“Humbling.” That’s how CJ Anderson describes 2018. A Super Bowl hero for the Broncos in 2015 and coming off a 1000-yard season in 2017 only to find himself cut last April. He quickly signed with the Carolina Panthers, but with the emergence of Christian McCaffrey, Anderson again found himself unemployed. This time it was a lot harder to catch on again.
“I got to Oakland and I’m excited,” Anderson said in an ESPN interview last week. “I’m back home with my mom. Two O-linemen go down. Gruden brought me in and strictly said ‘We gotta bring a guy back we released in earlier in the year.’”
Anderson had been signed in case Doug Martin was unable to play that week. Martin played, so Anderson was rendered inactive. Then he was released without ever having suited up in a Raiders uniform.
“I thought it was over there. I thought I was done,” Anderson continued.
The 27-year-old said he was close to retiring. Then a week later he got the call by the Rams, for the same reason the Raiders had signed him — as an insurance policy. An opportunity you could say he may not have gotten had the Raiders not turned to him for the same reason weeks earlier.
Only this time, Anderson suited up. And he exploded onto the scene. The Cal product had 167 yards in his first game with the Rams and put up three-straight 100-yard games. Then he did it again, running for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ Divisional round win over the Cowboys.
So, you have Anderson who was out of work in December of the season, having been released twice already. The Raiders come calling, signing him to the team, reminding the league that Anderson is out there as a viable option. Even without playing a snap for the Raiders, a week later, he is in a Rams uniform and was a major factor in helping them to the Super Bowl. And the experience he had is also playing a role in how he attacks defenders.
“I’m trying to make you feel my story,” Anderson added. “You didn’t go through some of the things I just went through in the past eight months of 2018, so I’m just trying to let you feel that.”
The Vallejo native reps the Bay Area wherever he goes. Like Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, even though Anderson wasn’t able to suit up for his hometown team officially. Also just like them, he carries his experience trying to keep his NFL career alive every time he carries the rock. He will carry it in the Super Bowl this Sunday.