Top 20 heading into 2010


The Pro Football Hall of Fame has charted the career Top 20 leaders in four main statistical categories since the late 1960s. Originally, the lists were displayed in a museum exhibit before also becoming an online feature in 1996.  Today, the Top 20 remains a popular feature on Profootballhof.com. The all-time leaders in passing, receiving, rushing, and scoring are posted on the website each Tuesday throughout the National Football League’s regular season.

For many years, the Hall’s list was significant in that it included the statistics from the now-defunct All-America Football Conference (AAFC) that existed from 1946 to1949. The NFL does not recognize AAFC stats but over the years those stats have become somewhat insignificant as now only two players, both Hall of Famers and teammates, are affected by not including the stats from that defunct league. Hall of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham (passing) and Tackle/Kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza (scoring) would rank in the Top 20 if their AAFC stats were included with those numbers compiled during their days in the NFL.

At the end of each NFL season, with the help of Elias Sports Bureau, we present an expanded Top 20 to include the career leaders in 15 statistical categories. Among these stat leaders are not only a large number of Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees but also a nice representation of players who were active during the exciting 2009 NFL Season.

Here are some notable observations on the lists:

 LaDainian Tomlinson climbed from No. 14 all-time in rushing to No. 8 during this past season. He ran past four Hall of Fame running backs on the chart – Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, and Jim Brown.

 Surprisingly the Top 20 reception leaders list includes only three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Class of 2010 enshrinee Jerry Rice (No. 1), Art Monk (No. 9) and Steve Largent (No. 20).

 Kicker Ryan Longwell scored a career-high 132 points for the Minnesota Vikings in ’09 to enter the Top 20 and climbed all the way to No. 15 by season’s end. He connected on 26 of 28 field goal tries and converted 54 of 55 extra point attempts in 2009, his 13th NFL season.

 The 2010 season marks the 40th anniversary of the merger of the American Football League and the National Football League. Here’s a look at the career leaders in 1970 compared to 2010 and how the numbers at the start of the 1970 season would stack up against today’s stats. Only two players, Gale Sayers (kickoff returns) and George McAfee (punt returns) still hold the number one 1 spot 40 years later. Also, of note, every career leader in 1970 has been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    1970 Where it'd rank in 2010
Coaching Victories George Halas 324 2
Combined Net Yards Jim Brown 15,459 NR
Interceptions Emlen Tunnell 79 2
Kickoff Returns: Average Gale Sayers 30.56 1
Passer Rating * * *
Yards Johnny Unitas 35,502 16
TDs Johnny Unitas 266 9
Completions Johnny Unitas 2,450 NR
Attempts Johnny Unitas 4,456 NR
Punt Returns: Average George McAfee 12.78 1
Receptions Raymond Berry 631 NR
Receiving Yards Don Maynard 10,373 NR
Rushing Yards Jim Brown 12,312 9
Points George Blanda 1,477 16
Touchdowns Jim Brown 126 10
* Current passer rating system wasn't developed until 1973

 Veteran safety Darren Sharper of the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints matched a career high when he picked off 9 passes in 2009. It marked the third time he’s had 9 picks in a season (2005 Vikings, 2000 Packers). In doing so, he climbed from an 18th-place tie to a share of sixth place in career interceptions. In all, he has 63 interceptions for 1,412 yards, which includes his single-season record return yardage of 376 yards in ’09, and 11 career pick sixes.

 For years it seemed nearly unimaginable that anyone would ever challenge George Blanda’s career point total of 2,002 points. His mark was first surpassed several years ago by Gary Anderson and then by Morten Andersen. This past year, the 2,000-point plateau was reached by two more kickers, John Carney and Matt Stover, and has moved Blanda to No. 5 on the career scorers list.

 Veteran quarterback Brett Favre continued to add to his record totals in pass attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns in 2009. But, it was his passer rating in his 19th NFL season that is most intriguing. Favre, for the first time in his storied career, posted a rating of 100 points or higher. He led the Vikings to a NFC North title by completing 363 of 531 passes for 4,202 yards, 33 TDs, and 7 interceptions for a rating of 107.2. His career rating of 86.6 ranks 14th best all-time, up two spots from the start of the ’09 season.

Top 20 (at start of 2010 NFL Season)

Coaching Victories

Combined Net Yards


Kickoff Returns: Average

Passing: Ratings | Yards | TDs | Completions | Attempts

Punt Returns: Average

Receiving: Receptions | Yards

 Rushing Yards

Scoring: Points | Touchdowns

Top 20 lists at the start of the past four seasons: 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006




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