Since most NFL records have been set in the last 20 years, few could be considered “unbreakable.” But here are a few that seem unlikely to ever be surpassed.
Unbreakable NFL Record #5: Most interceptions, season: Dick Lane, 14
This is the one record on this list that has an outside chance of falling if the football season is extended to 18 games. But it would still be a long shot. Since 1982, nobody has picked off more than 10 passes in a season, so even adding two more games makes it unlikely that someone would get to 14.
Lester Hayes did intercept 13 in 1980; that’s the only time in recent history Lane’s record has been challenged.
Unbreakable NFL Record #4: Most consecutive wins to start a career by a rookie QB: Ben Roethlisberger, 13
Rookie quarterbacks rarely start in the NFL, and it’s rarer still that they win games. Winning 13 games as a rookie QB is pretty phenomenal, but Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger did just that in 2004. Even more amazing is that he won those 13 games without a loss, achieving a perfect 13-0 mark as a starter during the regular season.
Roethlisberger had the luxury of a great defense and great teammates around him, something rookie quarterbacks seldom have. It might be another 20 years before a rookie QB even wins 13 games, let alone 13 in a row to start his career. This record isn’t likely to fall any time soon.
Unbreakable NFL Record #3: Most consecutive road victories: San Francisco 49ers, 18
This one still boggles the mind. Few football teams complete a season with an undefeated road record (8-0), so stringing together 18 in a row is hard to imagine. Yet the 49ers were such a dominant team they pulled it off from 1988 to 1990. Looking back, it’s hard to believe the 49ers didn’t win even more than the five Super Bowls they did, with all-time greats Joe Montana and Steve Young running their offense for two decades.
Unbreakable NFL Record #2: Highest kickoff return average, career: Gale Sayers, 30.6
It’s hard to average 30 yards a return for an entire season these days. Forget doing it for an entire career! But the great Gale Sayers did it during a different era of football. The only way this record will be broken is if the NFL radically changes its game, by either widening or lengthening the field like the Canadian Football League. Otherwise, Sayers’ mark is safe.
Unbreakable NFL Record #1: Most consecutive Super Bowl losses: Buffalo Bills, 4
The most impressive thing about the Buffalo Bills’ four straight Super Bowl losses is that even though they kept losing the big game, they kept coming back. By Super Bowl #4, everyone was rooting for the Bills to finally break through, but even with a halftime lead they couldn’t hold off Dallas. Still, four consecutive Super Bowl appearances is an impressive feat.
Unbreakable NFL Records: Those I intentionally left out
Other records that some others consider unbreakable but that I view as entirely breakable (maybe not soon, but eventually): Jerry Rice’s 197 career touchdowns; Derrick Thomas 7 sacks in one game; Eric Dickerson’s 2105 rushing yards in one season.
One record that some people call unbreakable is Emmitt Smith’s 18,355 career rushing yards, but that’s crazy. All it takes to rush for a lot of yards is longevity. Look at numbers 4 & 5 on the all-time rushing list: Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis. Neither was considered an elite running back, yet both amassed in the neighborhood of 14,000 yards simply by playing a lot of years. Barry Sanders surpassed 15,000 yards by age 30 and could’ve played at least five more seasons if he wanted. He would’ve finished with well over 20,000 yards if he hadn’t decided to retire young.
Not only will Emmitt Smith’s rushing record be broken, someone (possibly even someone already active like Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson) will eventually crush it, probably eclipsing 25,000 yards.