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 (left), the legendary quarterback of the Cleveland Browns is currently ranked 10th all-time in passer rating. Without his four-year totals in the AAFC, he would not rank in the Top 20. Likewise, Hall of Fame running back Joe Perry 's total of 9,723 yards currently ranks him No. 18 all time among the Top 20 rushers. If his 1,345 yards gained in the All-America Football Conference were not included in that total, he too would not have a Top 20 ranking.
Lou “The Toe” Groza , a teammate of Graham in Cleveland, ranks seventh all-time in scoring with 1,608 points. Without his 259 points from the AAFC, Groza would be in 19th place.
Better With Age
In his 10th NFL season, Curtis Martin of the New York Jets rushed for a career-high and team-record 1,697 yards to lead the league in rushing for the first time in his career. At age 31, he is the older player ever to lead the NFL in rushing. He also became just the second player in NFL history, joining Hall of Famer Barry Sanders , to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons in the NFL.
In 2004, for just the second time in NFL history, the NFL had four quarterbacks register a rating of 100 or higher in the same season. Leading the way was Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts who established an NFL record for passer rating in a single-season (121.1). The other QBs to achieve a passer rating of 100 or more in 2004 were Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings (110.9), Drew Brees of the San Diego Chargers (104.8), and Donovan McNabb of the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles (104.7).
The other occurrence of four 100-point passers came in 1998 with Randall Cunningham (Vikings), Vinny Testaverde (Jets), Steve Young (49ers) and Chris Chandler (Falcons).
Finding the End Zone
In just seven NFL seasons, Peyton Manning has thrown 216 touchdown passes including his record 49 TD passes in 2004. That places him 20th all-time in total touchdown passes. He’s on pace with the NFL record holder in that category. Class of 2005 inductee Dan Marino racked up 220 TD passes during his first seven years in the league. Marino finished his 17-season Hall of Fame career with 420 TDs.
Denver Broncos placekicker Jason Elam has scored 100 points in each of his 12 seasons in the NFL including the 129 points he added in 2004 which was second highest point total of his career. Only Gary Anderson and Morten Andersen have had more 100-point seasons. Each of those kickers has amassed 100 points 14 times during their career. Andersen fell one point short of 100 in 2004.
In 1986, Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner of the San Diego Chargers became the first player in NFL history to reach the 700-reception plateau. Today, all of the Top 20 receivers have 700-plus career catches.
In fact, 11 of the Top 20 receivers of all-time have more than 800 career catches including the Indianapolis Colts’ Marvin Harrison (right) who reached that level in 2004. He added 86 catches for 1,113 yards and 15 TDs for the Colts this past season to help him climb to 7th on the all-time receptions leaders list with 845 career grabs.
Best of Today
The 34 active players ranked in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Top 20 rankings at the end of the 2004 NFL season are the most ever since the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 lists of passing, receiving, rushing, and scoring debuted following the 1968 season.
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