AGE DILLON UNDERSTANDS meeting a stranger at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport would be like any other meeting with a Green Bay Packers fan who asked to pose for a photo.
They hugged each other’s shoulders and smiled like they were long-lost friends as they either took selfies or someone else did.
Not this guy.
“He gets down on his knees and wraps his arms around my quads,” the Packers running back recalled. “This is a grown man, a photo of his children in the phone, married and [says to his] his wife said “Hey, take a picture of me hugging his quads” and thought that was the funniest thing.
“I didn’t know he was doing all this. I just thought I was getting ready for a photo and before I knew it, he was there.”
Even Sakwon Barkley, who can rival Dillon in his thighs, has never had to deal with something like this.
“That’s where the line crosses for me,” the New York Giants running back said. “I could lift the sleeve a little and fold it up for the photo. I did it a couple of times. I didn’t force anyone to kneel down, grab my leg and take a picture with them. … It is too far.
Coincidentally, it was at the airport when Barkley first got to know the people obsessed with his legs.
“That’s when I first realized it: I was at the Newark airport, going to get my bags, I was wearing short shorts, people were just looking at me, and I was like, “What the hell?” Barkley said. “I was wearing a hoodie and I was like, ‘What is everyone looking at? And people would come up and say, like, “You have really nice legs.” I think when it first started, I thought, I don’t know why – it was men, women, everything – and I was just caught off guard by it.”
Such is the public life of two runners with perhaps the most muscular lower body in football.
Two years after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Barkley rebuilt his body as the foundation of his success. With the added motivation of a contract year, he leads the NFL with 463 yards in four weeks. His 252 yards after contact is second only to Cleveland’s Nick Chubb and just 81 yards short of all of last season as he rebuilt his strength and confidence.
Barkley ranks 36th in the NFL in rushing yards after contact since the start of the 2020 season, despite missing 18 games with injuries. Dillon, who along with Aaron Jones gives the Packers one of the deadliest shots in football, is in seventh place.
While Jones leads the team and ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing yards, it was Dillon who got the call for the last overtime drive in Sunday’s win over the New England Patriots. Coach Matt LaFleur passed Dillon six times on that drive to help the Packers get into position for the game-winning field goal.
Barkley and Dillon will line up Sunday when the Giants (3-1) and Packers (3-1) play at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (9:30 AM ET, NFL Network) and before that, they shared stories about their feet, people’s reactions to them, and discussed who was the “King of ATVs” during a joint Zoom interview with Sportzshala.
BARKLEY SQUARE WAS this was long before Dillon came to the attention of the NFL. When Sportzshala The Magazine featured Barkley in their 2018 The Body Issue, Dillon was a Boston College sophomore.
“I was never part of the ATV obsession until I thought some of my teammates in BC were joking,” said Dillon Barkley. “I think after that you did the Sportzshala Body Issue and all my boys kept labeling me as a man, but I’m not going to talk and compare my legs to this dude.”
If Dillon’s quads weren’t a sensation in college, they were in the NFL.
A photo from the first day of training camp during his rookie season was just the beginning of the phenomenon.
“Training camp is a place where everyone was thinking about legs, and then people started tagging. [Barkley] in things,” Dillon said. “And I thought, ‘Hey, you never know, I could beat him.’
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 15, 2020
Barkley knew that if his size determined the title of “King of the ATVs”, he would be in trouble. Dillon reported that he checks in at 6 feet 1,250 pounds; Barkley, shredded 6′, 227 with less than 6% body fat.
Barkley, whose 133 over-expected yards this season is second in the NFL, was stunned when Dillon suggested that Barkley’s quads would be over 30 inches long. Hey, it’s no coincidence that he ran 290 yards through defensemen this season.
“Wow,” said Barkley, who knew his size would be a solid 29 inches.
It was then that Dillon produced a measuring tape that a tailor would use to fit the suit. Of course, he had to bend over to achieve maximum girth. These are very competitive NFL running backs. They compete even in the most innocuous tasks.
“We have 34 [inches]”, – said Dillon. – But it may be more like 33, because I’m in a sweat.”
At this point, Barkley, riding in the back seat of a car to New York, simply relented.
“Not 34,” he said. “You beat me.”
Second overall in 2018 wondered how the great Earl Campbell could compare. Campbell’s Hall of Fame biography notes that he had 36-inch hips. He’s got all these modern backs.
Barkley’s advantage may lie in strength per inch. He estimated his maximum squat at 700 while Dillon said it was 675.
Nothing to complain about either. In fact, quite the opposite.
BY BOTH nicknames associated with their quads – former Giants teammate Odell Beckham Jr. came up with “SaQuads” for Barkley, and Dillon used both “Quadzilla” and “Quadfather” – their running styles differ. while Barkley seemingly slides into the open and causes defenders to miss.
Barkley has a speed advantage; his 40-yard dash time of 4.40 is better than Dillon’s 4.51 post-college. Barkley is tied for second in the NFL with four 20-plus yard runs this season.
“My biggest question is, ‘Yes, he has big feet, but how do they move so fast?'” Dillon said. “Mine don’t necessarily move that fast. I have big ones, but I use mine more to run through people.”
It’s still quite a strange phenomenon for Barkley. He’s not happy with his legs.
“I don’t know why for some reason in college big legs didn’t matter. It wasn’t like my feet got bigger when I got into the NFL or AJ’s got bigger when he got into the NFL, but once you’re on the NFL scene, everyone likes to talk about your foot size.” Barkley said.
“People were talking more about my calves in college and then I got into the NFL, Odell kind of joked about calling me ‘SaQuads’ and everyone was like, ‘He’s got huge quads, he’s got big feet.’ Now whoever was new it was Naji [Harris] or it was AJ—I forgot how the order went—but every year someone new is like, “Who has the best quads, who has the biggest quads in the NFL?”
“I do not know why. I really don’t understand how people are obsessed with this.”
Not that Barkley was trying to hide them. He still flaunts them, wearing short shorts, which he says are all the rage. Quadrangles protrude from them.
As did Dillon.
“If you have them,” Dillon said. “You have to show them.”