The New York Jets selected O’Brien as the 24th pick in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, amazing observers who expected the team to choose fellow quarterback Dan Marino; Marino, a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was selected three picks later. The many Jets fans that attended the draft, held in New York City, were surprised and outraged by the choice; O’Brien was so obscure that New York television reporter Sal Marchiano twice mangled his name while reporting on fan reaction to the draft. (O’Brien said after his retirement, “Who blames [the fans], right? Who, in New York, has heard of Cal, University of California, Davis? Nobody … I’m not sure I would have reacted any differently. Heck, some of my cousins grew up as Jets fans. They were probably doing the same thing.”)
O’Brien played quarterback for over a decade in the National Football League. He amassed over 25,000 yards in his 11-year career. In 1985, he was the highest rated quarterback in the NFL, finishing the season with a rating of 96.2. He also led the NFL with the lowest rate of interceptions in 1985, 1987, and 1988. After an 11-5 record in 1985, O’Brien helped his team open up with a 10-1 record in 1986. After ten games he was leading the NFL with a 111.1 rating (in fact he was the only NFL QB with a rating over 100). He retired after spending the 1993 season with the Philadelphia Eagles where he only started 4 games and mostly served as a backup for Randall Cunningham and Bubby Brister.
O’Brien was the first quarterback to pass for 400 or more yards (431) in a game and earn a perfect NFL 158.3 rating, a feat he accomplished against the Seattle Seahawks in 1986 and would not be matched until 27 years later, by Nick Foles in 2013. O’Brien was also the holder of another NFL record that lasted for 25 years when he combined for 927 (884 net) yards and 10 TDs passing with Dan Marino. The new record (achieved January 1, 2012) is 1000 yards passing with 11 TDs (the same amount of TDs with 63 more yards) in a game that featured the Detroit Lions vs the Green Bay Packers. O’Brien went to the Pro Bowl two times, in 1985 and 1991.
When he retired he was the only Jets quarterback to have ever been the top ranked passer in a season. He held the team record for most consecutive pass completions (17) in a game. O’Brien was one of the six quarterbacks in the famed Quarterback class of 1983 and in 1997 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday …spotlights…Ken OBrien.
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|