KAWASAKI – As a 39-year-old veteran, Takuya Furutani is a concrete example that any football player can put up stellar career numbers without possessing monstrous physical attributes.
Last Saturday, Furutani added another accolade to his collection of achievements on the gridiron. The Obic Seagulls running back reached the 10,000-yard mark in his X League fall season career during the Seagulls’ 59-3 win over the Metropolitan Police Department Eagles at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki. That total includes the yards he’s racked up rushing, receiving and in the return game since his debut on the circuit in 1999.
By the end of the contest, Furutani’s total stood at 10,021 yards. The figure is easily the most in franchise history. Former Seagulls wide receiver Ken Shimizu is second with 6,573 all-purpose yards.
Furutani, who stands only 173 cm and weighs in at 80 kg, didn’t seem to be too ecstatic about the individual milestone, acknowledging that neither victories nor statistics can be achieved single-handedly.
“I’m happy that a lot of people cared and celebrated for me,” Furutani, a five-time Rice Bowl national champion, said after Saturday’s game. “But an offensive player can’t put up numbers by himself. Especially because I’m a running back, whatever I achieve is based on the support of our offensive line. Without them, I wouldn’t have done anything like this. So I would like to continue to get yardage by capitalizing on their blocking, provide some rhythm and score for the team so I can reward them.”
Indeed, to keep playing and attaining success until this age requires a certain amount of mental acuity, not just physicality.
“I don’t consider myself a physical athlete. My hitting isn’t that strong, either,” said Furutani, who has also scored 104 touchdowns during his career. “So I’ve had to run with skills, using the blocks by the linemen and reading the defense before snaps. I’ve also got to pay attention to the angle of my body (when I run between the linemen and defenders).”
Seagulls defensive end Kevin Jackson has been Furutani’s teammate for the past decade (Jackson said he even saw Furutani play when he was called up for a Green Bay Packers training camp and the Japanese was playing for the Louisville Fire of arenafootball2, the Arena Football League’s development league, in 2004). The American said Furutani’s smarts and work ethic have given him longevity and enabled him to still play at a high level.
“He doesn’t just throw his body in there,” Jackson said of Furutani, who also serves as a running backs coach. “I mean, he throws his body in there when he needs to, but in other situations, he’s able to read certain things and take care of himself.”
While Furutani has modeled himself after a few running backs from his alma mater, Kansai University, he’s also learned by watching NFL and NCAA games.
Furutani said he prefers to watch running backs who use the offensive line effectively, such as Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and now-retired former rushing champion Terrell Davis, who shot to stardom with the Denver Broncos.
“Both Arian Foster and Terrell Davis are extremely good at using the blocks and running in outside zone plays,” said Furutani, who played for the Japan national team in the last four IFAF World Championships.
Furutani’s got a one-game-at-a-time attitude on the gridiron, and that’s led him to the 10,000-yard milestone.
And it’s not going to change going forward.
“I’ll just play one year at a time,” Furutani said when asked how much longer he’d be able to play.
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