Last night, with no time left on the clock and his team down by 2 points, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers launched a missile from his own 39-yard line into the end zone, where it was caught by tight end Richard Rodgers (no relation) for a game-winning touchdown. The ball traveled 61 yards through the air, which is a really, really long distance to throw a football. It got us thinking, what’s the longest pass in football history, strictly through the air—i.e., no yards after the catch, just the distance the football traveled from the quarterback’s hand to a receiver’s arms.
Turns out, Rodgers’ Hail Mary isn’t even near the top. According to the Rochester Journal, in 1935, Chicago Bears quarterback Fred Crawford tossed an 85-yard bomb to receiver Eddie Kawal, and this appears to be the longest through-the-air pass on record. In the 1960s, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith once let one fly to Bob Hays for 83 yards, putting him in second place.
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Next, we go to college football. In 2005, Washington Huskies quarterback Isaiah Stanback threw a 69-yard Hail Mary against Arizona just before halftime.
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Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart launched a 64-yard Hail Mary as a college quarterback playing for Colorado in 1994.
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Michael Vick had always been known for his cannon arm, but his 63-yard laser to Desean Jackson in 2011, when both players were members of the Philadelphia Eagles, is truly something to behold. With the ball at his own 12-yard line, Vick rolls to his left, crow-hops and, with a mere flick of his left wrist, fires over the middle to a streaking Jackson, who takes it 25 more yards to the house.
And although Jay Cutler may be an inconsistent performer at quarterback, the strength of his arm has never been questioned. It was on full display when he wound up and blasted the above 63-yarder to Alshon Jeffery in a game against the New Orleans Saints.
True, Rodgers’ Hail Mary last night was one of the craziest football plays we’ve ever seen, but it’s far from the longest pass in football history. Just goes to show how insanely strong the arms of most collegiate and pro quarterbacks are, and how hard they work on their throwing mechanics to be able to launch the pigskin into space.