14 things about 14
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It’s hard to imagine that we’re already into Week 14 of the 2010 NFL Season. So, as we prepare for the action around the league this weekend, here’s my look at 14 points about the No. 14 as it relates to the NFL.
14 – Number of teams in the NFL during most of the 1960s. The league grew from 12 to 14 teams with the addition of the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and the Minnesota Vikings a year later. The league didn’t expand beyond that until late in the decade.
14 – Barry Sanders owns the NFL record for most 100-yard games in a season when he hit the century mark 14 times in 1997. Not surprisingly the run of 100-yard games came during a season that saw him gain a career-high 2,053 yards. The string began with a 161-yard effort in a 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 3 and continued through the end of the season capped by a 184-yard effort against the New York Jets in the season finale on Dec. 21. More on the streak>>>
14 – Legendary Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham wore this number after rule changes in the early 1950s required a quarterback to wear a numeral between 1 and 19. So, the team tore off the familiar #60 and replaced it with this number. By the way, there was a clause in the rule book at the time that stated “All nationally known players who have been in the National Football League and or the A.A. Conference for a period of three years may use their old numbers….” The humble Graham waived that out and adhered to the new numbering policy. Check out Graham’s jersey that is in our collection. You’ll notice the outline of his old number with the new “14” stitched over it.
14 – Perhaps no player in NFL history dominated an era like Packers end Don Hutson. He established nearly every possible NFL receiving record during his 11-season career from 1935 to 1945 with Green Bay. He did so, of course, all while wearing No. 14. He also held a unique record at the time of his retirement for “most records held.”
14 – Keeping with the theme of uniform numbers, San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts also wore the number 14 during his high-flying career. In 1979, he became just the second player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards in a season. He followed that up by improving on that total in each of the next two seasons to become the first player with multiple 4,000-yard seasons (he had three straight). For the record his totals from 1979-1981 were: 4082, 4715, and 4,802 respectively.
14 – Y.A. Tittle is another Hall of Fame legend who adorned the No. 14 during his career. Yelberton Abraham wore it in San Francisco with the 49ers and in New York when he ended his career with the Giants. Here are Tittle’s well-worn shoulder pads with the number “14” in ink for identification purposes. He used the same set of pads throughout a storied career that climaxed with him earning NFL MVP honors twice in a three-season period toward the end of his playing days.
14 – Lynn Swann was a Hall of Fame finalist 14 times before he was elected in 2001. In his enshrinement speech that summer, he shed light on the long span of years it took for him to earn his place in Canton, “…If 14 years had not passed, then I would not be here today with the great patience, and support, and love of my wife Charena. Of being able to stand here in front of you and having my two sons Shafer and Braxton, who are five and three years old to be here and be a part of this afternoon. I’m glad 14 years passed so I could have this love and this family share in this moment with me.”
14 – One NFL record that appears be safe for many, many years is the 14 seasons with 1,000 or more yards receiving held by Jerry Rice. The Class of 2010 enshrinee eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark while with the San Francisco 49ers in every season from 1986 to 1996 and again in 1998. For good measure he added back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Oakland Raiders in 2001-02.
14 – The Los Angeles Rams picked a little-known defensive end by the name of Deacon Jones in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft. (On a side note, he’s the only 14th round draft pick in the Hall of Fame.) All he did was revolutionize the way DE’s harassed quarterbacks. He excelled so well at wreaking havoc in the backfield that he coined the term “sack” for the play that he refined. However, you won’t find his name in the record book because the quarterback sack did not become an official NFL stat until 1982. Researcher John Turney spend many years dedicated to retroactively compiling sack numbers for those who came before ’82. The “unofficial” total for Jones is 169.5 sacks which would have put him atop the list for many years after his retirement.
14 – The record number of interceptions recorded by Dick (Night Train) Lane during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1952, a mark that has remained essentially unchallenged ever since. It didn’t take long for opposing quarterbacks to smarten up and stop throwing in the direction of the future Hall of Famer.
14 – Buffalo Bills took Miami quarterback Jim Kelly with the 14th overall pick in the memorable 1983 Draft. He was just one of the astonishing number of future Hall of Famers (six) taken in the first round that year. The others included: 1. John Elway, 2. Eric Dickerson, 9. Bruce Matthews, 27. Dan Marino, 28, Darrell Green. Kelly opted to play in the USFL for a couple of years before signing with the Bills in 1986 and eventually leading the team to an unprecedented four straight AFC championships.
14 – With all the talk of the 18-game NFL season on the horizon, one might remember that the league had 14-game seasons from 1961 through 1977. Most of season records set during this period were broken by those who had the advantage of two extra games. However, one impressive record still stands from 1965 when Hall of Famer Gale Sayers set the rookie record for touchdowns with 22 (oh, and speaking of 14….Sayers had 14 rushing scores his first year). Of course, six of Sayers TDs came in this memorable game against the 49ers.
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