Category Archives: History

A Brief Essay on the Legendary Marcus Allen

Born March 26, 1960 in San Diego, California, Marcus Allen knew from a young age he was a special talent. During neighborhood football games, he was always several steps ahead of everyone else. He preferred playing defensive back and aspired to be like his hero Lem Barney, but he also spent time in his backyard trying to emulate the running style of Browns legend Leroy Kelly. That time paid dividends when Abraham Lincoln High School coaches Vic Player and Roy Reed decided to make Allen…

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History of the Career Rushing Yards Record

Seemingly every offseason for the last half decade, Adrian Peterson has made slow-news-day headlines by reiterating his goal of breaking Emmitt Smith‘s career rushing yards record. Normally, this notion would be dismissed. However, given Peterson’s production to date, in concert with his remarkable physical conditioning and recovery ability, his words hold more weight than those of other backs.1 While Peterson’s goal pops up in the news every now and then, the history of the record itself is rarely covered. We’ll see an offhand remark about…

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History of the Career Rushing Touchdowns Record

As a lover of football history, I enjoy writing about the evolution of the game and examining statistical achievements from a historical perspective. I’m also fond of looking at the progression of career records, as doing so can often give us a glimpse into the progression of the game itself. I’ve previously written about the history of the passing touchdowns, passing yards, and receptions records. Today, I’ll focus on the storied history of the carer rushing touchdowns record. The first ever Football Sunday in league…

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History of the Career Receptions Record

The history of the NFL’s career receptions record is an interesting one. Given that the original record-holders played a large chunk of their careers before the league kept official statistics, and given that the early days of the NFL featured very little passing, the first three men to wear the crown put up numbers that appear paltry to the modern audience. As the league evolved, the record began changing hands between more accomplished receivers – legends of the game. Some of these men revolutionized the…

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History of the Career Passing Yards Record

You may have heard that former Colts and Broncos great Peyton Manning has announced his retirement. He left the game as the career leader in touchdown passes and yards (on top of other, less notable records). He has been lauded by an adoring media and legions of fans, and deservedly so. However, with all the attention given to modern players, we often fail to properly remember former greats – legends of the game who paved the way for the sports celebrities of today. More than relics…

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1990s NFL Offenses

If you’ve been following along in this series on the history of NFL offenses, you’ve probably noticed that, although the overall trend in productivity has been positive, there is much ebb and flow within that upward trend.1 After a league-wide offensive explosion in the eighties, innovative defensive coaches began devising successful strategies to slow down the opposition. After peaking in 1985, offensive output began to slow down; in 1992, the league reached its lowest mark since 1978.2 As usual, the base metric for offensive performance…

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1980s NFL Offenses

The 1980s was an exciting time to be a fan of offensive football. The Dark Ages had passed, and Kings from the West led offenses out of the fog and into a new era of enlightenment. Bolstered by rules changes from the previous decade, the passing game became a more favorable option than ever. The defense-dominated seventies were over; a decade of offensive decadence was upon us. TAY = Yds + 20*TD + 9*(1d – TD) – 45*Int – 25*Fmb1 Incorporating first downs into the equation…

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1970s NFL Offenses

If you’ve been following along, you know that I am exploring NFL offenses by the decade. Yes, a decade is an arbitrary constraint to set on something like this, but when put together as a whole, this series weaves a rich tapestry that highlights the evolution of offensive football at the major professional level. We’ve seen how offensive output rapidly increased in the thirties and forties before experiencing a more gradual increase in the fifties and sixties. We’ve also examined the ways in which the…

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AFL Offenses

Regulars know that I am in the middle of a series in the history of NFL offenses.1 Over the long course of the league’s history, only two rivals have ever seriously challenged the NFL – both enough to force an eventual merger. As I did with the All American Football Conference, I am giving the American Football League its own article, separate from the NFL. Much like the AAFC before it, the AFL was known as a far more offensively oriented league than the contemporary…

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