Fast forward to 1987. Christian Okoye makes his debut in another season marred by labor unrest. Okoye has a breakout year in 1989, rushing for 1480 yards and is the top back in the NFL. Okoye played 3 more years, gaining over 1000 yards just once more. Okoye stated football was becoming like a job to him and he retired. I contend that he lost his confidence after a perticularly devistating hit delivered by a nameless Bronco DB. He was just not the Nigeran Nightmare anymore after that hit, and the running game suffered.
In 1993 the Chiefs brought in future Hall of Fame players Joe Montana and Marcus Allen. The record of 11-5 was good enough for a playoff run through the Steelers and Houston Oilers before getting derailed by the Bills. Marcus Allen never rushed for more than 900 yards in a season in his five years in red, but was a productive player throughout his stay. Allen was a good enough stop gap to delay getting a real replacement for the future.
Priest Holmes came to KC in 2001 and led the league in rushing with 1555 yards. The following year he racked up 1615 yards and 21 TD's despite missing the final two games with a hip injury. The uncertainty of Holmes availability for the next year led to the Chiefs drafting Larry Johnson. Holmes returned to form in 2003, scoring a record (at the time) 27 touchdowns. Holmes was injured again in 2005 and Johnson rushed for 1750 yards despite starting only 8 games. In 2006 Johnson racked up 1789 yards on 416 carries. The workload took it's toll on Johnson, who was only able to run his mouth after that season. Johnson was released in 2009 after instances of running his mouth and violence towards women. Maybe had Herm Edwards not run him to death he could have been a great back somewhere else. At least Johnson was more than capable to fill the vacuum left by Holmes' injury.
The latest chapter in the RB saga is Jamaal Charles. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft due to concerns of size and his penchant for fumbling. In 2009 he was a backup and special teams player. Charles returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in a game in Pittsburgh (hard to believe him returning kicks now). After 2.7 was run out of town Charles was allowed to show his talents, having a career day in week 17 against Denver. Last year Charles led the Chiefs to 10-6 with his 1467 rushing yards. Charles' injury in week 2 of the 2011 season may just be another nail in the Chiefs coffin this year, and there's no telling if he will be the same impact player next year. This time as many before the running game is crippled by the loss of a star player without a viable replacement.
Contrast the short tenures of KC's backs against other great backs. Franco Harris played for the Steelers 12 seasons and earned 4 rings. Emmitt Smith spent 13 seasons with Dallas and collected 3 championships. Thurman Thomas ran the ball 12 seasons with the Bills. No rings for him, but went to 4 straight Superbowls.
You could make the arguement that these players were paired with superior quarterbacks, and you'd be correct. My contention is that a couple of seasons with a stellar running game more or less hid the shortcomings of some Chiefs' offenses in the past, possibly keeping the team from truly developing a franchise quarterback or making a move to obtain one. After all, if you're winning while running the ball 2/3 of the time, why waste a pick/cash for a QB? ANSWER: BECAUSE YOUR HALFBACK COULD BE LOST FOR THE SEASON/CAREER ON ANY GIVEN PLAY... OR EVEN OFF THE FIELD.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.