|No. 33, 31|
|Date of birth:||October 7, 1973|
|Place of birth:||Fort Smith, Arkansas|
|Height:||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||213 lb (97 kg)|
|High school:||Leon Valley (TX) John Marshall|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
Priest Anthony Holmes (born October 7, 1973) is a former American football running back who played eleven 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 Super Bowl XXXV 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.
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. Holmes was raised in a military household as his stepfather was an aircraft technician at Kelly Air Force Base for twenty years. When he was thirteen years old, Holmes spent a summer in Detroit, Michigan, working for his grandfather's lawn care service. Working with much older men for twelve hours a day, six days a week, Holmes learned the work ethic that later shaped him as a football player.
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 would later attend 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 26 touchdowns. He was named Offensive Player of the Year, and led his team to a runner-up finish in the state championship game, losing to Odessa Permian.
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, 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. 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 thirteen 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. In Holmes' final two seasons, Texas posted a record of 16-9, finishing ranked in the top 25 each season. He rushed for a career total of 1,276 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
During college, Holmes began going by his first name, Priest. He had previously used his middle name, Anthony.
After graduating from college, he joined Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 1997. 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 the their second string halfback.
In 2001, Holmes signed an inexpensive contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first season with the Chiefs, he went beyond expectations by becoming the NFL's leading rusher with 1,555 yards for 2001 NFL season becoming the only undrafted player to do so, until Arian Foster accomplished the same feat as Holmes 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. 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 coach Herm Edwards promoted Johnson to the starting position. Holmes' 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. 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. 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. 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 4 days later, playing in the Chiefs regular season game against the Oakland Raiders, carrying the ball 4 times. Priest 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.
Holmes announced his retirement on November 21, 2007 after re-injuring his neck on the previous Sunday, November 18, in a game vs. the Indianapolis Colts. He retired as the Chiefs' all-time leader for career rushing touchdowns (76), total touchdowns (83), and career rushing yards (6,070). His rushing yards record has since been broken by Jamaal Charles.
On March 1, 2014, the Chiefs announced Holmes will be inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame during the 2014 season. The induction ceremony took place on November 2 at halftime of a game against the New York Jets.
The Priest Holmes Foundation is a recognized organization that is committed to encouraging education and enhancing the lives of children in the community.