A little over a year ago, I wrote an article entitled, "Can Darren McFadden Be Another O.J. Simpson?" It was a couple of months before his breakout season, so most of Raider Nation thought I was crazy at the time.
In fact, at that time, much of Raider Nation was clamoring for Michael Bush to start—saying McFadden should be a third-down back or move to receiver.
But that was over a year ago and I forgive all those in Raider Nation that called me crazy back then.
With the way McFadden is playing now, I thought it would be a good time to revisit my initial question. There are simply too many similarities in both of these men's football stories.
Turn the page to see just how similar McFadden's journey is to that of Simpson.
Remember, this is football—not life.
McFadden didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Simpson did, but he did win the Doak Walker Award for the nation's best collegiate running back. Also like Simpson, he had all the hype coming out of college and was more famous than many NFL stars.
At 6'1", 212 pounds, he is pretty much the same size and shows a similar, slashing style to Simpson. Along with the agility, vision and power, McFadden has the same fifth gear that makes one forget about trying to catch him once he avoids the last tackle.
His 4.27 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine confirmed that he has such a gear.
The sky would be the limit for McFadden.
So, what happens once you win a Heisman Trophy or Doak Walker Award?
Most of the time, you go to one of the worst teams you can go to and you are expected to turn the team around. These two men were no exception; Simpson went to the Buffalo Bills in 1969 and McFadden went to the Raiders in 2008.
Both franchises were in horrible shape and neither Simpson nor McFadden turned their respective teams around right away. This led to many football fans around the nation using the word "bust" in reference to them.
Fans even suggested that these men transition to wide receivers to better utilize their speed. The problem wasn't just them, but who they played with on the offensive line—causing them both to suffer multiple injuries.
In his first two years, Simpson played in only 21 of his first 28 games possible due to injury. McFadden played in only 25 of his first 32 games possible due to injury and was not effective when trying to play through the pain.
Beyond the injuries and who they played with, the coaches didn't know how to use them.
In Simpson's fourth year, Lou Saban went to Buffalo to be the head coach and he made Simpson his first order of business—giving him an offensive line and the ball. Hue Jackson came to Raider Nation in McFadden's third year and Jackson's first move was to ask McFadden what types of plays he liked to run.
The result for Simpson was his first 1,000-yard season with six touchdowns—earning him All-Pro honors. McFadden was able to break the zone-scheme runs for power blocking and get his first 1,000-yard season with 10 total touchdowns.
In their third and fourth years respectively, both men shed their "bust" labels.
The year after Simpson's breakout season, he took it a huge step further by being the first man to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season in the NFL. From there, he continued to build his legendary career that ended in the Hall of Fame.
McFadden has just started his post-breakout campaign and it looks fabulous right now. In three games, he has 393 yards, four touchdowns and a 6.4 yard-per-carry average, including a 171-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Jets.
The performance against the Jets is big because they rarely allow a 100-yard rusher. In fact, McFadden's big day was the most yardage Jets head coach Rex Ryan ever allowed as a head coach or defensive coordinator.
It just gets easier from here as far as the run defenses he will face; McFadden is on pace to rush for 2,096 yards right now.
We'll see where McFadden goes from here.
The journey that both of these men took with the game of football is similar. When you read this, I hope you were able to overlook what Simpson has done in his life after football as this is a football article.
There are a lot of parallels one can draw between these two men in their careers to date. Like Simpson, McFadden's career looks better after some rough years. What would make them especially similar is if McFadden could stay on this pace and rush for over 2,000 yards.
I would even take a record for total yards from scrimmage as the special season this year. Although, he is likely to break the total-yards-from-scrimmage record if he rushes for 2,000 yards anyway, because he's a great receiver out of the backfield.
Either way, barring injury, this will be a special season for McFadden.
Raider Nation is hoping it is just as special as Simpson's 2,000-yard season.