CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I happened to run into Carolina Panthers personnel executive Mark Koncz in the press box late in Sunday’s game.
Koncz had a very good question.
“Hey, has a running back ever not led his team in rushing yardage and gone to the Pro Bowl?’’ Koncz asked.
It fits because that’s the situation the Panthers are in. Starting running back DeAngelo Williams is going to the Pro Bowl. But backup Jonathan Stewart, partly because of injuries, finished the season with more rushing yards. Stewart isn’t going to the Pro Bowl. Stewart finished with 1,133 yards and Williams with 1,117. They are the first pair of teammates to rush for 1,100 yards in the same season.
I didn’t know the answer to Koncz’s question, but I’ve got the resources to get it. I called our research people and they consulted with the Elias Sports Bureau and came up with the answer.
It has been done before, but there are some qualifiers involved. Since 1975, it’s happened a handful of times and the most recent involves a guy who really wasn’t a running back.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Alstott, who wasn’t truly a fullback either, made the Pro Bowl in 2002, 2000 and 1998. Alstott made it as a fullback and Warrick Dunn led the Bucs in rushing in 1998 and 2000 and joined Alstott in the Pro Bowl in 2000. In 2002, Michael Pittman led the Bucs in rushing.
The other instances came in 1993 when Pittsburgh’s Barry Foster was selected over Leroy Thompson, in 1988 when James Brooks made it over Ickey Woods for the Bengals and in 1980 when Kenny King went over Mark Van Eeghen for Oakland.
You can also throw in St. Louis in 1975 -- sort of. Terry Metcalf first was selected to the Pro Bowl and Jim Otis was not. But Otis later was added to the Pro Bowl roster.