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Complete List of NFL's Triple Crown Winners

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American Pharoah just won the Triple Crown in horse racing. What NFL players have won the Triple Crown?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Triple Crown is an impressive individual feat in horse racing and in baseball. In horse racing, it means winning at the Preakness, Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Stakes. The racehorse American Pharoah captured the Triple Crown in 2015, the first such feat since 1978.

In baseball, it involves a player leading the league in three main statistical categories. For batters, it means leading the league in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs. Miguel Cabrera won the latest Batting Triple Crown in 2012, the first Batting Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

For pitchers, it counts wins, strike outs, and earned run average, although this feat is far more common and has been achieved eight times since 1997, including Pedro Martinez in 1999.

There isn't a specified Triple Crown in football, although we can manufacture a title for quarterbacks (completion rate, passing yards, touchdowns), running backs (attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns), and receivers (receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns).

Here's the full list (data courtesy of Pro Football Reference). Similar to baseball, there are multiple winners for some seasons prior to the merger. Ages of the players are in parentheses.

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Running Backs

The Rushing Triple Crown has been attained thirty times, a far greater number than the crowns for quarterbacks and receivers. Still, only five running backs have won the Crown since 1980. It seems that running backs at the dawn of football were far more likely to lead the league in all three categories.

Spec Sanders (AAFC) and Steve Van Buren (NFL) both won the Rushing Triple Crown in 1947, for their respective leagues.

Jim Brown won four career Rushing Triple Crowns, while Van Buren won three in a row. No running back in their 30s has ever won the Triple Crown.

DeMarco Murray won the Rushing Triple Crown this past season, although he tied Marshawn Lynch for the season lead in rushing touchdowns.

Year Player Teams Att Yds TD
1937 Cliff Battles (27) WAS 216 874 5
1943 Bill Paschal (22) NYG 147 572 10
1944 Bill Paschal (23) NYG 196 737 9
1946 Spec Sanders (28) NYY 140 709 6
1947 Spec Sanders (29) NYY 231 1432 18
1947 Steve Van Buren (26) PHI 217 1008 13
1948 Steve Van Buren (27) PHI 201 945 10
1949 Steve Van Buren (28) PHI 263 1146 11
1953 Joe Perry (26) SFO 192 1018 10
1955 Alan Ameche (22) BAL 213 961 9
1956 Rick Casares (25) CHI 234 1126 12
1958 Jim Brown (22) CLE 257 1527 17
1959 Jim Brown (23) CLE 290 1329 14
1960 Abner Haynes (22) DTX 156 875 9
1962 Jim Taylor (26) GNB 272 1474 19
1963 Jim Brown (27) CLE 291 1863 12
1964 Cookie Gilchrist (29) BUF 230 981 6
1965 Jim Brown (29) CLE 289 1544 17
1966 Jim Nance (23) BOS 299 1458 11
1967 Leroy Kelly (25) CLE 235 1205 11
1968 Leroy Kelly (26) CLE 248 1239 16
1968 Paul Robinson (23) CIN 238 1023 8
1973 O.J. Simpson (26) BUF 332 2003 12
1975 O.J. Simpson (28) BUF 329 1817 16
1977 Walter Payton (23) CHI 339 1852 14
1980 Earl Campbell (25) HOU 373 1934 13
1987 Charles White (29) RAM 324 1374 11
1995 Emmitt Smith (26) DAL 377 1773 25
2005 Shaun Alexander (28) SEA 370 1880 27
2014 DeMarco Murray (26) DAL 392 1845 13

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Receivers

This might as well be called the Don Hutson Crown, as he won the title a staggering five times, including four in a row from 1941-1944. Hutson revolutionized the wide receiver position, and the numbers show it. He is the only receiver to win the crown multiple times. The Receiving Triple Crown has been attained fifteen times.

Only three players have earned the Receiving Triple Crown since 1966: Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992), and Steve Smith (2005).

While the rise of slot receivers might have made it more difficult for players to earn the Receiving Triple Crown, Antonio Brown came close last season, leading in both receptions and yards, with Dez Bryant edging out Brown in touchdowns.

Year Player Teams Rec Yds TD
1932 Ray Flaherty (29) NYG 21 350 5
1936 Don Hutson (23) GNB 34 536 8
1941 Don Hutson (28) GNB 58 738 10
1942 Don Hutson (29) GNB 74 1211 17
1943 Don Hutson (30) GNB 47 776 11
1944 Don Hutson (31) GNB 58 866 9
1951 Elroy Hirsch (28) RAM 66 1495 17
1953 Pete Pihos (29) PHI 63 1049 10
1959 Raymond Berry (26) BAL 66 959 14
1964 Johnny Morris (28) CHI 93 1200 10
1965 Dave Parks (23) SFO 80 1344 12
1966 Lance Alworth (26) SDG 73 1383 13
1990 Jerry Rice (27) SFO 100 1502 13
1992 Sterling Sharpe (27) GNB 108 1461 13
2005 Steve Smith (26) CAR 103 1563 12

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Quarterbacks

The Passing Triple Crown has been attained ten times, although only three have come after the merger. Slingin' Sammy Baugh won the NFL Triple Crown twice, including the same season Otto Graham won the AAFC Triple Crown in 1947.

The three modern-era Crown winners are the Greatest Show on Turf's Kurt Warner in 2001, 2007's Tom Brady as a part of the best offense in football history, and 2011's Drew Brees as he set the (then) record for the most single season passing yards in NFL history.

Coincidentally, the Patriots reached the Super Bowl in all three of these modern-era seasons.

Year Player Teams Yds Cmp% TD
1935 Ed Danowski (23) NYG 794 50.44% 10
1936 Arnie Herber (26) GNB 1239 44.50% 11
1940 Sammy Baugh (26) WAS 1367 62.70% 12
1941 Cecil Isbell (26) GNB 1479 56.80% 15
1947 Sammy Baugh (33) WAS 2938 60.60% 25
1947 Otto Graham (25) CLE 2753 59.30% 25
1965 John Brodie (30) SFO 3112 61.90% 30
2001 Kurt Warner (30) STL 4830 68.70% 36
2007 Tom Brady (30) NWE 4806 68.90% 50
2011 Drew Brees (32) NOR 5476 71.20% 46

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All three of these NFL Triple Crowns are impressive achievements, regardless of the value one attributes to the award. Just eleven total Triple Crowns have been attained since 1980, and just six since the turn of the century, so they remain a rare and impressive feat.