Return of Backyard Football? What a potential 2024 roster might look like

If Jason Kelce can indeed bring back Backyard Football, which pro NFL players would be included in the initial roster?

Backyard Football 2006
Backyard Football 2006 /
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In a recent episode of his and his brother’s New Heights podcast, (now former) Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce revealed that he has been “secretly” looking to try to bring back the Backyard Sports video games, specifically Backyard Football and Backyard Baseball, by finding out from whom he can acquire the rights to the games.

Now Kelce has officially retired from the NFL after 13 seasons, so if this is something he truly wants to pursue, now he has even more time to do it. The most recent Backyard Football title was released in 2009, though there was a 2010 release called Backyard Sports: Rookie Rush.

The prospect of a return became an immediate hit among fans who grew up playing these iconic games, though whether or not anything comes of it remains to be seen.

What would a new Backyard Football roster release look like?

While the rosters were expanded as the games progressed during that latter half of the 2000s decade (with as many as 37 pros in the 2009 game), let’s model our prospective roster after the highly rated PC classic that remains widely available to this day: Backyard Football 2006.

In that game, there were 14 pro players: six quarterbacks, three running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one linebacker, and one defensive lineman. Some of them needed to be unlocked, while others were included along with the Backyard Kids when it came to your roster selection for a pick-up game or a season.

Using this model, here’s who we’d include in a modern version of the popular game.

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs – There is simply no way that this generation’s Tom Brady isn’t included. Brady won three Super Bowls in four years, including two in a row, and was included in just about every release up until the game ceased production, and Mahomes just won his second in a row and third in five years.

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles – There is also very little doubt that Jason Kelce wouldn’t give his quarterback the opportunity to be in the game. Whether or not the Brotherly Shove can be incorporated into a Backyard Football offense is another story.

Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers – Jordan Love is already considered among the top quarterbacks in the NFC after his second-half surge in 2023. After sitting behind Aaron Rodgers for three years, he might just be the next Hall of Fame signal caller in Green Bay.

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals – If this generation has a Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry, Burrow is the Manning. He is the only active AFC quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl since Mahomes was drafted, and he is the only active quarterback to beat him in the playoffs. He is still chasing a Super Bowl ring, but so is every other elite passer in the conference.

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills – Among quarterbacks who are considered mobile, there is not a more gifted passer than Josh Allen. It just so happens than his best three seasons – and Buffalo’s three best teams – have run into Mahomes and the Chiefs in the playoffs. That alone won’t be enough to snub him from the Backyard Football roster.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens – I really wanted to include rookie sensation C.J. Stroud here, but I had to give the final spot to the two-time and reigning MVP. The threat posed by an elite running quarterback in Backyard Football makes him impossible to exclude. Imagine Jackson in an offense with Pablo Sanchez as a weapon. Unstoppable.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers – Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best player on arguably the best team, and many believe he should have been the league MVP this past season. He is an elite rusher and an elite pass catcher out of the backfield who would be a perfect addition to any Backyard Football offense. He is the closest thing to a real-life version of Pablo Sanchez.

Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens – This generation’s most dominant running back can’t not be included in at least one Backyard Football game before his career is up. The question was whether or not he would still be a Tennessee Titan; as we recently found out, the answer is no.

Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams – Kyren Williams may not be as much of a household name as the other two, but that is poised to change following a breakout second season. Just imagine if he wouldn’t have missed five games.

Wide Receiver

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings – First of all, it’s hard to imagine any future Backyard Football game including just two wide receivers, so nobody should feel slighted if their favorites aren’t included here. Justin Jefferson is a generational talent, and of course, the Griddy would be a perfect celebration to add to the franchise.

Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins – Again, Tyreek Hill was one of a number of wide receivers who could (and should) be included. The Cheetah gets the nod here over other elite pass-catchers such as Ja’Marr Chase and CeeDee Lamb, who would undoubtedly be in the game on a more expanded roster.

Tight End

Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions – It would be too easy to put Travis Kelce here, though it’s not hard to imagine him giving a younger tight end the chance to be in the game. Sam LaPorta had a breakout rookie season for the Lions and figures to be a key part of their future. Plus, what happens if the game can’t include a feature where the camera pans to Taylor Swift every time Kelce makes a catch? Only kidding, of course.

Linebacker

T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers – T.J. Watt is still classified as a linebacker, so we’re going with the best player on the field during any given snap here. The Steelers’ record without him says it all, even though he couldn’t add to his Defensive Player of the Year Award collection in 2023.

Defensive End

Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns – Finally, we’re going with the player who was actually voted the Defensive Player of the Year Award, even if controversially, after several years of coming close. Perhaps the lack of offensive line double teams in Backyard Football will demonstrate the importance of the next-gen stats behind why he won the award over his AFC North division rival.

There are so many deserving players we did not include in this list, and seeing as how there has not been a Backyard Football game released in a decade and a half, there will undoubtedly be some significant changes if Jason Kelce can successfully orchestrate a long-awaited return. Regardless of who would or wouldn't be included, let's hope it happens.

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