Top 20 Potpourri - Start of 2002

Top 20 Potpourri - Start of 2002

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Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 Potpourri

Passing | Rushing | Receiving | Scoring | Combined Net Yards | Top 20 Potpourri| Coaching

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 fourth 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 rushing yards in the AAFC, would have been displaced from the Top 20 during the 2001 season. 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.


Watch Out, Here They Come - The upper echelon of the Top 20 passers could very well take on a new look in the early part of the 2002 NFL season. Currently six active quarterbacks - Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Mark Brunell, Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon, and Neil

O'Donnell - rank among the career leaders based on the passer rating system. The group could be joined quickly by two other active quarterbacks who are moving close to reaching the minimum requirement of 1,500 career attempts needed to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 Passer list.

Both Jeff Garcia of the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams' Kurt Warner could catapult to the top of the Top 20 passer chart. Jeff Garcia needs just 60 pass attempts to reach 1,500 career attempts and with his current rating of 91.5 would place him third all-time behind Steve Young and Hall of Famer Joe Montana. However, his third-place standing could be short lived, as Warner needs only to throw 97 passes to qualify for the Top 20. Warner, with his current passer rating of 103.0, would become the game's all-time career leader.


Straight to the Top - Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams needs just 97 pass attempts to reach the minimum requirement of 1,500 career attempts to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Top 20 list. With his current rating of 103.0, he would enter the Top 20 as the all-time career passing leader based on the passer rating system. Only two quarterbacks in history have entered the Top 20 in the number one spot. Joe Montana supplanted Otto Graham, whose statistics included his four seasons in the All-America Football Conference, as history's top ranked passer when he entered the Top 20 on November 20, 1983. Three years later, Dan Marino accomplished the feat in the third week of the 1986 season as he unseated Montana from the number one spot.

If Warner maintains a rating higher than 100, he would be the first quarterback ever with 1,500 career attempts to have a passer rating of 100 or higher. Since the Hall of Fame began publishing the Top 20 lists in 1968, the highest career rating ever achieved by a Top 20 passer was Steve Young's 97.6 rating at the end of the 1998 season.

Kurt Warner (Photo: Associated Press)Emmitt Smith (Photo: Associated Press)

Chasing Walter - Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys continued to climb the Top 20 rushers chart in 2001 as he passed Barry Sanders to move into second place all-time and is now in sight of Walter Payton's record of 16,726 rushing yards. Smith trails Payton by 539 yards. The two runners have strikingly similar career rushing numbers. Here's how Smith compared to Payton at the end of the 2001 NFL season:

  Yrs G Att Yds Avg. Yds/Game
Walter Payton (1975-1987) 13 190 3838 16,726 4.4 88.0
Emmitt Smith (1990-2001) 12 185 3798 16,187 4.3 87.5

Three's A Crowd? - Marshall Faulk, Terry Allen, and Curtis Martin reached Top 20 status in career rushing during the 2001 season. It marks the first time in 20 years, and only the third time ever since the Pro Football Hall of Fame starting publishing the Top 20 lists in 1968, that three new runners earned Top 20 status in the same season.

Future Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Earl Campbell, along with Mark van Eeghen entered the Top 20 during the 1981 NFL season. The trio knocked Larry Brown, Steve Van Buren, and Bill Brown from the list.

In 1973, Denver's Floyd Little, and Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson and Larry Csonka each climbed into the Top 20. As a result, Paul Lowe, John David Crow, and Gale Sayers were displaced from the Top 20 lifetime leaders in rushing.


They're Not Wide Receivers… - Larry Centers of the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens' tight end Shannon Sharpe are the only two active players among the career leaders in receptions who are not wide receivers. Both set milestones for their position on November 18, 2001, and passed along memorabilia from the historic occasions to the Hall of Fame. Centers became the NFL's all-time leader in receiving yards for a running back. Following the game, his shoes and gloves were sent to Canton.

Sharpe surpassed Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome to become the all-time leading tight end receiver. Newsome, who presently serves as the Ravens Vice President-Player Personnel was on hand for the game. The two signed the jersey Sharpe wore that day and it was sent immediately to the Hall of Fame where it has remained on display in the Pro Football Today Room.

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