If football fans didn’t fully recognize Jamaal Charles’ all-around game, they certainly did after his 2013 campaign, in which he posted career highs of 1,980 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns.
And though his numbers fell a tad last season, to 1,324 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t still see the 28-year-old as an elite running back.
But when asked Saturday what it’s been like to carry the burden the last two years, Charles made it clear that he embraces it — and he seems himself like one of the all-time great athletes, albeit one who plays a different sport.
“I take it like it’s a compliment,” Charles said. “I feel like that’s the reason I get to stay in the league … if they can stop me, then my time is up. As long as I play in this league and I play on a high level, I’ll always feel like a team is going to have to stop me.
“I feel like sometimes, I’m the LeBron of football, especially at my position, because I can do so much.”
LeBron, of course, is LeBron James of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, who has emerged as arguably the most popular athlete since Michael Jordan. James gained renown for his performance in a losing effort in this year’s NBA Finals, as he nearly averaged a triple-double for his injury-ravaged team.
Like James, Charles excels in many facets of the game — his athleticism and vision makes him elite as a runner, while he possesses good hands and is a willing blocker. But James has what Charles does not — a championship (two, in fact) — something Charles hopes to rectify this year.
“I feel like right now, I’m in the system for my third year, we’ve won (20) games the last two seasons, now it’s time to go forward, go to the postseason and make it far,” Charles said. “I feel like we feel comfortable, we feel confident.”