This Week in NFL History (March 7-13): HOFers Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson retire

Welcome to This Week in NFL History! Every week, the Research team will spotlight the anniversaries of notable events and birthdays.

March 7

  • Peyton Manning announces retirement in 2016

- 14-time Pro Bowl selection

- 7-time All-Pro

- 5-time MVP (Most in NFL history)

- 2-time Super Bowl Champion (XLI & 50 in final season)

- Retired as the all-time leader in pass yards (71,940) and pass TD (539)

Notable Birthdays: HOF Franco Harris (72) & HOF Lynn Swann

March 8

  • Calvin Johnson announced his retirement as he said, "I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football." in 2016

- 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrine (1st-Ballot)

- Set NFL single-season record 1,964 receiving yards in 2012 (Only player in NFL history to reach 1,900+ receiving yards in a season)

- Named to NFL 2010s All-Decade Team (3-time first team All-Pro)

  • Heisman & National Champion QB Cam Newton impressed at Auburn's Pro Day in 2011

- 125 NFL officials (5 head coaches) at the 5.5 hour event

- Newton stood on his Combine numbers and only participated in position drills

- Drafted 1st overall in 2011 NFL Draft by CAR

- 2015 AP NFL MVP, 2011 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2015 1st-Team All-Pro, 3-time Pro Bowl selection

- 70 rush TD are the most all-time by a QB (HOF Steve Young is 2nd with 43)

Notable Birthdays: K Jason Elam (52) & WR Hines Ward (46)

March 9

  • DE J.J. Watt stood on his Combine numbers and only participated in position drills at Wisconsin's Pro Day in 2011

- 31 NFL teams had at least one representative present at the Pro Day (all but Bengals) & HOU drafted him 11th overall in 2011

- 5-time All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowl selection, NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

- 3-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (T-most in NFL history w/ HOF Lawrence Taylor & LAR DT Aaron Donald)

- 101.0 career sacks since are the 2nd-most in the NFL since 2011

- Signed a 2-year, $31M deal with ARI on March 1, 2021

Notable Birthdays: PIT RB Najee Harris (24)

March 10

Notable Birthdays: HOF Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, HOF Ron Mix (84), HOF Curley Culp (76), HOF Rod Woodson (57) & LAC QB Justin Herbert (24)

March 11

  • Owners adopted limited use of instant replay as an officiating aid in 1986

- Used to challenge/review plays of possession (fumbles, receptions and muffs); those involving the sidelines, goal lines, end lines, and line of scrimmage; and cases of more than 11 players on the field for a given team

  • QB Jalen Hurts & WR CeeDee Lamb headlined an Oklahoma Pro Day that was attended by personnel from 30 NFL teams in 2020

- NFL.com's Lance Zierlein noted that "arm talent is not an issue for Hurts" while Lamb "looked the part while catching throws"

- Both players were drafted in the first 2 rounds: Lamb 17th overall to the Cowboys, and Hurts 53rd overall to the Eagles

Notable Birthdays: TE Greg Olsen (37)

March 12

  • The Chargers traded 2 players (WR Eric Metcalf & LB Patrick Sapp) & 3 draft picks (1998 #3 overall, 1998 2nd-Round & 1999 1st-Round) to move up to 2nd overall in the 1998 NFL Draft (Would select QB Ryan Leaf)

- Leaf played 21 games in 3 seasons as a member of the Chargers (4-14 W-L, 12 pass TD & 29 INT as SD starter)

  • WR Tee Higgins did not participate in the Combine & instead completed athletic testing and positional drills at Clemson's Pro Day in 2020

- Clocked a 4.54 40-yard dash & a disappointing 31.0-inch vertical jump

- 7th WR selected in the 2020 Draft (33rd overall pick)

Notable Birthdays: LB Matt Millen (64), NE LB Dont'a Hightower (32), KC WR Mecole Hardman (24)

March 13

  • The Eagles signed free agent (eventual SB LII MVP) QB Nick Foles in 2017

- Led Eagles to only Super Bowl win in franchise history after becoming starter in Week 15, 2017 following Carson Wentz's torn ACL

- Foles in SB LII vs Patriots: 373 pass yards, 3 pass TD, 1 INT; 1 rec TD (Only player to have 1+ pass TD & 1+ rec TD in a single Super Bowl, Foles had a 1-yard rec TD on "Philly Special")

  • The NFL owners voted to allow the transfer of the Chicago Cardinals to St. Louis in 1960

- 186-202-14 in 28 seasons in St. Louis from 1960-1987 (18th in NFL)

  • Washington traded 4 picks (3 firsts & 1 second) to move up 4 spots from 6th overall to 2nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft (Would select QB Robert Griffin III)

- 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year

- Released after 3 seasons (2012-2014); missed 10 games due to injuries in 2013 & 2014

  • After opting not to participate in testing at the NFL Combine, HOF Randy Moss turned heads at Marshall's Pro Day in 1998

- According to then-Marshall Head Coach Bob Pruett, Moss ran a hand-timed 4.24 "into the wind" in the 40-yard dash & leapt 47 inches in the vertical jump (which would be higher than any player since official Combine data began being tracked in 2003)

- Moss fell to 21st overall in the Draft, where he was drafted by the Vikings, before embarking on his HOF career (15,292 rec yards are 4th-most in NFL history & 156 rec TD are 2nd-most in NFL history)

  • After not participating in the 2019 NFL Combine, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray also declined to compete in any of the testing drills at the school's Pro Day in 2019

- Did throw 70 passes in a session littered with NFL personnel

- Though the Cardinals were one of the few teams not to have any coaches or scouts in attendance, they still took the QB 1st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft

- 2019 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year & 2021 Pro Bowl selection

Notable Birthdays: HOF George McAfee

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