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Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com.
“Wow!” I’m going to say it again, “wow!”
Football fans, me included, are in heaven this week as the NFL season got underway. Every year as the new season approaches a feeling of doubt hits me. I wonder how the NFL can just keep outdoing itself year in and year out. What would happen if history didn’t rewrite itself? How would we add to the world’s largest collection of football “artifacts” and how would we keep our exhibits inside the Pro Football Today Gallery fresh with recent acquisitions?
But then any insecurity is wiped away when something like Kickoff Weekend 2011 happens. One would think that at some point, especially as the NFL enters its 92nd season, that records can’t be broken at the pace they regularly fall. Right?
Sixty-one years after Otto Graham made his NFL debut (after four seasons in the All-America Football Conference) by throwing for 346 yards, the Carolina Panthers Cam Newton stepped onto the NFL stage by airing it out by the way of 422 yards on Sunday. It marked the most yards ever by a quarterback making his NFL debut and tied the single-game rookie mark set by the Lions Matthew Stafford two years ago.
Have you ever heard of Cobb Rooney of the Duluth Kelleys? How about A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals?
Rooney’s 22-yard score in a NFL game in 1924 was the longest game-winning TD catch in a fourth quarter by a rookie in his team’s first game. That was until Green shocked the Browns defense and raced 41 yards on a quick pass play for the winning TD on Sunday in Cleveland.
Kickoff Weekend’s Monday Night was the perfect exclamation point on a thrilling weekend. Tom Brady threw for 517 yards, the second most ever on kickoff weekend, and hooked up with Wes Welker for a 99-yarder that made the Patriots duo just the 12th tandem ever to have a TD pass of that record-tying length. Chad Henne was also busy on his side of the ball as the Patriots and Dolphins shattered the NFL record for net passing yards in a game (908). Altogether in Week 1 there was 7,842 net passing yards which is the most in a single week in NFL history.
The final game of the Week 1 included Sebastian Janikowski nailing a 63-yard field goal at the end of the first half to tie that long-standing NFL mark.
Are you among those doubters who were complaining about the new kickoff rule? Complain no more. The NFL witnessed over Kickoff Weekend the most combined kick returns for scores in a single week ever! The three kickoff returns for touchdowns also tied an opening week record. The three kickoffs for six points all covered distances of more than 100 yards (Packers Randall Cobb’s record-tying 108-yarder on Thursday; Percy Harvin’s 103 for the Vikings, and San Francisco’s Ted Ginn with a 102-yard return against Seattle). You have to go back to Week 5 of the 1958 season for the last and only other time the NFL had three 100+ yard kickoff returns in the same week.
That’s not all … I could go on and on about even more milestones and records that were set during the NFL’s first week of action. But, let it suffice to say with a weekend like we just experienced, the Hall of Fame’s mission is secure. We look forward to adding memorabilia to commemorate one great weekend of NFL football.
On to Week 2!