Current players have been weighing in on running backs getting no love from the NFL. We haven’t heard much from former running back greats. Until now!
Steelers Veteran RB Voices His Opinion on Running Backs
No love is given to the running backs, according to Jerome Bettis. He feels that talented running backs like Saquon Barkley, who “don’t grow on trees,” are underappreciated. Bettis suggests that teams can afford to barter more with players because the market is not in the running back’s favor, and they can often be seen as easily replaceable.
Bettis believes the position is being devalued because teams will replace a talented RB with a few players who can “fill that void.” A quantity-over-quality situation.
Bettis also admitted that players that previously would have played and succeeded at the RB role are often switching to other positions, with the most talented hightailing it to other areas. That also adds to the devaluation of the running back role.
Current NFL Running Backs Speak Out
Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs are making waves by planning to hold out from training camp until their contract deals are met.
The best way to motivate players going into the 2023–2024 season is to not make them feel like their position doesn’t matter. Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry makes this point and offers his support to his fellow running backs.
At this point , just take the RB position out the game then . The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization , just seems like it don’t even matter . I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve . https://t.co/OgvBWZCKvn
— Derrick Henry (@KingHenry_2) July 17, 2023
As one of the positions on the field that faces some of the most punishing hits in the game, it feels hurtful to devalue the players who put their health on the line.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler doesn’t appreciate what he feels is an artificial devaluation of his position.
This is the kind of trash that has artificially devalued one of the most important positions in the game. Everyone knows it’s tough to win without a top RB and yet they act like we are discardable widgets. I support any RB doing whatever it takes to get his bag. https://t.co/sRYfAKwrpQ
— Austin Ekeler (@AustinEkeler) July 17, 2023
One of the best to ever play it, Christian McCaffrey, also weighed in on the current discussion.
This is Criminal. Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position. https://t.co/zDXRS5cGdu
— Christian McCaffrey (@CMC_22) July 17, 2023
Aaron Jones, Brandon Jacobs, Le’Veon Bell, Najee Harris, and Jonathan Taylor have also tweeted their displeasure with the state of the RB position in the NFL.
Future of the Running Back Position?
Bettis is quick to admit that the nature of the game does change with time. He remembers the fullback position being effectively eliminated by the passing game during the Peyton Manning era.
Although Bettis does see the way positions are being played differently now, he feels that a special running back is an important asset to a team, especially with a new quarterback like Steelers QB Kenny Pickett, who will need to run the ball while he is developing.