By Mardeio Cannon | OBSERVER Columnist

It’s no question that the NFL is the most popular professional sport in America. Even though the NBA has gained popularity in recent years, all the other sports like MLB (Major League Baseball) and the NHL (National Hockey League) pale in comparison to the mighty NFL. 

One of the reasons the NFL has been so popular all these years is the exploits of talented running backs throughout league history. I will start with the great Jim Brown who was the NFL’s first running back superstar. Then came Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Franco Harris, Emmit Smith, Jerome (the Bus) Bettis, Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen, Adrian Peterson, and Frank Gore, who were some of the top running backs in NFL history. 

However, in today’s NFL, the running back position is treated with so much disrespect that teams do not value the position with huge contracts. 

Take for example Saquon Barkley, the former No. 1 pick of the New York Giants, who is the face of the franchise. Barkley may sit out the season rather than sign the franchise tag contract that the team is offering him, meanwhile the team’s quarterback is making three times the amount being offered to Barkley. Joe Nixon, the starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, is also taking a pay cut to remain on the Bengals’ roster.

Austin Ekeler, the starting running back for the San Diego Chargers, went public this week by stating that the team’s third string wide receiver gets paid more than him. The Dallas Cowboys have cut former star running back Ezekiel Elliot in favor of back-up Tony Pollard.

The reason that running backs have fallen in such disfavor with NFL teams is due to the pounding they endure running the ball, and as a result, teams don’t want to invest a lot of money in the position. Also, successful NFL teams have found out that they only need a competent running back to have a successful offense, so they find almost any NFL running back can field that role. 

However, if Christian McCaffrey, the all-pro running back of the San Francisco 49ers, can continue wreaking havoc on NFL defenses, then players like him who are great at catching passes and running the ball will become so valuable that NFL teams will have to again start paying running backs a decent NFL salary.

Steph Curry Has Too Much Talent

Future NBA Hall of Famer Steph Curry won the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament last week, which is held each year at the Edgewood Country Club in South Lake Tahoe. This guy is beginning to make me sick! First, he drops 50 points on the Kings and knocks them out of the playoffs, and now he comes into our backyard, makes a hole-in-one and wins the tournament. A very talented athlete and a better human being. Steph Curry just retire from the NBA and go on the PGA/LIV tour and stop beating the Kings!