PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME'S TOP 20

01/01/2005
HOFers By High School


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

CANTON, 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.

Top 20 Lists
(PDF)
Passing stats (TDs, comp., att, yards)

In addition, 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 victories.

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).

Passing
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.

Receiving
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.

Meanwhile, age 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.

Tim Brown 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 all-time.

Five other 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).

Rushing
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 career.

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 yards.

Scoring
Two active 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 feat.

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.

One other active kicker in the Top 20 scorers is Steve Christie of the San Diego Chargers (No. 17).

Pro 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.

Otto Graham 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 1973.

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.

Leading Passers
- 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 season:
Otto Graham, 1972-1983 (included AAFC statistics)
Joe Montana, 1983-1986
Dan Marino, 1986-1988
Joe Montana, 1988-1994
Steve Young, 1994-2002
Kurt Warner, 2002-present

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.

The Taylors - 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.

TDs add 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.

Player
Pos.
Year Displaced
TDs
PAT
FG
2-pt. Conversions
Pts.
JERRY RICE
WR
2002
203
0
0
4
1,226
Gino Cappelletti
WR-DB
2000
42
350
176
4
1,130
Bobby Walston
E
1988
46
365
80
0
881
Don Hutson *
E
1985
105
172
7
0
823
Paul Hornung *
HB
1984
62
190
66
0
760
Jim Brown *
RB
1982
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