Felix Jones is fast, shifty, and a unanimous pick for our starting running back slot. DeMarco Murray is a high draft pick, which brings it’s own hype and hopefulness, and he is obviously not in any danger of being cut. Even Philip Tanner is making a splash, and getting showered with praises. But there is one player who is being buried under piles and piles of sports dung. Tashard Choice.
And I’m really not surprised, but I AM left with that slacking jaw, wide eyed “WHAT!?” look on my face. Some people thought that Tashard Choice was our best option at tailback LAST year. Some people called for Choice to start, Felix to be the change-up guy, and Barber to go chew on some grenades. I was one of those guys. We wasted carries on Barber. That was our main problem.
We have remedied that problem nicely by expediting Barber to The Windy City to rot behind Cutler and his pursuit to throw more interceptions than any “top 10″ quarterback in the history of the NFL.
But then what happens? Obviously, Tashard moves up to the number 2 spot, yes? Not so fast, sirs and madams. We drafted someone faster. So Tashard moves to 3rd string? Not so fast, sirs and madams. Some dude showed up with a hard running style and a nice little back-story. So Tashard moves to 4th string and is in danger of losing his job. Not his spot, but his JOB.
Now, I know that the NFL is not a daycare. We aren’t supposed to feel sorry for people for getting cut. But I don’t believe Tashard has been given a fair shake. He is not the type of runner who can win a game by himself. He is not a runner who will amaze you by trucking linebackers, or running past safeties who are taking great pursuit angles. But he DOES have good vision, quick feet, and he is compact. Remind you of anyone? Ok, forget I said that. Tashard is not, and probably never WILL achieve greatness in this league. He likely won’t be in the Hall of Fame.
But in a good offense, behind a decent offensive line, he can be a work horse who will pound the ball, hold ONTO the ball, and while these blazing speed running backs are getting injured, he will be giving you 25 quality carries a game. People under-rate a few things in this league. Durability, intelligence, and heart.
Felix gets injured a lot. DeMarco got injured a lot in college. Tashard is stout and runs in a style that is conducive to protecting himself where others would twist, break, or strain. Remember when Emmitt said “You have to know how to fall”? He wasn’t trying to be funny. There is an art to being a workhorse-style of back. Durability.
Ok, I don’t think that Tashard is a GENIUS, though I can’t really prove that he isn’t. But he did make the 2007 ACC All-Academic Team. I know that most of you will read that and laugh, but only a handful of players gain that honor in college. Why should we care that he isn’t a dumbass? Dumbasses lose games. Ask Plaxico Burress who spiked a live ball after a would-be first down. Ask DeSean Jackson who drops half of his would-be touchdowns before he even crosses the goal line. Ask LaGarrett Blount who punches players in the face after he loses. Ask half of the player in the NFL who, several times a game, block the wrong guy, run the wrong route, or forget the snap count. If you think having a team full of intelligent players doesn’t help in the NFL, then you are dead wrong. And by “Dead wrong”, I mean I am going to kill you (for disagreeing with me). Intelligence.
Yes, we all have hearts, but a lot of humans don’t have “heart”. You have players in the NFL who just want the paycheck. You have players who play football because that’s all that they know how to do in life. You have players that lose and say “Aww man!” and then you have players who lose and call player meetings and give tearful speeches about giving everything they have for their brothers on the gridiron. Tashard isn’t some sort of wind-up motivational speech toy, but he has given emotional speeches in college and while playing for the Cowboys. And he backs his speeches up too….When given the chance. Heart.
So I’m not saying “Tashard Choice is awesome and he should start!” But I AM saying “Tashard Choice is awesome and he shouldn’t be kicked off of the team just because he doesn’t run a 4.3 or run through flesh like Jerome Bettis!“. This man can be the proto-type NFL running back. If only a team would acknowledge his durability, intelligence, and heart. And I’d love for it to be the Dallas Cowboys.
Famous, world renowned sports writer, and iTunes recording artist, Seth Jones, signing off.