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I-Want-Troy's-Hair
09-18-2007, 11:14 PM
http://postgazette.com/pg/07262/818640-66.stm

Steelers' Willie Parker could be playing chicken with 'Curse of 370' this season
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/ Post-Gazette photo Illustration

Barry Foster carried the Steelers on his back in 1992. He ran a team-record 390 times for a team-record 1,690 yards. He added 36 receptions to his offensive total.

Then his wheels came off. A badly sprained left ankle that eventually required surgery helped more than cut his yardage in half in 1993, when he ran 177 times for 711 yards. In 1994, he had 851 yards. In 1995, he was out of the league at age 26.

Yesterday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made a promise about Willie Parker at his news conference that challenged the "Curse of 370," the very reason many believe Foster broke down.

"We're going to ride Willie until the wheels come off," Tomlin declared. "He's game for that, he's in great physical condition, he wants the ball, he's a competitor and he's showing he's capable of doing that."

Uh-oh. For the true believers, if Parker hits 370 carries this season, his wheels will come off and he will never be as good a runner again. This is not anecdotal, like the "Curse of the Bambino." There is documented evidence that if a runner carries 370 times a season, including the postseason, nothing but bad things happen to him.

Researchers at Football Outsiders, an independent Web site based in Framingham, Mass., dedicated to following the NFL, have documented the phenomenon for several years. They have produced an impressive list of those backs who carried 370 times in one season and then hit a wall.

They define the "Curse of 370" thusly:

"A running back with 370 or more carries during the regular season will usually suffer either a major injury or loss of effectiveness the following year, unless he is named Eric Dickerson."

Among the documented post-370 failures that Football Outsiders documents are such recent examples as Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Curtis Martin, Jamal Lewis, Ricky Williams and Natrone Means, and such luminaries of the past as Hall of Famer Earl Campbell.

Parker carried 337 times last season, fourth most in Steelers history, for 1,494 yards. He has 50 carries this season, for 235 yards. That's a pace of 400 carries.

Could Parker join the list of cursed rushers or, if he reaches the magic number of 370, could he join Dickerson, a Hall of Famer who is among the few who thumbed their noses at the curse?

Tomlin believes the more Parker carries, the better he becomes. Tomlin plans to use him much the way Bill Cowher used Foster in his first season as Steelers coach -- as often as possible.

"He's getting better with each carry as these games go on, and I'm starting to realize that about him. He's a rhythm runner," Tomlin said. "So we're going to feed him. We're not going to make any bones about that."

Feed him to the wolves, curse believers claim. Tomlin wasn't asked about any curses at his news conference yesterday, and it's obvious he does not believe in them. He came to the Steelers professing his belief in a two-back system but seems to have adjusted that outlook. Najeh Davenport, Parker's backup, has 14 carries for 89 yards and has been used mainly on third downs and in mop-up time in routs of Cleveland and Buffalo.

Fullback Carey Davis is third on the team with four carries.

"We're going to play some people, but Willie Parker is our feature runner and that's no secret," Tomlin said. "When he needs a blow, he's going to get a blow; when he doesn't, he won't.

"Najeh has been kind of our third-down feature back. He's been our closer. Najeh has a significant number of carries here these first two weeks. He had six carries the other day; Carey Davis had a carry. So we're spreading the ball around, but we're going to ride with Willie Parker because we recognize what he is."

So, too, was the thinking in Seattle when Shaun Alexander ran 370 times to lead the NFL with 1,880 yards rushing in 2005, a 5.1-yard average per carry. In the third game of 2006, his foot was broken and he ran for 896 yards and a 3.6-yard average per carry. Through two games this season, he has 175 yards and a 3.9-yard average per carry.

Many curse observers are also watching Larry Johnson this season. He ran an NFL-record 416 times in the 2006 regular season for 1,789 yards. The Kansas City Chiefs rewarded the former Penn State back with a new contract Aug. 21 -- six years, $45 million, including $19 million in guaranteed money. It's the richest contract in Chiefs history.

Through two games, Johnson has 98 yards on 26 carries, tied for 29th in the NFL.

Borski
09-18-2007, 11:19 PM
I think Willie is capable of it, but keep an eye on him and if he starts to wear down lessen the load for him.

NateC
09-18-2007, 11:26 PM
Yeah. But I dont want WIllie Going down due to injury and then we saying Damn shoulda watched his carries. I think we Need to Watch his carries and keep his legs good. when we are up by a lot i dont think there is a reason to continue to push the issue when like Coach tomlin said We have Najeh and a couple Fullbacks who love to get off, At least one. Keep Fast William Fresh!!!!:toast:

MACH1
09-18-2007, 11:32 PM
Getting dookie more time might not necessarily be a bad thing. IMO

revefsreleets
09-19-2007, 08:25 AM
I don't know, but it seems to me that before all this "running back by committee stuff", I seem to remember lot's of NFL RB's carrying the ball 25 times a game (which averages 400 carries a season).

In 79, Campbell and Payton were at 368 and 369. 80 was Campbell at 373. In 83 Dickerson carried 390 times. 84 Dickerson carried 379 and Payton carried 381. Gerald Riggs carried the ball 397 times the next year, after 353 the year before. Dickerson carried it 404 times in 86.

I think this 370 thing might be a bit of a red herring.

83-Steelers-43
09-19-2007, 08:35 AM
I swear, this city has some major issues when it comes running backs carrying the rock. They act like the guy is going to shatter like glass come week eight. He's a football player. He's a running back. He's an athlete. Much like LT and many other backs in the league, I'm sure Willie is capable.

What? A running back getting that many carries? Crazy!!!

What? A running back who is not over 250 pounds? Crazy!!!

What? No aging LB with a big mouth? Crazy!!!

I love it. :coffee:

ShutDown24
09-19-2007, 08:40 AM
I get sick of hearing people doubt Willie year after year. Why do people always have to look for a problem with this guy?

In college he was too small.

In his first start he was a one week wonder.

In the Super Bowl, he only had one good run.

Last year, he only had a good year because there was no pressure.

This year, he is going to ware down before the season is over.

He had A TON of carries last year and never slowed down. HE IS A PRO BOWLER IN A SUPERIOR CONFERENCE. Why do people always gotta question him? It just kills me. He is one of the best! Be glad we have him.

oljoe28
09-19-2007, 08:52 AM
I agree with you 100% Shutdow24. Willie has been the man for us, and believe it or not, he has helped "The Bus" solidify is spot in Canton. He carried the load in 2004 season, which I think Jerome scored 13 TD's and obviously, we know what happen the following season. This little guy named "Fast Willie" has been carrying the load for 3 seasons now...

49ers-10
Steelers-28

Mosca
09-19-2007, 10:19 AM
All the other backs named played 3 or 4 years of college ball, where in some cases they got the ball on more than half the plays. Parker basically skipped his entire college career.

I think he'll be just fine, and he'll end his career as one of the best backs to ever play the game.


Tom

Atlanta Dan
09-19-2007, 10:38 AM
IMO Tomlin likes to throw comments out to get a rise out of the media (e.g. - the promise of numerous 2 a days during training camp that turned out not be true).

Tomlin is not going to run Parker until the wheels fall off - but saying that is an easy way for Tomlin to send a compliment to Parker regarding how valuable he thinks Willie is via the media

If Parker does carry the ball >370 times this year he will be burned out and not be starting by 2009

Preacher
09-19-2007, 10:50 AM
All the other backs named played 3 or 4 years of college ball, where in some cases they got the ball on more than half the plays. Parker basically skipped his entire college career.

I think he'll be just fine, and he'll end his career as one of the best backs to ever play the game.


Tom

You know, that was my exact thoughts as I read through this as well. Willie has four less years of wear and tear on his body. ON top of that, he also isn't a "run to darkness" type of back. He looks for the holes, and then explodes through them. He doesn't look to hit people, but to run around them. With his speed, that is very possible as well.

So I am not as worried about it. On top of that, he is also not going to carry the ball that much. With Ben passing, with Najeh and Carrey Davis... WIllie will get the ball probably around 300 times this year.

tony hipchest
09-19-2007, 10:59 AM
You know, that was my exact thoughts as I read through this as well. Willie has four less years of wear and tear on his body. ON top of that, he also isn't a "run to darkness" type of back. He looks for the holes, and then explodes through them. He doesn't look to hit people, but to run around them. With his speed, that is very possible as well.


.there were a few runs sunday where willie had turned the corner and was looking for db's to light up. hes definitely tough and doesnt shy away from contact. i would have no problem with him stepping out of bounds but he rarely does it.

Preacher
09-19-2007, 11:08 AM
there were a few runs sunday where willie had turned the corner and was looking for db's to light up. hes definitely tough and doesnt shy away from contact. i would have no problem with him stepping out of bounds but he rarely does it.

You're right. My point was that when given the opportunity to run to daylight, or hit someone, he will run to daylight for more yards (the OB line is a different story, he does step in and drill people). However, someone like Jerome busts through the line, and then seems to turn right at the LB to drill em. That is what I meant.

rog
09-19-2007, 11:34 AM
I love Willie but it does not hurt to pull him here and there to give him a break. IMO keeping him fresh throughout the game will make him all that more effective. Just look at Tomlinson he doesn't get every carry Turner gets quite a few carries during the season and Tomlinson is arguebly the best player in the league. With the depth we have at runningback and the promise the young guys have show I see no problem in giving Davis or Russell some of Willie's carries.

alittlejazzbird
09-19-2007, 12:41 PM
I seem to recall reading that age 29 is a pivotal year for a running back, in terms of how quickly he is likely to decline. Willie turns 27 in a couple months, so in another two years, we should have a pretty good idea of where he's heading.

Sitting out most of his college career will prove to be a huge advantage for him, I think.

rog
09-19-2007, 12:48 PM
I seem to recall reading that age 29 is a pivotal year for a running back, in terms of how quickly he is likely to decline. Willie turns 27 in a couple months, so in another two years, we should have a pretty good idea of where he's heading.

Sitting out most of his college career will prove to be a huge advantage for him, I think.

Completly agree with you...Why the hell didn't his college coach play him oh well we should send him a thank you card for keeping him fresh for us.

HometownGal
09-19-2007, 01:47 PM
Quit treating these professional athletes like they are china dolls for God's sake! If FWP wants the ball more - give it to him!! I would think he, better than anyone, knows his own limitations and from what I've seen, he hasn't even come close to reaching those yet.

83-Steelers-43
09-19-2007, 01:56 PM
Why the hell didn't his college coach play him

Bunting wanted him to put on a few more extra pounds because he was attempting to establish a power running game.

83-Steelers-43
09-19-2007, 02:01 PM
Parker's new uniform in order to appease some fans and media heads......

http://www.chicagofunevents.com/newpages/gamesbubbleball.jpg

Atlanta Dan
09-19-2007, 02:47 PM
Quit treating these professional athletes like they are china dolls for God's sake! If FWP wants the ball more - give it to him!! I would think he, better than anyone, knows his own limitations and from what I've seen, he hasn't even come close to reaching those yet.

Well Earl Campbell thought he knew his limitations and now he spends his weekends on only one floor of his house because he cannot take the stairs and can barely move. Campbell was pretty much shot after his 4th year in the NFL (the second number in the chart is carries and the third # is total yards)

1978 302 1450 4.8
1979 368 1697 4.6
1980 373 1934 5.2
1981 361 1376 3.8
1982 157 538 3.4

I forget who said it, but running the ball 25 times in a NFL game is like being in 25 auto accidents every Sunday afternoon. A career can end on any play, but the more plays you run the sooner your skills run out.

One job of a coach is to save players from their own illusions of immortality (e.g. - one reason i was pi**ed at Cowher last year was bringing Ben back from injures so quickly).

Willie P. is a talent and I would hate for him to burn out too soon.

Coach Tomlin - Save Willie!

Jman
09-19-2007, 02:54 PM
Well Earl Campbell thought he knew his limitations and now he spends his weekends on only one floor of his house because he cannot take the stairs and can barely move. Campbell was pretty much shot after his 4th year in the NFL (the second number in the chart is carries and the third # is total yards)

1978 302 1450 4.8
1979 368 1697 4.6
1980 373 1934 5.2
1981 361 1376 3.8
1982 157 538 3.4

I forget who said it, but running the ball 25 times in a NFL game is like being in 25 auto accidents every Sunday afternoon. A career can end on any play, but the more plays you run the sooner your skills run out.

One job of a coach is to save players from their own illusions of immortality (e.g. - one reason i was pi**ed at Cowher last year was bringing Ben back from injures so quickly).

Willie P. is a talent and I would hate for him to burn out too soon.

Coach Tomlin - Save Willie!

I don't believe it is good to run your RB into the ground. I also think the great teams in the NFL right now do use a two-back system. Regarding Campbell...Well...Campbell is Campbell...and Parker is Parker. They are not the same. :coffee:

moedap
09-19-2007, 03:58 PM
I know these are professional atheletes but they are human and shouldnt just be used to the detriment of the personal health and welfare. I know a guys who played RB in college on the D II level who are still having knee and back problems from their college careers.

Hines0wnz
09-19-2007, 05:20 PM
Willie cannot really be compared to Campbell & Payton because those guys (at least early on for Sweetness) initiated contact when they ran, so did Jerome. However, I may be wrong but Dickerson was a run, cut, run, cut type of RB which is what I see more in Willie. Willie makes contact when he wants to for the situation but he isnt looking to put the hurt on anyone like the Bus did. I think he'll be fine. This reminds me of everyone crying last year after Jerome retired and thought Willie "wasnt the back" for this team and this offense. Now its evolved to he carries too much. What's next, he's 28 and lost too much speed already? :rolleyes:

jjpro11
09-19-2007, 05:22 PM
i dont think parker will be getting that many carries mainly because davenport has looked so good thus far. that guy is finally running with authority. he needs some more touches.

Stlrs4Life
09-20-2007, 08:10 PM
Nothing more than a writer needing something to write about. Willie will be fine, and trust Tomlin to know when he needs a break.

NV STEELERS 723
09-20-2007, 09:06 PM
Fast Willie won't get that many carries this year because Big Ben is going to break the STEELERS QB record for yards,completions, and Td's passes...

Don't you guys think that Tomlin said that for the up-coming games?....

WE will pass more this year then run...it will be about 55-45...

BlastFurnace
09-20-2007, 10:51 PM
Had Willie got hurt playing against Cleveland when the Steelers had a 24 point lead in the 4th quarter, many of you who are thinking that all these extra carries won't hurt him would be singing a completely different tune.

When the game is out of reach in the 4th QTR, Willie needs to be pulled...as does Ben. Both of them played far too long in the Cleveland game.