Updated March 12, 2019
More sports statistical anomalies, this time for football. Here is some great NFL trivia.
Being taller than 7’0” is routine in the NBA. In the NFL, there’s only been one man…and it wasn’t ‘70s star Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Seven-foot-tall defensive tackle Richard Sligh was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1967. He wasn’t put to much use, playing in just eight games and sitting on the bench during Super Bowl II.
In the early days of the NFL—when it was essentially a regional, semiprofessional league, a 5’0.5”-tall guy named Jack Shapiro played in just one game in 1929, as a back, for the now defunct Staten Island Stapletons.
Professional football is a big man’s game—for example, most linesmen necessarily weigh more than 300 pounds. The biggest isn’t Chicago Bears’ legend William “The Refrigerator” Perry. It’s Michael Jasper. This offensive linesman and nose tackle for the New York Giants was drafted in 2011, when his weight was 448 pounds. But his size sure didn’t make him any less agile. He could reportedly vertically jump 32 inches, land a nine-foot long jump, and dunk a basketball. As his playing career went on (he retired after the 2014 season), Jasper dropped to around 375 pounds, which would still rank him among the five biggest big men in league history.
If linesmen are tall and hefty, wide receivers are short and slim. The smallest man to ever play in the NFL was wide receiver Gerald McNeil, who weighed 142 pounds and stood 5’7” tall. He played for five seasons in the 1980s, and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1987.
Legendary quarterback and hall of famer George Blanda played in the NFL from 1948 until 1976, when he was 48. He played for 26 seasons, a record. And until 2000, he held the record of most points scored in a career, with 2,002. (He’s now seventh on the all-time list.)
At 12, Amobi Okoye emigrated from Nigeria to Alabama, and tested into the ninth grade—two years above his age. He graduated from high school at 16 and turned down Harvard to attend the University of Louisville so he could play football. He left college after three years and joined the NFL, but that’s because he’d already finished college. Playing college football at 16 made him the youngest player in NCAA history. Playing in the NFL at 19 made him the youngest player in NFL history, too.