The underappreciated greatness of Chris Johnson

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By MIKE PATTON | Nashville Voice

One of the best Titans of all-time retired this week. Chris Johnson officially decided he was done playing football in the NFL after 10 seasons.

The talented running back totaled 9,651 yards rushing over his career along with 55 rushing touchdowns with the Tennessee Titans along with the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals. The numbers show he had a good career, but when he was first drafted, no one knew what to expect.

Being drafted 24th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, Johnson was a relatively unknown player out of East Carolina. People knew he was fast, but people weren’t sure he was just a speed guy or a football player.

Also, because he had previously played wide receiver before becoming a running back at East Carolina, there were some doubts as to if he could be an NFL running back. Well, those doubts surely went away quickly as he ran for over 1,200 yards in his first season as a Titan.

Every time he touched the ball, there was a chance he could take it the distance with the speed he possessed. His explosion at the running back position was refreshing for a Titans team that had not been known for having explosive offensive players.

He would go to join an elite club in 2009, rushing for over 2000 yards and crossing the goal line 14 times that season. In two short seasons, Johnson went from unknown to one of the faces of the team.

Johnson was solid as a running back for the Titans after the 2009 season, but with great play comes great expectations. He held out, wanting to get the money he felt was owed to him sooner rather than later. Because of that, there were many fans that turned on him, calling him selfish and greedy.

With each bad game or bad run, fans would call into radio stations talking about how bad he was and ignoring the fact that the offensive line he once had wasn’t the same. Despite the talk about his running style, Johnson rushed for over 1,000 yards each of his six seasons in Tennessee while averaging under four yards per carry once in those three seasons.

After the 2013 season, Johnson would land in a New York Jets jersey, signing a two-year deal. He would only make it through one season and then he landed in Arizona for the last three years of his career. He was productive in the last two stops, but he was nowhere near the same type of running back he was when he was in the two-tone blue of the Tennessee Titans.

Many Titans fans want to remember Eddie George as the best back to ever play for the Titans, but the most exciting back to play here for Tennessee was Chris Johnson. Some fans may want to forget he played here, but what you cannot forget is the speed and excitement he played with on the field.

As he retires, he will always be remembered as a Tennessee Titans. He will not be a Hall of Famer, but he will be a guy that will forever be remembered in Titans history.

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