September 17, 2012

Rookie of the Year: Rashaan Salaam, 1995


Running Back, Chicago Bears



Age: 21 (Oct. 7)
College: Colorado
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 226

Prelude:
Winner of the 1994 Heisman Trophy after rushing for 2055 yards as a junior, Salaam chose to enter the ’95 NFL draft and was taken by the Bears in the first round (21st overall). Slow to get on track after a contract holdout that extended into training camp, he took over as the team’s feature back after RB Raymont Harris was lost to a broken collarbone in the season-opening game.

1995 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 296 [10]
Most attempts, game - 30 (for 122 yds.) vs. Philadelphia 12/24
Yards – 1074 [13]
Most yards, game – 134 yards (on 27 carries) vs. Tampa Bay 12/17
Average gain – 3.6
TDs – 10 [8]
100-yard rushing games – 5

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 7         
Most receptions, game – 2 (for 25 yds.) at Jacksonville 10/15, (for 14 yds.) at NY Giants 11/26
Yards – 56
Most yards, game - 25 (on 2 catches) at Jacksonville 10/15
Average gain – 8.0
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 10
Points – 60

Awards & Honors:
NFC Rookie of the Year: UPI

Bears went 9-7 to finish third in the NFC Central.

Aftermath:
The solid rookie season proved to be by far the best of Salaam’s career. He gained just 496 rushing yards in an injury-plagued 1996 season and 112 yards in three games in ’97 before being cut by the Bears. He appeared in two games for the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and also had a short stint with the Memphis Maniax of the XFL in 2001 (525 yards in 6 games). Overall, he gained just 610 more rushing yards and scored four more TDs in his abbreviated NFL career after his rookie year, a victim of injuries and poor work ethic.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/6/14]