At the top of the list is an 18-year veteran quarterback who already has the most career touchdown passes in league history. That’s Denver’s Peyton Manning. He has two more significant marks — and they’re within reach — as he tries to get the Broncos back to the Super Bowl.
Here are some other records that are going down and others that could stand for years.
Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre holds the record with 71,838, some of which were registered before the NFL became a league that protected its quarterbacks like security guards at a bank.
Manning is right on his heels with 69,691, meaning he will break the record about halfway through the season. Manning could become the all-time top passer Nov. 8 at Indianapolis, the place he played in his first 13 seasons. Now try convincing us that the NFL schedule makers don’t take personal milestones into account.
An average year would give Manning this record, too. He has 5,927 career completions, trailing Favre by 373. Manning had 395 completions last season and has twice reached the 450 mark, including the 2013 campaign in Denver.
Injuries are always a concern when you’re talking about a 39-year-old quarterback. A thigh injury hobbled Manning a bit late last season but he says he’s back to 100 percent entering training camp.
If Manning breaks the record this season, it likely will occur in one of the final two games, home contests against the Bengals and Chargers.
Brees (4,937) and Brady (4,551) and fourth and fifth on this list, too. Interestingly, Peyton’s brother, Eli, is 13th with 3,308 completions. He will pass Joe Montana this season. Crazy.
Emmitt Smith’s record won’t be broken any time soon. Smith broke Walter Payton’s mark in 2002 and ended his career with 18,355 yards. His closest active competition, Steven Jackson, may not even play this season and he’s 7,000 yards behind.
The player to possibly watch over the next several seasons is Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson at 10,190 yards. Problem is, Peterson missed all of last season after facing child abuse charges and he’s already 30 years old, which looks more and more like an expiration date for the position. The NFL is no longer a running back’s league.
San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice put this record away for safe keeping years ago. Rice pulled down 22,895 reception yards during an incredible 20-year career that also includes stops in Oakland and Seattle. Picture him in those blue and neon green uniforms the Seahawks now wear.
The closest active player is 36-year-old Reggie Wayne, the former Colts receiver who plans to play one last season. No one has signed him yet despite his 14,345 receiving yards, good for eighth on the all-time list.
Not surprisingly, Rice also leads this all-time category by a fairly wide margin. Rice pulled down 1,549 catches in his career, more than 200 better than Tony Gonzalez, who retired after the 2013 season with 1,325 receptions.
This might prove to be one of those unbreakable records. Rice, of course, is at the top of the heap with a remarkable 208 touchdowns, 33 ahead of his closest competitor, Emmitt Smith.
The active leader is Chargers tight end Antonio Gates with 99. Gates won’t be able to add to his total until the fifth game of the season. He was suspended four contests for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Adrian Peterson has 91 TDs even after missing all of last season.
Danish kicker Morten Andersen played 25 years in the league, amassing 2,544 points in the process. He played in the league until age 47, scoring 99 points in his final season as an Atlanta Falcon.
If Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri plays until he’s 47 – he turns 43 at the end of this season – he could break Andersen’s mark. That’s asking a lot, even for a kicker who plays half his games indoors. Vinatieri has 2,146 points, including his 10 seasons with the Patriots.
Since the league only started tracking the stat in 1982, the accomplishment of old-time stars are lost. The record holder is former Buffalo Bill Bruce Smith with 200. Jared Allen of the Bears is closest among active players with 134, good for ninth.
Records were made to be broken, although a few will stand longer than others. Peyton Manning is in position to have a few more reasons to celebrate this season in what could be his last NFL roundup.
Peyton Manning photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr. All rights reserved. Adrian Peterson photo courtesy of Minnesota National Guard via https://picasaweb.google.com/110946088701108995046/VikingsMilitaryAppreciationDay2013?noredirect=1#5946177514794202642. All rights reserved. Jerry Rice photo courtesy of flickr user gamerscoreblog. All rights reserved.