On Sunday night, former Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka made his NFL debut after Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick exited the game with a concussion. Kafka played quite admirably, completing seven passes on nine attempts for 72 yards.
But the most remarkable aspect of Kafka’s performance? His output on Sunday already ranks him as one of Northwestern’s most successful NFL quarterbacks since Otto Graham played over 50 years ago.
Graham, considered one of the greatest players in NFL history, tossed for 23,584 yards and 174 touchdowns in his nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns. But since Graham retired in 1955, Northwestern quarterbacks in the NFL have been a rare sight.
Kafka’s 72 yard performance ranks him third among former Northwestern quarterbacks (since Graham) in career NFL passing yards. He was able to accomplish this feat in just over one quarter of football.
If Vick’s injury is serious enough, then Kafka will likely get the starting nod this upcoming weekend when the Eagles take on the division rival New York Giants in Philadelphia. If he indeed starts, Kafka will have a chance to become – statistically speaking – the best Northwestern quarterback in the NFL since Graham. Keep in mind: he has the chance to do this in a little more than one game of playing time.
Kafka only needs 14 more passing yards to pass former New England Patriots quarterback Mike Kerrigan as the No. 2 passer since Graham. He needs 207 more passing yards to pass former Giants quarterback Randy Dean. This means there is a very realistic chance that this weekend Mike Kafka could solidify a place in the “Mount Rushmore” of Northwestern’s NFL quarterbacks (if such a thing existed).
At Northwestern, Kafka had his best season in 2009, when he lead the ‘Cats to an 8-4 regular season record and a berth in the Outback Bowl. His Outback Bowl performance – in which completed 47 passes and attempted a total of 78, both bowl records – gained the quarterback acclaim. That April, the Eagles selected him in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
While we’re on the subject of Graham, we should note that Kafka only needs 23,512 more yards to catch the Hall of Famer.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.