On Super Bowl Sunday every Giants fan was filled with Big Blue pride when Michael Strahan, was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. He is election was well deserving and his accomplishments have been well chronicled. I personally want to congratulate him! However, it got me thinking…
What if I told you there is one former New York Giant also deserves to have Hall of Fame honors. Who is it? Think hard! Answer: OJ Anderson. Shocked? Before you LOL…take a moment.
OJ Anderson retired in 1992, at the time he was ranked 8th all-time in rushing (10,273 yards) and 7th all-time in touchdowns with a career total of 86. He has more rushing yards than long time Hall of Famers, Gale Sayers, Frank Gifford, Larry Czsonka, Jim Taylor and Earl Campbell.
I know people will say he is only 26th on the all-time rushing list now. But the explosion of running backs reaching 10,000 yards has been in the last 10 years. Players like Adrian Peterson and Corey Dillon have benefited from rule changes that benefit the offense. OJ played in era with stifling defenses like the ’85 Bears, Doomsday, and the Steel Curtain which only proves how impressive it was for him to get to 10,000 yards and make it as high on the rushing list as he did.
OJ was selected in the 1979, NFL draft and was a first round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals (8th overall). (By the way, guess who was picked 7th overall in the ’79 draft…don’t think too hard.) From 1979-1984, OJ Anderson was the second leading rusher in the NFL, the only player with more yards during those five years was the immortal Walter Payton, member of the Hall of Fame. In the first 6 years of his career, all with the perennial cellar dwelling Cardinals (in the old NFC East) he gained 7,999 yards (Cardinals all-time leader) and averaged over 4 yards a carry. In his rookie year alone he gained 1,605 yards and earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He followed up his rookie season with rushing for 1,352 yards in 1980, 1,376 yards in 1981, 1,270 yards in 1983, and 1,174 yards in 1984. The only seasons he did not rush for over 1,000 yards with the Cards were the 1982, strike shortened season when he rushed for 587 yards in 8 games. And again in 1985, he rushed for 479 yards in 9 games due to injury.
In 1986, he was traded to Big Blue and enjoyed the Super Bowl XXI season and capped it off that championship season with a touchdown in the Super Bowl. (By the way the 7th pick in the ’79 draft was Super Bowl XXI MVP). In 1989, OJ was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year when he rushed for 1,023 yards. In 1990, he would rush for 784 yards on the way to Super Bowl XXV. In Super Bowl XXV he rushed for 102 yards with a touchdown and earned the Super Bowl MVP Award. Even today you can picture OJ barreling off tackle, right arm upper cut, fist curling and smacking into Steve Kelso one of the
truly most memorable Super Bowls moments. He is only one of 4 running backs to earn the MVP Award in the Super Bowl. Who are the other three? Franco Harris, John Riggins and Emmitt Smith (twice) last I checked all in the Hall of Fame.
Anderson not only was a dominant rusher he had 376 catches for 3,062 yards. Twice he was named to the All-Pro team. Big Blue definitely deserves one more hall of famer…even if he is shared with the Cardinals.
OJ’s on twitter give him a follow @OJAnderson24