Everyone knows that Tom Brady has more Super Bowl rings than most franchises and that Jerry Rice holds virtually every receiving record imaginable. However, these 10 interesting facts about the National Football League are some of the league's best-kept secrets.
The Never-Ending Search for a Bears Quarterback
The Chicago Bears are one of two franchises that have been around since the NFL's inception. They have a storied history with legendary players that fans have adored for decades. However, throughout their 100 years of existence, the Chicago Bears have never had a quarterback throw 4,000 yards in a season.
To put that in the proper perspective, 10 quarterbacks surpassed 4,000 yards in 2021, and two of them (Tom Brady and Justin Herbert) had over 5,000. The closest a Bears signal-caller got to the 4,000-yard milestone was Erik Kramer in 1995 at 3,838. Jay Cutler has the next four spots on that list, topping at 3,812 in 2014.
Walter Payton's One Rushing Title
Walter Payton is one of those legendary players on the Chicago Bears, and a primary reason the Bears never had to throw the ball was that "Sweetness" was running all over the field. However, the former all-time leading rusher only had one single-season rushing title. In 1977, Payton won the MVP after racking up 1,852 yards and 14 touchdowns, which led the league in both for the only time in his illustrious career.
Detroit Lions Playoff Failures
Most casual NFL fans know that the Detroit Lions have never won the Super Bowl. But their futility goes beyond never bringing home the Lombardi Trophy. After the Lions won their third NFL Championship in 1957, they traded their starting quarterback, Bobby Layne, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Evidently, Layne's parting wish was that Detroit would never win a championship for the next 50 years. The Lions have made good on Layne's proclamation because it's been 65 years. In addition to never winning the whole thing, Detroit has two stretches of 30 years without a playoff win. In 1991, they nixed Layne's stranglehold curse over them with a win, but that's the only win they have gotten despite making it to the postseason five times from 1993-2019.
If you think Thursday Night Football is erroneous, how about a consolation game to find out who finished third place in a season? A runner-up to the runner-up game happened throughout the 1960s, as Pete Rozelle created the "Bert Bell Benefit Bowl" to find out who was the second-best loser.
Bell was a former NFL commissioner that passed away in the crowd during a contest between the Eagles and the Steelers the year before. So, Rozelle thought the best way to honor him was a consolation game. The Lions can take pride in winning the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl the most, so there's your glass half-full factoid, Lions fans.
The New York Jets' White Whale
Another franchise with a long history is the New York Jets. Since 1960 the Jets have been squaring off against NFL foes, but there is one team they still have not beaten. Of their 415 wins in franchise history, zero were against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Over the years, they have battled 12 times, with the Eagles winning every game. Five of the Jets' losses have been at home, and two were by a single point. They get the chance to break the curse next year when the AFC East takes on the NFC East, but with how the Eagles look in 2022, it may be unlucky 13 for the Gang Green.
Sammy Baugh Is Mr. Everything
We can all agree that what Shohei Ohtani is doing in baseball is remarkable. Being a two-way player in football is more common than in baseball, especially back in the old days. But that doesn't mean what Sammy Baugh did in 1943 is any less impressive. In a single game, the Hall of Fame QB threw four touchdowns, had an 81-yard punt, and had four interceptions as a cornerback in a 42-20 victory.
Brett Favre's First Career Completion and Reception
The three-time MVP quarterback had 6,300 completions in his Hall of Fame career, including many to some incredible receivers like Sterling Sharpe, Antonio Freeman, and Donald Driver. His first career completion was to one of the only two HOF pass catchers Favre completed a pass to—himself.
In his first season with Green Bay after Jerry Glanville traded him from Atlanta, a defender on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage, and it landed in Favre's lap. Later in his career, he accomplished this rare feat with the Vikings, becoming one of two players to have a reception over 40. The person he shares this rare distinction with is the greatest wide receiver ever to lace up their cleats, Jerry Rice.
A Thousand Years
As Brett Favre learned, the Green Bay Packer fanbase is rabid. There isn't much else to do in the city besides breathe and bleed Packer football. Therefore, getting season tickets is next to impossible, considering the wait list is over 1,000 years long. Maybe a hidden plot point in Avengers: Endgame was that Thanos was a Green Bay Packer fan, and wiping out half of the world's population was the only way he could make headway on moving up the list because that's what it will need to take for you to acquire the tickets in your lifetime.
Cleveland Browns Lack of Division Titles
In 1996, the Houston Oilers ceased to exist, becoming the Tennessee Titans. As sad as it was to see one of the best helmet, jersey, and color combinations go by the wayside, it's sadder that the defunct Houston Oilers have a division title to their name more recently than the Cleveland Browns.
There is a caveat to this fun fact that makes it more bearable for Browns fans. This does account for the original Browns franchise that turned into the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns emerged like a phoenix rising from the ashes in 1999 with a new regime, but the lack of division titles remains the same. The three other teams (Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals) of the AFC North have won the division crown five-plus times in that time.
Most Valuable Kicker
The 1982 NFL season seems like a fever dream. Thanks to a 57-day-long players' strike, the typical 16-game schedule became only nine games, and there was a record 16-team playoff for the first time. However, the wackiest thing about the 1982 campaign is that a kicker was the AP's MVP.
Washington's placekicker, Mark Mosely, edged out Chargers' QB Dan Fouts to take home the honor. Mosely, who only had a 65.6 field goal percentage in his 16-year career, nailed 20 of his 21 field goal attempts en route to a Washington Super Bowl victory. What's even more hilarious is that he missed three of his extra points yet still took home the hardware.
Most of these ten interesting facts about the National Football League were new to us, so we hope you enjoyed learning a thing or two. Another thing you can learn is how to make your picks by following our NFL expert picks at Pregame. Subscribe for a discounted rate on the best NFL winners weekly for the 2022 season.