August 5, 2012

MVP Profile: Ottis Anderson, 1979


Running Back, St. Louis Cardinals



Age: 22
1st season in pro football
College: Miami (FL)
Height: 6’2”    Weight: 210

Prelude:
A record-setting runner in college, Anderson was taken by the Cardinals in the first round of the 1979 NFL draft (eighth overall). With breakaway speed to go with his size, he moved immediately into the starting lineup as a rookie with spectacular results.

1979 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 331 [4]
Most attempts, game - 31 (for 109 yds.) at NY Giants 9/9
Yards – 1605 [3]
Most yards, game – 193 yards (on 21 carries) vs. Dallas 9/2
Average gain – 4.8 [9]
TDs – 8 [14, tied with four others]
100-yard rushing games – 9

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 41       
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 11 yds.) vs. Pittsburgh 9/16, (for 39 yds.) at Dallas 10/21
Yards – 308
Most yards, game - 58 (on 4 catches) at Houston 10/7
Average gain – 7.5
TDs – 2

Passing
Pass attempts – 1
Pass completions – 0
Interceptions – 0

All-Purpose yards – 1913 [4]

Scoring
TDs – 10 [15, tied with five others]
Points – 60

Awards & Honors:
NFC Player of the Year: Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA
2nd team All-NFL: NEA
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Cardinals went 5-11 to finish fifth in the NFC East while leading the NFC in rushing yards (2582).

Aftermath:
While the rookie rushing total remained his career high, Anderson continued to be a consistently outstanding runner and had over a thousand yards in five of his first six seasons (only missing in strike-shortened 1982). Injuries limited him to 479 yards in 1985 and he was traded to the New York Giants during the ’86 season. He saw little action as a reserve in 1987 and ’88 but moved back into the starting lineup at age 32 in 1989 and rushed for 1023 yards and 14 TDs. He had another solid year in ’90, gaining 784 yards, scoring 11 touchdowns, and gaining MVP honors in the Super Bowl. Anderson was a reserve again in 1991 and ’92, his last two seasons. Overall, he had six 1000-yard rushing totals and gained 10,273 yards, the eighth-ranked career total in NFL history at the time of his retirement. His 86 touchdowns (81 rushing, 5 receiving) ranked 18th. He also caught 376 passes for 3062 yards and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.

[Updated 2/8/14]