On Wednesday, we looked at the franchise leaders in various passing categories; yesterday we did the same exercise with rushing stats. Well, let’s close out Friday with a look at the career leaders in the key receiving categories.
Did you know: only one player who leads his franchise in career receptions retired before the 1978 rules changes:
The Jets have had a number of talented receivers put on a uniform, but none as skilled as Maynard. I’m a fan of his autobigraphy, You Can’t Catch Sunshine, which includes some great pages on Maynard’s approach to route running and timing. And with 627 career receptions for New York, it’s going to be a long time before he has to worry about losing his stature in Jets history. Wayne Chrebet (580 receptions) came close, but Dustin Keller is the active Jets leader with 213 catches.
You can learn a lot about the history of the Chicago Bears passing attack by seeing the above list: Walter Payton in the career receptions leader. Payton and Tampa Bay’s James Wilder are the only two running backs to hold a franchise career receptions record.
Johnny Morris retired in 1967, but he remains Chicago’s career receiving yards leader. That’s almost unthinkable in light of the modern passing game, as 28 of the 32 franchise’s receiving yards leaders were active with their teams as recently as 1989. Morris was a good receiver for the Bears — here’s one highlight — but his place on the list has more to do with the lack of talent at the position for the Bears ever since. Morris had a spectacular 1964 season, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 1964, but it was the only season in which he made the Pro Bowl as a receiver.
Let’s close out the career lists with a look at the franchise leaders in receiving touchdowns:
Larry Fitzgerald passed Roy Green (66 touchdowns) last season, making him the Cardinals’ all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. He’s going to set the bar very, very high, and will likely hold the Cardinals franchise record long after anyone remembers this blog post.
Donald Driver took the #1 spot in the Packers record books for receptions and yards, but he’ll never catch Hutson’s touchdown mark. Hutson’s 99 touchdowns stood as the NFL record until Steve Largent surpassed him in 1989.
Charlie Hennigan was a star for the Houston Oilers in the AFL, leading the league in receiving yards in ’61 and ’64. Ken Burrough, Drew Hill and Haywood Jeffires all caught 47 touchdowns for the team — and Ernest Givings caught 46 — but no one has been able to match his production yet.
We can also look at the single-season leaders. Let’s start with receptions:
It’s a testament to the modern NFL that only three of the single-season reception leaders were set before 1993, and over half of have been set since the Texans entered the league. As you may remember from weekend trivia, the Browns are the only team to never have a receiver catch 90 passes in a season, but the Eagles and Dolphins haven’t fared much better. And who would have known that Bobby Engram owns the single season Seahawks reception record?
Perhaps even more surprising, before Engram, it was Darrell Jackson who owned the franchise record with 87 catches in 2004. Steve Largent topped out at 79 receptions in 1985; Brian Blades broke that mark with 80 receptions in ’93 and then again with 81 catches the following season. Next up, a look at the single-season leaders in receiving yards:
Receiving yards records aren’t subject to the same inflation. and three AFL stars still hold their franchise’s record in this category. You’ll probably be surprised by some of the names on this list — Green Bay has had some excellent receivers, but Robert Brooks would not have been my first guess. Giants fans surely hope Victor Cruz’ career doesn’t turn out like Marcus Robinson, who came out of nowhere to post 1400 yards in a dominant season with the Bears in 1999.
There are some interesting names on the list — Mark Carrier, Yancey Thigpen, David Boston, Braylon Edwards, among others — that surely bring back mixed emotions for fans of those teams. Which name on the receiving yards list is most surprising to you?
Finally, let’s take a look at the single-season leaders in receiving touchdowns.
Megatron set Detroit’s record last season, which had been held by … no, not Herman Moore, but Cloyce Box, who had 15 touchdown catches in 12 games for the ’52 Lions.
Randy Moss and Terrell Owens hold the touchdown records for two teams each. And while it’s not shocking that newer teams like the Texans and Jaguars have never had a receiver catch more than 10 touchdowns in a season, how many guesses would it have taken for you to get Bill Brooks as the Buffalo leader? Eric Moulds, Steve Johnson, Andre Reed, Bob Chandler and Elbert Dubenion each caught 10 touchdown passes in a season, but Brooks is the only one to reach 11 touchdowns.
Among the other surprises, at least for me: Anthony Miller for the Broncos, Daryl Turner for the Seahawks, Dick Gordon for the Bears, and Sonny Randle for the Cardinals. The Bears records in the passing and receiving categories are pitiful; fans can only hope that Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall start re-writing the record books in 2012.