Sunday, December 5, 2021

Football Database is Wrong: Max is Not No.1

 By Eric Goska

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette, April 29, 1955

Max McGee is the Packers’ all-time leader in net punting average. So says The Football Database.

What say I? Poppycock! Malarkey! Totally false!

Statisticians are like offensive lineman. We tend to get noticed only when mistakes are made.

And the error being perpetuated by The Football Database begs for correction.

Bear with me. A little background information is in order.

The NFL began tracking net punting average in 1976. Take the yards a player punted, subtract the yards those punts were returned and then take away an additional 20 yards for every touchback the punter had.

Presto! You have a player’s net punting average.

Of course, we figure freaks are only too happy to take any metric, regardless of when it was created, and apply it to players who played before it existed. We want to know how the old-timers measure up.

And in that spirit, The Football Database ranks the top seven punters in Packers history by net punting average (minimum 250 punts). I’ve recreated their list for easier viewing.

Notice the zeros in the columns labeled TB and In20 for McGee and Donny Anderson. They are there because no information was kept on touchbacks and punts inside the 20 prior to 1976.

To its credit, The Football Database admits: “Net Average statistics are only available for 1976-2021 seasons.  Yet two paragraphs earlier it proclaims: “Max McGee is the Green Bay Packers career leader in net punting average with 41.3.”

Pick up a copy of my book, “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness” published in 2004. It lists, season by season, the net punting average for every Packers player from 1954 through 1975. Furthermore, on page 339, I list the career net punting average for every Packers punter from 1954 onward.

Now, it took years to unearth every touchback. It took time to separate out which return yardage belonged to which player.

But I dived in knowing that I could provide a more complete picture than what was available. Maybe someone might pay attention. Maybe somebody might notice.

Guess not.

Here, then, is an accurate list of the top punters in Packers history based on net punting average. Sorry, Max, but you’re not No. 1.


  1. ....the folks at Football DataBase believe research is putting on a pot of coffee, and checking old stat sheets, while dedicated men like Mr. Eric Goska dig deep, read play by plays, and as such have COMPLETE and CORRECT data. Way to go Eric.....

  2. Max McGee ... HOVG player and the first SB hero, with respect to Bart Starr

  3. Donny Anderson was a really good punter. I guess that 1 block was in the 1967 Rams game. He had good hang time, and he was left-footed so the returners had a hard time judging the spin on his punts. I think there was one season where the Anderson allowed only 13 punt return yards, which is unbelieveable.