One of the biggest numbers that running backs and fans focus on is 1,000 yards rushing in one season. The best backs in the league can put up multiple 1,000 yard seasons during their career, some even averaging that much. Here we’re going to take a look at running backs who have rushed for 1,000 yards or more during their rookie season.
All information is current through the end of the 2008 NFL season.
-The first rookie running back to put up a 1,000 yard season was Beattie Feathers of the 1934 Chicago Bears. Feathers played in just 11 games that season and averaged an amazing 8.44 yards per carry. There would not be another rookie to rush for 1,000 yards in a season for almost 30 years when the Buffalo Bills‘ Cookie Gilchrist did so in 1962.
-There are 56 rookie running backs who have rushed for 1,000 yards or more during their rookie seasons and only five of them have ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Franco Harris, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, and Barry Sanders.
-The NFL team that has had the most 1,000 yard rushers as rookies is the Buffalo Bills. During their history, six players have gained more than 1,000 yards during their rookie seasons with the team including Cookie Gilchrist (1962 – 1,096), Terry Miller (1978 – 1,060), Joe Cribbs (1980 – 1,185), Greg Bell (1984 – 1,100), Willis McGahee (2004 – 1,128), and Marshawn Lynch (2007 – 1,115).
-The most rookie running backs reaching the 1,000 yard mark in one season is three. This has happened in four different years: 1993, 1995, 2001, and 2008.
-The most yards rushed for in a season by a rookie is 1,808 by Eric Dickerson for the Los Angeles Rams in 1983.
-Eric Dickerson also scored the most touchdowns of any rookie running back to rush for 1,000 yards with 18.
-The only team to ever have back-to-back 1,000 yard rushers as rookies is the Denver Broncos with Olandis Gary in 1999 and Mike Anderson in 2000. They then skipped a year and had Clinton Portis rush for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie in 2002.
-The youngest rookie rush for 1,000 yards in a season did so at the age of 21. There are actually eight 21 year olds to do this: Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, Jamal Lewis, Marshawn Lynch, Clinton Portis, Rashaan Salaam, and Barry Sanders.
-The oldest rookies to rush for 1,000 yards in a season did so at the age of 27. The two players to accomplish this at 27 years of age are Cookie Gilchrist of the Bills and Mike Anderson of the Broncos. Gilchrist’s delay to his NFL career was due to him starting his career out playing in the Ontario Rugby Football Union and the Canadian Football League north of the border. Anderson’s career got a late start due to his enlistment in the United States Marines following high school.