Prior to the 2010 NFL draft, former Stanford Toby Gerhart didn’t seem to care for knee-jerk comparisons to other white tailbacks.
Bengals running back Brian Leonard seems to welcome such comparisons, especially when a Hall of Famer is on the other side of the equation.
Carlos “Big C” Holmes of the Dayton Daily News says that Leonard “reminds some of a young John Riggins.”
“I’m my own person but do share some of the same similarities as
Leonard said, per Holmes. (So Leonard has sprouted a Riggins-style ‘fro?) “He was a hard runner and had good hands out of the
backfield. That’s what I feel like I do, make one cut and get up field, break a
tackles and make a couple of guys miss. That’s me. Hopefully, this is a
breakout year for me.”
Riggins may have had good hands out of the backfield, but he didn’t use them all that often. In 14 NFL seasons, Riggins caught 250 passes against 2,916 rush attempts — a ratio of run-to-catch of more than 11-to-1.
Leonard, in contrast, caught 30 passes in 2009 and 30 in 2007. (He played in only two games in 2008, due to injury.)
Then there’s the fact that Leonard has rushed for only 394 yards in three seasons; Riggins had more than 2,000 in his first three years, which were played at a time when the regular season had not been “enhanced” from 14 to 16 games.
But, hey, if a white running back is going to be compared on a knee-jerk basis to another white running back, the white running back could do a lot worse than Riggins.
Especially when, to date, the white running back in question has done a lot worse than Riggins.