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How Tom Brady’s rushing stats compare to other players in NFL history

It took Brady 6,528 days longer than Adrian Peterson to gain 1,000 rushing yards.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson needed only eight games to reach 1,000 career rushing yards in the NFL. It took him 56 days as a pro.

On Sunday, Tom Brady’s scramble/dive pushed him to 1,000 career rushing yards in the NFL. It took him 6,584 days.

A 5-yard jaunt on third-and-3 gave the Patriots a first down and made Brady the 98th quarterback in league history to join the four-figure club, joining luminaries like Rick Mirer, Vinny Testaverde, and Matt Cassel among the NFL’s list of dual-threat immortals. His plateau-shattering run came 18 years and nine days after his big league debut, way back in a time where Bill Clinton was still president and Beyonce was still a budding member of Destiny’s Child.

It was Nov. 23, 2000 when Brady took his first meaningful snap for the Patriots, throwing three passes in mop-up duty during a 34-9 loss to the Lions. He didn’t record a single rushing attempt that afternoon — a feat he’d replicate 42 more times after taking over as New England’s starting quarterback following Drew Bledsoe’s 2001 injury. Just 265 regular-season games — 204 of them Patriots’ victories — later, the decidedly not fleet-footed quarterback became the oldest player to hit 1,000 career rushing yards on just his 578th carry.

That includes 160 yards lost on late-game kneeldowns where Brady walked to the line of scrimmage with the sole intent of washing out the clock in a winning effort.

So where does that put Brady in the annals of history? Let’s compare his timeline to other famous runners who left their mark on the NFL:

A sampling of players who made it to 1k rushing yards, and how long it took

Player Games until 1K rush yards Days until 1K rush yards Career rush yards per game
Player Games until 1K rush yards Days until 1K rush yards Career rush yards per game
Adrian Peterson 8 56 90.5
Eric Dickerson 9 56 90.8
Ezekiel Elliott 9 63 101.7
Barry Sanders 11 74 99.8
Curtis Martin 12 84 83.9
Marshawn Lynch 12 105 70.1
Emmitt Smith 17 357 81.2
Walter Payton 17 378 88
Michael Vick 22 469 47.2
Cam Newton 23 413 39.4
Randall Cunningham 27 798 30.6
Russell Wilson 31 469 32.6
Steve Young 35 1078 25.1
Josh McCown 91 5432 11.3
Tom Brady 265 6584 3.8

Brady’s gained more yards than a whole bunch of high-profile draft picks

Brady’s slow and steady pace hasn’t won many races, but he’s proven himself the tortoise that beat out much faster hares over the course of an endless NFL career. He’s currently got more career rushing yards than 35 other running backs who were taken in the first round of the draft since 1970. Here are some notable players, including tailbacks and QBs, he’s passed in the record books:

  • Tim Tebow, 989 yards
  • Jahvid Best, 945 yards
  • Vaughn Dunbar, 935 yards
  • Brian Leonard, 828 yards
  • Mikel Leshoure, 807 yards
  • Bishop Sankey, 762 yards
  • Peyton Manning, 667 yards
  • Chris Perry, 606 yards
  • Red Grange, 569 yards
  • John Avery, 524 yards
  • Booker Moore, 420 yards
  • LaMichael James, 193 yards

Those players all came into the league with great hopes. Each ended their careers getting outgained by a player whose 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine looked like this:

Brady’s 1,000 yards leave him 31st in New England history, ranking ahead of former prized draft picks like Shane Vereen, Sedrick Shaw, and Robert Weathers. He trails franchise leader Sam Cunningham by a mere 4,453 yards. At his current pace, he’ll get there in 1,172 more games. Assuming he doesn’t miss a game over that stretch, that would come in his age-114 season — and despite joking about his retirement following his 1,000th rushing yards, that’s still possible.

If he wants to catch NFL leading rusher Emmitt Smith, he’d need 4,582 more games. He’d break the league record sometime in 2305.

Which, honestly, seems reasonable for Tom.