The guy was the MVP of the Giants' 20-19 victory in the 1990 Super Bowl. Case closed.
In my mind I can still see Anderson plowing into defenders, delivering his own punishment and fighting for every valuable inch of yardage in that game. At 33, which is more or less about 105 in running back years and no longer the svelte superstar he was when he began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979, Anderson lugged the football -- and Buffalo defenders 21 times for 102 yards as the Giants piled up first downs, held the ball for an incredible 40:33, and kept the ball away from the high-flying Buffalo offense.
Anderson had one 21-yard run in the game. The rest were simply blasts into the line aimed at netting a couple of yards and keeping the ball away from the Bills. Never has such simple offense proved so effective.
Following a superb career in St. Louis Anderson was 29 and considered done as a productive NFL running back when Bill Parcells and George Young traded for him in 1986. He was, seemingly, little more than insurance and was never expected to play a major role in the Giants' offense.
For the rest of that season, as well as 1987 and 1988, Anderson rarely saw the field.
Joe Morris, mainstay of the Giants' running attack since 1985, was gone when 1989 rolled around and there were no young stallions ready to take his place. There was only the aging, plodding, bruising Anderson -- and he proved to be a perfect fit for the Giants for the next two seasons.
The speed and elusiveness of O.J.'s youth were gone. But, in their place was power, pride and a willingness to take the football, slam it straight into defensive lines again and again, almost never cough the ball up and churn out valuable first downs. In other words, he was the perfect back for the conservative Parcells -- and for the bruising, physical style of the Giants.
Anderson never averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry as a Giant, and his longest run ever with the team was a 36-yarder. Yet, in 1989 he barreled his way for 1,023 yards on 325 carries. Yes, it was only 3.1 yards per carry -- but it was also Anderson's first 1,000-yard season in five years. In 1990, Anderson gained another 784 yards ... then carried the load in the Super Bowl victory.
Anderson ended his career with 10,273 yards rushing, 24th on the all-time list.
You can read more about Anderson's exploits, and what he is up to these days, on his personal website.
Other notable No. 24s
Tucker Fredrickson wore 24 for the Giants from 1965-71. He was the first player selected in the 1965 draft, and while he had a decent career he was never the star the Giants hoped for. Fredrickson made the Pro Bowl as a rookie when he gained 659 yards rushing and caught 24 passes. He was never that productive again, however, and ended his career with 2,209 yards rushing and a 3.4 yards per carry average.
Considering that Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers (3rd and 4th to Chicago) and Joe Namath (12th, St. Louis Cardinals) were also first-rounder the Giants quite obviously missed with this pick.
Other first-rounders that year included Craig Morton (5th, Dallas), wide receiver Jack Snow (8th, Minnesota) and linebacker Mike Curtis (14th, Baltimore).
- Terry Jackson was a starting cornerback for the Giants for six seasons, from 1978-83.
Will Peterson is, of course, now known as William James. He was supposed to be part of a lockdown set of corners known as "The Will's" with Will Allen, but injuries in Peterson's case and stone hands in Allen's derailed that. Both guys are still knocking around the league as journeymen. Peterson was a Giant from 2001-2005.
Terrell Thomas is the current occupant of 24. He has a terrific 2009 season, but his place on this list will be determined in the seasons to come.