KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — As he was rolling up 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Jamaal Charles was running toward a Pro Football Hall of Fame career.
With his career over after signing a one-day contract Wednesday to retire as a member of the Chiefs (and taking a ceremonial handoff from Patrick Mahomes), the question becomes: Did Charles run far enough?
Charles believes so.
"Some of my numbers look way better than some people already in Canton," Charles said in an interview with TMZ posted in early April.
He's right. Charles' 7,563 career yards (7,260 with the Chiefs) rank No. 56 heading into the 2019 season. No. 60 is Leroy Kelly, who rushed for 7,274 yards with the Browns. At 68 is John Henry Johnson, who ran for 6,803 yards, mostly with the Steelers.
Down the list are Hall of Famers Floyd Little, Gale Sayers and Marion Motley.
Just above Charles at No. 55 is Terrell Davis, who finished his career with 44 more rushing yards. Davis was enshrined in 2017.
Among those with more rushing yards who are Hall of Fame eligible but not in: Edgerrin James (12,246), Fred Taylor (11,695) and Priest Holmes (8,172).
Charles is a difficult call. The greatest selling point for his candidacy is the incredible 5.4 rushing yards per attempt. This ranks fourth in NFL history, second among running backs.
Charles was incredible at slipping through a crease, finding an opening and, like the Roadrunner — poof! — gone. He had seven touchdown runs of 50 yards or more.
In 2012, Charles had more rushing touchdowns of at least 80 yards (three) than fewer than 80 yards (two).
The arrival of Andy Reid of 2013 expanded Charles' game. That first year with Reid, Charles led team in rushing and receiving attempts and yards and led the NFL with 19 touchdowns in the second of his two All-Pro seasons.
But a few things work against Charles. There were only two playoff appearances in his 11 years, both with the Chiefs. In his second, against the Colts in 2013, Charles was injured on the first series and didn't return.
The lack of postseason success could be a factor. Davis' role in the Broncos' consecutive Super Bowl victories is why he's in Canton despite a career that lasted seven seasons and 78 regular-season games.
Charles never led the NFL in rushing or scoring, unlike Holmes, who topped the rushing chart once and touchdown list twice.
But it also speaks to Charles' talent that he put together two of his best seasons on losing teams.
His 2012 effort — 1,509 rushing yards, the fifth-best in Chiefs history — on a team that finished 2-14 deserves special mention.
Injuries shortened Charles' career and cost him nearly a full season in his prime, in 2011. He was never the same player after the season ending ACL tear at Arrowhead against the Bears in 2015. After that, Charles appeared in 19 games with no starts.
Add it up and the Charles' case is compelling. To be considered, a player or coach has to be retried for five consecutive seasons. Charles' fifth season will be 2023.
Only one running back was among 22 playing semifinalists for the Class of 2018. James missed out on advancing for the fifth straight year.
Charles' one day-contract to retire with his original team is an honor bestowed only on franchise greats, and he's a slam dunk for the Ring of Honor. Entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a longer conversation, and one that likely comes down to the assessment of Charles' peak years and whether there were enough to gain entry into the game's most exclusive club.