JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sitting on a bench outside Jacksonville Municipal Stadium last week, the sweat from a morning practice still rolling down his forehead, Fred Taylor stared at me with a puzzled look. My question stumped him for a second, just as it had the many others who tried to answer it.
How many of the NFL’s all-time, top 20 rushers, a club in which Taylor has a membership card, have both a better yards-per-carry and per-game rushing average than Taylor?
“Barry?” Taylor answered. He paused. “And Jim Brown?”
He nailed it, which is more than most of the others who answered can claim. Amazing stat of the year is this: Barry Sanders and Jim Brown are the only two runners among the top rushers of all time who beat Taylor in both of those categories. Taylor’s combo numbers are better than those of Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton and 14 others.
That includes eight members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and several others who will get there when their time comes, players like San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson.