The 4,000 Yard Season – The Legend Line

In the entire history of the NFL, there have only been 77 instances of 4,000 yard passing seasons.  There have been 29 seasons since the merger.  In 1970, 26 teams played 14 games.  It was difficult to throw for 4,000 yards back then, unless you were an AFL holdover.  When the schedule expanded to 16 games in 1978, the league also had two more teams: the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Since 1978, the league has continued to grow and more players have had a chance to add to the record.  Today, 32 teams play 16 games over the course of 17 weeks.  (No, I didn’t do the math!)

27 quarterbacks have thrown for 4,000 yards at least once in their careers (really 26, if you exclude Namath’s accomplishment in the old AFL).  A mere 13 players have accomplished this feat more than once.   They have produced 46 of those historic 77 seasons.  8 players had hit the 4,000 yard mark more than twice in their careers.  Only 4 players have done it more than 3 times!

That’s top-heavy.   Can you name the list?


Here’s #1.  Who are the rest?

NOTE:  25 of those 77 seasons have occurred in the last five years.


  1. I thought it was Fouts, Moon, Marino, and Favre. But Fouts only had 3 so I have no clue who the 5th is.

  2. Apologies — it’s four. I don’t know how I managed to muck this up. Anyway. It’s four. Those are the guys — but I’m really curious to know if folks can name all 13 of the guys who’ve done this more than once — without checking a list online.

  3. The nine I came up with are:

    1. Dan Marino
    2. Warren Moon
    3. Peyton Manning
    4. Brett Favre
    5. Drew Brees
    6. Drew Bledsoe
    7. Tom Brady
    8. Steve Young
    9. Kurt Warner

  4. Do you want hints or answers?

    How about a few riddles?

    Unwind this knot
    Gordian and fat
    Two guys with ties
    to scary, big cats.

    He still quacks like a duck
    but is slower than molasses
    In blazing heat and the bitterest cold
    None threw prettier passes.

    Opportunity missed under the arch
    Snatched by a nasty carpet;
    Reunions and redemption
    Served next to a Barbeque pit.

  5. I just realized that I overlooked Dan Fouts….so that would bring the list to 10.

    ….and your riddles aren’t helping, so i’m throwing in the towel.

    Who did I miss?

  6. I thought the riddles were quite good.

    The first stanza refers to Carson Palmer and Jon Kitna. Both were Bengals, but Kitna also played for the Lions.

    The second stanza referred to Dan Fouts and his memorable -52 degree game in Cincinnati.

    The third stanza referred to former Ram and Chief QB, Trent Green. St. Louis Arch…KC BBQ…Dick Vermeil…yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Must be too early.

  7. Warren Moon, but for the NFL’s unwritten apartheid policy vs. Black quarterbacks, might have passed for 4,000 yards more than four times in his NFL career. He came into the league at 28, but didn’t throw for 4,000 yards until he was 34.

  8. Your riddles were good….they were just too good(lol). And I was also trying to multi-task, which is not one of my strengths. 🙂

    I didn’t even think about Trent Green & Palmer but Kitna surprised me.

    Regarding Moon, I agree. I’m thinking that if he had come into the league (and allowed to play) right after college, he probably would own all the significant passing records.

  9. I bet Warren Moon feels the same way. He had a number of years where he didn’t go off for big numbers. It changed when that offense really opened up, though.

    I think Kitna was a tremendous acquisition for Dallas. The problem for them is that it’s a year too late. It’s funny that Dallas brought in Roy Williams and Kitna from Detroit. If Romo goes down this year, I don’t expect their offense to stumble as they did on the road at St. Louis. That loss really derailed their season. There were other ones (AZ on the road), but at STL was fatal.

    I’ve been trying to tell those cats over at TSF who hate on Carson Palmer that he’s pretty damn good. He’s hurt alot, but he comes by his injuries honestly. Kimo Von Oelhoffen crushed him. He stands tall in the pocket and makes the throws that need to be made — and some of his most amazing games have been against Ray Ray and the rest of the Ravens. They haven’t won playoff games, but that’s easier said than done with the Steelers and Ravens in the division. Look at Dallas and how much of an uphill struggle they’ve had with New York and Philly in the division.

    It’s usually only 2 at a time in a division.

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