Cleveland Browns Touchdown-less Tommy Vardell
Nearly a decade ago another Stanford running back pounded through opposing defenses – most notably Notre Dame. The performance of Toby Gerhart against Notre Dame in the 2009 regular season finale brought back memories of Touchdown Tommy Vardell.
Vardell, a big bruising running back for the Stanford Cardinal, earned his famous nickname for his memorable performance against the Fighting Irish. Then Stanford coach Denny Green dubbed him Touchdown Tommy after scoring four touchdowns in the 1990 contest.
As a Cardinal, Vardell rushed for 1,843 yards with 37 touchdowns in his college career. He never fumbled as a collegiate player, ranks second in Stanford history for most touchdowns and third for most rushing yards. His single season rushing record of 1,084 yards in 1991 was eclipsed by Gerhart’s 1,136 yards in 2008.
The Cleveland Browns plunked Vardell out of the 1992 NFL Draft in the first round with the ninth overall pick.
He played in nearly every game during his first two seasons and was part of Bill Belichick’s running back by committee. During his second season in Cleveland, Vardell led the team with 644 yards on 171 attempts.
Despite having a college nickname that indicated he knew how to find pay dirt, Vardell could not live up to the billing in the Cleveland, where he was plauged by knee injuries. During four seasons with the Browns, he found the end zone three times. During his eight-year NFL career that included stints with the San Francisco 49ers in 1996 and 1999 and the Detroit Lions from 1997-98, Vardell totaled 18 scores.
Since retiring from football, Vardell co-founded Northgate Capital, a private equity investment firm, along with former 49er teammates Steve Young, Brent Jones and Mark Harris. Vardell currently serves as the firm’s managing director.