Have you ever heard the term “octopus” in regards to football? It’s likely you haven’t.
While it’s not an official designation in the game, Mitch Goldich of The Monday Morning Quarterback coined the obscure stat. He wrote:
My love of box scores, obscure stats and useless trivia has led me here. As I look back on the last 25 years of the 2-point conversion — a wonderful innovation by all accounts — I offer you a new entry for the NFL lexicon.
Behold: The octopus.
Thanks to the amazing database (and helpful researchers) at Pro Football Reference, we know that there have been 988 successful 2-point conversions in the last 25 years. On 140 of those occasions — about 14.2 percent — the conversion was scored by the same player who scored the touchdown.
Eight points scored … an octopus … you get it.
Goldich added the disclaimer that he is counting only the person “who is actually credited with the points scored”; i.e., a quarterback only registers an “octopus” if he scores a rushing touchdown followed by a two-point conversion on the ground.
Goldich pointed out that the 23 players who have recorded multiple “octopi” in their career “is actually a star-studded collection of greats” over the past 25 years.
There are Hall of Famers like Jerome Bettis and Terrell Davis (whose pair of octopi includes the first one in the postseason); stars like Calvin Johnson, Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James and Hines Ward; Pro Bowlers like Randall Cobb, Greg Olsen and Matt Forte; and active stars Antonio Brown and Alvin Kamara.
Who has the most, you ask?
There are only two players who have three times scored touchdowns and subsequent 2-point conversions for an eight-point gain: Hall of Fame Vikings receiver Randy Moss and All-Pro Rams running back Todd Gurley II.
Moss accomplished the feat twice with Minnesota (in 1998 and 2000) and once with the Patriots (2009), while Gurley notched all three of his during the 2018 season – and two of them occurred in Week 2 against the Cardinals.
With the proliferation of two-point conversions in recent years, especially in an environment in which some teams in particular are growing more aggressive, we may see more players climb to the top of the octopus leaderboard. In fact, 2018 saw a record 15 octopi, paced by Gurley’s trio.
Until about three weeks before the Super Bowl, it felt like a sure thing that Gurley would surpass Randy Moss’s mark. […] But one thing is for sure: It’s only a matter of time before someone separates himself from the pack and becomes our official Octopus King.
Birk gives ‘faith and football’ talk in Rochester
Former Vikings center Matt Birk hasn’t hit the gridiron for several years, but he continues to make an impact in the community.
Most recently, Birk traveled to Rochester, Minnesota, to speak on faith and football at Rochester Lourdes High School.
Sean Tehan of ABC 6 covered the event and quoted the All-Pro:
“Sports are a great thing. [They bring] people together, almost unlike anything else in society,” Birk told the coaches and young athletes. “There’s such an opportunity (in sports) to help kids develop physically, emotionally and even spiritually.”
Birk played collegiate football at Harvard, but he’s a St. Paul native, playing high school football at Cretin-Derham Hall. Birk said he couldn’t specifically pick out his favorite memory as a Viking because growing up, he had a lifetime of memories.
“To be able to play 11 years for the team you grew up watching, that doesn’t happen. I feel so blessed,” Birk said. “Noon and [3 o’clock] home games, we’d be out in the parking lot on a beautiful fall afternoon. My mom and dad had pretty epic tailgate parties after games, especially after wins.
“I would just be enjoying the moment with my family and friends, those who helped me get to that point and cared about me, whether I played football or not,” he added. “To be able to bring those people along for the ride, that was special.”
Happy 99th birthday to Sid Hartman
The Vikings recently celebrated the 99th birthday of their close, personal friend, Sid Hartman.
The longtime reporter continues to work the Minnesota sports beat as he rounds the corner to 100, and he was honored Wednesday with a special luncheon that included a number of Vikings names.
Among those present to wish Hartman a happy birthday were Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant and his son, Mike; Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph; Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren and members of the Vikings public relations staff. Hall of Fame North Stars defender Lou Nanne, Golden Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck and other longtime sports reporters – including the recently retired Mark Rosen – also were in attendance.