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Larry Eugene Centers (born June 1, 1968) is a former American football fullback in the National Football League
National Football League
(NFL) for 14 seasons, mostly for his first team, the Phoenix/ Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
(1990–1998). Centers then played for the Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
(1999–2000), Buffalo Bills (2001–2002), and finally was a member of the New England Patriots for their second Super Bowl
Super Bowl
win in 2003. One of the most prolific pass catching running backs in NFL history, Centers topped 100 receptions in 1995 and had 99 receptions in 1996. He owns the NFL record for most passes caught by a running back during a career.[1] He was selected to the Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
in 1995, 1996, and 2001.

Contents

1 Early life 2 College career 3 Professional career

3.1 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals 3.2 Washington Redskins 3.3 Buffalo Bills 3.4 New England Patriots

4 NFL statistics 5 References

Early life[edit] Centers was born in Tyler, Texas
Tyler, Texas
and grew up in nearby Longview.[1] He began playing little league football for the Bramlette Bears as a running back and quarterback during his elementary school years and went on to play in middle school for the Forest Park Eagles and high school for the Longview Lobos until his junior year. He played on both sides of the ball as a defensive back and runnningback and wide receiver. Centers did not play football at all his junior year of high school. After his family moved to nearby Tatum, where his mother was an educator, Centers decided to play football again after being urged to do so by his older brother. After a solid season in Tatum, he earned a scholarship to nearby Stephen F. Austin State University. He was also recruited by Baylor, Texas Tech, and several junior colleges.[2] His brother, Donnie, played for the University of Arkansas and coach Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz
as a wide receiver.[1] College career[edit] After being recruited as a running back, wide receiver, and a defensive back, Centers originally began his career at Stephen F. Austin University, a Division I-AA
Division I-AA
school, as a wide receiver.[3] As a freshman, he broke his pinky finger on his left hand and was then assigned to play scout team runningback and special teams. In his sophomore season against the Nevada Reno Wolfpack, an injury to the team's starting runningback allowed Centers a chance to play. In the win, Centers rushed 9 times for 96 yards and finished the season with 100 plus rushing yards in each of the remaining 6 games. He also led the Lumberjacks in receptions, rushing yards and yards from scrimmage his junior and senior years at SFA. Centers was a two-time all-Southland Conference pick and set a school record for rushing yards in his senior season.[3] In 1989, with Centers as their starting running back, the SFA Lumberjacks advanced to the NCAA division I-AA national championship game where they lost by 3 points to Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia, finishing with record of 13-2. Professional career[edit] Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals[edit] After graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University, Centers was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals
Phoenix Cardinals
in the fifth round of the 1990 NFL Draft.[4] He saw limited playing time in his first two seasons, as head coach Joe Bugel had doubts on his ability to carry the ball and thought of him as a third-down running back.[5] According to his coaches, Centers particularly needed work on his pass protection skills and he spent an entire off-season mastering the capability.[6] His playing time started to increase and by 1992, Centers rushed for 139 yards and caught 50 passes for 417 yards.[7] On October 4, 1992, Centers scored the winning touchdown against the Washington Redskins with less than a minute remaining to break an 11-game Cardinals losing streak.[8] The game-winning touchdown was the first of Centers' NFL career. The role of the fullback as a ball carrier was starting to diminish as the NFL game evolved during the 1990s. Yet, Centers's offensive numbers only increased as the years went by, especially his receptions and his leadership ability.[9] He caught 66 passes in his fourth NFL season.[7] In 1994, Bugel was fired and replaced by Buddy Ryan. Ryan allowed Centers more opportunity to run with the ball, carrying the ball a career-high 115 times while catching 77 receptions.[5] In 1995, Centers had one of the greatest seasons ever of any modern day fullback, recording 101 receptions for 962 yards.[5] He became the first runningback to record 100 receptions. He held the record for most receptions by a running back with 101 until this record was broken by Matt Forte
Matt Forte
in 2014 with 102.[3][10] He also rushed for 254 yards, scored four touchdowns, and was selected to the Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
for the first time. Unfortunately, his team was not successful despite his contributions; they finished the 1995 season with a 4-12 record and Ryan was fired at the end of the year and replaced by Vince Tobin.[5] In 1996, Centers recorded 99 receptions for 766 yards and seven touchdowns, while also gaining a career-high 425 yards on 116 carries, and he scored two touchdowns on the ground.[5] He was selected to the Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
for the second year in a row, but once again his team had a disappointing season, finishing with a 7-9 record. Centers became a free agent after the season. Both the Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
and the New York Giants were interested in his services, but ultimately he signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract to stay with the Cardinals after switching agents, becoming the fifth highest paid running back in the league.[11] After previously leading the team in receptions the last four seasons, the Cardinals started to try Centers in different offensive formations at wide receiver.[5] Centers continued to be a major contributor to the Cardinals, recording 123 receptions and 386 rushing yards over the next two seasons.[7] In his final year with Arizona (1998), the team recorded a 9-7 record and made the playoffs as a wild card. The Cardinals made it all the way to the divisional playoffs before being eliminated in a 41-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.[12] Centers finished his Cardinals career as the team's all-time leading pass catcher.[9] Washington Redskins[edit] Citing durability and salary cap concerns, the Cardinals released Centers on June 19, 1999.[9][13] At the time of his release, Centers was considered "the heart and soul" of the Cardinals offense.[9] He signed with the Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
and quickly became a team leader, recording 69 receptions in his first season with the team.[7][14] During a crucial game against the 49ers, Centers caught a 33-yard touchdown pass in overtime, which made the Redskins the NFC Eastern division champs for the first time since 1991 and gave the team a playoff berth. The Redskins finished the regular season with a 10-6 record but were eliminated in the divisional playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 14-13.[15] The following year, he caught 81 passes for 600 yards, rushed for 103 yards, and used his blocking to help running back Stephen Davis achieve star numbers, 1,318 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He passed Keith Byars
Keith Byars
for most receptions by a running back.[1] However, the Redskins recorded only an 8-8 record that year and did not make the playoffs. Buffalo Bills[edit] In 2001, Centers signed with the Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
and made it to his third Pro Bowl
Pro Bowl
appearance, catching 80 passes, this time for a total of 620 yards, with 160 yards rushing and four touchdowns.[7] In the fourth quarter of a 23-20 loss against the Seattle Seahawks, he surpassed Ronnie Harmon's record for most receiving yards by a NFL running back with a two-yard reception.[1] He also surpassed Hall of Famers Charlie Joiner and Michael Irvin
Michael Irvin
to reach the top ten in all-time receptions by a player.[1] New England Patriots[edit] After spending another year with Buffalo, Centers joined the Patriots in 2003.[6] By this time, 35-year-old Centers' role as a receiver (along with ball carrier) had diminished. He was released after the sixth game of the season due to a knee injury, before re-signing with the Patriots in December.[6] He recorded 19 receptions for 106 yards and rushed for 82 yards.[7] Still, his blocking contributions as part of the Patriots offense allowed him to earn a Super Bowl
Super Bowl
ring; New England finished the season with a 14-2 record and went on to defeat the Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers
32-29 in Super Bowl
Super Bowl
XXXVIII.[16] Centers retired from professional football before the beginning of the 2004 season. NFL statistics[edit] In his 14 NFL seasons, Centers 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).[7] Centers's 827 receptions are currently the most by any running back and the most by any non-wide receiver in NFL history, until tight end Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez
surpassed this mark in 2008.[6] He caught passes in 128 consecutive games, at one point the third longest streak in the NFL.[3] When Centers retired, he was 7th in passes caught in league history.[6] Because NFL fullbacks are now almost exclusively used as blockers, Centers is widely recognized as one of the greatest pass receiving fullbacks ever.[3][6] References[edit]

^ a b c d e f Gleason, Bucky (November 25, 2001). "Catch Him if you Can; For Ageless Larry Centers, It's Better to Be On The Receiving End". The Buffalo News. Retrieved March 6, 2014 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required) ^ "Notable Alumni – Stephen F. Austin State University
Stephen F. Austin State University
Alumni Association". Sfaalumni.com. August 9, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2008.  ^ a b c d e Gosselin, Rick (November 16, 2001). "Good hands keep attention on Larry Centers". Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. Retrieved May 1, 2014 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required) ^ " Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals
All-Time Draft". azcardinals.com. NFL.com. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ a b c d e f "Cardinals plan to get ball to Centers/". Wilmington Morning Star. Associated Press. July 22, 1997. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ a b c d e f Hackenburg, Dave (January 28, 2004). "Centers doesn't receive much attention". Toledo Blade. p. 12. Retrieved February 5, 2014.  ^ a b c d e f g " Larry Centers Stats". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved April 25, 2014.  ^ Reisner, Mel (October 5, 1992). "Cardinals 'pick' on Washington". The Prescott Courtier. Associated Press. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ a b c d Beeson, Dan (July 19, 1999). "Centers is yet another Bidwell blunder". The Prescott Daily Courtier. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ "Cardinals Release Centers". The Today's News Herald. Associated Press. June 20, 1999. p. 19A. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ "Cards re-sign Centers to 3-year deal". The Prescott Daily Courier. Associated Press. March 16, 1997. p. 9. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ Darren Urban. "Word From the Birds Blog Revisionist History: A playoff pounding in Dallas". Blog.azcardinals.com. Retrieved May 1, 2013.  ^ Baum, Bob (August 3, 1999). "Boston Agrees to Four-Year Deal". The Prescott Daily Courtier. Associated Press. pp. 5, 7. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ Ducibella, Jim (September 21, 1999). "Newcomers Step Up To Give Redskins Needed Leadership". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved May 1, 2014 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required) ^ Clark, Liz (December 27, 1999). "Redskins Return to the Playoffs". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved February 4, 2014.  ^ "Official Website of the New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Team – History – Super Bowl
Super Bowl
XXXVIII". Patriots.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 

v t e

Phoenix Cardinals
Phoenix Cardinals
1990 NFL draft selections

Anthony Thompson Ricky Proehl Travis Davis Larry Centers Tyrone Shavers Johnny Johnson Mickey Washington David Bavaro Dave Elle Dempsey Norman Donnie Riley Ken McMichel Willie Williams (supp.)

v t e

New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Super Bowl
Super Bowl
XXXVIII champions

4 Adam Vinatieri 6 Rohan Davey 10 Jamin Elliott 12 Tom Brady
Tom Brady
(MVP) 13 Ken Walter 16 Kliff Kingsbury 17 Dedric Ward 18 Chas Gessner 19 Damon Huard 21 Mike Cloud 22 Asante Samuel 23 Antwan Harris 24 Ty Law 26 Eugene Wilson 30 Je'Rod Cherry 31 Larry Centers 32 Antowain Smith 33 Kevin Faulk 34 Chris Akins 35 Patrick Pass 37 Rodney Harrison 38 Tyrone Poole 39 Shawn Mayer 44 Fred McCrary 46 Brian Kinchen 48 Tully Banta-Cain 49 Sean McDermott 50 Mike Vrabel 51 Don Davis 52 Ted Johnson 53 Larry Izzo 54 Tedy Bruschi 55 Willie McGinest 58 Matt Chatham 59 Rosevelt Colvin 60 Wilbert Brown 61 Stephen Neal 62 Tim Provost 63 Joe Andruzzi 64 Gene Mruczkowski 65 Damien Woody 66 Lonie Paxton 67 Dan Koppen 68 Tom Ashworth 70 Adrian Klemm 71 Russ Hochstein 72 Matt Light 75 Jamil Soriano 76 Brandon Gorin 77 Mike Compton 80 Troy Brown 81 Bethel Johnson 82 Daniel Graham 83 Deion Branch 84 Fred Baxter 85 J. J. Stokes 86 David Patten 87 David Givens 88 Christian Fauria 90 Dan Klecko 91 Bobby Hamilton 92 Ted Washington 93 Richard Seymour 94 Ty Warren 95 Roman Phifer 96 Rick Lyle 97 Jarvis Green 98 Anthony Pleasant 99 Ethan Kelley

Head coach: Bill Belichick

Coaches: Romeo Crennel Brian Daboll Jeff Davidson Ivan Fears Sean Gustus John Hufnagel Pepper Johnson Josh McDaniels Eric Mangini Markus Paul Rob Ryan Dante Scarnecchia Brad Seely Charli

.