Who has the most interceptions in NFL history? This is a question that many fans have been wondering for some time. We take a look at the answer and some of the other top interception leaders in NFL history.
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In American football, the record for the most interceptions in a career is held by Paul Krause, who played 16 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) and picked off a total of 81 passes. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 1964 NFL Draft, Krause spent most of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, playing 12 seasons with the team. Krause was an All-Pro selection eight times during his career and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He currently ranks fourth on the NFL’s all-time interceptions list.
NFL Interception Leaders
Interceptions are always a hot topic in the NFL. Who has the most? Who has the least? Where do your favorite team’s players rank? Let’s take a look at the top ten interception leaders in NFL history and find out a little bit about each of them.
Paul Frederick Krause (born February 19, 1942) is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 16 seasons, all with the Minnesota Vikings. He currently holds the NFL record for most career interceptions with 81, and he is also tied for second place for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a career with 11.
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor, Krause was selected to eight Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year by UPI in 1968 and AP in 1972. Krause was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Emlen Tunnell was a professional American football player. He was active for the New York Giants (1948-1958) and the Green Bay Packers (1959-1961). Tunnell is considered one of the best defensive backs in NFL history. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967, becoming the first African American player to be enshrined. In his career, Tunnell intercepted 79 passes, which is still an NFL record for most interceptions by a defensive back.
Ken Riley (born September 12, 1945) is a former American football cornerback who played fifteen seasons in the National Football League, mainly for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football at Florida A&M. He is a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame, and the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
Riley intercepted 65 passes during his NFL career, which was an Bengals franchise record until it was broken by Dre Kirkpatrick in 2019. He still holds the Bengals’ franchise record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a career with 6. His 65 career interceptions rank him tied for 9th all-time in NFL history.
Dick “Night Train” Lane is the NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions with 14. He played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1952-1953 and again from 1955-1965. He was selected to 7 Pro Bowls and was named a First-team All-Pro 6 times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
With 71 career interceptions, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson is tied for 5th place on the NFL’s all-time interceptions list. He played in the NFL for 17 seasons from 1987 to 2003, spending 10 of those years with the Steelers. Woodson was a 6-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
From the data, it is clear that night owls are more likely to have interceptions than early birds. This may be because they are more alert and have more time to react to the ball. It is also possible that they are more likely to be targeted by opposing quarterbacks.