Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is coming off another brilliant season in which he led the NFL with 19 touchdowns and ranked second in yards from scrimmage with 1,980.
So whom does he want to emulate this season? Running backs like Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson or Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy or Super Bowl champion Marshawn Lynch of Seattle?
Nope. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
“I just want to take my game every year to another level,” Charles said during the opening week of the Chiefs’ offseason program. “I want to be known how Peyton Manning is at age 37, keep my playing level where it is. He’s not losing any step in there.
“That’s what I want to gain when I get older and older. For a running back, once I turn 30, I’m not in my prime anymore, but I want to overcome that, and I hope I can be different and show everybody that I can continue to be the best back in the National Football League.”
Charles, 27, knows what it’s going to take to replicate his 2013 season when he rushed for 1,287 yards — his fourth straight 1,000-yard season, not counting 2011, which he lost to knee surgery — and led the Chiefs with a career-most 70 receptions.
“It takes hard work and dedication,” Charles said. “I have to put my mind to it. I want to be like a Peyton Manning. If I’m age 34 and no one judges me by my age, but I’m outperforming what I did when I was 25, 26 and 22. It’s all about not losing steps and staying healthy.”