Darren Sproles’ season and possibly his career are ending in a way he desperately wanted to avoid.
On the shelf.
The Eagles announced on Friday that their 36-year-old running back/returner suffered a torn right hip flexor and is done for the season. It seems likely this is an unfortunate end to what was a remarkable career.
It’s also the latest reminder that sentimentally truly has no place in a sport as barbaric and cruel as football.
The Eagles fell into that trap when they brought back Sproles in July. And, as clichéd as it is, Father Time is still undefeated.
The fact is, that after Sproles struggled to stay on the field in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles should have been a little more wary about bringing him back to do it again in 2019. They never were. And in his final three NFL seasons, Sproles missed a total of 36 regular season and playoff games.
But Doug Pederson is loyal. Sometimes, he’s loyal to a fault.
And Sproles didn’t want his career to end on a bad note, not after 2017, not after 2018. Pederson never wavered either; if Sproles wanted to return, he’d have a spot for him.
Really, Sproles is just one piece of an even bigger problem from this offseason. The Eagles were relying on Sproles (age 36), DeSean Jackson (age 32) and Jason Peters (age 37). Sproles and Jackson have now had major injuries and Peters has missed the last month after getting a knee scope.
Sure, it’s easier to find the problem in hindsight. But even back then, it was fair to question moves to bring in/back older players.
“I would do it again. I would do it again,” Pederson said on Friday morning. “With all three of those guys, I would do it again. These are great players and these are great leaders, these are great teammates. Been a part of this organization for a long time, so I would make the same decision again. I think you can’t go into it blind, obviously. We know where they are in their careers, as we talked about, and that’s something you have to consider.”
Earlier this season, Sproles eclipsed Tim Brown to move into fifth place all-time in NFL all-purpose yards. It was something he cared about.
1. Jerry Rice: 23,546
2. Brian Mitchell: 23,330
3. Walter Payton: 21,803
4. Emmitt Smith: 21, 564
5. Darren Sproles: 19,696
That’s some impressive company for Sproles, who had a tremendous career, especially for a guy who stands at 5-foot-6. He was one of the most electric players in the league from the moment he was drafted in 2005.
And he was great in Philadelphia. He made his only three Pro Bowls with the Eagles in 2014, 2015 and 2016. But since then, injuries took over and his age didn’t help.
Sproles had an all-time great career. He and the Eagles just tried to hold on to it for a little too long.
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