Q. How are rating points computed for quarterbacks in the NFL? What was the highest rating of all time?
A. This is only slightly less complicated than the NFL's playoff formula. In fact, the State Department is very concerned that the Iraqis might get their hands on NFL technology, threatening the balance of power in the Mideast and possibly the AFC Central. In any case, "The Official National Football League 1991 Record & Fact Book" says of the rating system:
"The NFL rates its forward passers [what, no rating of backward passers?] for statistical purposes against a pre-fixed performance standard based on statistical achievements of all qualified pro passers since 1960. . . . The current system, which was adopted in 1973. . . . provides a means of comparing passing performances from one season to the next. . . .
"Four categories are used as a basis for compiling a rating: percentage of touchdown passes per attempt; percentage of completions per attempt; percentage of interceptions per attempt; average yards gained per attempt. The base, or average standard, is 1.00. The bottom is .000. To earn a 2.000 rating, a passer must perform at exceptional levels, i.e., 70 percent in completions, 10 percent in touchdowns, 1.5 percent in interceptions, and 11 yards average gain per pass attempt. The maximum a passer can achieve in any category is 2.375. . . . In order to make the rating more understandable, the point rating is. . . . converted into a scale of 100."
Of course, that makes it so much more clear.
The highest single-season rating was by the San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana in 1989, a 112.4.