazing stats. Brown averaged more than one touchdown per game. He led the NFL in rushing every year but one.

    Nobody was close. Others may have been more complete — blocking, receiving, whatever — but in the end a running back runs, and even now, when you see Jim Brown highlights, they boggle the mind. They are like Popeye cartoons. He breaks tackle after tackle, and more people come after him, and he breaks those tackles, too. There has never been a force like him.

    That was then. Now you watch Larry Johnson run. In eight games as a starter this year, Johnson has carried the ball 235 times for 1,150 yards and 13 touchdowns. It’s pretty easy to do the math on that. A full season would be: 470 carries (an NFL record), 2,300 yards (an NFL record) and 26 touchdowns (one behind Priest Holmes’ NFL record).

    But the similarities go way beyond numbers. They have a shared running style — unrelenting, unforgiving, always looking for someone new to run over, always choosing pain and destruction over running out of bounds. The Chiefs calls this “running angry.” Jim Brown invented it. Larry Johnson refines it.

    “We don’t want to make him happy,” Chiefs president/CEO/general manager/reindeer coach Carl Peterson joked about Johnson. At least I think he was joking. It was Christmas Eve.

    There are many more similarities between Johnson and Brown as running backs. In fact, let’s look at some of the eerie “Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln” parallels:

    ■ They have plain names. Interchangeable, too. Jim Johnson. Larry Brown. See?

    ■ Jim Brown played at 6 feet 2, 230 pounds. Larry Johnson is 6 feet 1, 230 pounds.

    ■ Both went to East Coast schools often covered in snow (Jim Brown to Syracuse, Larry Johnson to Penn State).

    ■ Both had brilliant senior years and were fleeced in the Heisman Trophy voting. Brown ran for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns in only eight games but finished a ridiculous fifth for the Heisman. Larry Johnson ran for 2,087 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and 20 touchdowns but finished a ridiculous third for the Heisman.

    ■ Both were drafted lower than expected. Jim Brown was picked sixth, Johnson went 27th.

    ■ Both had spats with their coaches because they wanted to be treated more like men.

    ■ Coaches liked comparing them with livestock:

    “When you have a thoroughbred, you run him,” Paul Brown said about Jim Brown.

    “Larry Johnson — what a horse,” **** Vermeil said about Larry Johnson on Saturday.

    ■ Both took criticism for not blocking well.

    ■ OK, now this gets a little eerie, but I want to show you stats from Jim Brown’s second pro season and Larry Johnson’s stats from 12 games as a starter (including the last four games from last season):

    Jim Brown: 1,527 yards, 5.7 per carry, 17 touchdowns.

    Larry Johnson: 1,531 yards, 4.9 per carry, 20 touchdowns. Believe me, this is no light comparison. It goes against every fiber of my upbringing to contrast anyone against Jim Brown. And I know it’s ridiculous and unfair to burden a 26-year-old runner starting in the NFL for the first time with Jim Brown comparisons.

    But, hey, it is unmistakable. The thought emerged and re-emerged Saturday. Johnson would carry a tackler 3 or 4 yards. He would outrun a linebacker to the corner. He would bash into a defensive line and stretch for the extra inches. Who did he look like? There have been many great running backs, each with his own distinctive style. Gale Sayers glided, O.J. Simpson slipped in and out of sunlight, Earl Campbell left you holding his jersey, Walter Payton bucked and scraped for every yard, Eric ****erson breezed past, Barry Sanders disappeared and reappeared, Emmitt Smith blasted straight on through.

    Larry Johnson clearly doesn’t run like any of them. No, he runs like Jim Brown, the king of them all, who was headstrong and demanding and difficult and smart and proud. Larry Johnson seems to have those qualities, too. Saturday, in the wet and muck, with the NFL’s No.1 run defense gearing to stop him, Johnson ran so hard, so powerfully, so vividly, that the fans who had given up their Christmas Eve to stand in the rain and cold chanted, “Larry! Larry! Larry!”

    “If I had a wish,” Johnson said in the postgame radio show, “it would be to play in games like this 16 weeks of the year. I love playing this way. It’s so much fun to get in the mud and slam around.”

    He did not repeat those sentiments in the locker room. He did not have anything at all to say to reporters — that’s part of his anger (and another Jim Brown resemblance). But at some point, he signed some autographs for kids. And he glanced over. “Merry Christmas,” he said. He didn’t say anything more. He’s a mystery.

    “People think they know me,” Jim Brown once said. “But they don’t.”

    After the Christmas greetings, Johnson draped a long chain around his neck, unplugged his iPod, put on his leather jacket and headed out into the cold. He did not look happy or unhappy. And I thought again: Would Jim Brown look any different?
    "And we all know that stats don't mean anything if you don't have the wins to back them up"-ChampWJ

    It's a good thing Jay Cutler was a proven winner in college. Oh wait, nevermind.

  • #2
    Larry Johnson is a very good back but lets not go crazy here!

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    • #3
      He's a great runner and i expect him to be one of the best in the nfl soon if he stays healthy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by alwilson91
        Larry Johnson is a very good back but lets not go crazy here!
        It is not saying he is the greatest back ever, if that is what you thought. It means that he runs like the guy (Jim Brown) who was in the writers opinion the greatest back ever.
        "And we all know that stats don't mean anything if you don't have the wins to back them up"-ChampWJ

        It's a good thing Jay Cutler was a proven winner in college. Oh wait, nevermind.

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree that Larry Johnson has played well, and I've thought he was better than Holmes since last year. Still, just like Denver you have to attribute the lion's share of his success to your offensive line.

          Denver has only had two great running backs in the Shanahan era: Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis. The Chiefs are in very much the same boat as the Broncos. You have several all pro O-lineman: Shields, Waters, and Roaf. Jason Dunn and Tony Richardson are amazing blockers as well. It is so easy to power run with a line like the Chiefs have that it seriously downplays the success Johnson has had.

          Johnson may have a similar style as Brown, but he is no Jim Brown... not even a "mini-me." It is a good thing for Denver that Roaf, Waters, and Shields are all retiring soon. The kind of domination the Chiefs' line has brought over the past few years has always made them Denver's biggest rival.
          “One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain” ~Thomas Sowell

          2008 Draft: my grade --> A-

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MileHighSpirit
            I agree that Larry Johnson has played well, and I've thought he was better than Holmes since last year. Still, just like Denver you have to attribute the lion's share of his success to your offensive line.

            Denver has only had two great running backs in the Shanahan era: Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis. The Chiefs are in very much the same boat as the Broncos. You have several all pro O-lineman: Shields, Waters, and Roaf. Jason Dunn and Tony Richardson are amazing blockers as well. It is so easy to power run with a line like the Chiefs have that it seriously downplays the success Johnson has had.

            Johnson may have a similar style as Brown, but he is no Jim Brown... not even a "mini-me." It is a good thing for Denver that Roaf, Waters, and Shields are all retiring soon. The kind of domination the Chiefs' line has brought over the past few years has always made them Denver's biggest rival.
            KC may have a good offensive line, but there is one stat that proves Larry Johnson does alot of the work on his own. Almost every game they will show the yards after contact numbers for Larry Johnson, and they are amazing. Those yards after contact are completely because of Larry Johnson. And Waters is not retiring soon. Brian Waters is only 28 years old.
            "And we all know that stats don't mean anything if you don't have the wins to back them up"-ChampWJ

            It's a good thing Jay Cutler was a proven winner in college. Oh wait, nevermind.

            Comment


            • #7
              LJ is a straight up beast guys...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by kmartin575
                KC may have a good offensive line, but there is one stat that proves Larry Johnson does alot of the work on his own. Almost every game they will show the yards after contact numbers for Larry Johnson, and they are amazing. Those yards after contact are completely because of Larry Johnson. And Waters is not retiring soon. Brian Waters is only 28 years old.

                Yea K.....Alot of people say its because of the O line which is partly true, but in watching LJ yesterday he will get a few extra yards on his own and makes guys work hard to bring him down....that has nothing to do with the O line....Priest was good at a time in his career but he is too fragile now and has no where the speed or power that LJ has....still alot of admiration for Holmes but LJ is it for KC.....
                Last edited by KCLadyFan; 12-25-2005, 09:03 PM.
                Tony G


                The Chefs

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KCLadyFan
                  Yea K.....Alot of people say its because of the O line which is partly true, but in watching LJ yesterday he will get a few extra yards on his own and makes guys work hard to bring him down....that has nothing to do with the O line....Priest was good at a time in his career but he is too fragile now and has no where the speed or power that LJ has....still alot of admiration for Holmes but LJ is it for KC.....
                  Congrats KC you guys played great in beating down my Chargers.

                  That is an interesting read. I think that more credit is due your o-line in the final analysis of the two runners. KC's O-line may be one of the greatest ever. Not their running backs. Any Back that plays of KC will be looked at as the benefactor of this lines play.
                  Last edited by Sanluisboltfan; 12-27-2005, 12:46 AM.


                  ;);)


                  Watch out!!!

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                  • #10
                    The thing about Brown, when he played, he was like a senior playing against junior high kids. To compare a modern back to JB is tough, cause you can't compare them straight up. You have to look at how Brown completely dominated. He was THE back for the years that he played. No one could touch him. Now the way LJ is playing. Yes, it does kind of remind me of old JB footage, but he will never eclipse the impact that JB had.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Spice 1
                      The thing about Brown, when he played, he was like a senior playing against junior high kids. To compare a modern back to JB is tough, cause you can't compare them straight up. You have to look at how Brown completely dominated. He was THE back for the years that he played. No one could touch him. Now the way LJ is playing. Yes, it does kind of remind me of old JB footage, but he will never eclipse the impact that JB had.

                      I don't think you can say "he never will" eclipse the impact JB had....LJ has never been a starter til Holmes got injured.Look at his yards per game and TD's since he has been the starter and that has only been since Nov. 6th....IF LJ can stay healthy he will go down as one of the best backs to play the game when his career is finished.
                      Tony G


                      The Chefs

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sanluisboltfan
                        Congrats KC you guys played great in beating down my Chargers.

                        That is an interesting read. I think that more credit is due your o-line in the final analysis of the two runners. KC's O-line may be one of the greatest ever. Not their running backs. Any Back that plays of KC will be looked at as the benefactor of the this lines play.

                        The TD that LJ scored running along the sidelines was all LJ....he made that happen not the O line....that was some good concentration on his part and also blocked the one guy with his shoulder to take it in for the TD....
                        Tony G


                        The Chefs

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          GREATEST O-LINE EVER!
                          GREATEST RB EVER!



                          Hmmmmmmmmmm, Why couldn't the TEAM get into the Playoffs then??????

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PR-Broncomaniac
                            GREATEST O-LINE EVER!
                            GREATEST RB EVER!



                            Hmmmmmmmmmm, Why couldn't the TEAM get into the Playoffs then??????



                            Go back and re read what was wriiten and then maybe you'll be mature enough to form an opinion.....this thread has nothing to do with the best of anything or the playoffs....
                            Tony G


                            The Chefs

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                            • #15
                              Larry Johnson is nothing like Jim Brown.

                              Brown was a legend and a god-like figure in the game of football. What is Johnson in the game of football? Just another back.
                              The Browns are gone; I'm not a fan of the Impostors

                              The real Browns are in Baltimore, see?

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