PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME'S TOP 20
FEB. 12, 2003 - FOR USE AT ANY TIME
See table to
right to download PDF of Top 20 lists
OHIO - Twenty-seven active players representing 19 of the 32 National
Football League teams and all eight divisions, finished the 2002 season
ranked among the all-time best in four main statistical categories. The
Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 charts the career leaders in passing,
receiving, rushing, and scoring on a weekly basis.
six of the Top 20 all-time leaders in career combined net yards were
active in 2002 including four who ranked in other Top 20 lists. Three
current coaches rank among the career leaders in coaching
Each week during
the NFL season, the Pro Football Hall of Fame updates the Top Twenty career
leaders in passing, receiving, rushing and scoring. The Top Twenty rankings,
a popular display at the museum in Canton, are also updated weekly on
the Hall of Fame's website. The 2002 NFL regular season marked the seventh
consecutive year that the weekly updates were posted on Profootballhof.com.
The Hall of Fame's Top
Twenty rankings differ slightly from other similar lists in that statistics
from the All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) are included. However,
there are only three players who played in the AAFC who currently hold
a Top Twenty ranking in any of the four main categories - Otto Graham
of the Cleveland Browns (passing), Joe "The Jet" Perry (rushing), and
Lou "The Toe" Groza (scoring).
By the mid-way point of the 2002 season, the Top 20 passers had five additions
to the list. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia reached the required
1,500 career attempts in the second week of the season to enter the list
at No. 3. One week later, Kurt Warner supplanted Steve Young as the game's
all-time passing leader. Brian Griese of the Denver Broncos and the Kansas
City Chiefs' Trent Green were two other newcomers in 2002. Steve McNair
of the Tennessee Titans bounced on and off the list much of the season
but was displaced in the final week of the year.
At the completion of the 2002 season, nine active quarterbacks ranked
among the career leaders based on passer rating. Rich Gannon of the AFC
champion Oakland Raiders enjoyed the finest campaign of his NFL career
as he climbed to ninth place. Gannon completed an NFL record 418 passes
for a career high 4,689 yards. In doing so, he also set the NFL mark for
300-yard games in a season with 10.
Four other active passers - Brett Favre (No. 5), Peyton Manning (No. 8),
Mark Brunell (No. 10), and Brad Johnson (No. 11) also rank among the Top
20 career leaders.
Marvin Harrison of
the Indianapolis Colts rewrote the record book in 2002 when he hauled in
143 receptions. Along the way, his career total climbed to 665 catches
earning him a ranking among the game's top twenty leading receivers.
Harrison, the first player in history to record 1,500 yards receiving in
consecutive seasons, entered the Top 20 in Week 15.
failed to slow down the Oakland Raiders' Jerry Rice in 2002. At age 40,
the game's all-time leading receiver added yet another chapter to his
storied career. Playing in his 18th NFL season, Rice had a team-leading 92
catches for 1,211 yards. It marked the 14th time in his career that he's
recorded a 1,000-yard season.
joined Rice, and Cris Carter of the Miami Dolphins as the only players
ever to record 1,000 receptions in a career. Brown, who caught 81 passes
for 930 yards, climbed two spots in 2002 from fifth place to third
active players, including newcomer Jimmy Smith (No. 19) of the
Jacksonville Jaguars, rank in the Top 20 receiving. They include Carter
(No. 2), Larry Centers (No. 9), Shannon Sharpe (No. 11), and Terance
Mathis (No. 16).
Emmitt Smith of
the Dallas Cowboys made history in Week 8 of the 2002 season when he
became the NFL's all-time leading rusher. He surpassed Walter Payton's
career total of 16,726 yards on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter of a
game on October 27. Smith continued to add to his record total and
finished the season with 17,162 yards amassed during his 13-year
The New York Jets' Curtis Martin increased his career total
as he climbed from 18th to 15th place on the Top 20 rushers list. Martin,
who gained 1,094 yards this past season, has now rushed for 1,000 yards in
each of his eight seasons in the NFL.
One new addition to the Top
20 in 2002 was Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans. George finished the
season in 19th place just 429 yards behind Hall of Famer Earl Campbell.
George had surpassed Campbell in the team record book during 2002 to
become the franchise's all-time leading rusher.
Two other active
runners also rank among the career leaders in rushing yards. Jerome Bettis
of the Pittsburgh Steelers jumped two spots to 10th all-time while the St.
Louis Rams' Marshall Faulk ranks 14th all-time with 10,395
kickers, both of whom played in their 21st NFL season, further solidified
their firm hold of the top two places on the career scoring chart in 2002.
Gary Anderson of the Minnesota Vikings stretched his total scoring output
to 2,223 points when he added 90 points this past year. Morten Andersen,
who joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002, scored 117 points before an
injury sidelined him for the final two games of the season. It marked a
record-tying 13th time that Andersen has amassed 100 or more points in a
season. Gary Anderson is the other kicker to have achieved that
The New Orleans Saints' John Carney, Oakland Raiders wide
receiver Jerry Rice, and Matt Stover of the Baltimore Ravens earned a
spots among the Top 20 scorers in 2002. Carney had the second highest
point total of his career when he converted 37 PATs and 31 field goals for
130 points. Rice entered the Top 20 in Week 10 but dropped from the list
in the final week when Stover moved into 20th place.
active kicker in the Top 20 scorers is Steve Christie of the San Diego
Chargers (No. 17).
Football Hall of Fame Top 20 Potpourri
AAFC Numbers Included - The Pro Football Hall of Fame's
Top Twenty lists differ slightly from other similar lists because the
statistics from the All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) are
included. Today, there are just three players who are ranked in the Top 20
of the four main statistical categories (passing, receiving, rushing and
scoring) who played part of their careers in the AAFC. When the Hall's Top
20 display and accompanying lists debuted at the conclusion of the 1968
season, there were nine players ranked among the career leaders who had
connections to the defunct AAFC.
is currently ranked sixth all-time in passer rating. Without his four-year
totals in the AAFC, he would not rank in the Top 20. Joe Perry, without
his 1,345 yards in the AAFC, would not rank in the Top 20 rushers. Lou
"The Toe" Groza is the only player from the AAFC who still ranks among the
Top 20 scorers. Including his four seasons in that league, Groza ranks
seventh all-time with 1,608 points. Without his 259 points from the AAFC,
Groza would be in 15th place.
Changing of the Guard - The Top 20 passers list received
a facelift in 2002 as five new quarterbacks entered the list of career
passing leaders. Kurt Warner (Rams), Jeff Garcia (49ers), Brian Griese
(Broncos) and Trent Green (Chiefs) were new to the list this season and
held spots by the season's end. Steve McNair (Titans) also entered the
list this past season but was knocked from the ranks in Week 17. The group
represented the most new additions to the Top 20 passers in any single
year since the Hall of Fame debuted the ranking by passer rating in
Warner Makes History - Kurt Warner
of the St. Louis Rams reached the minimum requirement of 1,500 career
attempts to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Top 20 in the third
week of the 2002 season. In doing so, he rocketed to the top of the leader
board with a rating of 100.2 to become the first quarterback in history
with 1,500 or more attempts to have had a passer rating of 100 or higher.
That accomplishment lasted ever so briefly as his career rating fell to
99.9 the following week.
- The Top 20 passers list that ranks quarterbacks based on the passer
rating system has had very few changes of the overall leader. Here's a
look at the quarterbacks who have held the number one spot since the new
rating system was first developed following the 1972
Otto Graham, 1972-1983
(included AAFC statistics)
49ers strike gold (silver and bronze
too) - When current San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia
entered the Top 20 in the second week of the 2002 season, the top three
spots on the list were held by 49ers' QBs: No. 1 - Steve Young, No. 2 -
Joe Montana, No. 3 - Garcia. It would figure that it was a division rival
that would crash the party. The following week, Kurt Warner of the Rams
took over first place in the Top 20.
- It was not a good year for two Hall of Famers named Taylor
when it came to the Top 20. Washington Redskins great Charley Taylor
retired following the 1977 as the game's all-time leading receiver with
649 receptions. He was displaced from the Top 20 in the second to last
week of the 2002 season when Marvin Harrison climbed past him. In rushing,
the fearsome Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers ranked third all-time
when the Pro Football Hall of Fame Top 20 lists debuted at the conclusion
of the 1968 season. He remained on the Top 20 rushers list ever since that
time until Eddie George displaced him in Week 13.
All in the Family - When Denver Broncos quarterback
Brian Griese entered the Top 20 midway through the 2002 NFL season, he
joined his father as the only father-son duo ever to be ranked in any of
the Hall of Fame's four main Top 20 statistical categories. Brian entered
in 10th place and climbed as high as 9th. He finished the year at No. 14.
His father Bob, the Hall of Fame quarterback with the Miami Dolphins,
ranked among the Top 20 passers from 1973, when the current passer rating
system was first introduced, through 1988. He climbed as high as tenth
all-time during a period from 1975 to 1977.
up - Jerry Rice, on the merits of his touchdowns and four
two-point conversions, qualified for the Top 20 scorers during a
seven-week period of the 2002 season. He was displaced in the final week
of the year. He became the first player who did not handle his team's
kicking duties to make the Top 20 scorers since Jim Brown dropped off the
list in 1982.
Here's a look
at all players at other positions other than a pure placekicker - although
most did some kicking for their teams - who have ranked in the Top 20
scorers since 1969 when the list was first published.
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