Today’s football question: Which quarterback holds the record for the most passing yards in a single National Football League (NFL) game?
I can hear KidsPost readers guessing current superstars Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, or some old-time greats such as Joe Namath or Johnny Unitas.
The answer is Norm Van Brocklin of the Los Angeles Rams. Van Brocklin threw for an incredible 554 yards against the New York Yanks on September 28, 1951. That’s right: Van Brocklin’s record has stood for 64 seasons.
The Rams crushed the Yanks, 54-14, in their season opener. The Rams went on to win the NFL championship, and the Yanks were so bad they left the league after the 1951 season.
Van Brocklin was an excellent player who later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But in 1951, he was the Rams’ second-string quarterback. Bob Waterfield, another Hall of Famer, started most of the games for Los Angeles, but an injury sidelined him that day.
Van Brocklin had help against the Yanks. The Rams started two Hall of Fame wide receivers. The first was Tom Fears, who had caught a league-leading 84 passes in 1950. The second was Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. Isn’t “Crazylegs” a great nickname for a wide receiver?
The Rams’ halfback that day also had a great name — Verda Thomas “Vitamin T” Smith. Fears, Hirsch and Smith combined for 18 catches, 438 yards and five touchdowns against the Yanks.
Still, the most amazing thing about Van Brocklin’s record is that it has lasted so long.
In the 1950s, even the best quarterbacks threw for around 2,500 yards for an entire season. Now, NFL quarterbacks throw for more than 4,000 or even 5,000 yards in a season. Teams now play 16 games instead of the 12 they played back then. There’s a lot more passing than in the old days.
Why, then, hasn’t somebody broken Van Brocklin’s record? Well, it’s a BIG number. The record distance equals the length of more than 5
Lots of players have come close. Fifteen NFL quarterbacks have thrown for more than 500 yards in a single game. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has done it twice. The list includes some current quarterbacks such as Brady of the New England Patriots, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, who threw for 503 yards against the Green Bay Packers just last Sunday.
Maybe someone will break Van Brocklin’s record this season. Or maybe it will last another 64 years.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids. His latest football book is “Double Reverse.”