|Sanders loses two All-Pros under purist standards.|
Previously we've looked at Zach Thomas' five All-Pro selection by the AP and showed all of them were the "second slot". That will certainly help him in any potential Hall of Fame discussion. So, looking at the same kind of thing for running backs could be useful, too.
What if a fullback were added in, say 1990 and at the same time one of the running backs were removed? What if the All-Pro team followed what teams were actually doing?
We go through this exercise to show the purists who, from time to time, pop up on social media saying only one running back should be All-Pro, not two. And we get it—since the 1980s teams moved to one-back sets with either a fullback or H-back to lead the way for the runner. But the 1990s is was standard—fullbacks don't run the ball.
So, year-by-year, who would have been the one running back, matched with a fullback and how would it have changed their "resumes"?
So, who gets cut from the AP All-Pro team each year? We are doing just the quick eyeball test of stats since all were great, great players and show AP voting to see who got the most votes as well.
Obvousily we are not saying we know who would have won the voting at the time (ahistorically) if the voters were forced to choose one runner and one blocker, just showing that regardless of who they picked it would make some difference in career resumes for the borderline HOFers.
(Hat tip to Pro Football Reference for graphics and search engine)
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (63 votes)
Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills (79)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (72)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (77)
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (98)
Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (85)
Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos (86)
Note: Barry Sanders was First-team All-Pro by PFWA and SN making him a tied as a consensus All-Pro and this one data point should end all the "AP-only" schools of thought.
Fullback: Larry Centers, Arizona Cardinals
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (48)
Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos (47)
So, Barry Sanders loses two AP All-Pro seasons, Jerome Bettis loses both of his, Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis lose one each as does Jamal Anderson, Barry Foster, and Thurman Thomas.
It would make some difference when evaluating careers, not for the top guys like Smith and Sanders but for Bettis and Davis it might.