Few NFL running backs are in the mood to throw a party on their 30th birthdays, because that’s the magic number at which we start referring to running backs as old. But Ronnie Brown, the 30-year-old running back who just signed with the Chargers, says he has the body of a younger man.
According to Brown, the fact that he’s never been a workhorse back is a blessing, and it means he’s fresh and ready to play for a few more years.
“It’s kind of weird,” Brown told U-T San Diego. “I guess when you turn 30, people just automatically look and be like, ‘He’s old.’ But when I look at the situation, I’d probably take four or five years away given the fact that I’ve never had to really carry the load, whether it was Auburn or Miami. I’ve been one of those guys that’s split time.”
Brown is right: At Auburn he split carries with Cadillac Williams and never had more than 175 carries in a season. In the NFL, even when he was a starter with the Dolphins, he split carries with Ricky Williams and never had more than 241 carries in a season. He’s never had one of those backbreaking seasons in which he averaged 20 or 25 carries a game.
Still: Brown is, in fact, 30 years old. And over the last three seasons his average yards per carry has trended downward, from 4.4 in 2009 to 3.7 in 2010 to 3.2 in 2011. And although Brown was healthy enough to play all 16 games for the Eagles last season, he had career lows in carries (42), yards (136) and touchdowns (1).
So Brown may have taken less of a beating over the course of his career than most 30-year-old running backs, but that doesn’t mean he’s any closer to his prime than most 30-year-old running backs. If Brown regains his top form in San Diego, it would be a big surprise.