Before I begin, I want to start off by saying that Deuce McAllister is truly a stand up guy. I love the way he carries himself. I love the countless things he did for the city of New Orleans, the place I call home. He is genuinely humble and down to Earth, which contributes to why the Who Dat Nation loves him so much. Rightfully so.
This is not an indictment on his character or him as a person and I feel awful saying this about him, but…
Deuce McAllister is by far one of the most overrated players in the history of the Saints. He is looked at as a deity in the eyes of many Saints fans for being a great NFL running back. This isn’t some shock jock bullshit that I am saying just to get people fired up. Hear me out…
Aside from two phenomenal season (2002 and 2003) where he had nearly 4,000 total yards from scrimmage and 24 TDs, he had a very pedestrian NFL career.
He followed up his 2003 season with a dud where he only rushed for 1,074 yards in 2004. Deuce had two seasons cut very short due to injury (2005 and 2007). He only sniffed 1,000 yards one other time where he barely made the mark in 2006.
Saints fans were under the impression that he was one of the NFL’s best backs when he was toting the rock for the black and gold, probably because the local fanboy media (shots fired).
We, as a fanbase, fell in love with him. There was nothing better than going to Saints game with my dad and hearing fans scream “Deuuuuuuce” every single time he touched the ball, usually 25 or so times per game. It never got old.
To anyone who may ask how I can make this claim, do you guys even remember the running back pool in the NFL from 2002 (breakout year) to 2006 (last 1,000 yard season)? I certainly do and Deuce isn’t even sniffing the top 10. If you think he is, please make a compelling argument for why you would place him over any of these names during that time…
- Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks
- Clinton Portis, Denver Broncos/Washington Redskins
- Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins
- Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs
- LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
- Jamal Lewis, Baltimore Ravens
- Tiki Barber, New York Giants
- Curtis Martin, New York Jets
- Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams
- Edgerrin James, Indianapolis Colts
- Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Eddie George, Tennessee Titans
- Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Corey Dillon, Cincinnati Bengals/New England Patriots
- Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
- Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs
- Ahman Green, Green Bay Packers
- Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Atlanta Falcons
These are guys who were well established in the league as some of the better backs by 2006. Some were on the brink of retirement. Outside of those, here is a separate list of guys who were beginning to make their mark by 2006.
- Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
- Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
- Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles
- Thomas Jones, Chicago Bears/New York Jets
- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Of all the names listed, Deuce rushed for more yards than just one of them…Rudi Johnson. And not by much.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but I would take Deuce over Rudi Johnson and maybe Warrick Dunn, that is a big maybe. Even if we took the very small sample size of 2002 and 2003 where he went ape shit, most of the backs listed above had at least two seasons that were better.
When people say that the Saints should retire his number or that he is the greatest running back in Saints history, they may be right by default because the sample size isn’t much.
But, I would contest that Pierre Thomas was better and certainly more reliable. His numbers may not stack up, but part of that comes from the Saints using a running back by committee approach under Sean Payton. I would retire 23 before I retire 26.
As much as I loved screaming “Deuuuuuuce” every time he touched the rock, can we just stop pretending that Deuce was some mythical God of a football player for the Saints when he was pedestrian at best?
Despite what I believe to be true of him on the field, his character and off the field work embodies the term professional and I could not ask for a better person to represent the franchise closest to my heart.