The Forgotten Fullback
- Updated: September 22, 2008
Under-appreciated is becoming an under-statement. Where are the kudos for these old-school warriors? I’ll tell you what. Next weekend, as you sit on your couch, just watch them. You don’t have to do it for the entire game, but perhaps dedicate a series or two. Take those handful of plays and focus solely on the bowling ball as it propels itself at full speed toward the sickest athletes on the football field.
Concentrate on the guy whose shoulders, neck and helmet seem to meld into one. He’ll be the one barreling hellbent towards that linebacker who runs a 4.4 and is about to hit top speed with his 250-or so pounds. Looks like fun, right? Now, imagine doing that about 25-35 times/game. Such is the grim reality for the NFL fullback.
What’s more, as the viciousness of playing the position at its highest level elevates to ever-rising peaks, recognition for these men continues to plummet. Maybe the fullback is heading towards a spot similar to the long snapper, only to be noticed when royally f-ing up and at no other time. Unlike the long snapper, though, the lead blocking back is frequently playing an integral part in helping put points up on the board in the first place.
Despite the role they often play in a team’s offense, mention of fullbacks are less and less frequent on NFL telecasts. Maybe it’s just the games I watching. Perhaps for those viewing in the Southeast or Pacific Northwest the situation differs. Not the case during the contests I’m tuning in to. Those telestrators are all circled up when a big, old left tackle opens a hole. The commentators can’t seem to contain themselves after a receiver throws a downfield block. A tight-end or H-back coming across the formation on a kick out block? Kudos can’t come quickly enough.
And through it all, the fullback keeps barreling straight ahead, looking for another hat to put his hat on, recklessly tossing himself directly into the ugliest of “the mix.”
Go to NFL.com to search by position and you won’t find those commonly referred to as blocking backs listed. Instead, they’re lumped in with the glam-kid tailbacks who get all the press clippings, stadium leaps and, oh yes, the touchdowns. Guys like Madison Hedgecock, Casey Cramer, Mike Cox, Ovie Mughelli and Thomas Tapeh. A group that combined boasts a total of absolutely zero carries through three weeks of action.
Yet, quietly, the NFL fullback continues to do his job. The work is violent and (literally and figuratively) mind-numbing. The fact that it has become so thankless is ridiculous. Well, we’ve had enough. In the name of Tom Rathman, Mike Alstott and Moose, for Lorenzo Neal and Jon Ritchie, for those who still love what is good and pure and wholesome and right about American football, it’s about damn time the NFL fullback starts getting talked about again once-in-a-freakin while. We beseech you. Honor thy fullback.
Who’s with us?