Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Favorite Sports Records (continuation of old post) Football Edition

Now that school has stared again I have bought a art sketchbook with 80 unlined high quality sheets of paper in the hope of beginning some kind of short book, a draft of which, 180-240 pages or so, should be achievable by spring. Revision I can do when distracted and at odd hours, but first drafts I seem to require a couple of hours a day for, which I should have now. This will be a very slight book, I am talking maybe even at the level of library and drug store reminiscences, anything to get back in the routine of writing prose again. I have never had the experience of feeling my mind stripped as bare as I have found it lately; the thought process fixes on nothing and goes nowhere. Obviously people lose abilities, often rapidly, throughout life, but I cannot believe that I will never return to having a more whole, intricately ordered and directed mental life; though perhaps I will not.

The political life, if one can call it that, of this country seems to me unnaturally ugly at the moment, and I fear its resolution as far as current conflict goes will only come about by means of unnecessarily hard and vindictive events. If this leads to the psychic improvement and invigoration of the increasingly empty and anomic mass, this would perhaps be a desired end. I am at all convinced that this would be the result however.

When I was a child, Jim Brown was the NFL's all time leading rusher. Currently he is 9th, and even that is higher than I thought he would be. The earliest all time reception leader I remember, around 1977, was Charley Taylor, though this record was broken almost every year until Jerry Rice put up a truly enormous number of catches that should hold for a little while. Charley Taylor is now 41st all time. Likewise most of the major passing records have passed in these same few decades from Johnny Unitas to Fran Tarkenton to Dan Marino to Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning is on track to shatter all these records assuming he plays another 6 or 7 years, which one has no reason to expect he won't. The point being that in football records that have stood for 40 or 50 years are extremely rare and therefore of especial interest to the fan.

Most Yards Passing, Single Game: Norm Van Brocklin, 1951--554 yards. This is one of the most remarkable records in all of sports. People have come close to breaking it pretty frequently, and while it would undoubtedly require a monster game, it is hardly out of reach, espcecially of a good modern offense. Among those getting within a decent length pass of the record in recent years are Warren Moon (527), Boomer Esiason (522) and Drew Brees (510), and while I cannot find a list, I am pretty sure every other game in the top ten has occurred since 1990. I predict that this record will fall sometime within the next few years.

Interceptions. One category where old-timers remain well-represented in the record books, due to the consistent improvements in passing offense, are interceptions...

I don't want to finish this. Here are the basics. Night Lane Train intercepted 14 passes in a 12 game season in 1952. It's still the record. The league leaders in the 2000s have all been between 8-10. No one has had more than 10 in a season since 1981 (Everson Walls--11). Lester Hayes did have 13 in 1980, which is tied with Bob Sandifer's 1948 performance for the second most INTs of all time.

Career-wise, only 4 of the top 10 interceptors have been active within the last 30 years, and the all time record is still held by a white guy, Paul Krause, who pulled in 81 balls playing for the Redskins and Vikings in the 60s and 70s. Only 2 other white guys (Dick LeBeau and Pat Fischer--I remember Pat Fischer, who was around 5-9, playing cornerback for the Redskins in 1977 or 1978, which would have been his 17th or 18th season in the league. I remember that my father admired him as a player but knew that by that time he was getting on past his prime) are in the top 20, which is actually less than I had expected (I thought at least Roger Werhli and Bill Bradley would have made it). Rod Woodson, who played forever, made it all the way to 3rd all time, but was was still 10 shy of the record. Darren Sharper is the only active player in the top 20, currently 6th all time with 63, including 9 last year. Going into his 14th year in the league, 19 more INTs seems a lot to ask. Deion Sanders, who believes the entire position ought to be named after him, is not in the top 20 all time.

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