By John Turney
In 1976 the NFL and Elias Sports Bureau began publishing a 'Net punting average statistic', which subtracted punt return yards from the gross total and a 20-yard penalty for every
Unfortunately, there has been no backdating of that statistic, officially by the NFL anyway. Perhaps many of the play-by-plays (
It would be very educational to see what
As we stated there has been no official backdating, but some teams have backdated their media guides with some of the information. We are very grateful for those who have. Rick Smith's group with the Rams did it some years back, as did Jack Brennan's group with the Bengals, and Rich Dalrymple's Cowboys team and Craig Kelly's staff in Indianapolis also did some of this important work. Hat tip to all of those PR directors and their teams and those we neglected to mention here.
We would encourage more of them to do so, perhaps in the off-season when they go through the process of updating their press guides.
We fully understand that it is likely that as far back as could be done would be 1960 or perhaps mid-1950s. We have no expectation of ever finding Fats Henry's net punting average or even Sammy Baugh's. But players like Tommy Davis and Jerrell Wilson and some others, we think it could be done because for some, it's been done.
Here are a few examples of pre-1976 punters who had excellent seasons:
Here is the current post-1976 single-season leader board: