Whether athletes will admit it or not, particularly in team sports, they would want their name in the record books for an accomplishment. Peyton Manning recently became the NFL’s all-time leading passer. While the day may have been bittersweet for him, as it came on a day where he had one of his worst games as a pro (four interceptions to five completions) his name is still immortalized. He has an abundance of records, as he has also thrown the most touchdown passes, but he also has a bad record: 28 interceptions in his rookie season, the most for any NFL rookie.
Either way, a record is going to ensure your name is remembered forever, be it a good one or a bad one. Some of the names you’ll see on this list set records in both categories. It can just show you that any great player can have a bad day or that when you’re around long enough, you’re bound to have done more than the average player, be it good or bad.
This list though isn’t to honor Peyton Manning’s 500-plus touchdown passes, his 55 touchdowns in a season, Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 rushing yards, Michael Strahan’s 22.5-sack season or Devin Hester’s 19 punt/kick return touchdowns. This list will focus on records that their holders would like stricken from history. It will include interceptions, fumbles and any action that player committed that hasn’t been seen since.
One of my favorite sports movies is Major League and announcer Harry Doyle (played by Bob Uecker) has a scene where he hilariously points out that pitcher Rick Vaughn broke an American League record with four wild pitches in one inning. That’s sort of the gist of what this list will focus on. Here they are, the NFL’s most embarrassing records.
15. Brett Favre – 166 Career Fumbles
Brett Favre’s name is all over the record book, although some of his records have since been surpassed by Peyton Manning. One record I’m sure Peyton doesn’t want to pass is Favre’s 166 career fumbles. Favre was a playmaker and often times would try to force a play, which included hanging on to the ball for too long. This would often resolve in pass rushers catching his arm and stripping the ball. You had to take the bad with the good with Favre, as he always made some great plays to make up for his miscues.
14. Boris Shlapak – 0/8 in Field Goals
Kickers are on very short leashes in the NFL. The last way a coach wants to lose a game in a league that is so tight is because his kicker couldn’t put a ball through the uprights in a critical moment. We now freak out whenever a kicker misses anything inside of 40 yards. Well, Boris Shlapak never got a chance to kick a field goal inside of 40 yards, as he would go 0-for-8 in his NFL kicking career, missing all of his attempts. He was four for four on extra points, but the Baltimore Colts saw enough of him and cut him after just one season. He would never play in the NFL again.
13. Vinny Testaverde – 123 Losses
Vinny Testaverde had a fantastic career at the University of Miami, winning the Heisman Trophy, but his putrid performance in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl in which he threw five interceptions in a loss to Penn State foreshadowed his NFL carrer. Testaverde was drafted first overall by the Bucs in 1987 but would bounce around the league for 20 years. He had a surprisingly long career for a guy who never lived up to expectations, but his time in the league did allow him to amass 123 losses as a starter.
12. Peyton Manning – 13 Playoff Losses
I don’t mean to pile on Peyton Manning, but the bottom line is, his critics will always point to this record when they want to argue he’s not the G.O.A.T. The man has made it to 14 postseasons in his career so some losses are bound to pile up. However his 11-13 record is always thrown back at him, along with nine one-and-done playoff appearances. From the way he’d played in 2015, it looks like the final year of his career and it would take a Super Bowl win to put him back over .500 in his playoff record.
11. Len Dawson – 7 Fumbles in a Game
Remember when you were playing football growing up? Remember what the consequences were when you would fumble a ball in practice, let alone a game? Well, I hope Len Dawson didn’t have to go through what we did when he fumbled seven times in a 28-14 loss to San Diego back in 1964. He also threw two interceptions in that game. That would probably earn you over 1,000 pushups in high school football. Of course Len Dawson is also a Hall of Famer.
10. Jim Hardy – 8 Interceptions in a Game
How does a guy stay into a game after throwing eight interceptions? Who knows, but Jim Hardy was kept in long enough to earn this record back in 1950. In the season opener against the Eagles, Hardy threw eight picks, to just one touchdown, completing 12 of his 42 passes for 192 yards. For a franchise with as many losses as the Cardinals, that has to top a list of embarrassing individual performances. Imagine how hated Hardy would be if fantasy football was around back then.
9. Buffalo Bills – Four Straight Super Bowl Losses
Bills fans might twist this as one of the NFL’s most impressive records, arguing, “hey, what other team could make it to four straight Super Bowls?” Well, that’s true as the Bills have the record for most consecutive appearances. Maybe Bills fans can look at it as, four straight AFC Championships. Sadly, what everyone will remember is four straight Super Bowl losses, as the Bills would lose a heartbreaker to the Giants in XXV, followed by convincing defeats to the Redskins and twice to the Cowboys. This is likely a feat that will never be matched.
8. Frank Tripucka – 52.2 Career Passer Rating
Be honest, can you really say off the top of your head how to calculate a passer rating? No, but basically what we know is that 158.3 is a perfect rating and anywhere close to 100 is very good. Where does that leave Frank Tripucka? Well, his rating of 52.2 ranks as the worst for any QB with 1,500 passing attempts. That’s worse than Rick Mirer or Tim Couch. To his credit, he allowed the Broncos to un-retire his no.18 jersey so Peyton Manning could don it.
7. Bert Jones, Warren Moon, Donovan McNabb – Sacked 12 Times in a Game
Offensive linemen never get enough credit when their quarterback has a big game or their running back goes on a tear. Well, we’re going to lay some heavy blame on the o-lines who were tasked with protecting Bert Jones, Warren Moon and Donovan McNabb on these days. McNabb is the most recent example, as he was sacked 12 times by the ferocious pass rush of the New York Giants in Week 4 of the 2007 season. That would foreshadow how the Giants rode to their upset over the perfect Patriots in that year’s Super Bowl.
I’m sure these QBs weren’t buying their o-lines any dinners for a while.
6. Kerry Collins, Daunte Culpepper – 23 Fumbles in a Season
Kerry Collins was one of the more solid quarterbacks in the NFL when he was on his game, but consistency was always an issue. One of his downfalls was often his ball security. After a fantastic 2000 season in which Collins led the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance, his 2001 season saw him put the ball on the ground 23 times. Ironically the next season, he would set a Giants passing record, with 4,073 yards in the 2002 season.
That same 2002 season, Daunte Culpepper of the Vikings evened the record, fumbling the ball 23 times that year. Culpepper would follow that up with a couple of brilliant years with Minnesota before knee injuries derailed his career.
5. Brett Favre – 336 Interceptions
Even before Brett Favre’s records were surpassed by Peyton Manning, not many argued that Favre was the NFL’s best quarterback of all time, as his 336 career interceptions were too much for critics to overlook. Towards the end of his career, he would throw costly picks at the worst possible time. That included one in the NFC Championship against the Giants in his last game as a Packer and one with Minnesota against the Saints when it appeared the Vikings were driving for a game-winning field goal. Favre would have three seasons in which he threw over 20 picks.
4. David Carr – Sacked 76 Times in One Year
This could be viewed as the no.1 reason as to why David Carr didn’t pan out as a first overall pick. He was drafted by the expansion Houston Texans and thrown into the fire from day one, despite the team having a terrible offensive line and not having any talent to support their franchise quarterback. While sacks can sometimes be blamed on quarterbacks for hanging onto the ball too long, 76 sacks is inexcusable. It will forever be an embarrassing record for the Texans as a franchise.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 26 Straight Losses
Sure, the Lions have had an 0-16 season since the expansion Buccaneers, but those Lions’ cumulative losing streak ended at 19 games. The creamsicle Bucs however would go through almost two seasons before winning a game. After an 0-14 1976 season, the Bucs began the ’77 season at 0-12. They would finally muster wins against the Saints and Cardinals (two other hapless teams) to finish that season. Amazingly, two years later, the Bucs would finish 10-6, making their first playoff appearance in the 1979 season.
2. Gary Marangi – 35.3% Completion Season
Gary Marangi had an amazingly awful season for the Buffalo Bills in 1976. The Bills had O.J. Simpson at running back, but still managed to lose eight straight games thanks to Marangi’s putrid completion percentage of 35.3. That’s the worst in NFL history for any season with 200 passing attempts.
Starter Joe Ferguson went down to injury in Week 7 and Marangi had to fill in. The Bills would finish that season 2-12. The most telling game of the season was their Thanksgiving tilt with Detroit. Despite a record-setting day by Simpson, who rushed for 273 yards, the Bills still lost convincingly, thanks to Marangi’s measly 15 passing yards.
1. George Blanda – 42 Interceptions in One Season
How would you react today if your favorite team’s quarterback threw say, 20 interceptions? You’d probably want that guy benched and/or replaced by a rookie the following season. George Blanda somehow managed to throw 42 interceptions as quarterback of the ’62 Houston Oilers. Blanda was a legend of the sport, playing until he was 48, due to being a kicker as well as a quarterback.
What’s really amazing here, is that Blanda still managaed to throw 36 touchdowns in 1962, leading the Oilers to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the AFL Championship game, where they would lose in double overtime to the Dallas Texans.
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