Andrew Harris looking to become fourth RB in pro football history to rush for 1,000 yards at age 34

Andrew Harris is looking to join some elite company as he embarks on his eleventh CFL season.

Only three players in the history of professional football have rushed for 1,000 yards at the age of 34 or older. Harris turned 34 in April and was provided the opportunity to rest his body in 2020 after recording 346 touches (playoffs included) the previous year.

The first player to rush for 1,000 yards after turning 34 was the legendary George Reed, who turned 34 late in the 1973 season and finished the campaign with 1,193 yards and 12 touchdowns on 256 carries. His production improved over the following two years, rushing for 1,447 yards and five touchdowns at age 35 and 1,454 yards and eleven touchdowns at age 36.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Fans and media were shocked when the longtime Saskatchewan Roughrider announced his retirement shortly before training camp in 1976 as he was coming off one of the best years of his career. At age 36, however, it’s easy to understand why he decided it was time to step away from the game.

Mike Pringle turned 34 late in the 2001 season and finished the year with 1,323 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Head coach Don Matthews tried to replace him with troubled NFL castoff Lawrence Phillips in 2002, which limited Pringle’s production to just 39 carries for 227 yards.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

This wasn’t the end of the Hall of Fame running back’s career, however. He signed with Edmonton at age 35 and had two more excellent seasons, rushing for 1,376 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2003 and 1,141 yards and eight touchdowns at age in 2004.

Only one player in NFL history has ever rushed for 1,000 yards at age 34 or older and, remarkably, he did it twice.

John Riggins rushed for 1,347 yards and 24 touchdowns with Washington at age 34 in 1983 — both were career-bests — and 1,239 yards and 14 touchdowns at age 35 the following year. He played one final season at age 36, though he managed just 677 yards and eight scores.

Emmitt Smith came awfully close to rushing for 1,000 yards at age 35 with the Cardinals, though he fell short by 63 yards in his final season in 2004. Frank Gore came even closer to reaching the 1,000-yard mark when he rushed for 961 yards at age 34 with the Indianapolis Colts, though he also fell short.

Rushing for 1,000 yards this year will prove challenging for Harris since the 2021 CFL season has been shortened to fourteen games. The six-time all-star averaged 86.3 yards over sixteen starts in 2019, which would put him on pace for 1,208 yards over a fourteen-game season.

Harris would also eclipse another key milestone in 2021 if he reaches 1,000 rushing yards. He enters the campaign with 9,038 career rushing yards, which is only 962 shy of the illustrious 10,000-yard mark.

Only five players in CFL history have ever reached 10,000 career rushing yards: Mike Pringle (16,425), George Reed (16,116), Damon Allen (11,920), Johnny Bright (10,909), and Charles Roberts (10,285). All of these players are American, meaning Harris would be the first Canadian player ever to reach 10,000 career rushing yards.

Harris has already achieved some remarkable things in a career that includes two Grey Cups, three rushing titles, a Most Outstanding Canadian award, and a Grey Cup MVP award. Should he reach the 1,000-yard mark in 2021, Harris’ career will become all the more unforgettable.

Must Read