I bristle a
little when the subject of Matt Forte and running backs over 30 come up. Seems like most people in Chicago want to kick him out the door and let him get his money somewhere else. I have a particular fondness for running backs, Bears running backs in particular.
Gale Sayers and Walter Payton are legends. Arguably 2 of the best running backs to ever play the game. Neal Anderson and Thomas Jones were both really good backs for a time. Matt Forte’s story isn’t finished, but as it stands he is 2nd only to Walter Payton with over 7,700 yards rushing and 11,000+ yards from scrimmage in Bears history.
Running backs over 30: There have been quite a few solid seasons by back over 30. You can check those out here. I will also list a few that have had multiple seasons after they hit the big 3-0.
Thomas Jones– He is probably the best comparison to Matt Forte in recent history. Arguably had his best two years after he hit 30. TJ ran for 1312 and 1,402 yards before slowing down at the age of 32. He also scored 13 and 14 TDs rushing in those two years.
Tiki Barber– As much as it pains me to bring up this knucklehead, his stats are relevant. 1,860 and 1,662 yards rushing in years 30 and 31. Many people felt he could have played a couple more years, but his head and heart were clearly not into it.
Curtis Martin– Another RB that is very similar to Matt Forte, had 1,308 and 1,697 yards after turning 30. When he was 31, probably posted his best season, 1,697 yards and 12 TDs. He was probably a little overworked, compiling over 400 total touches.
Ricky Waters– Posted 1,210 and 1,242 yards rushing in his 2nd and 3rd years with Seattle when he was 30 and 31 years of age, respectively. Waters also added over 100 receptions and 1,000 yards in those two seasons as well.
Fred Taylor– Taylor had maybe a little more power and a little more speed. Ran for 1,146 and 1,202 after hitting 30. Not his two best years, but he was productive. Taylor would go on and play until he was 34, finishing up with the New England Patriots.
Priest Holmes– Priest Holmes had a very interesting career. He spent the first 4 years in Baltimore where he showed flashes of being a workhorse back. They couldn’t wait to get rid of him and eventually replaced him with power running back Jamal Lewis. Holmes had one of his best years rushing when he hit 30 and added 27 TDs to go with it. Even though he would not hit the 1,000 plateau again, he would score 20 TDs over the next two season. Not too shabby.
Marcus Allen– While Marcus Allen didn’t have a 1,000 yard season after he hit 30, he scored lots of touchdowns. About 62 of them from the time he hit 30 until he retired at the young age of 37. Allen relied on speed too. He was a slashing back who had great vision. He rarely took a big hit, which prolonged his career.
I could list every back who ever rushed after 30, but I think these 7 stat my case plainly. Forte might not go on and play 5-6 years, but he definitely seems like he as 2-3 solid years left in him. He has shown he can fit into any offense and also shown he is a durable back, avoiding a big injury thus far. If you need more convincing, you can check out this post I wrote earlier in the year.