Death of the Running Back


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

We’re ramping up this week for the Open Championship, Lionel Messi’s MLS debut, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. NFL training camps are just one week away, and one position group is already taking hits.

Letter Rip!

Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs & Tony Pollard Fail to Get Extensions Before Franchise Tag Deadline

“It is what it is.” That was Saquon Barkley’s tweet on Monday after the deadline passed for franchise-tagged players to receive long-term contracts. The Giants’ star ballcarrier, arguably the best running back in football, doesn’t have the security of a long-term deal, and he’s not alone. Josh Jacobs (Raiders) and Tony Pollard (Cowboys) are the other two running backs who got the tag last spring. None of them received long-term money. And thus continues the death of the running back.

The NFL’s Most Disrespected Position

It’s been trending this way for a long time now, but Monday’s deadline signaled a true shift in the league’s devaluation of the running back position. If Barkley and Jacobs can’t get deals in their prime, who can? The last decade has seen teams adopt a run-by-committee approach with the shelf life of star ballcarriers shorter than other positions. And while great backs are valuable to have, the analytics show that paying them rarely translates to championship-level success. Most of the recent dynasties and Super Bowl winners were built on the quarterback with the largest part of the salary cap focused on QB, pass-protectors, pass-rushers, and receivers. And even though runners can help shift a game in an instant, they’re rarely the hero hoisting the Lombardi.

Fun Fact: The last running back to win Super Bowl MVP was Terrell Davis 25 years ago (Broncos, 1998). Prior to Davis, the previous 30 Super Bowls featured six MVP ball carriers.

Death of the Running Back

Not only are Barkley, Jacobs, and Pollard playing on the tag this season, but two of the league’s top backs are also still job-searching free agents (Ezekiel Elliot & Dalvin Cook). Miles Sanders (Panthers) was forced out of Philly because the price was too high. And Austin Ekeler (Chargers) requested a trade because he felt he was underpaid, then walked it back because there were no suitors. Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey (49ers) was traded in the middle of last season, Joe Mixon (Bengals) took a pay cut to keep his job, and a few dozen rookie running backs just entered the league. Let’s look at all the top backs who are visibly unhappy entering 2023.

Notable RBs (2022 Production & Rank)

J. Jacobs (LVR): 1,653 rush yards (1st), 12 TDs (T-4th)

S. Barkley (NYG): 1,312 rush yards (4th), 10 TDs (8th)

T. Pollard (DAL): 1,007 rush yards (15th), 9 TDs (T-9th)

A. Ekeler (LAC): 915 rush yards (17th), 13 TDs (T-2nd)

D. Cook (FA): 1,173 rush yards (6th), 8 TDs (T-11th)

E. Elliot (FA): 876 rush yards (21st), 12 TDs (T-4th)

That’s six of the most productive backs in the NFL who are free agents, franchise-tagged, or presumably disgruntled to start the season. Many of them racked up more than 300 receiving yards and multiple touchdowns through the air as well. It’s safe to say it doesn’t pay to carry the ball. Even so, the franchise tag for a running back is $10 million.

Read More

NBC Sports: NFL Running Backs React to Barkley, Jacobs & Pollard Not Getting Deals

SI: Running Backs Are Out of Options as Position Keeps Getting Financially Squeezed

B/R: What NFL Franchise Tag Means for Jacobs, Barkley & Pollard

CBS Sports: Franchise Tag Deadline Winners & Losers: Tough Day for Jacobs, Barkley & Pollard



Tour de France Fans

Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / Getty Images

Fans Cause Crash for 2nd Straight Year as Rider Safety Becomes Major Concern at Tour de France

It’s the final week of the Tour de France, but the 3600 km trek (2,235 miles) hasn’t been without chaos. More than 15 million spectators line the course throughout the French countryside and inner-city legs, and those viewers are causing more problems in 2023. Crashes aren’t new at the Tour de France, but a spectator-caused pile-up occurred over the weekend for the second straight year after one fan leaned into the bike path to take a photo with their phone. Crashes also occurred on Stage 14, although not from fan interference, and the latest incident has riders pleading for added safety measures.

Photo Caption: As you can see in the above picture, it’s impossible to rope, fence, or block off 2,235 miles of race path. Fans get a little overzealous when they see their favorite rider.

Watch: Fan Causes Stage 15 Crash at Tour de France

Where They Stand

Monday marked another rest day for the riders after Week 2. The final week starts now with five more stages before the finale of Stage 21 in Paris Champs-Elysees on Sunday. Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard leads two-time winner Tadej Pogacar by just 10 seconds overall. No other rider is within striking distance as it appears to be a two-horse race once again.

Tour de France Standings

1. J. Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): 62h, 34m, 17s

2. T. Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates): 62h, 34m, 27s

3. C. Rodriguez Cano (Ineos Grenadiers): 62h, 39m, 38s

4. A. Yates (UAE Team Emirates): 62h, 39m, 57s

5. J. Hindley (Bora-Handsgrohe): 62h, 40m, 55s

Full Standings

Upcoming Schedule

Stage 16: Today (6:50 am ET) — Passy→Combloux

Stage 17: Wed. (6:05 am ET) — Saint-Gervais→Courchevel

Stage 18: Thurs. (6:55 am ET) — Moutiers→Bourgen-Bresse

Read More

Guardian: Tour de France Team Consider Legal Action After Fan-Caused Crash

Yahoo! Sports: Peloton Crash Caused by Fan Leads to Cyclists Pleading for Self-Awareness



MLB 1st-Half Rules Rewind

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

An In-Depth Look at How New Rules Have Impacted Baseball in 2023 (By Marissa Kasch)

When the MLB announced their (several) rule changes earlier this year, opinions on it were spread thin. Casual fans welcomed the rule changes in the name of a quicker game. When I say casual fans, I’m referring to the people who complain that baseball is too long or too boring.

Whenever I hear that rhetoric, my response is always the same: If you’re looking for something fast-paced and dynamic, try basketball. Baseball isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. But baseball is for some: the Philadelphia kid whose entire bedroom is dedicated to the Phillies, the guy with the life-sized cardboard cutout of Mike Trout in his basement, and the sweet grandmother who’d never miss a Guardians home game. These people are the baseball purists, otherwise known as the ones who are outraged over the alteration of baseball as we knew it. After the initial shock of the new rules receded, fans took to denial, anger, and bargaining. This couldn’t be the fate of America’s pastime, could it?

In the grieving process, somewhere after denial comes acceptance, whether we like it or not. Now, we are in the thick of the 2023 MLB season. So how are these rule changes holding up? Have they changed the game of baseball as we know it? Not completely. Have they accomplished what they set out to do? Also, not completely. Let’s look at how the 2023 rule changes have impacted baseball so far…

The Summary: Stolen bases are up due to the increased base size. Games are faster on average thanks to the pitch clock. And batting averages are higher because of the shift ban. But that’s not all…

Read the Full Story (The




Rangers Top Rays on Walk-Off Wild Pitch (3-2)

Chris Taylor’s Grand Slam Helps Dodgers End O’s 8-Game Streak (6-4)

Ohtani’s Game-Tying HR (35th) Sparks Angels Walk-Off Over Yankees (4-3)

 NBA Summer League

Cavs Beat Rockets in Finals to Win NBA Summer League (99-78)



 Scouting World Cup Opponents

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is just days away and the United States women’s national team is officially in the Southern Hemisphere. Let’s look at the three opponents waiting in the group stage. (CBS Sports)

 MLB 2nd-Half Storyline Tracker

We’re turning our attention to the second half of the year, facing a season that should offer plenty of twists, turns, upsets, and excitement to fill our competitive baseball appetite. The pressure is on. It’s about to get real. (FOX Sports)

 NFL’s Next Breakout Stars

Breakout candidates are everywhere, from players overcoming injuries or ready to shed rookie struggles to those entering new roles, finding better scheme and coaching fits, or simply getting more time in the national spotlight. (Bleacher Report)





The Must-Watch List


Brewers at Phillies (6:40 pm ET)

Dodgers at Orioles (7:05 pm ET)

Rays at Rangers (8:05 pm ET)

Yankees at Angels (9:38 pm ET)

Tour de France

Stage 16 (6:50 am ET)

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