The National Football League has been around for well over 100 years, and along the way there have been some legendary players, games, moments, and records set. A lot of records don’t last for very long, but there are some that withstand the test of time. There are even some records that are set, and it becomes immediately apparent that we may not see that record broken for a long time, if it even does happen.
Out of all of the records that have been set for a game, season, postseason, or career, these five stand out as the ones that are the least likely to be broken. In fact, some of these have been determined by many to be completely unbreakable.
5. Emmitt Smith’s Career Rushing Yards
Throughout the 2000s, the NFL became a quarterback-friendly league as the passing numbers exploded and running backs became an afterthought. Because of that, Emmitt Smith knew his record for career rushing yards would never be broken when he amassed 18.355 in his career with the Cowboys and Cardinals.
Even with longevity, NFL teams simply don’t give running backs enough carries to make it happen. Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson gave it their best shot, but nobody will be able to catch Emmitt.
4. Derrick Thomas’s Seven-Sack Game
On November 11, 1990, Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs had a field day with the Seattle Seahawks offensive line as he sacked quarterback Dave Krieg seven times. The wildest part of Thomas’s game? The Chiefs still lost 17-16. Many figured that the new record could possibly be tied, but virtually guaranteed to never be topped.
There have been a handful of games in which a player has gotten six sacks, including Adrian Clayborn in 2017 and Osi Umenyiora in 2007. However, Thomas stands alone as the first and only man to sack a quarterback seven times in one afternoon.
3. Brett Favre’s Ironman Streak
There have been some challengers for the consecutive games started at quarterback streak that Brett Favre set, but nobody has really come close. Favre started 297 games in a row for the Packers, Jets, and Vikings between 1992 and 2010, including 24 games in the playoffs. The next closest was Philip Rivers, who never missed a game in his 15-year career, but still came up 57 games short.
What might be just as crazy as Favre’s streak is the fact that Tom Brady has three of the 15 longest streaks for consecutive games started as a quarterback. The first streak went from 2001 to 2008 before his injury and he started again in the 2009 season before missing the beginning fo the 2016 season due to suspension and restarting his streak.
2. Brian Mitchell’s Kick Return Yards
Brian Mitchell may be one of the most underappreciated NFL players of all-time, and set the tone for return specialists like Dante Hall and Devin Hester in the 2000s. Mitchell played the entirety of the 1990s for Washington, then finished his career with three seasons in Philadelphia and one more with the New York Giants.
The former All-Pro and Super Bowl champion returned 607 total kickoffs in his career and finished with 14,014 yards on those returns, including four touchdowns. Nobody else is even close, either, with Allen Rossum (who retired back in 2009) being more than 2,000 yards behind him. In fact, Mitchell’s career as a return specialist places him second all-time in all-purpose yardage as part of our next record.
1. Career All-Purpose & Receiving Yards
Mitchell needed thousands of return, rushing, and receiving yards to get to 23,330 total, but he was eclipsed by a man who had just six combined return yards in his career. We’re talking, of course, about Jerry Rice, the legendary wide receiver who spent the bulk of his career with the San Francisco 49ers.
Rice picked up 645 rushing yards throughout his long and illustrious career, but it was his receiving yards that set him apart, which is why we’re combining two records at the top spot. Rice finished with 22,895 of his 23,546 total all-purpose yards through the air. He has over 1,700 more all-purpose yards than anyone not named Brian Mitchell, and his receiving yardage record is essentially impossible to break in the modern NFL.