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C.J. Spiller

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  • Post last modified:1 May 2024

Nickname: Lightning

Introduction

For some reason, C.J. Spiller is one of the first guys that I remember when someone asks me to name a random running back. It could be because his time at Clemson was about the same time that I actually got into college football and tried watching the games or the fact that I saw him twice every year on the Buffalo Bills as I am a Pats fan. Whatever the reason, I specifically remember this dude being fast and shifty as a member of the Bills for a bit and then never hearing from him again. While his NFL career did not go exactly as planned, I would say he is definitely more remembered for his time at Clemson as he is one of their greatest running backs of all time.

Why He Should Be Remembered

As I just mentioned two seconds ago, Spiller was a very good player for the Clemson Tigers. His four years there saw him put up a total of 3,547 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns, all while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He also had reliable hands as he totaled 1,420 receiving yards and eleven receiving TD’s. The 2009 season was when he was at the peak of his powers as he finished 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting with his 1,212 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. These numbers put him in rare Clemson Tiger air and in fact were great enough to get his #28 Clemson jersey retired. His collegiate background set him up for potential success in the NFL when he was picked ninth overall by the Bills in the 2010 NFL Draft. So, what happened?

Why He Is Not Remembered

Spiller had a decent three year stretch for the Buffalo Bills from 2011-2013. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012 with 1,244 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He was a solid player and could get the job done when asked. He just wasn’t special, he was kind of just there. It’s almost like going out to the bar with your girlfriend and her friends. You’re getting boyfriend points for driving everyone and paying for your girl’s drinks, but what are you really contributing? Are you going to start gossiping about that guy that your girlfriend’s friend just can’t seem to stop being “obsessed” with? Probably not. Is C.J. Spiller going to have an MVP Adrian Peterson-like season? Probably not.

Plus, Spiller’s two major injuries, broken collarbone in 2014 and a leg injury in 2015, only made it more difficult for the former Clemson Tiger. He bounced around the league for a bit before ultimately retiring in the 2017 season. His last stop, the Kansas City Chiefs, saw him get cut and then re-signed numerous times throughout the year. It was like a toxic couple breaking up and getting back together. Of course, it probably was just smart business from the Chiefs’ end, but from a fan perspective I just kept thinking how obnoxious it would be to just keep cleaning out your locker like that and then come back the next day. Yes, literally the next day: https://www.sbnation.com/2017/9/3/16250110/chiefs-cut-c-j-spiller-and-then-re-signed-him-the-next-day#:~:text=The%20Chiefs%20cut%20C.J.,active%20roster%20the%20following%20day. I guess you can throw this part in “why he should be remembered” just because it was funny to see the ESPN notifications over and over again.

If anything, Spiller is a good example of just how damn good a player has to be just to be decent in the NFL. He was a great college player and did have a productive NFL career, but could just never get over the hump to put himself into that star category.

Where He Is Now

As of 2021,Spiller has been working with his alma mater football team as their running backs coach. He started out as an unpaid graduate intern in 2020 and it took the coaching staff only a year to realize “oh wait, this guy is C.J. Spiller, he played for us back in the day. Maybe we should promote him.” When we see another great running back out of Clemson, just remember that he was taught by C.J. Spiller.

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