Best NFL All-Time Interception Average: Bobby Boyd
My buddy and teammate from Garland High School in Texas, Bobby Boyd, is one of the greatest athletes of all time. I was a basketball teammate who watched him during practice in awe of his amazing talents. At only 5'10", he could dunk the ball from a standing position.
Even though he was All-District each year, honorable mention All-State, and set the Dr. Pepper Tournament scoring record with 42 points, basketball was not his best sport. He was also a record-setting broad jumper, great baseball player, and only lost one Golden Glove boxing match.
His best sport, however, was football where he made All-State two years and took his team to the state championship game his senior year as a running back and defensive cornerback. He went to the University of Oklahoma where legendary Bud Wilkinson turned him into an All-Big 8 quarterback. Finally, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts where he was a rookie starter at defensive cornerback. He made first-team All-Pro three times and was voted into the All-Decade Team of the '60s. Talk about versatility!
When Bobby retired, he was 3rd all-time in interceptions with 57 after a nine-year career. One day four years ago while looking at the NFL interception statistics, something jumped off the page at me. Being good at math, I realized that his average appeared to be better than the other top ten interception leaders. Bobby was #10 on the list at that time.
I quickly did the math on all ten and found my previous observation to be correct. Bobby averaged 6.3 interceptions a year for nine years. The other nine on the leader board averaged between 4 and 5.7 interceptions. That made him the only player in NFL history to average six or more interceptions in his career.
Or, did it? I needed to be sure. So, I decided to go through the top 25 interception leaders of all time. Sure enough, Bobby was still the leader and the only one with six, or more. I told Bobby and he was elated! Not long after that, he was given a special award and I was present. He told the audience of my discovery as he was giving his background in his acceptance speech. Later, he would tell a friend in Oklahoma who put an article in an Oklahoma newspaper describing what he had accomplished. I contacted the sports writer at the Dallas Morning News who was on the NFL Hall of Fame committee and offered my newly found information to be considered in the next balloting.
Several years have gone by and just the other day I had this sudden urge to verify my finding. I decided to take a look at the entire list of 274 men in the NFL that had made interceptions during their careers. I simply never thought that those with much smaller numbers could have a better average than Bobby. I thought wrong.
I had never imagined someone playing just a few years and excelling the way Bobby did. However, when I arrived at the 139th leader in interceptions with 34, I noticed that he only played for four years. Quick math determined that he had an average of 8.5 for his career. My heart went into my throat! I could not believe that I had made such a mistake.
On the bright side, Bobby is in the top 25. He recently was bumped into a tie for 12th after two players in modern times who moved into the top ten. Also, an NFL player does not qualify for retirement benefits until he has played for at least five years. So, Bobby is still my leader.
However, I must give credit to where credit is due. His name is Otto Schnellbacher and from 1948–1951, Otto had 34 interceptions with the New York Yankees and the New York Giants which is truly an amazing feat. Otto, like Bobby, was an all-around athlete out of Kansas. He passed away in 2008.
You decide. Is Bobby the all-time leader in interception average, or is Otto? Is it more important that Bobby did this for nine years and Otto's average only covered a short four years? Neither one is in the NFL statistics because this is simply not a record that is kept by the NFL. I personally think what a man does consistently over a long period of time is more important than what he does one year, or two, or four. The average playing time of an NFL player is just five years. Bobby played a very tough sport for a very long time. Although some played longer, nobody did it any better. Let's put it another way...Bobby has the best average in the last 66 years.
© 2012 WILLIAM EVANS