The NFL is one of the most storied and historical organisations in the world of modern sport. It dates all the way back to the 20s, and within that time, it’s seen the rise and fall of countless incredible teams including the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, to name but a few. With such a lengthy history, there have got to be a few facts that slipped the net when it comes to the NFL, and so without further ado, let’s take a look at 9 fun NFL facts you might never have known!
1. The NFL had the first sports-based reality show
While the veracity of this claim might be disputed by some, the NFL, along with partner HBO, claims it has the “first sports-based reality series” in TV history. That show is Hard Knocks, which follows NFL teams during their training camps and examines what their regimen looks like. 2010’s season, which featured the New York Jets, is one of the most iconic owing to the soundbites from coach Rex Ryan. Speaking to NFL odds site Betway, then-Jets player Santonio Holmes described Hard Knocks as “definitely telling of what business life is like on a football level”.
2. The Detroit Lions have gone 30 years without a playoff win…twice
Having one unbroken 30-year stretch of not winning a playoff is one thing, but having two…well, some questions need to be asked, no? That’s exactly what happened to the Detroit Lions, though. They didn’t score a playoff win between 1957 and 1991, marking a 34-year stretch, and since 1991, the Lions haven’t managed to achieve victory either, so that’s two stretches of more than 30 years without a playoff win. We’re rooting for you, Lions!
3. Brett Favre once caught a pass from himself
Brett Favre is one of the most iconic quarterbacks in NFL history, but do you know who caught his first ever pass in the NFL? That’s right – it was Favre himself! The year was 1992, and Favre hurled a pass, which proceeded to bounce off the helmet of one of the Buccaneers’ players and right back into his own hands. Favre would actually go on to do this again in 2009. Is he the only player ever to have caught two passes from himself? Almost certainly in pro NFL history!
4. The Green Bay Packers’ season ticket waitlist is insane
If you want to snag yourself a Green Bay Packers season ticket, well…you might be waiting some time. Some have suggested that if you applied to buy a Packers season ticket this minute, then it would take a thousand years (that’s not a comedy estimate, either) for you to be given the chance to purchase the ticket. There are many reasons for this; fans keep renewing their tickets, and after all, the Packers are one of the most popular NFL teams, so it stands to reason.
5. One player has as many Super Bowl touchdown passes as an entire team
If you know your NFL history, then the name of Doug Williams will likely be a familiar one to you. He’s a former quarterback who played for the Washington Commanders, famously taking on the Denver Broncos at the 1988 Super Bowl. Here’s the astonishing thing, though: Doug Williams threw four touchdown passes at that iconic game, and that’s as many touchdown passes as the Broncos have across the entire Super Bowl. That’s why he’s remembered so fondly.
6. The New England Patriots were almost called something different
Originally, the New England Patriots went by the name of the Boston Patriots, which, given their state of origin, makes sense. However, the team eventually moved to Foxborough, and the franchise’s owners wanted to rename it so that they could reflect its new home a little better. The main option being floated around was the Bay State Patriots, but the NFL didn’t like the way that team could be initialised (as the BS Patriots, tee hee).
7. The Packers are the only team to win three NFL championships in a row
The Super Bowl era is commonly regarded as one of the greatest eras for NFL sportsmanship, but the team that managed to score three NFL championships back-to-back doesn’t even hail from this era. The Green Bay Packers of the late 60s achieved this incredible feat, claiming Championship victories in 1966, 1967, and 1968. This was all done under the stewardship of coach Vince Lombardi, who’s regarded as one of the most talented coaches of all time.
8. Every day of the week has seen an NFL game
Usually, sporting events fall on certain days owing to scheduling decisions or various other factors, but in the NFL, every single day of the week has seen a game take place. One game took place on a Tuesday because a blizzard in Pennsylvania forced a time change, while a Wednesday game took place owing to a Republican political speech with which the NFL didn’t want to clash. Other games have taken place on Fridays, too, usually because of holidays.
9. There’s a 60-year gap between the youngest and oldest Hall of Fame inductees
Gale Sayers holds the record for being the youngest ever NFL player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Sayers unfortunately passed away in 2020 at the age of 77, but he was added to the Hall of Fame’s ranks in 1977, five years after he officially retired from professional football due to a knee injury. He’s also well-known for his friendship with Brian Piccolo, who was taken from us far too young after dying of cancer at the age of 26.