The interception is one of football’s most exciting plays. It requires skill and athleticism from a defensive player. It also requires at least one player on offense — typically, the quarterback — to make a mistake that enables it to happen.
Let’s take a closer look at the five active NFL quarterbacks with the most career interceptions. Some of the names on this list may catch you off guard.
5. Tom Brady
For all the positive accolades he’s received throughout his career, it may come as a bit of a shock to see Tom Brady appear on this list. But it’s simply a testament to Brady’s longevity. An NFL quarterback with 20 seasons under his belt should be in the conversation for the most career interceptions.
Brady’s highest total of interceptions in a season was 14, a number he reached three times. But one rather unsurprising statistic is that Brady has thrown double-digit interceptions only once in the past six seasons. He’s also led the league with the lowest interception percentage four times.
4. Philip Rivers
Another solid quarterback whose appearance on this list may be surprising, Philip Rivers is actually the only quarterback here without a Super Bowl title to his name. Again, longevity has put Rivers (and essentially all of the fine quarterbacks named here) in this company. Rivers has thrown 184 picks in his career. He’s actually led the league twice — in 2014 with 18 and 2016 with 21.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger has led the league in interceptions twice. During his third season, 2016, with 23, and also last season, with 16. Chalk the 2006 totals up to his youth and last season’s number to a Steelers’ season that went off the rails. Roethlisberger has 191 total interceptions during his career. He’s actually only managed to throw interception totals in the single digits four times. Pittsburgh’s offense since Big Ben has arrived has always been pass-happy, and these stats reflect that. After all, quarterbacks who throw downfield often are more likely to get picked off.
2. Drew Brees
While Drew Brees will likely go down in history as one of the NFL’s greatest passers ever, 19 seasons in the league has given him plenty of opportunities to throw to the other team. Brees has 235 career picks, which puts him at No. 2 on the active lost for the most career interceptions. A truly impressive statistic, however, is Brees’ interception totals over the previous two seasons.
Before 2017, he’d thrown less than 11 interceptions only once in his career. That’s what makes his next two seasons even more impressive. In 2017 and 2018, Brees threw eight and five interceptions, respectively. Everyone knows Brees has pinpoint accuracy, but to decrease his interception totals to this degree at his advanced age while throwing so many passes is almost otherworldly.
1. Eli Manning
If you asked any football fan the question, “Who is the active leader with the most career interceptions?” their answer would inevitably be Eli Manning. Manning has been in decline for several seasons, and even before that was known to make occasional poor decisions with the football. Manning has 362 career interceptions, good for first among active quarterbacks.
While Manning has turned the ball over a lot during his career, the fearlessness with which he threw downfield also served him and the New York Giants well at other points. Who can forget the Helmet Catch, where Manning escaped the grasp of a New England Patriots’ defender to heave an impossible pass downfield only to have it caught by David Tyree? If his timing was a split second off, that’s a throw Rodney Harrison could have easily intercepted. Manning had many throws that went for interceptions and completions that looked equally ill-advised when they left his hand.
It’s almost a guarantee that if asked, Giants fans wouldn’t trade those interceptions for the great throws, because those great throws allowed the team to win two Super Bowls.