We’ve run through some pretty notable names on this list so far: Eric Swann, Rob Moore, Ronald McKinnon, and Jake Plummer. Well let me just add to the difficulty of picking between all of these guys by adding one more:
– Drafted in the 5th round out of Stephen F. Austin University in 1990
– Played 9 years for the Cardinals (1990-1998)
– 2 Time Pro Bowl Selection in Arizona (1995 & 1996)
– Amassed 6275 yards from scrimmage, 29 total TDs
– 4539 yds receiving, 1736 yds rushing
– 535 total receptions with an 8.5 yd /rec avg as a FB
At the home opener this past season when the Cards were taking on the Seattle Seahawks, I remember as the teams were marching out to midfield for the coin toss, the announcer said this: “Today as an honorary team Captain for the Arizona Cardinals, former Cards RB….Larry Centers.” The place erupted! People were screaming chants of ‘LLLAAARRRRYYYY’ everywhere. This guy is still much loved in Phoenix.
Larry was not your typical FB. He was more of a hybrid back, having the size of a FB to take on opposing LBs but not lacking in speed or quickness to make plays in the open field like a RB. As it states above, he averaged 8.5 yds per reception, as a RB coming out of the backfield that is unheard of!! Only Buffalo Bills great/HOFer Thurman Thomas and future HOFer Marshal Faulk can boast numbers like that.
Larry was more than a checkdown option for the QB, he was often times the first option in the passing game because of the way he could make people miss. Another memory that comes to mind was also a Larry Centers moment I witnessed in person. It was Christmas night, 1996, Cardinals vs. Cowboys, and it was what would soon be the end of the Buddy Ryan era. Larry caught a swing pass out of the backfield and was racing along the sideline. Cowboys CB Larry Brown came up to meet him and like all good DBs, he attempted to go low and tackle Larry around the waist. What happened next? Centers runs at a full sprint towards Brown, Brown comes in low aiming at Centers’ hips and Centers literally leaps over Brown, easily clearing him by at least 1 ft. It was one of the most incredible plays I had ever seen then or have ever seen since.
Just like the other 4 mentioned, Larry was an integral part of the 1998 playoff team. And just like the other 4, he was one of the few excellent players who provided excitement for the fans to help this franchise grow in Phoenix.
So that is 5 Down, with only one more remaining on the list.
1. Eric Swann, DT
2. Rob Moore, WR
3. Ronald McKinnon, LB
4. Jake Plummer, QB
5. Larry Centers, FB
And last but not least, number 6…….CB Aeneas Williams (come on, you knew that was coming).