One Little Known Fact About Every NFL Franchise
Do you think you know everything there is to know about your favorite NFL team? There are so many interesting facts and anecdotes about every NFL franchise, there are far too many list on a single slide.
So, to get the ball rolling, we will list just one little known fact about every NFL franchise and expand upon that item. From there, we will ask our Bleacher Report readers to get into the act and add some items in the comments section.
We are looking for fun or interesting facts as opposed to hearsay or rumors, so please provide a link whenever possible to lend further credibility to the interesting fact you want to share.
Thanks to IQ FB.com for their research on coming up with a number of the facts we shared here. You can find a link to their web site here, where you can review a large number of obscure NFL facts.
This should be a fun exercise, so hopefully everybody can learn something new about most NFL teams, by the time the Bleacher Report community has finished adding other ideas.
Photo courtesy of http://celebrityphotos.sheknows.com/music/jennifer-lopez-and-fergie-celebrity-co-owners-of-the-miami-dophins/
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin is the only wide receiver in NFL history to catch 100 or more passes in his rookie season.
Boldin was a rookie in 2003. That year he wound up with 101 catches for 1,377 yards and eight touchdown receptions.
Boldin finished third in receptions that year, trailing only Torry Holt (117) and Randy Moss (111).
The feat has never been accomplished before or since.
The NFL struck a deal with Rankin Smith that if he agreed not to purchase the Miami Dolphins of the AFL, they would grant him his own expansion team in Atlanta. Smith agreed and the Atlanta Falcons franchise was created in 1965.
Smith drafted Tommy Nobis as the very first player in team history, and he was named as NFL Rookie of the Year.
That first season was tough, as the Falcons lost every one of their first nine games. The first win in franchise history came on the road at the New York Giants. Atlanta began in the NFL as a member of the NFL Central Division.
According to Pro Football Reference.com, the Falcons all-time regular season record is 299-399-6, meaning that they are in store for a significant first-win and first-loss in 2012.
Their current all-time win percentage is .424 percent.
Photo courtesy of http://www.trunkbunker.com/bestnumber60.html
Rob Carr/Getty Images
After the last four years the Baltimore Ravens should be called the road warrior kings of the NFL playoffs. The Ravens have been involved in nine playoff games, with only one of the nine being played at home. If you want to know how important home field advantage is, talk to any of the Ravens players.
It seems like the Ravens are annual threats to be contenders for the Super Bowl. In the history of the Ravens franchise, they have only played four playoff games at home (won two and lost two), but have played 13 total playoff games on the road.
One of the most famous playoff games was the one pictured against the New England Patriots last year, where the Ravens were a Lee Evans dropped pass away from advancing to the Super Bowl.
With the injury to Terrell Suggs, the departure of Jarret Johnson, Tom Zbikowski, Cory Redding, coordinator Chuck Pagano, and the advancing age of stars Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the 2012 season will be a true test to see if the Ravens still have what it takes to mount another run at the postseason.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
To the rest of the NFL, the Buffalo Bills are thought of as a small-market team.
But the reality is that the Bills are on the verge of becoming a large regional market franchise, much like the Boston Red Sox are to Red Sox Nation throughout New England. It would help the Bills cause greatly if they could go back to their winning ways of the early-90's, and maybe that is going to start happening as early as this year.
From a pure population head count, the Bills are a small-market team. According to the July 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Buffalo is only 261,310. But that is the micro-view. Let's talk about the Bills from a big-picture perspective.
Buffalo is part of a very large mega-region. The definition of a mega-region is very well detailed in this article by Bleacher Report Analyst John Howell. The Buffalo mega-region is the fourth-largest in North America, which stretches from Buffalo to Rochester to Toronto.
The three largest mega-regions in North America are New York City/New Jersey, Southern California down to San Diego and the Chicago/Milwaukee mega-region.
There is a very good reason that the Bills opted to re-new their agreement to play one home game a year in Toronto. They are trying to further cement their regional fan base, and the new deal assures that will continue until 2017, per this article from Pro Football Talk.com.
Bank of America Stadium, home of Carolina Panthers
When the Panthers began play in 1995, they played their home games at Clemson, because their home stadium was still being constructed.
If you ever have a chance to attend a Panthers home game at Bank America Stadium, check out the display at the east end of the upper level.
You will find a display that features 400 football helmets, which represents the various high school and college football teams located in the Carolinas. Here is a link to a photo display of the helmet wall.
Photo courtesy of http://espn.go.com/travel/stadium/_/s/nfl/id/29
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
We all know that Walter Payton is one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. When Payton retired from the NFL after the 1987 season, he was the all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards.
So, here is a little known fact about Payton. He won only one rushing title, which came in 1977, when he rushed for 1,852 yards and 14 touchdowns.
There were three players that prevented Payton from realizing more rushing titles. Earl Campbell, who beat out Payton three straight years (1978-1980). When Payton was a rookie, O.J. Simpson was number one, and later in Payton's career, Eric Dickerson was dominating the rushing title.
Ultimately, Payton's all-time rushing record was broken by Emmitt Smith.
Bengals founder Paul Brown
It is well-known that the Cincinnati Bengals were an AFL team, and joined the NFL after the AFL-NFL merger. But, what is not well known, is that this was not what owner Paul Brown originally wanted to do.
The original plan for Brown was that he wanted to establish an expansion team in the NFL, and didn't want to be part of the AFL at all. But, Brown was assured that his AFL franchise would eventually become part of the NFL, so he agreed to join the AFL after all.
Another interesting note about the origin of the Bengals was they played their first two seasons at Nippert Stadium, which is where the University of Cincinnati plays their games.
The first year the Bengals went 3-11.
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=34
NFL experts say that it is almost impossible for any team to duplicate what the Buffalo Bills did, by going to four-straight Super Bowls in the early 1990's.
But did you know that the Cleveland Browns had a dynasty going in the early-1950's, when they appeared in six-straight NFL Championship games from 1950-1955?
That is an even more impressive accomplishment. The Browns won the NFL Championship game in 1950, 1954 and 1955, but lost the game in 1951, 1952 and 1953.
That dynasty featured Otto Graham at quarterback, Marion Motley at running back and Mac Speedie and Dante Cavelli as the wide receivers.
Photo courtesy of http://deadspin.com/otto-graham/
Drew Bledsoe in 2005
Allen Kee/Getty Images
Who says that you need to have the same quarterback return one year after another to have success? The Dallas Cowboys have debunked that theory.
From 2003-2005, the Cowboys had a different quarterback each season, and all three wound up passing for more than 3,000 yards when they were the starter. That is a very interesting accomplishment.
Quincy Carter started the streak in 2003 (3,302 passing yards), Vinny Testaverde in 2004 threw for 3,532 yards and Drew Bledsoe in 2005 passed for 3,639 yards.
Interestingly enough, the Cowboys turned the offense over to Tony Romo in 2006, and he almost made it four-straight years, as he fell just a little bit short, throwing for 2,903 yards.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Who exactly did the Broncos get back in return for trading away Tim Tebow to the New York Jets?
If you already know this answer you are clearly up on your NFL football. If you didn't know the answer, it would have been easy to forget about the return picks since they were relatively lower picks in Day 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The answer is Philip Blake and Danny Trevathan. Blake, a center out of Baylor, was a fourth-round pick and was the 108th overall pick in the draft. The other pick in the trade, Trevathan a linebacker out of Kentucky, was a sixth-round pick that went 188th overall in the draft.
Thanks to Simon Samano of NFL.com for uncovering the following little gem. Blake is currently battling with J.D. Walton for the starting center job in Denver. What is ironic about that is when Blake was breaking in to the Baylor football program, his mentor there was none other that J.D. Walton. Ouch.
Portsmouth Spartans 1929 Team Photo
The Detroit Lions franchise was originally based out of Portsmouth, Ohio in 1929. The team was known as the Portsmouth Spartans. They were one of the initial franchises when the National Football League was created. The team officially joined the NFL in 1930.
In 1932, the Spartans shut out the Green Bay Packers 19-0 in a rather strange game. What was strange was that all 11 starters played both ways and they never brought in a substitute for any play in the game.
They truly were Spartans.
The team moved to Detroit in 1934 and changed their name to the Lions.
The rest is history.
Over the years the Lions have won four NFL Championships, but have never appeared in the Super Bowl. They are also the only NFL team to have ever gone 0-16 in the regular season.
Photo courtesy of http://yourppl.org/lh/featured-photo-2/
Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson does his own Lambeau Leap
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The "Lambeau Leap" was invented by safety LeRoy Butler when he scored a touchdown in 1993. Reggie White had recovered a fumble and then lateraled the ball to Butler, who managed to return it for a touchdown. When he got into the end zone, he leaped up into the stands to celebrate with the fans, and a tradition was born.
Several visiting players have also attempted to do their own Lambeau Leap, but found that it probably wasn't worth the end-result. Fred Smoot, cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings tried to pull it off (check out this link to the Youtube video) but was rejected by Packers fans in the end zone.
The only known visiting player to pull it off that we know off was Chad Ochocinco, who was able to organize some Bengals fans so he could safely leap into after his touchdown catch. Here is the You Tube video link. You can be the judge to say if he successfully pulled off his stunt or not.
One other item to share.
Every Packers game has been sold out since 1960 and the Packers have at least 81,000 people on their waiting list. Average wait time for those unlucky souls? Only 900 - 955 years per this article from the Journal Sentinel.com.
Houston celebrates beating Dallas in first NFL game
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The NFL wanted to expand to 32 teams, and the league voted to award the 32nd franchise to the city of Los Angeles.
The problem was that there were multiple groups that wanted to win the rights for ownership, so the league asked them to come together and put together a sound ownership proposal. When the groups in question failed to come up with anything of substance, the league bypassed Los Angeles, and awarded the franchise to Houston instead.
Part of that decision was out of sympathy for the NFL fans in Houston, who were clearly upset that Bud Adams pulled up the stakes of his Houston Oilers team and moved them to Tennessee.
In 2002, the Texans joined the NFL.
Their very first game was against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Texans pulled off the upset 19-10, becoming only the second NFL franchise in history to win their very first game. It also makes for a very healthy rivalry in the state of Texas, as to who has the better team.
Rick Stewart/ Getty Images
Did you know that from 1967 - present, there was only one NFL draft that a quarterback was not drafted in the first two rounds of the draft.
The year was 1988 and the team that finally broke the ice was the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts drafted this quarterback in the third round, and later in his career he would become a Pro-Bowl quarterback and lead a different organization to their only Super Bowl appearance in that franchise's history.
Who was that Colts quarterback? Chris Chandler. Chandler led the Atlanta Falcons to their first Super Bowl.
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The Jaguars have something against drafting Heisman Trophy winners.
In the history of the NFL Draft, the Jaguars are one of only four NFL teams that have never drafted a Heisman Trophy winner.
The other three NFL teams that they share that distinction with are the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and the Seattle Seahawks.
Here is the link to the running list of every Heisman Trophy winner and what NFL team drafted them, from FF Toolbox.com.
Kansas City Chiefs
There are only two jerseys in the history of the Chiefs franchise that have ever been worn by just one player. Do you know who they are?
First big hint is that the jersey numbers in question are 16 and 28. While 16 might be considered pretty easy, 28 might be decidedly harder.
Number 16 of course belonged to quarterback Len Dawson. The Chiefs retired his jersey after Dawson retired from the game in 1975.
Still can't figure out who 28 is? It belonged to running back Abner Haynes. He wore that jersey from 1960-1964 and the Chiefs decided to retire his jersey after the 1964 season in honor of what Haynes career with the Chiefs.
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=53
The Miami Dolphins have to win the award for the most interesting group of owners in the NFL.
Among the list of minority owners of the Dolphins are Jennifer Lopez, her ex-husband Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, Fergie, Jimmy Buffet, Venus Williams and Serena Williams.
I wonder if they fight over what music is played at team ownership meetings?
The entertainers and athletes can't own very much, since Stephen Ross is thought to hold 95 percent of the team and Wayne Huizenga holds most of the remaining five percent.
Photo courtesy of http://www.timessquaregossip.com/2009/07/jennifer-lopez-and-mark-anthony-in-nyc.html
AP Photo/Genevieve Ross)
What are the odds that two kids that know each other in elementary school, can continue to grow up together through junior high school and high school, and then wind up playing for the same college at the same position.
Have those odds figured out yet?
Okay, now for the next step. Those same two players get drafted by the same NFL team to continue to play the same position, oh and get this, they are also drafted in the same round by that same team.
That is just freaky, crazy and insane that it could work out this way, but that is exactly how it went down.
The players in question are Minnesota Vikings wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, who were both playing for Arkansas last year, and then both were drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round. Wright was drafted 118th overall while Childs went with the 134th pick. Thanks to Simon Samano at NFL.com for uncovering this rare situation.
Photo courtesy of http://washingtonexaminer.com/sports/nfl/2012/05/vikings-rookies-childs-wright-still-teaming/572766
New England Patriots
Boston Patriots played in Fenway Park from 1963-1968
The Patriots had decided in 1971 that they were going to change their team name to the Bay State Patriots. Sort of like the Golden State Warriors, only different.
No matter how many times I repeat that, it just doesn't have any kind of a good ring to it, so luckily somebody had the better idea to switch the name to the New England Patriots, which obviously stuck.
The franchise began in the AFL as the Boston Patriots. From 1963-1968 the Patriots played their home games in Fenway Park, as seen in the photo for this slide.
Photo courtesy of http://merrickparnell.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/super-sunday/stadium-boston-u/
New Orleans Saints
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Saints franchise struggled for a very long time to taste any real degree of success. The Saints began play in 1967, and it took them 13 years to reach a .500 record at 8-8 in 1979.
It was too hard to repeat that much success, because immediately after in 1980 they fell back to a 1-15 season.
The Saints reached .500 again in 1983, but still couldn't break above .500. Finally, in 1987, the Saints finished above .500 with a record of 12-3 (NFL strike shortened season).
It took New Orleans 21 years to become a winning team. Once they broke the ice, the Saints reeled off three-straight winning seasons, from 1987-1989.
New Orleans didn't win their first division title until 1991 with a record of 11-5, which meant that it took the franchise 24 years to win their first division title.
New York Giants
Giants signed Pete Gogolak (No.3) away from Bills
In case you ever wonder why Chris Berman from ESPN refers to the team as the New York football Giants, it is because that is their official corporate name.
Previously, the New York Giants baseball team had the same name, until the franchise moved out to San Francisco in 1957. To avoid confusion, the Giants decided use the moniker "The New York Football Giants" as its official corporate name, as it is still known today.
The Giants joined the NFL in 1925, as one of five new teams to the league. They are the only one of the five teams that are still in the league today.
New York Giants helped to speed up the inevitable merger between the AFL and the NFL when the Giants signed kicker Pete Gogolak away from the Buffalo Bills, as per this article from NFL Films.
Photo courtesy of http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d80f80ca7&template=without-video-with-comments&confirm=true
New York Jets
Jets got Shaun Ellis, Patriots got Bill Belichick
Al Bello/Getty Images
There have been three individuals that have served as the head coach of both the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. The two-most obvious answers are Bill Parcells and Pete Carroll. But, who is the third coach?
The ordeal finally was settled when the Jets released Belichick from his contract, so that he could become the head coach of the New England Patriots, as per this article from Judy Battista of the New York Times.com.
New England sent the Jets their first-round draft pick in the 2000 draft as compensation. Who did the Jets draft with that first-round draft pick? Defensive end Shaun Ellis.
The entire trade involving Belichick was: Jets got the Patriots first-round pick in 2000 and the fourth-round and seventh-round pick in 2001. New England got Belichick, and the Jets fifth-round pick in 2001 and the Jets seventh-round pick in 2002.
Considering that the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, it is pretty easy to say that the Patriots got the better end of that deal.
Raiders beat Eagles in Super Bowl XV
The Raiders are the only team to win a championship in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's.
On December 31, 1967, the Oakland Raiders went 13-1, and then won the AFL Championship, defeating the Houston Oilers 40-7.
On January 9, 1977, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI, defeating the Minnesota Vikings 32-14.
On January 15, 1981 the Raiders won Super Bowl XV, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.
Three decades and three championships. For what it is worth, the Raiders didn't win any AFC Championships in the 90's. They did win the AFC in 2002, only to lose Super Bowl XXXVII to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21.
Photo courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/gallery/featured/GAL1155674/2/9/index.htm
Chuck Bednarik was the last of his kind in the NFL. We all know that in the early days of the NFL, players would be asked to play both ways, on offense and defense.
Well, Chuck Bednarik was the final player in the NFL that went both ways full time. He played on the offensive line for the Eagles as an All-NFL center and also became an All-NFL linebacker on defense.
Bednarik was amazing right up to the end of his career. Bednarik is also known for saving the Eagles in the 1960 NFL Championship game by tackling Jim Taylor on the final play in regulation to save the victory.
He had played 58 of the 60 minutes in the game, at the age of 35, which was a testament to how tough he was and to his endurance. Bednarik was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1967.
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=22
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the very first NFL team to introduce cheerleaders, and that happened in 1961. The experiment lasted until 1969, and the Steelers haven't had them back on the team ever since.
Maybe it's time to bring them back with a slightly more modern look.
A rather unique fact to share. The Steelers signed Ed O'Neill, star of Married ....With Children and Modern Family, back in 1969 as an undrafted rookie free agent. O'Neill was a defensive end at Youngstown State University. Here is the story as per this NFL.com article.
Photo courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/gallery/featured/GAL1169107/14/14/index.htm
San Diego Chargers
George Rose/Getty Images
San Diego Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts' father Bob Fouts was an announcer for the San Francisco 49ers. Mr. Fouts was a Bay Area Radio Hall of Famer announcer.
You can read more about Mr. Fouts at this link.
Speaking of Fouts, the Chargers were blessed to have Fouts as a quarterback while Don Coryell was in San Diego. That duo put together such a strong passing offense, that the Chargers led the NFL in passing yards for six consecutive years, something that no other NFL team has ever done before.
The six years were from 1978-1983.
Coryell, by the way, was the first coach to win more than 100 games in college and the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers
George Rose/Getty Images
We all know how hard it is to win on the road. But for the San Francisco 49ers, they found a way to focus on the job at hand, and eliminate the distractions.
Between 1988 and 1990, the 49ers set an amazing league record with 18 consecutive road victories.
Of course, if you have to take your team on the road, it helps to have Joe Montana at quarterback and Jerry Rice at wide receiver.
In 1988, the 49ers won their first four road games, before dropping two straight by one point each (10-9 loss to Chicago Bears and 24-23 loss to Phoenix Cardinals). The streak began with a Week 13 win at San Diego in 1988.
They won the final two road games in 1988, and then wound up sweeping their entire road schedule for both 1989 and 1990, giving them the 18-straight road wins.
The streak ended in Week One of the 1991 season, when the 49ers lost at the New York Giants. In fact the 49ers lost their first-three games that season on the road. Still, it was truly a very impressive accomplishment.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
This won't be a little-known fact for Seattle Seahawks fans, but for fans of the other 31 NFL teams, you might be curious to know about this.
Prior to the opening kickoff at every home game, the Seattle Seahawks usually trot out a star athlete from one of the Seattle professional teams to raise the flag which serves as a tribute to the fans, also known as the "12th man".
This ceremony is intended to fire up the crowd, and it is met with a huge roar from the fans, who are known to raise the noise level that can cause your ears to start ringing.
How loud does it get?
That is why when teams are preparing to play at Seattle, they turn up the music as loud as they can, giving the players a chance to experience what the noise level will be like on game day.
St. Louis Rams
For this little-known fact, we are going to go back to 1948, when the Rams were playing in Los Angeles.
As per this article from NFL.com, we learn that the last time a rookie wide receiver led the NFL in catches, it was in 1948. The player was Tom Fears, who is in the NFL Hall of Fame. Fears led the NFL with 51 catches that year for 698 yards and four touchdowns.
Fears actually led the NFL in receptions in each of his first three seasons, which is another feat that may never be matched.
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=66
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
T.B. Bucs 1976 staff had an 0-14 record
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the NFL in 1976. Right off the bat it was clear that the Bucs were going to have a very hard time being competitive in the league.
The Bucs were so bad that they were shut out the first-two games in their history. That 1976 team finished the year 0-14 and were shut out in five games. They were outscored by a whopping 412-125.
In 1977, things didn't improve very much. The Bucs were shut out six times that season, and in two other games, all they could manage was a field goal. The Bucs dropped their first 12 games, which meant that they lost their first 26 games as a team.
Finally, the Bucs broke the streak with a win on the road against the New Orleans Saints. The game was in Week 13 of the 1977 season and the Bucs won 33-14. In fact they won the next game as well, so they closed out 1977 with their first two-game winning streak.
Eventually, the Bucs learned how to win and be more competitive but that had to be on the rockiest starts of any NFL franchise in the history of the sport.
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/photos/357/2004/9/14/
LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are kind of like a band of wandering gypsies or nomads. Since the team was created in 1960, they have already called six different stadiums as their home.
Here are the six stadiums and the years that the team played there:
• Jeppesen Stadium, Houston – 1960-1964
• Rice Stadium, Houston – 1965-1967,
• Houston Astrodome, Houston – 1968-1996
• Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis – 1997
• Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville – 1998
• LP Field, Nashville – 1999-present.
One thing is certain, the team is clearly not welcome back in Houston. Not after owner Bud Adams pulled up the stakes and got the moving vans to drive the team out of Texas, he will never be forgiven for that slap to the face of all Houston Oilers fans.
Photo courtesy of http://espn.go.com/travel/stadium/_/s/nfl/id/10
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Since Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999, the Redskins team has only played in one home playoff game in all that time. Snyder has doled out over $100 million to improve the stadium out of his own pocket, and with all of the high revenue free agents that the team has signed over the years, you would think that they had experienced more success than that.
This just goes to show you how hard it is to put together a playoff-caliber team in the NFL. Not for the faint of heart by any means. The Redskins have had more playoff appearances, but they were on the road.
The one home playoff game by the way was on January 8, 2000, when the Redskins defeated the Detroit Lions 27-13. That makes it 12 years and counting, so you can imagine that he is giddy about their chances to reach the postseason with Robert Griffin III at the helm.