CJ2K “the fastest RB ever”: tribute and reflection

Chris Johnson, the legendary Tennessee Titans running back that broke the 40-yard dash record at the NFL combine (4.24) in 2008, hung up his cleats in 2017 as an Arizona Cardinal. The RB referred to as CJ2K put together one of the best RB careers in NFL history.

Johnson may not have tried to keep a career pace with Tom Brady, unlike Frank Gore, but he put together some of the most electric single-season performances in NFL history. Johnson shocked the football world with 2006 rushing yards in 2009 while registering 503 receiving yards in the season. Johnson became one of seven RBs ever to eclipse 2k rushing yards in a single season. His total yard count of 2,509 yards was also a record for most total yards in a season.

CJ2K wasn’t just a ball carrier with blazing speed, but he was very reliable & durable. Johnson didn’t miss one game from 2009-2013. That’s very impressive for a player that averaged 1,374 rushing yards and roughly eight rushing touchdowns a season during that span.

The elite RBs in today’s league has struggled more to maintain excellence and the ability to stay on the football field. Alvin Kamara has missed four games in four seasons, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey are coming off season-ending injuries, and Adrian Peterson has never had a three-year span without missing a game. The King himself, Derrick Henry, who became the seventh RB to run for 2,000+ yards in a single season last year (also for TENN), missed a game last year.

Johnson didn’t quite hold his reputation as a home run hitter at RB and lead bell cow after leaving the Titans. The monster Titan RB signed with the New York Jets in 2014 and didn’t find continued career success. For the first time in his career, he didn’t have a 1,000 yard rushing season (663 yards). He also notched a mere one touchdown on the ground. It wouldn’t be the first time that a Hall of Fame-caliber RB hits a wall in MetLife stadium. Ladainian Tomlinson played his last season in the league as a Jet, where he unveiled 280 rushing yards. The Big Apple just might be where elite RBs allow their elite production to come to an end.

CJ2K and the legendary dual threat QB, Michael Vick held down the Jets huddle in 2014. The aging duo led the Jets to a dissapointing 4-12 record. If the future HOF QB-RB duo performed together a couple years prior, they would undoubtebly go down as the most efficient rushing offense in NFL history.

After his one-year stint in New York, Johnson played two more years in an Arizona Cardinals uniform. His production took a bump from 2014 to 2015, where he clocked 814 rushing yards. The legendary RB then struggled to get involved, as he surfaced in four games in 2016 and four matchups in 2017. On April 24th, 2019, Chris Johnson announced his retirement as a Tennessee Titan. It was a quiet finish to a career for a player that holds a nickname for prolific magic done in one season: CJ2K

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