Beyond Sproles’ recovery from injury and personal desire to play, it likely will be up to another franchise to decide whether his career extends to a 13th year.
If it does not, let the Hall of Fame debate begin. Tomlinson, who himself was inducted earlier this year, will happily endorse his former teammate and current friend.
And Tomlinson likely will not be alone in that endorsement. The reason Sproles deserves consideration might have been said best by another former teammate of Sproles, Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“I think a Darren Sproles only comes around once in your lifetime, in my career and in everybody’s career,” Brees said in 2014 after his team traded Sproles to Philadelphia for a fifth-round draft pick. “There may be another one 15, 20 years from now. But there’s not many guys like Darren Sproles.”
Two first-round picks by Snead in All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald (2014) and linebacker Alec Ogletree (2013) lead a defense now coordinated by Wade Phillips. It’s a unit that has allowed plenty of yards and points but also has forced seven turnovers.
I can relate to the pressure Snead has been under as a first-time GM working to improve his team. In my first year as Vikings GM in 1991, we went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Our coach Jerry Burns retired, and we brought in Dennis Green as the new and younger coach, similar to Snead and the Rams moving from Jeff Fisher to McVay.