Larry Centers earned three Pro Bowl invites and enjoyed a 14-year career which culminated with a Super Bowl ring as part of the 2003 Patriots. His most notable work came for the Cardinals in the 1990s, and his final Pro Bowl nod occurred while with the Bills in 2001.
However, Centers reached an agreement with a second NFL team on July 6, 1999, and he ended up continuing his unique aerial mastery with the Redskins for two seasons. Centers signed a one-year deal with Washington in 1999, and he ended up being part of the only Redskins team to reach the divisional round of the playoffs without Joe Gibbs being involved since 1976.
A former fifth-round Phoenix Cardinals pick out of Stephen F. Austin in 1990, Centers ascended to rare heights as the Arizona Cardinals’ starting fullback in 1995 and ’96 by combining to catch 200 passes in those years. Centers’ 1995 season of 101 receptions and 962 receiving yards still stacks up incredibly well historically. At the time, Centers became the first running back to record 100 catches in a season and was among the first 15 players at any position to do so. While 101 receptions now ranks tied for 70th in NFL single-season history, only one running back (Matt Forte) appears higher on that list.
Although Centers did not quite match the lofty standards of his Cardinals peak with the Redskins, he was a consistent receiving threat.
For the playoff-qualifying 1999 team, Centers delivered 544 air yards on 69 catches. One of those — a 33-yard touchdown grab from Brad Johnson to secure an overtime win over the 49ers — clinched Washington’s first NFC East title since its 1991 Super Bowl season. The Norv Turner-guided Redskins edged the Lions before falling to the Buccaneers 14-13 in the divisional playoffs.
Washington re-signed Centers for one year and $6MM in 2000 — for perspective, only one fullback makes more than $3MM per yer today — and his production that year still ranks atop team record books. Centers caught 81 passes for 600 yards in his second Redskins season; both are team standards for running backs 18 years later. He led the Redskins in receptions in both seasons and parlayed his stop in Washington into a deal with the Bills in 2001.
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