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The CFL’s only 2000 yard man.

Achieving the 2000 yard mark for a pro running back is a rarity. In the NFL for instance it has only ever been done 7 times, most recently by Adrian Peterson in 2012. http://www.profootballhof.com/football-history/2000-yard-rushers/

In the CFL it is an even rarer feat, having been achieved once and only once by Mike Pringle of the Montreal Alouettes. In 1998 Pringle became the first, and so far only, running back in CFL history to run for over 2,000 yards when he made 2,065 yards on the ground. He also tied the CFL record with 2,414 yards from scrimmage. Some will argue this is not as impressive as doing it against NFL defences. Or perhaps argue that it is easier as there are 18 games to get there rather than 16 (or in OJ Simpson’s case 14). Maybe, but I am not so sure. The CFL is after all a 3 down league.  Yardage needs to be made faster in the CFL and that means favouring the pass.

Consider this, the player who gets nearest to the 2,000 yard mark is Pringle himself in 1994 when he rushed for 1,972 yards. Beyond that Willie Burden’s 1,896 yards rushing for the Stampeders in 1975 is the next closest. Last year Andrew Harris led the way with 1,035 yards. Perhaps what really stands out about his 2,000 yard season is not only the ground covered but also the fact that he averaged 6.0 yards per carry over such a large sample. In fact, of the other backs to ever run for 2000 yards in a single season in the pros, only Barry Sanders had a better yards-per-carry ratio than Pringle.

Like many players coming out of college Mike Pringle had a dream and that dream was to play in the NFL. That never really gained the traction he would have liked. Look up Mike Pringle’s career stats on NFL.com and they don’t tell you much of a story. Just 3 games played with the Atlanta Falcons in 1990 resulting in 2 carries for 9 yards and 1 return for 14 yards.

The Falcons released Pringle in 1991, and he spent the 1992 season with the Sacramento Surge of the WLAF helping them win a World League title. By the spring of 1992, Pringle was a free agent trying out for the then LA Raiders but that didn’t work out. He also got looked at by the Denver Broncos in 1996, but that year Terrell Davis emerged and the rest as they say is history.

Pringle’s first season in the CFL was somewhat short-lived and offered no clue as to what would come later. He signed with Edmonton in June of 1992 and was released by July after having played just three games for the Esks.

Pringle may not have achieved the NFL dream  but whilst that didn’t work out he did put together a Hall of Fame career in the CFL. Not too shabby to make the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and retire as the all-time leading rusher in CFL history, surpassing the legendary George Reed.  Mike Pringle’s entire career is a testament to chasing the dream and incredible resilience.

Pringle finally caught on in the CFL when he signed as a free agent with the expansion Sacramento Goldminers for the 1993 season and appeared in all 18 games. While he only carried the ball 60 times for 368 yards, he had 56 catches for 523 yards.  Pringle moved to Baltimore in 1994 and had a big season running for 1972 yards.  This was followed by another great season in 1995 with Baltimore as he ran for 1791 yards, and the Stallions became the first and only US-based franchise to win a Grey Cup.

When the US expansion failed, the Baltimore franchise was transferred to Montreal to revive the Alouttes name.  Pringle played seven seasons in Montreal, adding five 1000+ yard seasons, including that incredible 1998 year that saw him break 2000 yards. He missed out on the 1000 yard mark due to injuries in 1996 and 2002. Pringle  finished his CFL career where he started it, playing two seasons in Edmonton, rushing for over a 1000 yards in both seasons.

Pringle was a division All-Star nine times and was twice name the Outstanding Player in the CFL (1995 and 1998). Pringle’s 16,425 career yards are still the CFL record.

He may have dreamt of the NFL, but in the end Mike Pringle soared to new heights in the CFL. He had the kind of career that many athletes only dream of, and of course for now he stands alone on his 2,000 yard rushing season island.

 

                                           Mike Pringle CFL Rushing Statistics
Year Team GP Rush Yards Y/R Lg TD
1992 Edmonton Eskimos 2 22 129 5.9 30 0
1993 Sacramento Goldminers 18 60 366 6.1 44 4
1994 Baltimore (Stallions) CFLers 18 306 1,972 6.4 63 13
1995 Baltimore Stallions 17 311 1,791 5.8 86 13
1996 Montreal Alouettes 8 127 825 6.5 65 5
1997 Montreal Alouettes 17 306 1,775 5.8 60 12
1998 Montreal Alouettes 18 347 2,065 6.0 56 9
1999 Montreal Alouettes 16 322 1,656 5.1 43 13
2000 Montreal Alouettes 17 326 1,778 5.5 62 19
2001 Montreal Alouettes 14 262 1,323 5.0 47 16
2002 Montreal Alouettes 6 39 227 5.8 40 0
2003 Edmonton Eskimos 18 273 1,376 5.0 61 13
2004 Edmonton Eskimos 18 259 1,141 4.4 51 8
Total 188 2,960 16,425 5.6 86 137

 

 

 

Image from cfl.ca

Join the discussion

  1. Bloodshed

    While it’s an awesome feat, I ask myself this question: “Who’s next?” As the game grows and as the players are getting more and more tough to play against, achieving that sort of milestone is not impossible but not really plausible, given the fact that many teams are more keen on passing than running the ball, as it’s been said that passing the ball is more spectacular (if the receiver actually makes a leaping or almost impossible catch) and passing the ball is a faster way of gaining yards. What’s even worse is that a college player will try to sign directly with an NFL team and try to break records there, so Mike might stay on an island (or at the top of the yardage chain) for a long, long time. I sincerely wish it to be otherwise. I wish a player as talented or even more talented than Mike gets in the CFL stays for at least 4 years to hone his skills, breaks and sets new records before going to the NFL or that the CFL pays him enough money for him to stay longer.

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