Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is coming off a season in which he played through nagging injuries all year. But at age 28, he doesn’t think his body is breaking down.
In fact, Charles thinks he’s going to keep playing through 2020, defying age and going far beyond what most running backs are able to achieve.
“I want to play another six years,” Charles said. “I’m seeing guys at 37 or 38 still playing football in the trenches and that’s somewhere where you don’t want to play. So I just want to change the game with the running backs. I want this to last longer and then when I retire, I’ll be happy with where I end my career at.”
If Charles does play six more seasons, he would play his last NFL game at age 34, an age at which few running backs are productive: The last time a running back at 34 or older managed a 1,000-yard season was in 1984, when John Riggins did it. But Charles thinks it will become more common in the future.
“Football is changing, sports are just changing,” Charles said. “You can see basketball, like Kobe Bryant, he is still playing at 36. You see Tim Duncan. I think back in the days you couldn’t play for long because there were a lot of people that didn’t know the fundamentals of hitting, running people over. That’s not my form.”
The good news for Charles is that, as the NFL’s all-time leading running back at 5.5 yards a carry, even if he slows down a step, he could still be a productive player. It’s not realistic to think Charles will still be playing at 34 the way he has played in his 20s, but it might be realistic to think he could still play well enough to have a spot on an NFL roster.