- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
One of the best stories of the off-season—and one that went virtually unnoticed—was the crosstown trade of running back Greg Bell from the Rams to the Raiders for just a fourth-round draft choice. Raider boss AI Davis did his research and found a 28-year-old back with mediocre speed and Pro Bowl-caliber production the last two years.
In 1988 and '89, Bell rushed for a better average (4.2 yards per carry) than Herschel Walker (4.0), gained more yards (2,349) than all but four other NFL running backs (Walker, Eric Dickerson, Roger Craig and Neal Anderson) and scored more touchdowns (33) than any other player in the league.
Bell says he doesn't care about numbers; he only wants to play a prominent role with his new team. When the Raiders open the season Sunday against the Broncos, Bell will be used in a rotation of backs. That rotation will be affected by the arrival of Bo Jackson, after he finishes playing baseball.
"This isn't an individual game, so I can't worry about individual stats," says Bell. " Eric Dickerson rushed for 2,000 yards [in '84], but what came of it? Did the Rams win the Super Bowl? I've been around seven years and put up some good stats and made some good pay. But I don't have the Super Bowl ring."
The 5'10", 210-pound Bell will try to become the first NFL back ever to run for 1,000 yards in a season for three different teams. He gained 1,100 as a rookie with the Bills in '84.
Six of the top dozen rushers in league history have been elected to the Football Hall of Fame. The accompanying chart shows how the best back-to-back seasons for each of these six greats compare with Bell's performance in 1988-89.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]