The Longest Pass - The Warrior's Journey®

The Longest Pass

Author: David Causey, USA (Ret.)

A Navy quarterback scrambles.. Photo by The U.S. Navy is licensed under CC By 2.0

According to NFL statistics, the longest possible completed pass can only be 99 yards.

Only 13 players have accomplished this feat. The first took place on October 15, 1939 when Washington Redskins’ Frankie Filchock completed a pass to fullback Andy Farkas. George Izo, Karl Sweetan, Sonny Jurgenson, Jim Plunkett, Ron Jaworski, Stan Humphries, Brett Favre, Trent Green, Jeff Garcia, Gus Frerotte, and Tom Brady have all matched that record. The most recent 99-yard bomb came on December 24, 2011. The New York Giants’ Eli Manning threw to Victor Cruz in a 29-14 win over the New York Jets.

NASA’s Claim

Well, according to NASA all of these records have now been eclipsed by one of its astronauts, Jim Kopra. NASA headquarters in Houston, the city which hosted the Super Bowl LI, made the announcement on the Saturday before the big game (February 4, 2017). Astronaut Kopra “threw” a pass that traveled 564,664 yards. Of course, it’s all relative. Kopra’s pass only traveled the length of the International Space Station’s inner corridor, a far cry from 99 yards. However, NASA figures that since the ISS was traveling 17,500 miles per hour, Kopra’s pass was traveling 8,800 yards per second before it struck the corridor wall.

So, is Kopra’s “record pass” legitimate? Hardly. First off, the astronaut’s pass might as well have been fired from a cannon. After all, rocket boosters are ultimately responsible for projecting it so fast. Second, Kopra’s record pass took place in a weightless and windless environment. There was nothing to slow or drag the pigskin down as there would have been on earth. Third, Kopra’s pass required very little exertion.

Kopra vs NFL Quarterbacks

What he did was incredibly simple. He carefully—and very gently—pushed the ball with both hands and put a slight spin to it. And since the ISS’s own inertia was doing all the work regarding the ball’s velocity, it was to Kopra’s advantage to move the ball as slowly as possible—since the longer it took for the ball to travel from the astronaut’s hands through the corridor, the greater the distance the ISS would travel before the ball hit an obstruction.

In reality, NASA’s claim only reminds us that true accomplishments in life are based on the measure of exertion, skill, concentration, and perseverance behind them, not on favorable circumstances. Kopra’s pass had optimal favorable circumstances—so much so that his “achievement” was effortless. On the other hand, Tom Brady and all his 99-yard brothers had to achieve it the hard way. They used their own sheer force and skill.

One of America’s greatest educators, Booker T. Washington, used to say, “Success is to be defined not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

He knew what he was talking about since he was born into slavery and rose to the top from rock bottom. In contrast, not nearly as much glory can be given to the children of wealth and political dynasties who also reach the top.

Our Obstacles

What does this have to do with all of us? Just this—God alone knows the battles you fight and obstacles you must overcome in order to fulfill your God-given duties. Jesus knew that the two tiny copper coins of the poor widow outweighed the bags of gold which the rich donated to the temple (Mark 12:41–43; Luke 21:1–3). Therefore He also knows that your humble but faithful labor probably outweighs the heralded achievements of the famous.

So perform your duties heartily and faithfully for the One who truly appreciates your work and understands the sacrifices you make to accomplish it. The Lord loves you, cares for you, and will reward you for what you do in His name.


Dear Father, though my contributions seem so small compared to the achievements of others, please help me to be faithful in my work and to do all I do to please You, not people. For people may disappoint me and take no notice of my labors. But You will never disappoint or fail to appreciate me. Amen.

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