After Anthony “The Sausage” Sherman’s surprise retirement last week where do his final numbers land him on the long list of Kansas City’s best to play the position?
Although the fullback position has become somewhat of a dinosaur in the NFL today, Anthony Sherman became a household name for Chiefs fans over the past eight seasons and made his stamp on Chiefs Kingdom with his eccentric style and impressive talent on the field.
Whether it was his above-average run blocking or his ability to be the gadget player that Reid needed him to be, he will be forever remembered as one of the best to play the position in red, white, and yellow.
But just how high do Sherman’s career stats and overall gameplay ability rank him in the hall-of-fame lineup that is Kansas City’s all-time fullbacks? I thought it would be fun to see just how good he has been compared to the likes of some of the best FBs to ever put on a Chief uniform.
Obviously, with the skill players that Reid has brought in since he arrived in Kansas City it’s hard to see Anthony Sherman as one of the biggest playmakers on the Chiefs but before putting #42 by the wayside let us all remember that without ‘the Sausage’ there would be no “run to immortality” (below) for Damien Williams to help cap off KC’s first Super Bowl in 50 years–something no other Chief fullback can claim on their résumé with the team.
So Sherman has quite possibly the biggest accomplishment–a Super Bowl ring–on his side of the battle for ‘Greatest Fullback in KC history’ but what else does he bring to the table that makes him stand out above the rest?
Well, when it comes to Sherman’s overall play-making ability, special teams coordinator Dave Toub said back in 2017 that Sherman was “the best fullback that I’ve ever coached…he plays on all four phases. That’s a rare thing in the NFL.”
Sherman’s career in KC ultimately encapsulated 125 regular-season games and 13 postseason games, with eight of those 13 coming in the past three seasons. He went to one Pro Bowl (’18) and accumulated 58 total receptions for 449 yards along with 27 rushes for 70 total yards and five total TDs under his belt.
But, as most people know, the fullback position is not necessarily known for rushing titles or catching a lot of TDs, they’re usually a wedge between the defensive pressure and whoever is carrying the ball behind them whether it be the QB in the pocket, a running back, or a receiver on a sweep or trick play.
There have surely been quite a few great running backs in KC history, like Jamaal Charles, Priest Holmes, or Christian Okoye (just to name a few), so someone had to be blocking for these KC greats–something Sherman hasn’t necessarily had to do often with Reid’s pass-heavy offensive schemes and lack of tenured, established rushers since 2014.
So who could be considered better than Sherman in regards to blocking? Who would be held above him in regards to pass-catching or scoring on the ground?
#49 Tony Richardson (’95-’05)
The first name to come to most people’s mind is Tony Richardson who was originally a special teams player and ended up playing 11 seasons in Kansas City blocking for the likes of Larry Johnson, Marcus Allen, and Priest Holmes during his record-breaking season in ’03 when he ran for 27 scores behind Richardson.
Richardson was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2016, and for good reason, because after 163 games in red and yellow he blocked for four individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons by two Chiefs (Holmes, Johnson)–including Johnson’s 1,750-yard season in ’05 (2nd-highest in team history) and Holmes’ 1,615-yard season in ’02 (3rd-highest)–as well as contributing on the ground himself, with 1,576 total rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs.
He was named to three pro-bowls (two as a Chief–’03 & ’04) and after his time in KC, he showed he was still as elite as any FB could be by blocking for four more 1,000-yard rushers (Chester Taylor in ’06, Adrian Peterson in ’07, Thomas Jones in ’08 and ’09, and LaDainian Tomlinson in ’10).
Not only did Richardson show his dominance on the ground, he also hauled in 1,298 receiving yards on 177 receptions over his 11-year long tenure as a Chief, with 9 receiving TDs being added to his Kansas City résumé.
Richardson was one of the best fullbacks in NFL history, not just Chiefs history, and over the course of his 16-year career in the league he proved why the fullback position was truly the key to teams having great rushing attacks, he exhibited how to transcend the position into the newer & flashier NFL, and he showed why he should be considered for Canton.
#48 James Hadnot (’80-’83)
Hadnot only played four seasons in the NFL–all with Kansas City–and during that time his statistics would make you think that he did not make much of an impact, but that’s where stats would be wrong because Hadnot had a serious ripple effect at the position which showed in seasons after.
Although he only amassed a measly 1,029 rushing yards from 266 attempts (3.9 yds/att) on top of 426 receiving yards, he led the way for one of the greatest rushing games in Chiefs history which all revolved around the late, great Joe Delaney who was a rookie during the 1981 season.
Delaney and Hadnot had their best seasons in ’81 with Delaney putting up 1,121 rushing yards (a then-record for a Chief RB) and Hadnot averaged 4.3 y/a on the way to adding another 603 yards on the ground, as well as three of his five career TDs.
Hadnot proved he could block and run when needed, which is one of the few things that can turn a good fullback into a great fullback, and during his short time in the league he showed just how threatening a one-two punch in the backfield can be (something we see played out very often across the NFL today).
#84 Kris Wilson, (’04-’07)
Kris Wilson, who was originally a tight end for the Chiefs, moved into the FB position in ’06 when Ronnie Cruz was injured five games into the season, Wilson ended up doing so well in his new position that KC promoted him to starting FB the very next season.
Wilson quickly showed that he could be a pass-catcher out of the backfield (above) which was great for (then) Head Coach Herm Edwards who had Tony Gonzalez, Eddie Kennison, and Dwayne Bowe catching deeper balls or attracting coverage further downfield which allowed Wilson and Larry Johnson to get easy yardage.
And while Wilson rarely rushed the ball–just 13 yds on four career attempts–he was a powerful and big (6’2″, 245 lbs) presence between defenders and Johnson in his record-breaking ’06 season.
In fact, Larry Johnson’s 1,789-yard season is heavily indebted to the addition of Wilson into the backfield because before Wilson moved into the FB position (Week 6) Johnson only averaged 3.4 y/a, he only had two 100-yard rushing games, and just four total TDs. After Wilson switched to FB, Johnson put up nine 100-yard rushing performances over the final 11 games, scored 15 more TDs, and averaged 4.6 on the way to a playoff loss in Indianapolis.
Overall Wilson ended up having his best years in Kansas City and compiled 387 yards from scrimmage, scored five TDs, and helped the Chiefs backfield sustain one of the greatest rushing seasons in KC history with his size and versatility.
#38 Kimble Anders, (’91-’00)
Anders spent his entire career in Kansas City, spanning 10 seasons where he went to three consecutive Pro Bowls and six separate playoff appearances–five consecutively (’91-’95)–but sadly only made it out of the first round once, a terrible feeling that Chiefs fans also had to endure for decades.
Although Anders is currently ranked 15th in KC history in rushing yards (2,261) he was typically not the rushing brand of fullback like Jim Brown or Mike Alstott.
Granted, Anders was dangerous enough on the ground to psych out defenses but he was also typically blocking for Hall-of-Famer Marcus Allen, both of which led to Anders’ receiving skills being put on display constantly during his tenure in red & yellow,
With QBs like Joe Montana, Elvis Grbac, and Rich Gannon throwing to him for his entire career it’s easy to see why his reliable hands were used more in the passing game rather than the running game, and in the end, Anders finished with 2,829 yards on 369 receptions, with nine of his 18 TDs coming through the air while the other half came on the ground.
Anders’ postseason record (2-5) is the one thing that plagues his record book, especially considering what little production he brought to postseason games after seasons chalk-full of big plays, but if Anders can brag about anything from his time on this Earth it would probably be catching Joe Montana’s final touchdown pass of his illustrious career during the 1994 Wild Card loss to Miami:
While his 57-yard touchdown catch-and-run will forever live on as one of the best Chiefs postseason plays ever, it was Anders’ only postseason TD of his career and that particular game would be the only playoff game that Anders would have more than 50 total yards in, just another example of past playoff disappointments in KC history.
When it’s all said and done, Anders will always be known as one of the best fullbacks to ever put on a Chiefs jersey and his explosiveness showed in every game and in every aspect of what makes an all-star fullback.
So where is Sherman at the end of all this? These are just some of the best fullbacks in Chiefs history and Sherman seems to be neck-and-neck with the majority of them. If one were to weigh out the best attributes of these fullbacks and their gameplay Sherman would have the edge in blocking over some, receiving over others, and let’s not forget the shiny piece of hardware he earned in Super Bowl 54.
But all-in-all it’s hard to beat the legendary play of Tony Richardson–both blocking or rushing–and it’s hard to say that Sherman tops the receiving level of Curtis McClinton (’63-’69) who is 24th on the Chiefs’ all-time receiving yards list (1,945 yds) or even Wendell Hayes (’68-’74) who had 3,553 all-purpose yards in seven seasons.
If there were a hierarchy of Chiefs fullbacks the top two would be:
1) Tony Richardson
2) Kimble Anders
But after those two the field is simply too diverse and too difficult to compare with the differing eras, measuring blocking attributes vs rushing/receiving skills, and the overall team’s play those seasons–especially without much footage from the older days–but Sherman should be grateful to be considered among the best of the best in KC history.
Sherman is easily a top-10 fullback in the Chiefs’ renowned 61-year history but where he ranks among the top-five could be argued for years to come. The more important question that Chiefs fans should be asking right now is “who is going to fill the ginormous shoes of Sherman when the 2021 season begins?”
Whoever it is will have to be fast-paced and reliable with their hands if they want to keep up with this dynamic offense and keep the Chiefs’ long-standing history of great fullbacks alive and well.