Fun Facts of the NFL You Never Know
Walter Payton only won one rushing championship in his career.The NFL is one of the most storied and historically significant organizations in modern sports. It stretches back to the 1920s and has witnessed the birth and fall of several amazing teams, like the New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers, to mention a few. With such a long history, there must be a few things that have slipped the net when it comes to the NFL, so without further ado, let’s have a look at 9 fascinating NFL facts you may not have known!
The NFL was the first to have a sports-based reality show.
While some may question the accuracy of this claim, the NFL, along with partner HBO, claims to have the “first sports-based reality series” in television history. Hard Knocks is a show that follows NFL teams during their training camps and investigates their regimen. The New York Jets’ 2010 season is one of the most memorable because of coach Rex Ryan’s soundbites. Hard Knocks, according to then-Jets player Santonio Holmes, is “absolutely revealing of what business life is like on a football level.”
The Detroit Lions have gone 30 years without winning a playoff game…twice.
Having one uninterrupted 30-year streak of not winning a playoff game is one thing, but having two…well, some questions must be addressed, don’t you think? But that’s exactly what happened to the Detroit Lions. They didn’t win a playoff game between 1957 and 1991, a span of 34 years, and since 1991, the Lions haven’t won either, making it two streaks of more than 30 years without a playoff win.
Brett Favre once caught his throw.
Brett Favre is one of the most recognizable NFL quarterbacks, but do you remember who caught his first NFL pass? It was, in fact, Favre himself! The year was 1992, and Favre threw a pass that bounced off the helmet of a Buccaneers player and right back into his own hands. Favre would go on to repeat the feat in 2009. Is he the only player in history to catch two passes from himself? Almost certainly in the history of the NFL!
The Green Bay Packers’ season ticket waiting list is ridiculous.
If visitors want to get a Green Bay Packers season ticket, users might have to wait a while. Some have speculated that if a user applied to get a Packers season ticket right now, it would take a thousand years (not a joke) to be allowed to do so. There are numerous reasons for this, including the fact that supporters continue to renew their tickets; after all, the Packers are one of the most popular NFL teams, so it stands to reason.
A single player has more Super Bowl touchdown passes than an entire team.
If the visitor is familiar with NFL history, they will recognize the name, Doug Williams. He was a quarterback for the Washington Commanders, famously facing the Denver Broncos in the 1988 Super Bowl. But here’s the amazing part: Doug Williams threw four touchdown passes in that historic game, which is the same number as the Broncos have in the entire Super Bowl. That is why he is so lovingly remembered.
The New England Patriots almost had a different name.
The New England Patriots were formerly known as the Boston Patriots, which makes sense given their location. However, the team subsequently relocated to Foxborough, and the franchise’s owners sought to rename it to better reflect its new home. The Bay State Patriots were the most popular option, but the NFL didn’t like the manner the team could be formed (as the BS Patriots, tee hee).
The Packers are the only club to have won three consecutive NFL titles.
The Super Bowl era is widely recognized as one of the greatest times for NFL sportsmanship, although the team that won three consecutive NFL titles does not even come from this era. The Green Bay Packers in the late 1960s accomplished this incredible accomplishment, winning the NFL Championship in 1966, 1967, and 1968. All of this occurred under the direction of coach Vince Lombardi, who is widely considered one of the most talented coaches of all time.
Every day of the week, an NFL game has been played.
Normally, sporting events take place on specific days due to scheduling considerations or other factors, however, in the NFL, a game has taken place every single day of the week. One game was played on a Tuesday due to a blizzard in Pennsylvania, while another was played on a Wednesday due to a Republican political speech that the NFL did not want to clash with. Other games have also taken place on Fridays, generally due to holidays.
The youngest and oldest Hall of Fame honourees hold a gap of about 60 years.
Gale Sayers holds the distinction of being the youngest NFL player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Sayers died in 2020 at the age of 77, yet he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, five years after he resigned from professional football due to a knee injury. He’s also well-known for his connection with Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer at the age of 26 and was taken away too soon.
The Chicago Bears have never had a 4,000-yard passer
This is especially alarming in the age of high-flying offenses. Sure, the Bears haven’t had a genuinely exceptional quarterback since Sid Luckman in the 1940s, but even clubs in the same boat, like the Cleveland Browns, had one. As another example, the New York Jets only have one: Joe Namath’s 1967 AFL season, which was the first time anyone hit 4,000 yards.
There have been solid seasons behind center in Chicago from Jim McMahon, Rex Grossman, Jay Cutler, and others, but none have surpassed the 4,000-yard mark. Erik Kramer in 1995 and Jay Cutler in 2014 came within 200 yards of each other, and Cutler eclipsed 3,000 yards five times in Chicago, but none have gotten above that mark to date, but Justin Fields may offer optimism on the horizon.
The Detroit Lions have gone 30 years without winning a playoff game on two distinct occasions.
The Lions won their third NFL championship of the decade in 1957, thanks to the heroics of quarterback Bobby Layne. When the Lions traded Layne to Pittsburgh the next year, he reportedly stated that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. It’s been 65 years since that supposed remark, and the Lions haven’t come close. In reality, they would only make the playoffs three times in the next 30 years, each time going one and done.
They ultimately ended the first streak after 34 years in 1991, but it’s been 31 years since then and there hasn’t been a single playoff win to show for it despite eight trips to the postseason, most notably making the playoffs five times without a victory between 1993 and 1999.
Since its inception, every NFC South team has finished worst in the division while also competing in at least one Super Bowl.
In the NFC South, volatility is the name of the game. Normally, divisions have periods of dominance, such as the Kansas City Chiefs’ recent run of six AFC West titles, followed by five from the Denver Broncos, but that does not appear to be the case in the NFC South. While that may be changing, with the New Orleans Saints winning four straight from 2017 through 2020, the division’s parity remains outstanding.
The Buccaneers, of course, won Super Bowls XXXVII and LV in 2002 and 2020, respectively. The Falcons’ only loss in Super Bowl LI was in 2016. The Panthers were defeated in both Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl 50 in 2015, while the Saints won their only Super Bowl appearance to date, Super Bowl XLIV in 2009.
Sammy Baugh once threw four touchdown passes as a quarterback, an 81-yard punt, and four interceptions as a defensive back in the same game.
In the same 1943 season that “Slingin'” Sammy Baugh led the league in all categories for Washington, as well as punting average, Sammy Baugh accomplished a feat that today’s standards would find impossible. Of course, the days of the iron man two-way player are long gone, though we do occasionally see defensive players lining up on offense or receivers lining up in Hail Mary’s defense. Due to roster depletions caused by WWII, Baugh would play quarterback, defensive back, and punter that season, which he completed on November 14th, 1943. The Detroit Lions came to town, and Baugh dominated, throwing four touchdown passes, four interceptions, and even an 81-yard punt in a 42-20 triumph.
Sweetness, regarded as the best running back of his generation and by some as the greatest running back of all time, only ever topped the NFL rushing statistics once in his career, in 1977, in his third season. Payton would also win MVP and Offensive Player of the Year that season, but it’s hard to believe that a player who previously held the NFL all-time rushing record only led the single-season rankings once.