“Stats are for losers.”
Everybody from Vince Lombardi to Wilt Chamberlain, Paul “Bear” Bryant to Scotty Bowman, and Dizzy Dean to Yogi Berra is rumored to have made that quote. New England coach Bill Belichick actually did say it a couple of years ago.
But is it true?
Sometimes, I guess, it can be true, if a statistic is being manipulated to make up for someone’s shortcomings (see Clinton, Hillary, 2016 election).
Things are a little boring around here right now, and I wanted to give you guys something to chew on, something you might be able to actually enjoy. So what I’ve tried to do in this column is present some stats that might make you actually stop and say, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.”
Here we go.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Kilgore High School’s football program has had 23 football coaches, including present coach Mike Wood. The Bulldogs have 518 wins in program history (346 losses, 30 ties). But since Mike Vallery took over in 1995, dating through Wood’s tenure now, Kilgore is 189-78-1, and has averaged just over 8 ½ wins a season.
Ladarius Anthony, a running back who played for the Ragin’ Red from 2009-11, owns the career rushing touchdowns record (51), and Keith Gilliam, who was the Bulldogs’ tailback in the magical 2004 unbeaten state-title season, is second (43, total).
Kevrin Justice (2012-15) owns the record for rushing touchdowns in a single season (36, with Gilliam again second, 28). Ja’Quorius Smith, who just graduated in May, 2016, shares the single-game record of rushing touchdowns scored with five in a game with Anthony, who did it twice. Anthony also holds the KHS record for most rushing yards gained in his high school career (3,766), with Gilliam second (3,686) and Robert Durham, who played for the Bulldogs in the late 1970s, third (3,101)
Gilliam’s 2,775 yards in 2004 is still the record for most yardage in a single season; E.D. Jackson is second (2,195 in 1987).
As for quarterbacks, if you guessed Kyle Ferro or Davon Vinson, then you’re right.
Ferro was Kilgore’s quarterback in 1998, then Vinson the next two seasons. Ferro still holds the record for passing yardage in a single season (1,980), with Vinson second (1,788). Ferro also owns the record for touchdown passes thrown in a year (19, Vinson second with 15), and completions (122, also in 1998).
Vinson, though, still holds the record for most yards thrown by a KHS quarterback in his varsity career (3,378), most passing attempts in a season (208), completions in a career (201), and total touchdown passes (29).
Peyton Manning, who retired after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos, will likely be thought of more as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, where he spent the bulk of his career. But Manning actually set one of football’s most prestigious records in Denver – he passed for 55 touchdowns in a single season in 2013.
Manning holds a number of other records, of course, and one of those is all-time passing yards in an NFL career (71,940).
Emmitt Smith is still the league’s all-time career rushing yards leader, with 18,355, set against Seattle in a game at Texas Stadium about 13, 14 years ago. Given the trend of passing, it’s possible that no one catches Emmitt for another decade. The only active member of the top 10: Frank Gore, number eight on the list, but a big distance back from Emmitt. Gore currently has 13,065 yards.
Incredibly, the only other active player in the top 30 on that list is Adrian Peterson (11,747), the Palestine native who will play for New Orleans this season.
The NFL numbers come from the highly-respected pro-football-reference.com, a lot of fun stuff on that site.
I suppose the baseball record book is maybe the most “disputed,” with the infusion of steroids in the game 20 or so years ago, and so many players claiming rampant steroid use throughout Major League Baseball.
But the numbers are the numbers, unless baseball declares them void, and the record book says Barry Bonds is the career home runs leader, with 762.
The man that’s second on that list, Hank Aaron, still holds the record for runs brought in (RBI), at 2,297.
Pete Rose, of course, has the most career hits in MLB (4,256), including 3,215 singles. Ty Cobb, who starred for the Detroit Tigers way back at the beginning of the 20th Century, still has the highest career batting average (.366). Boston slugger Ted Williams has the highest on-base percentage (.482).
Recently-retired Alex Rodriguez owns the record for most career grand slams (25), and Rickey Henderson, who constantly referred to himself in third-person (he called himself “Rickey” in interviews), scored 2,295 times, the record for scoring.
Bonds also owns the record for walks (2,558) and most intentional walks (688), and Rose holds the mark for most at-bats (14,555), and most games MLB games played (3,562).
As you might expect, since the pitching award is named for him, Cy Young holds the records for most wins (511), most innings pitched (7,354 2/3) and complete games (749), but did you know he also has the most losses (316)?
Ol' Cy played from 1890-1911.
Nolan Ryan holds the record for most career strikeouts (5,714) and also for most no-hitters thrown (seven).
Tom Cheney, who played for a handful of teams, set the record for most strikeouts in a single game (21, in 1962 with the Washington Senators).
Casey Stengel owns the World Series title record; he won seven.
Don Shula, who hasn’t coached a game since 1995, still owns the pro football wins record with 328, and won two Super Bowls. The only active coach in the top 10, a guy thought by many to be maybe the best ever in the NFL, is Belichick, but he’s quite a ways back in total wins (237). He does have the five super Bowl titles as an equalizer, though.
By the way, Dallas legend Tom Landry, whom I once interviewed, is third on the all-time wins list (250).
Want to hear something crazy? Lombardi, the man for which the Super Bowl trophy is named, has 96 career NFL wins.
Incidentally, just so you know: current Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is 58-46 as an NFL head coach. Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson went 80-64, and another former Cowboys coach, Barry Switzer, was 40-24.
As for the NBA, Phil Jackson did quite well in the last 25-plus seasons, with some guy named Michael Jordan and another couple of guys named Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, in runs with Chicago and the L.A. Lakers.
Jackson has the most playoff wins of any coach in NBA history (229), and maybe most impressive, he has 11 NBA championships.
A couple of other NBA coaching notes: current San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has over 160 playoff wins, five NBA titles, and has only missed the playoffs just once in his career.
We couldn’t mention NBA coaching marks without mentioning Boston’s Red Auerbach, who won eight straight NBA titles from 1958-66.
There’s you guys some sports ammunition for the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to our football preview, a part of the News Herald on Wednesday, Aug. 30,.
Enjoy the rest of your summer. By the way, if your summer day includes just one Coca-Cola, that’s one of 1.8 billion estimated Coke products sold on a given day.
Sorry – I just couldn’t resist.