Wide receiver James Lofton was the No. 1 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1978. An Academic All-America choice from Stanford, he was also an accomplished track performer and won the NCAA long jump title as a senior. Lofton’s speed and “soft hands” made him an immediate deep-threat receiver from the moment he entered the pros.
It was something he would remain throughout his long career with Green Bay, the Los Angeles Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, and the Philadelphia Eagles. In 16 seasons, Lofton caught 764 passes for 14,004 yards – an average of 18.3 yards per catch. Nine times he recorded more than 50 catches in a season. His 14,004 career-reception yardage mark was an NFL best at the time of his retirement, while his 43 games with 100 or more yards receiving ranked third.
Extremely durable, Lofton was the first NFL player to score a touchdown in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Many of his 75 touchdown receptions came on long passes when he simply outran the opposition. During his nine seasons in Green Bay, Lofton was selected to play in seven Pro Bowls.
He led the Packers in receptions each year except one (1979). Five of those years he gained more than 1,000 receiving yards. He was only the fifth player in NFL history to do so, joining the likes of Lance Alworth, Steve Largent, Don Maynard, and Art Powell.
In 1987, Lofton was traded to the Raiders, and two years later joined the Bills. In Buffalo, he reemerged as one of the game’s premiere deep-threat receivers. In 1991, at age 35, the still-speedy receiver became the oldest player in league history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. That same year he recorded a career-best 220 receiving yards in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. His often-inspirational play earned him his eighth Pro Bowl bid.
In 13 playoff game appearances, Lofton caught 41 passes for 759 yards and eight touchdowns, including a seven-reception game in Super Bowl XXVI. In three of those playoff games he recorded 100-yard plus performances.