Diminutive NFL Star Sproles Opts Not To Retire, Coming Back for 1 More Year


In December 2016, a then-33-year-old Darren Sproles announced that the 2017 season would likely be his last, telling ESPN that his daughters were “getting to the age that they want their daddy around more.”

The Eagles running back then suffered two catastrophic injuries in one game the following September, breaking his arm and tearing his ACL on the same play.

And with his season cut short, Sproles vowed to return for one more season in 2018.

But his luck didn’t get any better that season, as he hurt his hamstring in practice prior to Week 2 and then re-aggravated it again later in the year.

That limited Sproles to just six games.

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But those won’t be the last six games of his career.

On Friday, Sproles announced that he will be returning to the Eagles for the 2019 season. At 36 years old, Sproles is the second-oldest running back in the NFL, and just one month younger than Frank Gore.

“My heart is in Philly. That’s where I want to end my career,” Sproles, said per the Eagles website. “That team, the city is like a family.”

Sproles also announced on his Instagram page that he would be returning and included the hashtag #FINAL15 to indicate that his upcoming 15th NFL season would be his last.


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The five-foot-six Sproles ranks sixth all-time in all-purpose yards, which takes into account rushing yards, receiving yards, kick return yards and punt return yards. He is just 163 all-purpose yards from passing Tim Brown for fifth place.

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In addition to his production on the field, Sproles also has value off it as one of the Eagles’ team leaders.

“I really want to go out on top. That’s what I really want to do,” Sproles said. “I can’t wait to get back with the guys.”

The Eagles’ running back depth chart was stacked before Sproles announced his return, and is even more so now with the veteran back in the fold.

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The team returns Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Josh Adams from last year’s squad, and also added former Chicago Bear Jordan Howard and second-round rookie Miles Sanders.

NFL fans got a hint that Sproles would be returning last month, when a social media video of him playing catch with Drew Brees emerged. Sproles and Brees were once teammates on the Chargers.

At 36, Sproles will be fighting Father Time at a position where most players are deemed over the hill once they turn 30.

It’s been 13 years since a 36-year-old gained 100 rushing yards in a season, and that was fullback Lorenzo Neal in 2006.

The last 36-year-old halfback to post at least 100 yards in a season was Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, who did so at age 37 in 1997.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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