Larry Centers, NFL Fullback, 1990-2004
Arguably the most prolific pass-catching running back in American football history, Larry Centers played 14 seasons with the National Football League (NFL). His long-standing career reception record of 827 places him first among running backs, and third among all players. In fact, Larry has more career receptions than eight out of the 15 wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is particularly impressive for a fullback, as Larry spent much of his time blocking for other players.
Larry played nine seasons for the Arizona Cardinals (1990-1998), and went on to play for the Washington Redskins (1999-2000), Buffalo Bills (2001-2002), and New England Patriots (2003-2004). Ending an outstanding career on top, Larry served as a member of the Patriots’ second Super Bowl team, earning a ring in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Perhaps legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick said it best during a 2001 press conference, “Larry Centers is one of the toughest, most physical players [in the League]. He’s aggressive. He’s a playmaker. He doesn’t try to draw a lot of attention to himself, but when he’s around the ball, good things happen for him, and for his team. I have a lot of admiration for Larry Centers, I think he’s a heck of a football player. And he’s tough, he is, he’s tough.”
When asked what made him a great player, Larry said, “When confronted with a challenge, I stayed focused on the end goal. I delivered my personal best, and always played as hard for my teammate to the left of me and to the right of me as I played for myself. And I always believed that if each one of my teammates did the same, we could win on any given Sunday. Because I chose to be self-motivated and not circumstance-motivated, I managed to have a successful career despite spending most of that career on teams with losing records. And in the end, in the last game I ever played, I was rewarded by being on a Super Bowl Championship team. I never gave up, and it paid off.”
During his career, Larry was selected to the Pro Bowl three times (1995, 1996 and 2001) He held the NFL record for running backs for most receptions in a single season for many years (101 in 1995), and was the first NFL running back to have 100 receptions in single season.
Larry, who says that some of his proudest moments as a football player were when he “wasn’t” carrying the ball, served as the lead blocker for many star running backs, including Washington Redskin Steven Davis during his breakout-season of 1,318 in 2000. That is a large part of why he was ultimately recruited by Bill Bellichick to serve as a key part of the New England Patriots 2004 Super Bowl championship backfield with Tom Brady and Kevin Faulk.
Because today’s NFL fullbacks are used almost exclusively as blockers, Larry may be remembered as the greatest pass receiving running back ever. In his 14 NFL seasons, Larry rushed for 2,188 yards, caught 827 passes for 6,797 yards, returned five punts for 30 yards, returned 33 kickoffs for 617 yards and scored 42 touchdowns (14 rushing/28 receiving).
Today, Larry serves as co-founder of a successful sports marketing agency, A-Game Sports Marketing, along with his business partner, Rita Mort. A-Game helps NFL alumni and other current and ex-professional athletes identify their personal brands, and maximize their business potential. The company also helps athletes execute special events, and raise money for their charitable endeavors
Larry is also co-founder of the nonprofit organization, Game Changers Worldwide. This organization tackles some of society’s biggest challenges through the principles of mutual respect, teamwork and goal-focused production required in any winning football team.