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The position in football that is no longer worth it

JRandleIRVING, Texas - Looking at Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Joseph Randle my first thought was, "Switch positions."

It is not his fault, or even any kind of indictment on his ability. Looking at any NFL running back these days is like the tired "dead man walking" cliche.

Randle is a fifth round pick out of Oklahoma State, which is just about the right place to draft a running back these days. 

With the way running backs "die" these days, why would any kid willingly want to play the position? 

"I like to run the rock," Randle told me.

Without any prompting he continued, "All of them (defensive backs) that were taken in the draft early. I thought about it. I was like, 'Man, I should have played defense.' I did think about that."

I don't have a son, but if I did and he wanted to play football I would tell him to play any position but running back.

With the pounding running backs take these days, and the way more teams both in college and in the pros rotate at least two of them, the "safer" long term plays seems to be something other than this position. Punter, perhaps.

Randle said he played running back, cornerback and safety in high school.

This draft was not running back heavy - the highest taken was North Carolina's Giovani Bernard. A total of six running backs were selected in the first three rounds. Sixteen cornerbacks were selected in the first three rounds.

ME: Running backs just seem to die out so fast.
Joseph Randle: Not my kind.

ME: What is your kind?
Joseph Randle: "I can do a lot. If you have more than one good back, like we do, that will help us. I'm a running back and that is the position I wanted to play. I wanted to score touchdown. It's more fun defense. I liked to tackle and hit people, but you can do that on defense. This is what I chose and I'm sticking with it."



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Americans have lost interest in sports that emphasize defensive, low scoring games. In basketball the league's nightmare is having a team like San Antonio in the Finals, because there's so little Phi Jamma Slamma going on at either end of the court. In football, it is rules that make it almost impossible to defend against the passing game. As recently as the 1990s a slow march down the field with Emmitt carrying on almost every play could seal a game's verdict; nowadays, the other team would just respond with a few plays of over 20 yard passes each, and they have nullified the march. So running the ball, the traditional heart of football, is rendered nearly irrelevant. And Americans consider world soccer, which still reveres superior defensive play, as some kind of joke (maybe the world needs to make soccer goals worth 40 points apiece to even things out).


I love the RB position. RB's are some of the sport's worlds greatest athletes. It's a shame to see the NFL not make rule changes to make them a more intrigual part of the game. Jerry drafted smartly on his RB's this year. It's too bad their services aren't more valued.

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