The Most Fumbles in an NFL Game Have Been Dropped by Great Players

Even the best NFL players hold records they don’t want. While they work hard every week to guide their teams to hopeful victory, sometimes things don’t go their way. The NFL‘s fumble record in a single game is a perfect example of this house.

The collection of names who have committed more fumbles in a game than anybody includes both forgotten names and some of the biggest stars in NFL history.

Five fumbles: Eli Manning

Several players have thrown for five fumbles, the third-most in NFL history. They span nearly 70 years of NFL play and countless rule changes and adjustments into the modern league.

Some of the names won’t stick out to the modern NBA fan, like Paul Christman, who fumbled five times in November 1946. Joe Perry hit the dubious number in 1950. Some of the players may still stand out to NFL fans; Jack Kemp, Roman Gabriel, and Andre Ware all did it. Patrick Ramsey dropped the ball five times versus the Green Bay Packers in 2002.

Two of the last three players who hit the number, however, have been a part of the NFL recently. Eli Manning fumbled it five times in December 2007, although just two months later he hoisted his Super Bowl trophy after stunning the 18-0 New England Patriots.

The most recent instance of a player having five humbles in a game, however, was the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford, who did it in December 2013 against the Eagles. While Stafford has struggled to get wins, he has shown to be a good NFL quarterback for many years now.

Six fumbles: Brett Favre

Five players have dropped the ball six times in an NFL game. The first player to do it was Sam Etcheverry of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961, years before the team moved to Arizona. Len Dawson was next in 1964 when he did so against the San Diego Chargers. Then, in 1989, Dave Krieg had six fumbles in a game as a Seahawk.

The next to do it is one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks, Brett Favre, against the Buccaneers in 1998. This may shock those who see Favre as the iron man, but he was no stranger to dubious records, throwing 336 interceptions and fumbling 166 times total during his nearly two-decade career. 

Kurt Warner was the last player to do it, against the Giants in 2003 as a member of the St. Louis Rams. Warner is one of the greatest Cinderella stories in NFL history, but it doesn’t mean his career was without fault. While he may not be on Favre’s level, he shows that even the greats have off nights. 

Seven fumbles: Len Dawson

Len Dawson has the sole spot on top, dropping the ball seven times in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on November 15, 1964.

To a modern audience, Dawson may not be the most recognizable name in the NFL, but he was a superstar in his day, going to seven Pro Bowls, getting two All-Pro honors, winning a Super Bowl, and becoming an AFL Champion three times. Dawson is also a Hall of Famer.

This list tells fans that while it is fun to mock bad performances and pretend they are indictments, bad performances happen to the best. And some even had dubious honors throughout their careers. This doesn’t mean they are bad, it means they are human.