There have been 35 quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least 30,000 yards. Given enough time, you could probably guess that Drew Bledsoe, Jim Kelly, and Steve McNair are three of them. All three have something else in common: they were all born on February 14th.
If we drop the cut-off to 16,000 yards, we jump to 125 quarterbacks but get to include David Garrard, another Valentine’s Day baby. With 366 possible birthdays, it’s pretty incredible that four out of a random group of 125 people would have the same birthday. Consider that no one born on any the following seven days — January 30th, March 4th and 30th, April 9th and 13th, and June 12th and 21st — has ever gained a single passing yard in NFL history.1
But wait, there’s more: If we drop the threshold to 3,500 passing yards, we get to include Patrick Ramsey and Anthony Wright. Those guys may not impress you, but consider that only 310 players have thrown for 3,500 yards. That means dozens of days have zero quarterbacks with 3,500 yards, so slotting in Ramsey and Wright as QB5 and QB6 on your birthday dream team is pretty damn good. February 13th, for example, has Jim Youel as its top passer, and he only collected 849 yards. Yesterday’s number two slot goes to the greatest receiver of all-time to ever play with Aaron Brooks (106 yards), outpacing Drew Henson and his 98 career yards. Clearly, passing yardage is for lovers.2
Want more proof? In terms of total career passing yards through the entire history of the league, today has an enormous lead on the second-best birthday. This table shows all passing yards from 1932 to 2012 based on player birthday; the last column shows all quarterbacks born on that day with at least 1,000 passing yards:
If you’re still not convinced that today is for passing lovers, consider that February 14th has spawned some other men with quarterback connections:
- Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, was born on February 14th and has been photographed with Eli Manning.
- Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was born exactly 100 years ago today, and loved to celebrate Hallmark holidays. The last quarterback he ever coached was Art Schlichter, who is an exclusive club with Bert Jones, John Elway, Jeff George, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck consisting of great Colts quarterbacks selected in the top five of the NFL draft since 1970.
- Jimmy Hoffa was born on February 14th, and was rumored to have been buried underneath the old Meadowlands. That means Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Kerry Collins and dozens of other quarterbacks may have angered Cupid by throwing on the grave of one of his protected sons.
- Update:As Neil pointed out on twitter, let’s not forget that Zack Valentine has the unique honor of having played with both Terry Bradshaw and Ron Jaworski, while Ira Valentine played with Warren Moon.
Back to the above table. The third-best passing birthdate has been blanked out, as you can see. Up until the end of 2012 — as Peyton Manning continued to rack up the passing yards for March 24th — that mystery date was the second-best passing day. That day is tomorrow, February 15th, the birthdays of Hall of Very Good members John Hadl and Ken Anderson. That means 14% of all the NFL’s 31,000-yard passers were born in a two-day span that accounts for only 0.6% of the days of the year. Marc Wilson ranks 138th in career passing yards, so six of the 138 leading men in passing yardage history were born today or tomorrow.
I think you know where I’m going with this. Yeah, tonight might be fun, but tell your significant other that May 14th and 15th are the dates you need to circle on your calendar if your goal is to sire an NFL quarterback. As such, I’ve appropriated tagged this post.