Priest Holmes
Priest Holmes speaks with soldiers CROPPED.jpg
No. 26, 33, 31
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1973-10-07) October 7, 1973 (age 47)
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:213 lb (97 kg)
Career information
High school:John Marshall
(Leon Valley, Texas)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
NFL record
  • 163.4 yards from scrimmage per game (2,287 yards in 14 games), single season (2002)
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:8,172
Rushing average:4.6
Player stats at · PFR

Priest Anthony Holmes (born October 7, 1973)[1] is a former American football running back who played 11 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Texas. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 1997.

Holmes earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens in their 2001 Super Bowl XXXV victory over the New York Giants. After rushing for just over 2,000 yards in four seasons in Baltimore, Holmes experienced breakout success after signing with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent in 2001. During his seven-year stint with the Chiefs, Holmes was a three-time All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowl selection and was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2002. Holmes sat out the 2006 season with a neck injury, and after a brief comeback attempt in 2007 retired from the NFL. Holmes was also inducted into the University of Texas Hall of Honor and the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.[2][3] He was inducted to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2014.

Early life

Holmes was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Although he carries the last name of his biological father, he never met the man, only seeing him for the first time at his funeral. He was raised in San Antonio, Texas by his mother Norma, and stepfather Herman Morris.[4] Holmes was raised in a military household as his stepfather was an aircraft technician at Kelly Air Force Base for 20 years.[5][6] When he was 13, Holmes spent a summer in Detroit, Michigan, working for his grandfather's lawn care service. Working with much older men for 12 hours a day, six days a week, Holmes learned the work ethic that later shaped him as a football player.[4][7]

Amateur career

High school

Holmes, who had idolized Dallas Cowboys' running back Tony Dorsett growing up, developed his own elusive running style while playing street football with the children in his neighborhood. Holmes later attended John Marshall High School, where he became a starter for head coach David Visentine. As a senior in 1991, Holmes rushed for 2,061 yards, and led his team to a runner-up finish in the state championship game, losing to Odessa Permian.[4]


Holmes attended the University of Texas from 1992 to 1996, playing the entire time for John Mackovic. He played in the final seven games of his freshman season, Mackovic's first as head coach,[8] rushing for 114 yards against Houston. After starting two games and averaging over five yards per carry for the second straight season as a sophomore, Holmes received more significant playing time as a junior. He rushed for 524 yards and five touchdowns, and was named MVP of the 1994 Sun Bowl after rushing for 161 yards and four touchdowns in a win against North Carolina.[9] Holmes missed the 1995 season with a knee injury, allowing for the emergence of future Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams as the starter. Relegated to third string behind Williams and Shon Mitchell, Holmes scored 13 touchdowns despite carrying the ball only 59 times. Holmes's biggest moment came in the inaugural Big 12 Championship Game. Entering the game with a 7-4 record against third-ranked Nebraska, Texas upset the Cornhuskers 37-27, with Holmes rushing for 120 yards and three touchdowns.[4] In Holmes' final two seasons, Texas posted a record of 16-9, finishing ranked in the top 25 each season.[8] He rushed for a career total of 1,276 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.[8] During college, Holmes began going by his first name, Priest. He had previously used his middle name, Anthony.[5]

Professional career

Baltimore Ravens

After graduating from college, he joined Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 1997. Holmes spent his entire rookie season as the Baltimore Ravens' fourth-string running back, behind Bam Morris, Earnest Byner, and Jay Graham.[10] On September 24, 1997, Holmes made his professional regular season debut as part of the special teams unit during a 38-10 victory at the Tennessee Oilers in Week 4. He appeared in seven games as a rookie in 1997.[11]

During training camp in 1998, Holmes competed to be the starting running back after the departures of Bam Morris and Earnest Byner. Head coach Ted Marchibroda named Holmes the third running back on the depth chart to begin the regular season, behind Errict Rhett and Jay Graham. On September 6, 1998, Holmes had six carries for 23 rushing yards and caught two passes for four receiving yards during a 20-13 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the 1998 season with the Ravens, Holmes rushed for over 1,000 yards (leading the team in rushing) including one 200-plus yard game, the highest single game total of the season.

In the 2000 season, he was supplanted as a starter by rookie running back Jamal Lewis. The Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV with Holmes as their second string halfback.

Kansas City Chiefs

In 2001, Holmes signed an inexpensive contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first season with the Chiefs, he exceeded expectations by leading the NFL in rushing with 1,555 yards for the 2001 NFL season, becoming the first undrafted player to do so. (Arian Foster was next to accomplish the feat during the 2010 NFL season.)

Despite missing the final two games in the 2002 NFL season because of a hip injury, Holmes rushed for 1,615 yards with 21 touchdowns. In the 2003 NFL season, he broke Marshall Faulk's NFL record for total touchdowns in a season with 27, which was subsequently broken by Shaun Alexander with 28 total touchdowns in 2005 and broken again by LaDainian Tomlinson with 31 total touchdowns in 2006.[12] Holmes and Emmitt Smith are the only two running backs in NFL history to have back to back seasons with 20 or more rushing touchdowns. On a pace to repeat the feat in 2004, he suffered an injury that ended his season with 14 touchdowns.

Holmes's 2005 season was also cut short by an injury to his spinal column from a tackle by Shawne Merriman on October 30, 2005. He was replaced for the season by backup Larry Johnson. During the following off-season, new head coach Herm Edwards promoted Johnson to the starting position. Holmes's spinal injury did not heal by the end of the 2006 pre-season, and he was placed on the Chiefs' Physically Unable to Perform list for the season. Larry Johnson took over full-time as the Chiefs' starting running back.[13] Throughout the 2006 season, Holmes repeatedly said that he would like to return for at least two or three more seasons in the NFL, but that he would not force a comeback if it could be detrimental to his long term health.

Following encouraging medical tests, Holmes reported to the Chiefs' training camp in July 2007.[13][14] However, the Chiefs did not include him on the roster at the start of the season, listing him on the non-football injury list instead.[15] Michael Bennett was traded at mid-season, and Holmes returned to the Kansas City roster, beginning practice on October 17, 2007. Holmes then completed the comeback four days later, playing in the Chiefs regular season game against the Oakland Raiders, carrying the ball four times. He made his first start since October 30, 2005 against the San Diego Chargers and played in a home game on November 11, 2007 in a 27-11 loss to the Denver Broncos. Holmes had 20 rushes for 65 yards.[16]


Holmes announced his retirement on November 21, 2007 after re-injuring his neck on the previous Sunday, November 18, in a game against the Indianapolis Colts.[17]


Holmes retired as the Chiefs' all-time leader for career rushing touchdowns (76), total touchdowns (83), and career rushing yards (6,070).[18] His rushing yards record has since been broken by Jamaal Charles. The team inducted Holmes into the Chiefs Hall of Fame during the 2014 season.[19] The induction ceremony took place on November 2 at halftime of a game against the New York Jets.

NFL career statistics

AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year
Won the Super Bowl
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team Games Rushing Receiving
GP GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
1997 BAL 7 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0
1998 BAL 16 13 233 1,008 4.3 56 7 43 260 6.0 25 0
1999 BAL 9 4 89 506 5.7 72 1 13 104 8.0 34 1
2000 BAL 16 2 137 588 4.3 21 2 32 221 6.9 27 0
2001 KC 16 16 327 1,555 4.8 41 8 62 614 9.9 67 2
2002 KC 14 14 313 1,615 5.2 56 21 70 672 9.6 64 3
2003 KC 16 16 320 1,420 4.4 31 27 74 690 9.3 36 0
2004 KC 8 8 196 892 4.6 33 14 19 187 9.8 52 1
2005 KC 7 7 119 451 3.8 35 6 21 197 9.4 60 1
2006 KC 0 0 Did not play due to injury
2007 KC 4 2 46 137 3.0 11 0 5 17 3.4 8 0
Career 113 82 1,780 8,172 4.6 72 86 339 2,962 8.7 67 8


Year Team Games Rushing Receiving
GP GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD
2000 BAL 4 1 18 45 2.5 11 0 1 4 4.0 4 0
2003 KC 1 1 24 176 7.3 48 2 5 32 6.4 13 0
Career 5 2 42 221 5.3 48 2 6 36 6.0 13 0

NFL records

Kansas City Chiefs franchise records

  • Career rushing touchdowns (76)
  • Career total touchdowns (86)

Priest Holmes Foundation

The Priest Holmes Foundation is a recognized organization that is committed to encouraging education and enhancing the lives of children in the community.[20]


  1. ^ "Priest Holmes." Archived December 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Men's Athletics Hall of Honor Inductees." Archived October 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  3. ^ Texas High School Football Hall of Fame: Priest Holmes. Archived December 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "Priest Holmes." Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Whisler, John (February 12, 2011). "By any name, Holmes stood out on the gridiron". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  6. ^ Harvey, Buck (December 14, 2003). "Holmes' dad on a mission that matters". San Antonio Express-News. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  7. ^ Priest Holmes - Official Website. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "All-time Season Results.", Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  9. ^ "Sun Bowl History, Scores, Results." Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  10. ^ "1997 Baltimore Ravens Statistics & Players". Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  11. ^ "NFL Player stats: Priest Holmes (1997)". Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  12. ^ Associated Press. "Chiefs RB breaks two NFL records.", December 28, 2003. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Associated Press. "Deadline passes for Chiefs to activate Holmes.", November 29, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  14. ^ "Chiefs RB Holmes to report to training camp." Yahoo! Sports, July 25, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  15. ^ Arkush, Michael. "No Priest on KC roster." Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Yahoo! Sports Canada, August 22, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  16. ^ Beacham, Greg. "RB Priest Holmes returns to Chiefs after nearly 2-year injury absence." Archived August 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Yahoo! Sports, October 21, 2007.
  17. ^ Pasquarelli, Len. "Holmes announces retirement from NFL.", November 21, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  18. ^ "Kansas City Chiefs - All-Time Records." Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  19. ^ "2014 Chiefs Hall of Fame Inductee, Priest Holmes".
  20. ^ "Priest Holmes Foundation - Mission Statement." Retrieved October 5, 2013.

External links