Tuesday, September 30, 2008


You may know I'm NOT a Yankee fan, but I want to pay tribute to a guy on their team.


To me = he will ALWAYS be an ORIOLE anyways.

I personally think he deserves entry into the Hall Of Fame, and I'm thinking if he does = that he goes in as an Oriole.

Moose did something historic today. He is 39 years old, and is the oldest pitcher in MLB history to get his first 20 win season, after beating the Red Sox with 6 shutout innings in the Yankees 6-2 win.

Mike has won 19 games twice, and 18 games thrice, but he finally got that 20 in a year most had him going to the bullpen after a mediocre (by his standards) 11-10 2007 season.

Mike was definitely the best pitcher the Yankees had in 2008.

He is one of the best to have ever pitched for the Orioles. He spent the first 10 years of his career in Baltimore, and had 45 of his 57 complete games in that span. 15 of his 23 complete game shutouts were with the O's too.

Mike now has 270 career wins, and 2,810 career strikeouts.

300 wins and 3,000 K's are certainly within his reach, if he decides to play 2 more years. He has a career E.R.A. of 3.69, which is very good in these times of shrunken ballparks, juiced balls, and juiced players.

Moose was one of those beloved Oriole players where Baltimore fans weren't mad at him for leaving. Most understood why. It wasn't money, it was Angelos. No one blamed him for trying to get a World Series ring. Eddie Murray's leaving for Los Angeles to be closer to his ill mom is the only other Oriole I can recall where Baltimore fans weren't mad and only wished him the best.

I am pulling for Mike Mussina to get to 300 wins. Of course, I want the Yankees to lose every other game that he doesn't pitch in as well.



Sunday, September 28, 2008


Redskins Expose Cowboys Weaknesses

Watching the Redskins scalping the Cowboys deep in the heart of Texas reminded me of a few months ago. See, this is when I had written what was the one downfall could end Dallas' season prematurely from their Super Bowl dreams. Granted, the season is young. Injuries and many other circumstances could alter the inevitable outcome I foresee.

Actually, it is quite fitting that the Redskins won in their last game in Texas Stadium. If you can remember their last game in the Cotton Bowl, the Redskins beat Dallas 20 - 16 on October 3rd in 1971. It was the first game in Dallas for new Redskins Head Coach George Allen, a member of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. It remains to be seen if Jim Zorn, a former Cowboy, will follow Allen into Canton, but he is the first Redskins coach since George Allen to win his first game in Dallas. Dallas opened Texas Stadium 3 weeks later, and trounced the New England Patriots 44 - 21 on their way to winning Super Bowl VI, the first championship in the franchises history.

What may be the reason the Cowboys don't reach the Super Bowl this year was on display during the Redskins 26 - 24 win Sunday. Though the lack of usage of Felix Jones by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was a huge error, and shows he probably is not ready to be a head coach, the battle the Redskins won was where the Cowboys are their weakest. The line of scrimmage. Dallas has plenty of playmakers, but the New York Giants just won Super Bowl XLII by winning the battle of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That is exactly what Washington did. Washington had 161 yards rushing compared to the Cowboys paltry total of 44 yards. The Redskins did nothing special. No exotic schemes, nor blitz packages to clog up the rushing lanes. They just lined up man to man and dominated the entire game. The Redskins defensive line is their weakest unit, even if Jason Taylor had been able to play. This fact is proven in the Redskins having possession of the football for over 16 more minutes than the Cowboys.

When the playoffs come, assuming Dallas makes it to that point, these issues the Cowboys have will probably be exposed again. Playoff football is won in the trenches, and the Cowboys do not seem to have the talent, nor the depth to make this happen. All they can hope for is their skilled players to perform extraordinary. Sometimes that works, but history has mostly indicated otherwise.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


John Jefferson, WR, San Diego
1978 - 1985
4 Pro Bowls

J.J. blew into the league with a force that is often remembered by those who saw him play. "The Space Age Receiver" averaged 17.9 YPC in each of his first 2 seasons. He caught over 1,000 yards of balls in each of his first 3 years. His catch total went from 56 to 61 to 82 in those years. He snared 36 touchdowns those 3 years as well. He was traded to Green Bay after a contact dispute. Though he averaged about 16 YPC in his first 3 years as a Packer, he also battled injuries. His Packer highlight was being named the 1982 Pro Bowl MVP. J.J.'s best year there was in 1983, when he caught 7 touchdowns on 57 receptions for 830 yards. He played one more year there before finishing his career with the Cleveland Browns. He caught 3 balls in 9 games played. Perhaps if J.J. had stayed in the warm weather and confines of Air Coryell, he would be with the legends of Canton. He made the greatest catch I've ever seen while with the Chargers.

Gary Barbaro, S, Kansas City
1976 - 1982
3 Pro Bowls

In 101 games, Barbaro snagged 39 interceptions for 779 yards. 3 were for touchdowns. He also recovered 10 fumbles. He left for the USFL in 1983, where his joined the New Jersey Generals. He got hurt, and tried to play as a Tight End in 1984. In his 7 seasons, you can see he averaged 5 interceptions a season. He picked off 10 balls one year, and once took a ball 102 yards for a touchdown.

Many fans may not remember Barbaro because he was succeeeded by Deron Cherry, but he was very productive and quite spectacular in his short NFL career.

Tim Wilson, FB, Houston Oilers
1977 - 1984

Tim was probably the best blocking back of his era. He was Earl Campbells personal bodyguard. Weighing 10 lbs less than the Tyler Rose, Wilson would squash lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs to pave the way. Earl would stomp on the remains on his way to the end zone. Tim was also an adept receiver. He caught 94 passes his first 4 seasons before being asked to only block as defenses changed strategies to stop Campbell. When Tim left for New Orleans in 1983, Earl followed him in 1984. Tim has passed away since, but Earl is the godfather to his son, Seattle Seahawks 2007 #1draft choice, Josh Wilson.

Dave Butz, DT, Washington Redskins
1973 - 1988
1 Pro Bowl

Big Dave was a #1 pick of the Saint Louis Cardinals. He blew out his knee in the first game of his second season, and the Cardinals gave up on him. The Redskins happily picked Dave up. Dave only missed 4 more games in his 14 years with Washington. He finished his career as the oldest starting player in the NFL at that time. He is a member of the NFL's 1980's All Decade team, and on the Washington Redskins 70 Greatest Players Roster. Dave was known as a run stuffer. It was said that it was easier to run into the Great Wall of China than Butz. Butz became a better pass rusher as his career went on, due to having Dexter Manley, Charles Mann, Fred Stokes, Darryl Grant and a fine linebacking corp around him. He sacked the opposing quarterbacks 11.5 times in 1983, his lone Pro Bowl year. He was often over looked the years before because run stuffers generally do as compared to pass rushers. Sacks were not recorded by the NFL until 1982. Butz acculated 33.5 from then until he retired in 1988. The Redskins have had many great Defensive Tackles in their team history, and Dave Butz is a name that will always be amongst the first mentioned.

Rolland Lawrence, CB, Atlanta Falcons
1973 - 1980
1 Pro Bowl

Rolland was a solid Cornerback who was given the assignment to cover the best Wide Receiver of the opponents that the Falcons faced week to week. Rolland made the team as an undrafted free agent. He had 1 interception his rookie year, where he took the ball 81 yards to set up a Falcons scoring opportunity. He picked off 1 pass his second year as well. In his third year, Rolland picked off 9 balls for 163 yards. He took one interception 87 yards for a touchdown. He followed that with 6 interceptions the next year. In 1977, Lawrence picked off 7 balls and was named to the Pro Bowl team. He would then intercept 6 passes in each of the next 2 seasons. In his final year, Rolland picked off 3 passes. He also recovered 10 fumbles in his career. Lawrence was also an adept return specialist. He returned 109 punts and 29 kickoffs throughout his career. Lawrence picked off 39 balls in his 8 year career and has to be considered one of the franchises best Cornerbacks in their history. His 39 picks are still ranked first in the Falcons team history. He may not have gotten the accolades he so richly deserved in his career, but opponents who played against him will tell you that Rolland Lawrence was an excellent player.

Homer Jones, WR, NY Giants
1964 - 1970
2 Pro Bowls

Homer was a 20th! round pick. 277 other players were picked before him, and only 2 behind him. Jones was a track star in college. He opted for the AFL Houston Oilers initially, but blew out his knee in camp and was cut. Also cut with him was future Hall of Fame Cornerback Willie Brown. "D'OH"! After the G-Men paid for his knee surgery, Homer played 3 games his rookie year. He caught 4 balls for 82 yards, and returned 6 kick offs for 111 yards. The next year would be when the entire football viewing population would discover what the Big Blue had at Wide Receiver. He was thrown the ball only 26 times, but he gained 709 yards for 6 touchdowns. That is a 27.3 YPC! The next year, Jones snared 48 passes for 1,044 yards and 8 touchdowns. In 1967, Homer got 49 passes and gained 1,209 yards. 13 balls went for touchdowns. Jones followed that up with 45 catches for 1,057 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jones then caught 42 balls for 744 yards and 1 touchdown as his knee injuries caught up to him. He was traded to Cleveland. Homer only caught 10 balls for 143 yards and 1 touchdown as a Brown, but he also helped out by returning kickoffs. Homer returned 29 kicks for 744 yards, a 25.5 average. He also took a 94 yard kick for a touchdown. In his brief, but brilliant career, Homer caught 224 passes for 4,986 yards. That is a 22.3 YPC average for an entire career in an era where the 10 yard chuck rule was in effect, along with many other practices now outlawed in todays modern game. Jones also scored 38 total touchdowns in his 7 year career. Jones was known for the spectacular play. Whether it was rushing 47 yards for a score, or going 89 or 98 yards for a touchdown on a pass reception, Jones was special. The Giants have had many special Wide Receivers in their team history. Homer Jones certainly ranks near the top of that long list.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hey Detroit? Look At Boston!

Lions fans, take solace in your curse by looking at the Red Sox. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for you, and this story explains why.

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Hey Detroit? Look At Boston!

Most fans of sports are aware of the "Curse Of Babe Ruth", which loomed over the Boston Red Sox franchise for decades. Some lived their entire lives believing in its existence. Those who don't believe in curses rationalize the reasons for the lack of championships by the Red Sox were either due to teams unlucky, not good enough, or a combination of both. Regardless to whether curses are real or not, the Red Sox have certainly shoved that myth into the derriere of oblivion.

Where am I going with this? Well, it was 50 years ago when the Detroit Lions Hall Of Fame Quarterback Bobby Layne was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The story goes that, as Layne was ready to go to Pittsburgh, he told a group of people that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. What has followed in the Lions franchise has circumstances that could have Lions fans believing in the curse laid down by Layne. From the quarterback carousal that has followed since Layne's departure, to the numerous #1 draft picks that failed, to the several head coaches that have come and gone without much impact, the Lions have floundered for the better part of the 50 years that have followed. The past decade, the Lions have the worst record in the NFL, and many Detroit fans lay this blame on the Lions ownership. But, it is really their incompetence, or "Bobby Layne's Curse" in effect?

Though "Ruth's Curse" never had a timeline, nor did the Babe ever utter that he placed a curse on the Red Sox, there can be similarities for Lions fans to draw from for the sake of hope. It certainly would be better to latch onto the Red Sox curse than the Chicago Cubs curse. At least until the Cubs win another championship. Neither franchise has suffered as much as the Lions, who have won just one playoff game since Layne's departure.

The time is ticking on this curse. If it is true, this indicates the Lions are bound for glory in 2009. I know this whole idea seems far fetched, but so does the thought that curses are real. Well, at least to some. So cheer up Lions fans. Get your 2009 calender ready. Maybe even buy your Super Bowl tickets early. If this curse is real, it expires at the end of this season. Then, you can feel that joy Red Sox fans have been feeling the past few years. A joy so grand, that even 100 year old BoSox fans walk around without the need for Viagra. Detroit Lions fans deserve that joy as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NFL Lucubrations

As we approach week 4, many things have already transpired in the league that actually did not involve a certain mention of a certain hyckocrite.

Please allow me to spew over a few :


Some were necessary. Vince Young obviously is not right in his body and mind presently, so Kerry Collins had to take the snaps. Tavaris Jackson will probably benefit from watching and learning, as well as getting healthy. Last seen, he was still walking with a limp from his preseason injury. Gus Frerotte should be able to hand the ball of 40 times without much issue. The QB carousal in KC is pretty much going to be recurring theme all season, since none of the three they have are exactly top flight players.

Then, there are some moves that make, or would make, no sense. Yes, Mark Bulger is getting destroyed in Saint Louis right now. He has one healthy target worth mentioning, and no blocking can hold up forever as he waits on someone to actually get open. His replacement, Trent Green, is one solid hit away from serious health concerns. Sure, Trent will get rid of the ball faster...but to whom exactly?

Romeo Crennell almost buckling into a few fans to replace their franchise, and All Pro, QB makes me think he has to go. The problem obviously isn't Derek Anderson. Bringing in Rick Mirer Jr. won't make a difference. Until the receivers start holding onto passes, and the offensive line plays well...it won't matter who is QB. It's always easiest to pint the finger at the QB, but the overall execution of the offense is the reason. The Browns running game is so mediocre, that teams are loading the box for blitz packages. Factor in the bad blocking, Anderson has little time to unload the ball. When he has, they get dropped. Braylon Edwards has especially had a huge case of butter fingers. Then there are the key injuries to Stallworth and Jurevicius that have really hindered the aerial attack. Patience is hard to have in the Not For Long league, but until Anderson gets his teammates to play up to their abilities = no fan should expect him to as well. It's eleven on eleven, not one on eleven.


It is easy to point out how well the Razorback duo, Felix Jones and Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, and Matt Ryan are doing. Eddie Royal has also shown his mettle early on, but I wanted to talk about one kid in particular = Ryan Clady. I admit I was wrong about him. I thought he was better suited for RT until he learned the LT position, due to his inexperience there. So far, he has been better than excellent. I understand that linemen get little love, and the Rookie Of The Year Award usually goes to guys who get their hands on the ball. Still, in my mind, Clady is one of the top rookies in the game so far. As far as Felix? Well, if you follow this blog, you know I had 2 predictions long before the draft. One was that he would be a Cowboy. Check. The second was that he'd be R.O.Y. We'll have to wait and see there.


Even with instant reply in place to robotize the game, things still go awry. This is really the wrinkle that makes the game so great. Of course, the corporate boobs like Goodell can't see this. Watching the Broncos win after a bad call by a referee is a big part of NFL history. Sure, the fans of the losing teams get irate. Me? I get a mixture of both. It is humorous after the smoke clears. I am all for blown calls, even if my favorite teams are the victims of them.


I think it was quite evident to every NFL fan, who pays attention, that preseason is a necessity. I know the millionaire players gripe about training camp, but just look at the guys trying to play their way into shape as the season progresses. Watching Steven Jackson, a certain QB, and others play pretty poorly just accentuates the need for the entire preseason ritual to stay as is.


Man, do I dislike this rule! It's intentional grounding! I mean, the NFL has taken away virtually all the masculinity in the Quarterback, now this adds to it. Why not just put flags on their hips or shove them in a Popemobile? Do QB's REALLY NEED pads or a helmet anymore? In or out of the pocket, the ball should at least be in the vicinity of a pass receiver.

Well, that's it for now. More football is needed to occur before I'll go on. Time to break out ALL of my Redskin paraphernalia and Cowboy voodoo dolls and start chanting prayers for a Washington win.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Modern Day Quarterback : Overblown Hype

Payton Manning passed Johnny Unitas in touchdowns thrown in about half the time. The youth of today automatically assume Manning is the superior QB. This thought cements with the medias slobbery and ineptness. Whether it's an article or show asking if Manning is the " greatest ever ", the kids start to actually believe he is amongst them.

What the media neglects to explain is the huge rule change that has eased the game for the offense and quarterback especially. There is a 5 yard chuck rule now coming closer to its 30th year of existence. This is a major rule change. Even more impact than MLB lowering the pitching mound to help raise batting averages. There was even a second rule change in the NFL that year that greatly helped the offenses. It was to allow offensive linemen to extend their hands from the previously tucked into their chest position out to be able to grasp the defensive lineman.

These two rules have made the quarterback the diva of the league. The rules since have been manipulated to protect the quarterback even more so to the point many fans think since the quarterback is already in a protected bubble akin to the Pope mobile, that the NFL may as well dress the QB in a dress or wear flags since he is practically untouchable now.

All it does is make me wonder how much greater the QB's before the rule changes may had fared. Imagine Terry Bradshaw being able to throw to Swann and Stallworth with only that 5 yard chuck rule. Manning, Harrison and Wayne pale in comparison. Try to imagine the Colts trio with a 10 yard chuck rule. Doesn't seem as imposing certainly.

You could play this game with Marino and the Marks, or the Greatest Show on Turf, or the current Patriots arsenal. It is nearly impossible imagining them putting up half the numbers they accumulated. Another thing to question is longevity. Ron Jaworski played over 100 games in a row for an NFL record. He did this despite being laid out on the Vet's concrete field more than once. In fact, there is a video on youtube showing maybe the most fierce hit he ever took, courtesy of Bears Mike Hartenstine. If a QB were hit like that in today's NFL, that lineman would be suspended probably the season, if not lifetime, get his paycheck revoked, be charged criminally and be slandered by the current boobs running the league. These guys want a basketball game in pads and sell out the games integrity daily to where one imagines George Halas to Bert Bell turning in their graves like a rotisserie chicken. The only thing wrong with the statement " this ain't your daddy's NFL " was the missing accompaniment " IT'S WORSE "!

Would Bret Favre get past 100, let alone 200 games under the old rules? No way. Farve's over rated toughness cannot be compared to Otto Graham, Y.A. Tittle, Unitas and probably hundreds of more QB's from the 30's to 70's. Favre has never taken the hits these guys have. It isn't his fault, but he will benefit in the long run as he ages. The reason was to enhance the chances of long term health.

The worst thing the 5 yard chuck has brought to the NFL is the weak armed tosser. There are few QB's with arms strong enough to be considered throwers in today's dink and dunk NFL. Though the factor that today's QB does not call the plays anymore helps in this equation, the new look NFL tinkers each year to open the passing lanes with it all controlled by the coaches. Robotic is a term that comes easily to mind to describe the modern day QB.

Many claim Joe Montana to be the best ever at the QB position, even though he had mediocre arm strength at best. The 15 yard out was a pass you never saw Joe throw. This pass is regarded to be the true test of arm strength. Steve Young's first few years in Tampa Bay showed a weak armed QB who was regarded a bust when shipped to San Francisco. He couldn't throw a 10 yard out pattern, which was a staple play in the Buc's offense then. This, to me, symbolizes the West Coast QB. Only a handful of QB's on all NFL rosters today could make this pass consistently.

Is there a solution to make the QB masculine again?

No. The owners don't want that.

But, if they did, then it would take a few years. Just like it did to weaken it.

The first thing to due is to re-implement the 10 yard chuck rule. Though the NFL is trying to reach the novice fan for its attention and money by glorifying the offense, the fact is fans like to see hard hitting more than a touchdown. By leveling the playing field again, the defense will have more chances to deliver the bone crunching blows fans love.

Another change that would make play more exciting is to allow a QB call the plays again. Human error is part of the fun.

This being said, getting rid of replay would certainly bring more controversy - a staple of the NFL's interest.
I'm not saying that all QB's today are without skill. Young QB's like Brady, Young, Roethlisberger, Cutler, and Campbell all show exciting futures barring injury. All were thrown to the wolves early in their career instead of sitting on the bench a few seasons, which used to be the norm. If that were to happen now, then they would considered a bust. That is a shame, because the influx of the unlearned QB weakens the NFL with their inexperience alone.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dallas Cowboys Are NOT America's Team

The title says it all. This article is intended to be a reality check to everyone who buys into that false slogan. You can buy into it. That is how the money is made by Jerry Jones and the NFL. But if you step outside of the box that has been created, you can see the truth.
The truth is the WASHINGTON REDSKINS are more of America's Team than the Cowboys. Why? Well, who actually plays their football in the capital of the United States? Doesn't our Nations Capital symbolize our United States? If you know your geography, you know Dallas is nowhere near Washington D.C.

Let us look at this Dallas Cowboys organization today to further my point. No, not the one aptly run with some class and dignity by the late Clint Murchison Jr.. I'm talking about since February of 1989. That is when Jerry Jones bought the team. Jerry is an superior evaluator of physical talent, and showed this again during the last offseason with an excellent draft and free agent signings. He has hired some of the most athletic players in the NFL in his tenure. One factor of a human beings make up that Jerry is uninterested in is character. His solution for his players indiscretions is to toss money at it. It seems to work if you see Michael "I'm holding it for my brother" Irvin strutting into a court of law in a full length fur coat as a symbol of being untouchable because of who employed him.

There is no reason to delve into his recent hirings of Tank Johnson, nor the NFL's version of Puff Daddy, Adam "To Pac or not to Pac man" Jones. It is obvious Jerry stole a page from the Al Davis playbook, but he took it to another level. Al's Raiders were outcasts too, but they weren't being frequently arrested, nor paralyzing people from the neck down for life by being idiots. What it does seem is that Jerry will back you as long as you play for him. If Nate Newton had been caught as a player with drugs, would he be in jail today? Jerry probably would have bought his freedom like he did for Irvin innumerous times. Still, the big blue star holds love and loyalty for players whom Jerry used. Listen to Emmitt Smith talk about the Cowboys every other sentence on ESPN on Sundays, despite his being exiled to Arizona to finish his career.

America's Team. I am assuming that the term was created by a marketing wizard to speak of being a champion. Is Dallas truly worthy of either term? If it is meant to imply Super Bowls wins, then what about losses? Do we Americans equate losing to America? If we think of America being the perfect champion, the teams like the Green Bay Packers would fit the term "America's Team" better for never having lost in that game. Actually, the first team that was given that title was the Baltimore Colts during the Johnny Unitas era. Not in words, but by the actions of fans. Many kids walked around with a Johnny U. haircut during the teams heights in the 1960's. Then Dallas felt the need to take that term in the 1970's, even though the Pittsburgh Steelers were easily the best team then. In fact, the Miami Dolphins were the second best team in that decade. Is "America's Team" supposed to be the third, fourth, or fifth best in the game?

This week, the Washington Redskins come into Texas to continue their rivalry with the Cowboys. It is one of the best in all of sports, but not many remember the origins from when the legendary rival started. During the early 1970's, Washington had George Allen as it's head coach. Allen, now in the Hall of Fame, allegedly caught two people spying on his teams practice one day. They worked for the Cowboys. Allen was so infuriated, that he made it his mission to beat the Cowboys. What followed is many memories worth keeping, from Longley's Thanksgiving Day Gift to Ken Houston stopping Walt Garrison inches short from a game winning touchdown. Still, after all the hullabaloo surround the New England Patriots "Spy Gate" episodes, how could Americans call a cheaters a team that represents them best? If so, wouldn't this now make the Patriots "America's Team"?

Basically, it is a bogus term hijacked under false pretenses for the sake of making money. Now, with an enabler for an owner, the franchise sinks to new lows year by year in the morality department. I don't think too many Americans would want to be associated with this franchise, even if they cheer for them. Unless they find the criminal life savory enough to attach themselves to this wobbly bandwagon full of packaging that is all dull glitter and no substance.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

NFL's Great Quarterbacks List

There have been many polls asking people to vote on the "Greatest Quarterback of All Time". This question irritates me because it is impossible to determine, or give justice to. Many fans are fair weathered and only can tell by the number of commercials they shoot. Then there's the obvious fact of how the game and rules have changed. Even into the 80's, not every lineman was over 300, or ran the 100 in 11 seconds. Of course, those guys weren't eating tainted meats like we do today aka genetic engineering. Guys even in the '70's had 2 jobs. I have cards where they will tell you a Pro Bowl LB sells used cars in the off season. Of course, the rules were different and the game was rougher. The quarterback was just another football player up until 1980. They were Poster Children after that.
I choose not to try to call one the best. Each on this list is excellent for the era that they played. Certain modern day QB's may not have been as effective if they had played under the old time rules either. The List:

Sam Baugh - Still holds several punt records. Played safety as well, and led the NFL in interceptions one season. Was in the Inaugeral Class inducted into Canton. Known for big arm and toughness. One popular story was another teams lineman kept hitting him late. Baugh told his line to let the guy through. Baugh drilled the ball right between the linemens eyes (remember. no facemasks back then), knocking the guy cold and out for the game. Slingin' Sammy was unique.

Sid Luckman - Still the best QB the Bears have ever had and still holds many club records. Had an unusual throwing motion that worked fine for him. Very intelligent player who got by on guts and guile.

Bobby Layne - Detroits best QB still to this day. Layne lived and played fast, loose, and hard. One of the first teams to air it out often.

Otto Graham - The guy was the Bill Russell of the NFL. He was the leader under an imposing, groundbreaking coach. He seemingly won championships each year he played. Graham was big and ran like a fullback, yet had a strong arm to toss the ball to his Hall of Fame receivers.

Norm Van Brocklin - The Flying Dutchman split series in LA before winning a championship in Philadelphia. Once threw for close to 600 yards in a game. Not mobile, yet accurate with exceptional knowledge.

Y.A. Tittle - Perfected the alley oop ball with R.C. Owens while a 49er. Finished his career strong in New York. Had a nose for the end zone and threw for 7 TD's in one game.

Johnny Unitas - Many who saw him say either he or Baugh were the best ever. Leadership defined. Tough in mind, body, and spirit. The Colts truly were Americas Team during the Unitas Era. Master of the 2 minute drill.

Bart Starr - Great leader with a good arm. Would hang in the pocket until the last possible second before throwing while taking a big hit. Many Packer fans still proclaim him the best to ever line up behind center in Lambeau field.

Len Dawson - Wily QB who would out think his opponent. The Cheifs were a balanced team, and Dawson was its leader. Still holds many club records.

Joe Namath - The first media baby, thanks to his playing in New York. Strong arm gave him the 1st 4000 passing yards in a season in all of football. His guarantee to win the Super Bowl has immortalized him.

Sonny Jurgensen - The pre - curser to Air Coryell. Sonny got to throw it to WR's : Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, Hall of Famer Charley Taylor (who retired the all time receptions leader), and TE Jerry Smith (retired all time leader in TD's by a TE and should be in Canton). His teams gave up as much as he scored, but Sonny was truly great.

Fran Tarkenton - Known as "The Mad Scrambler", Tarkenton finished his great career with almost every passing record. Took the Vikings to 3 Super Bowls as well. One of the most under rated All Time Greats.

Roger Staubach - Was an American hero even before he ever took a snap in Dallas. The former Heisman winner and Navy man was unflappable when his team was in dire straits. Many consider him the best ever in the 2 minute drill. He could beat you with his mind, legs, and arm.

Terry Bradshaw - Terry had to learn much like many of todays QB. He was thrown out there day 1. He was on his way to ending up like Archie Manning : a superior talent beat up and wasted on inferior teams. Chuck Knoll kept drafting gold, and soon the Steelers roster was full of Hall of Famers ready to win 4 Super Bowls in 7 years.

Dan Fouts - Super smart who frequently had 3 different 1000 yards recievers each year. Air Coryell made for some of the most exciting football in the early 80's.

Warren Moon - Was setting records in the CFL even before he finally got his shot in the NFL. Much like Fouts, he was ultra intelligent, prepared and would make 1000 yard receivers out of just about everyone who went out on routes for him. Could run a conventional offense or the infamous run and shoot system.

Joe Montana - took a mediocre arm to the West Coast offense (an off spring of Air Coryells system) and applied his very high I.Q. to 4 Super Bowl wins. No one will ever mistake him for a great athlete, or having a good arm, but he is recognized as something much more important : a winner. One of the Greats.

Jim Kelly - Took Cincy's no huddle to another level in Buffalo. Had a quick release and cannon, Kelly helped take his team to 4 Super Bowls and is under rated because they never won.

Dan Marino - The critics point to one Super Bowl appearance with no major wins in his career. A lot like Jurgensen. Best all around arm in the league in his era on teams just falling short of being championship material. Said to have the fastest release of any quarterback who ever played. Many greats on this list never won a championship (Kelly, Moon, Fouts, Jurgenson, Tittle, Tarkenton, and Marino), so that argument is pointless.

John Elway - Captain Comeback relished having the ball last. Maybe it was the burn from that Stanford/ Cal kick off that helped drive him into being one of the deadliest gunslingers in the last 2 minutes? Finished his career with back to back Super Bowl appearances. Could run or throw for 80 yards at any time.

Troy Aikman - Pinpoint accuracy, but still an enigma of sorts. His stature in Dallas is divided to : The best Cowboy QB ever to 2nd behind Staubach to 3rd behind Danny White, to even 4th behind Don Meredith. Did win 3 Super Bowls on some very strong teams. Not a tough guy, but had a gun.

Steve Young - Went from being the $40 million man in the USFL to being a weak armed flop in Tampa Bay who couldn't throw a 20 yard out to save his life to warming the bench behind Montana in San Francisco to becoming a very accurate passer in the West Coast system - where arm strength isn't needed. Could beat you with his legs as easily as his arm and was a fierce competitor. Practically fought his forced retirement and even talked of returning for a few years afterwards. A winners heart and desire.

Brett Farve - His gambling style either infuriates you or has you cheering him on. Won more games than he lost with that style. Holmgren settled him down one season just enough to win a Super Bowl. Speaks his mind and wears his heart on his sleeve. At his best when things are crumbling around him.

Payton Manning - Doesn't have the arm or legs of his dad, but he does have his brains and desire. Manning is a rare QB these days. A QB who calls his own plays and runs his own offense. A true throwback. Won his first Super Bowl and he may win more. Masterful at setting a tempo on the field.

Tom Brady - Best compliment I can give him is to call him a modern day Johnny Unitas. Plays without fear, though he realizes he has no back up to speak of. Will take the big hit to give his receiver that extra step to get open. Like Unitas, he was virtually unwanted by most of the league as a rookie. The only question left for him is: how many Super Bowls will he end up winning?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Baltimore may be known today for crab cakes, or perhaps the Orioles and Ravens, to many tourists. The city is much more than that. It was where our National Anthem was born, it is where the first Washington Monument was erected (Baltimore was once known as "monument city" due to its skyline), and was an integral part of Americas success in the fight for Independence in the Revolutionary War. The British called the city a "nest of pirates". It has survived enemy occupancy, devastating fires, and riots. The people have maintained in such fine fashion that it is long known as Charm City. Sports have been a very big part of the history of Baltimore.

Baseball has always been king in Baltimore. The very first Orioles team was formed in 1882 and lasted until 1899. This team invented the famous "Baltimore Chop", "small ball" and the first no-hitter from 60 feet 6 inches was thrown by an Oriole pitcher. Some notable players on that club were John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, Hughie Jennings, and Joe Kelley. They also played soccer in the winter months to stay in shape. They then became the first U.S. Soccer Champions, but never defended their title due to the inability to organize the event for several reasons. In 1899, the National League eliminated the Orioles. John McGraw formed a Oriole team in the American League in 1901. The Orioles stayed in Baltimore for two seasons before becoming the New York Highlanders. A minor league team was formed in 1903 and were also called the Orioles. This team employed local hero Babe Ruth in 1914. There was another minor league team in Baltimore called the Terrapins. Their popularity forced the Orioles to disband after 1914. Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox after being turned down by the Philadelphia A's (wanna talk about a curse?). The Terrapins were disbanded after 1915. The Orioles would reform in the minor leagues in 1916 and lasted until 1953. That is when the Saint Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and were renamed the Orioles and now occupy Camden Yards. Coincidentally, Babe Ruth's house, where he was born, sat in the general area of center field in Camden Yards.
The Baltimore Black Sox were first formed in 1916 as an independent team and stayed that way until 1922. In 1923, they joined the Eastern Colored League. They stayed in that league until 1928. They then joined the American Negro League for 1 season in 1929. This team featured the "Million Dollar Infield", which referred to their worth if they had caucasian skin. They won the leagues championship easily, then went back to being an independent team until 1931. Satchel Paige pitched for them in 1930. In 1932, they joined the East-West League and won the championship, then moved to the National Negro League in 1933 to 1934 , when they disbanded.
The Baltimore Elite Giants played in the Negro National League from 1938 to 1948. They won the championship in 1939. They moved over to the Negro America League in 1949 and won the championship. The league, and team, folded after 1950. The teams legacy includes Hall of Fame players Roy Capanella, Junior Gilliam, Joe Black, and Leon Day.

Football is a strong second love to many in Baltimore. There are currently two indoor teams, the Mariners and Blackbirds. They even had a Canadian Football League team, the Stallions (called the Colts by locals still upset at the NFL Colts for moving), for 2 seasons. The Stallions are the only American based team to win the CFL Championship (1995). They also had a USFL team for one year, the Stars (which had moved from Philadelphia), and won the leagues final championship game, as the league folded, in 1985.

The Colts were first formed in 1947. They played in the All American Football Conference until 1949. Though they were not strong financially, they did join the NFL in 1950 (along with the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers). They lasted one year, with Hall of Fame QB Y.A. Tittle at the helm. In 1953, the current Colts franchise was born in Baltimore. They would stay in Baltimore until 1983, when the infamous "Midnight Move" transpired on their way to Indianapolis. The BALTIMORE Colts were the first team to use cheerleaders. This team was "Americas Team". Every kid in America almost had a Johnny Unitas haircut and the team was beloved even in opposing cities. They won the NFL Championship 1958, '59, and '68. They also won Super Bowl V in 1970. They also won a conference championship in 1964 before losing to the Browns in the championship. They won division titles in 1968 (Coastal), 1970, '75', '76, and '77 (East). Several Hall of Famers played on these teams. Johnny Unitas, still considered by many to be the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game, Raymond Berry, John Mackey, Art Donovan, Ted Hendricks, Jim Parker, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, as well as coaches Weeb Eubank and Don Shula. All of those players numbers are retired. The first Colt to have his number retired is not in Canton (but should be), Buddy Young. Young was one of the first black football players. He was diminutive, at 5'4", but blazing fast. Young once showed off his speed by beating a racehorse in a 100 yard dash inside of Memorial Stadium. Young is the shortest man to have ever played in the NFL.
The way the Colts left Baltimore was classless by Bob Irsay, and many still find his actions unforgivable to this day. It is STILL is a VERY sore subject to many in Baltimore. Coincidentally, Art Modell pulled a similar stunt on Cleveland (without the theatrics of a midnight move) with the Browns by moving them to Baltimore in 1996 and renaming them the Ravens. The Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.

Lacrosse is also a very popular sport in the area. Though there have been 3 pro teams that failed, the Tribe, Thunder, and Bayhawks, the college scene has long boasted elite teams in Johns Hopkins and Maryland University. Hopkins has won 9 NCAA titles, 29 USILA titles, and 6 ILA titles. They also represented the United States in the 1928 and '32 Olympics. In 1974, Hopkins went to Australia to win the World Lacrosse Championships. Marylands men's team has won 2 NCAA Championships, while their women's team has won 10 NCAA Championships since 1981.

Basketball also has a rich tradition in Baltimore. The Bullets were first formed in 1944, playing in the American Basketball League until 1947. They won the 1946 championship. The Bullets joined the Basketball Association of America in 1948 and won the leagues championship. They lasted until 1949. In 1949, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League to form todays NBA. The Bullets lasted in the NBA until 1955. Hall of Famer Buddy Jeanette was a player, then coach of the team. He was succeeded by Hall of Fame coach Clair Bee. In 1963, a new Bullets team was formed in the NBA. This team lasted until 1972. The team had good success and won division titles in 1969, '71, and '72. They won the conference title in 1971 before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals. Hall of Famers like Wes Unseld, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Gus Johnson, and Elvin Hayes played basketball for Baltimore. In 1973, the team moved 40 miles down I-95 to Landover, Maryland and were renamed the Capital Bullets before changing it to the Washington Bullets the following season. This team is now known as the Wizards.

Soccer has done fairly well in Baltimore. The Bays were formed in 1967 in the North American Soccer League, yet dissolved in 1969. They made one championship in 1967, but lost. The Comets came into town in 1974, but left for San Diego in 1976. The Baltimore Blast was formed in 1980 and joined the Major Indoor Soccer League. They won the championship in 1983-84. The league, and team, folded in 1992. The Baltimore Spirit were formed in 1992 and joined the National Professional Soccer League. The team was renamed the Blast in 1998 and joined a newly formed Major Indoor Soccer League. The team is still playing and has won 4 championships in 2002 to 2004, then 2005-06, and 2007-08. The team has had 10 Hall of Fame players and 1 Hall of Fame coach in their organization.

Hockey had moderate success in Baltimore. The Clippers were formed in 1962 and joined the World Hockey Association. They left for the Southern Hockey League in 1977 before disbanding at seasons end. In 1975, the Blades were part of the World Hockey Association. The team folded after that season. There was a minor league hockey team called the Skipjacks. They were formed in 1981 and lasted until 1993. They were affiliated with NHL teams such as the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals. They were part of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League their inaugural year before moving to the American Hockey League. Such NHL players like Don Beaupre, Phil Bourque, and Olaf Kolzig played with them, as well as NHL coaches Claude Julien, Ted Nolan, and Michel Therrien. Steve Carlson (one of the "Hanson Brothers" in the movie Slap Shot) was also on the team. They won one championship in 1983-84. The team was relocated, and still exists today, as the Portland Pirates.

This is a brief history of sports in Charm City. If you ever find yourself in Baltimore to eat a crab cake, or to watch the Ravens, Blast, or Orioles, take time to look around and soak in the atmosphere. Baltimore is a great city full of many fine people.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chocolate City Professional Sports History

Washington D.C. is known as the capitol of the United States to all, but there is more to this little city that is 12 miles wide and 10 miles long. It's conception was born from a conversation between future President James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and founder of the U.S. Mint, while dining at the home of another future President (Thomas Jefferson) in 1790. It was initially planned to be shaped as a diamond by architects Charles L'Enfant and Benjamin Banneker and measure 10 miles on each side. Many may not know that D.C. was built over swamp land (locals do from the summer humidity). The city has gone through many changes since then. It survived being burned, along with the White House, Capitol, Treasury building and Navy Yard after a British invasion in 1814 in retaliation for America burning down York (now known as Toronto), Canada. Many of D.C.'s own citizens contributed to the fire, so that the British wouldn't take possession of properties. There have been countless other occurrences besides protest marches, riots, and failed invasions. George Washington referred to the city as Federal City and rarely visited, despite only living about 8 miles from it in Mount Vernon, Virginia. D.C, has always been run by the Federal government. It wasn't until 1973 that they allowed the city to elect a elected mayor, whose name coincidentally was Walter Washington. It is a transient city to some. Many come and go with the administrations elected, as well as government workers and contractors. Yet, through all of the marches, protests, tourists and temporary citizens, D.C. is a great city thanks to its native residents. Sports has had an erratic, but important role in every day life.

Since the 1870's, baseball has had teams come and go (a recurring theme) in D.C. Teams named the Statesmen, Senators, and Nationals all played for brief periods of time until the turn of the century, when the National League disbanded a version of the Senators in 1900. In 1901 the Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) were born when the newly formed American League decided to place a team in the nations capitol. This team employed such Hall of Fame players like Sam Rice, Bucky Harris, Goose Goslin, Heinie Manush, and Joe Cronin. The team was terrible its first few seasons, once losing 113 games in 1904. In 1905, the teams owners tried to rename the team the Nationals, but the move was so resisted by the locals that they switched it back to the Senators. Fortunes began to turn in 1907, when a 19 year old pitcher came to D.C. His name was Walter Johnson. Johnson would soon be called "The Big Train". Johnson threw the ball harder than anyone in all of baseball at the time. His frisbee like delivery also made it hard to pick up the ball until too late. In 1910, Johnson struck out 313 batter, while compiling a paltry E.R.A. of 1.36. Johnson would win 33 games in 1912, then 36 in 1913 with an E.R.A. of 1.14! The Senators improved yearly, then finally won its lone World Series in 1924 over the heavily favored New York Giants in 7 games when Johnson, pitching on 1 days rest, held the Giants scoreless for 4 innings until the Senators scored the winning run when a ground ball deflected off of a pebble over the Giants 3rd baseman's head in the 12th inning. It is called the greatest World Series Game 7 ever by many. In 1925, the Senators returned to the World Series, but lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Johnson retied after 1927, accumulating 417 wins and 3, 509 strikeouts (a record that stood for over 50 years), with an E.R.A. of 2.17 in 5914.2 innings pitched to go with 34 saves. Johnson (also nicknamed "Barney") led the league in wins in 1913-16, 18, 24, and in strike outs in 1910, 12-19, 21, 23-24. He was the Most Valuable Player Award in 1913 and '24. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1936. He amassed 110 shutouts, the most ever. His 38 1-0 wins are an all-time record. 65 of his losses were by shutouts, 26 of them by 1-0 scores (both records). Johnson would return to the team as a manager to help a team mired in a losing slump of a few years and lead them to 3rd place finish, but was fired after the season. In 1933, led by player- manager Joe Cronin, the Senators returned to the World Series. They lost to the New York Giants. The team then would begin a swoon and endured losing seasons until 1960, when they would move to Minnesota. In 1957, Hall of Famer Joe Black played 1 season in Washington. 1959 saw Harmon Killebrew, the Senators last Hall of Famer, slug 42 home runs to be the last Senator from this incarnation to lead the league in a major category. This franchise was also the inspiration for the movie, "Damn Yankees".
In 1961, D.C. was awarded an expansion team to replace the old team now known as the Twins. This team was also called the Senators. This team was led by a 10 man committee of ownership and none knew anything about baseball. Most worked in government. This team averaged 90 losses a season in its brief existence. The owners made a serious error by only having the team involved in a 10 year lease in RFK stadium. In 1971, the Senators announced they were moving to Texas, and would be renamed the Rangers. This outraged fans and D.C. citizens. In the teams final game versus the Yankees, the security guards walked off the job early into the game. The paid attendance of 14,000 swelled to 25,000 non paying spectators. With 2 outs in the ninth, and the Senators up 7-5, the fans stormed the field. The game was awarded to the Yankees 9-0 due to forfeit. The teams highlights were Frank Howard leading the league twice in home runs. Their only winning season would be the year the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, was hired as manager in 1969. The team went 86-76. Williams stayed with the team in its move until he left after the 1972 season. This franchise would not approach that record again until their 6th year in Texas.
It would not be until 2005 that Washington D.C. would have another Major League baseball team. The Montreal Expos, then owned by MLB, were moved to D.C. and were renamed the Nationals. The new ownership still keeps the Expos records, but has put their retired numbers back into circulation. The team went .500 in its inaugural season, and has hovered just below that in the 2 seasons that followed. The teams first manager was Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who was replaced by Manny Acosta after 2006. The face of this franchise is 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
The Homestead Grays adopted D.C. as its "home away from home" in the late 1930's until the Negro Leagues disbanded in 1950. Such Hall of Fame players like Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell, Ray Brown, Jud Wilson, as well as owner Come* (*TSN won't let me use the U : his actual name!) Posey, graced D.C.
In 1923, the Washington Potomacs played in the Eastern Colored League. They also played in Wilmington, Delaware and were known as the Rosedales briefly that one season.
In 1932, the Washington Pilots joined the East-West League and compiled a 15-37 record before the team, and league, went defunct. The team featured the Negro Leagues All Time Home Run king, and Hall of Famer George "Mule" Settles. Jesse "Nip" Winters, considered to be one of the best pitchers in all negro leagues baseball history, was also on the team.
In 1936, the Washington Elite Giants played two seasons in D.C. That team boasted Hall of Famer Roy Campanella in its final year.
In 1938, the Washington Black Senators lasted 15 games in the Negro National League, winning 2 games.
The Washington Glory is a woman's softball team that joined the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2007, and won the leagues championship.

Basketball has long been considered a primary sport in D.C. Such luminaries like Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Adrian Dantley, Thurl Bailey, Kenny Carr, Jerome Williams, Kermit Washington, John Thompson Jr., and many, many more D.C. natives have played at the NBA level.
The Washington Capitols were D.C.'s first pro team. They joined the Basketball Association of America in 1946. Their first coach was legendary Hall of Famer Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who had played his college basketball at D.C.'s George Washington University. Led by star players (and later head coaches of the team), Horace "Bones" McKinney and Bob Feerick, the team had a 17 game winning steak (a record that stood for 23 years) in its inaugural season. The 1948-49 season saw the Capitols start the season by winning a record (that still stands and tied with the 1993-94 Houston Rockets) 15 games in a row. That team reached the Finals, but lost to the George Mikan - led Minneapolis Lakers. The next year the BAA merged with rival league, National Basketball League, to become the NBA. Auerbachs proposals for roster changes were deterred by the owner, so Red resigned and went on to greater things. The first black player to play in the NBA, Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd,played for the Capitols in the 1950 season after being drafted in the 9th round. The Capitols went defunct after the 1951 season, which featured Hall of Famer Bill Sharman. The teams .817 winning percentage in its inaugural season still ranks in the NBA's top ten of All Time best winning percentages. Coincidentally, the teams colors were green and white, the same as Auerbachs Boston Celtics.
The Washington Bullets moved from Baltimore to Landover, Maryland in 1973 and were named the Capital Bullets. In 1974, they were named the Washington Bullets. They won one NBA title in 1977-78. They also made 2 other NBA Finals appearances, losing to the Golden State Warriors and Seattle Super Sonics. Such Hall of Famers like Wes Unseld, Elvin "The Big E" Hayes, Earl "The Peal" Monroe, and Moses Malone wore Bullets uniforms in Washington. Other greats, like Phil Chenier, Bobby Dandridge, Mitch Richmond, Jeff Ruland, and Bernard King also did. In 1995, the Bullets name was changed to the Wizards. Such greats like Michael Jordan have worn this jersey, as has Richard "Rip" Hamilton and several other current NBA players.
Wes Unseld is one of only 2 players (Wilt Chamberlain) to have won both the NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
The Washington Mystics are a WNBA team formed in 1998. They have led the league in attendance in 1998 through 2000 and from 2002 through 2004. Maryland University legend and Olympic Gold Medalist Vicky Bullett was once a member of the team. They have made the WNBA playoffs 4 times, They lost in the first round 3 of those times, and the conference finals the other time. Newly drafted Crystal Langhorne, is also a legend at Maryland University. She broke most of Bulletts records and is the first player in the University of Maryland's history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds for either the men's or women's basketball teams histories.

Football may be the most beloved professional sport in Washington. The Redskins came to D.C. from Boston in 1937 due to lack of fan support, even though they had won the NFL Championship (led by Hall of Famers Cliff Battles, Wayne Milner, and Turk Edwards) 2 seasons before and lost in the NFL Championship the following season. Hall of Famer "Slingin" Sammy Baugh was signed that year. While most teams hardly passed the football, the Redskins used it as their primary weapon as Baugh is hailed as the man who perfected the passing game and moved the NFL forward. Baugh also was a NFL record setting punter and played cornerback as well. Baugh led the Redskins to a NFL Championship win over the Chicago Bears in his first season. The teams met again for the 1940 Championship, where the Bears smashed the Redskins 73-0. The teams met yet again in the 1942 Championship, this time the Redskins won and spoiled the Bears run for a perfect season. The teams met for the final time in the 1943 Championship and the Bears won. The Redskins then would appear in their final NFL Championship in 1945 and lost to the Cleveland Rams. Baugh retired after the 1952 season with many NFL records. His passing records are now broken, but his 4 interceptions in one game as a cornerback still stands. His season punting average of 51. 4 (1940) still stands as well. Baugh was a 9 time All Pro and one of Cantons first inductees. He is a member of the 1940's NFL All Decade team and one of the 70 Greatest Redskins. He is the only Redskin to have his number (33) officially retired. Baugh and Sid Luckman careers are the only players from that era in which todays passer ratings apply.
The Redskins would then go 27 years before getting to a championship game, now called the Super Bowl. In 1966, the highest scoring game was played between the Redskins and New York Giants. The Redskins won 72-41. Many Hall of Famers played on the organization during that time such as Charley Taylor, Sonny Jurgenson, Bobby Mitchell, Sam Huff, Paul Krause, Bill Dudley and Stan Jones. Hall of Famers like Ray Flaherty, Otto Graham, Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Joe Gibbs have been head coaches of the Redskins. Hall of Famers Charley Taylor, Mike McCormack, and Emmitt Thomas have been assistant coaches in the organization. In 1972, coached by George Allen, the Redskins were led by the Over The Hill Gang to Super Bowl VII before falling the the Miami Dolphins 14-7. Such great players like Chris Hanburger, Jerry Smith, Taylor, Harold McClinton, Jack Pardee, Brig Owens, Ron McDole, Diron Talbert, Bill Brundige, Jurgenson, Billy Kilmer, Larry Brown, Pat Fischer, Mike Bass, Rusty Tillman, and Len Hauss was on that team and are all members of the 70 Greatest Redskins team. Hall of Famer Deacon Jones was a member of the 1974 Redskins, and Hall of Famer Ken Houston (considered to be the best SS to ever play) was on the team from 1973-80. George Allen was the first to hire a special teams coach (Dick Vermeil for the LA Rams, then Marv Levy for the Redskins). The Redskin/ Cowboy rivalry was introduced to NFL during this time. The team continued to make the play offs many years, but did not return to the Super Bowl until second year coach Joe Gibbs led the Redskins, in 1982-83, to a victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Hall of Famers like John Riggins and Art Monk were on that team. Such great terms now commonly known were invented during the Gibbs era. Gibbs invented the 2 tight end set with an H-back in motion. Joe Bugel coached up the best offensive line in football then : The Hogs. Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Mark May, and George Starke were the original members and all are members of the 70 Greatest Redskins. Riggins, along with tight ends Don Warren and Clint Didier were "Honerary Hogs". The Smurfs and the Fun Bunch were two different groups of receivers during that era which excelled. The Redskins would draft Hall of Famer Darrell Green after the '82 season. The Redskins Dynasty would last a decade. 4 Super Bowl appearances between 1983 - 92. 3 wins (Miami, Denver, Buffalo) and 1 loss (Los Angeles Raiders). The Redskins set NFL records for scoring in a season (541-since broken), as well as Riggins scoring a then record 24 rushing touchdowns. In Super Bowl XXII, Doug Williams set a Super Bowl record of 4 passing touchdowns in one quarter, and Timmy Smith set a record for accumulating 204 yards rushing. Many great players passed through this era. Joe Theisman, Jim Lachey, Ed Simmons, Raleigh McKenzie, Gary Clark, Brian Mitchell, Mike Nelms, Dexter Manley, Charles Mann, Joe Washington, Ricky Sanders, Williams, Mark Murphy, Mark Moseley, Wilbur Marshall, Monte Coleman, Dave Butz, Earnest Byner, Gerald Riggs, George Rogers, Terry Allen, and many more. Most of these listed players are on the 70 Greatest Redskin Team. Gibbs retired after 1993 and the teams fortunes began to fade. Under present ownership, there has been a coaching carousel (including a brief return by Gibbs), as well as bad drafting and other extremely poor personnel decisions that have contributed to the Redskins non appearances in Super Bowls since 1991. Still, at present time, the Redskins are the NFL's 2nd most valuable franchise and valued well over a billion dollars.
The Washington Federals were created in 1983 and joined the United States Football League. They lasted until 1984. The team had the worst attendance in the league and their owner called them "trained gerbils" after selling them with 6 games left in the 1984 season. They won only 7 out of 36 games. They would move to Orlando in 1985 and be renamed the Renegades. They, and the league, folded after that season. Such notable NFL players like "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam, Craig James, Coy Bacon (who had 130 sacks in his 14 year NFL career), and CFL Hall of Famer Ron Estay played for the Federals.
The D.C. Divas are a woman's tackle football team that was formed in 2001, joining the National Woman's Football Association. They were mostly dominant in the regular seasons they played, winning the 2006 championship game. The team then joined the Independent Womans Football League in 2007. They finished that season 8-1, but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
D.C. Explosion is a minor league men's football team that has existed since 2001. They have won the 2006 and 2007 USA Bowl Division 1 AAA National Championships.

Hockey has, for the most part, been the 4th sport in D.C. The Washington Capitals were formed in 1974, joining the NHL. The "Caps" have mostly been at the bottom in their divisions throughout the history of the franchise. They did make on Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, where they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Hall of Famers Rod Langway, Scott Stevens, Mike Gartner, and Larry Murphy all spent many years in a Capitals jersey. Other notable players who were part of the organization are Yvon Labre, Bob Carpenter (1st American to score 50 goals in a season), Sergei Gonchar, Olaf Kolzig, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Dale Hunter, Kevin Hatcher, Robert Lang, Adam Oates, Dino Ciccarelli, and Dennis Maruk. The teams recent fortunes and future have turned much brighter when they drafted the top player in the NHL, Alexander Ovechkin, in 2004.
The Potomac Mavericks joined the Professional Inline Hockey Association in 2008 and are currently in 4th place in their division.

Soccer has always had a decent following thanks, in part, to its popularity in the D.C. Metro area. The Washington Diplomats were formed in 1974 and joined the North American Soccer League. This incarnation lasted until 1980. They made the playoffs 3 times. After they folded after the 1979 season, the Detroit Express moved to Washington and were renamed the Diplomats. They only lasted one season and lost in their only playoff game in 1981.
In 1988, another team came to Washington as part of the American Soccer League. They also were named the Diplomats. They lasted until 1990.
D.C. United was formed in 1995. They are one of the ten founding members of Major League Soccer. The team has been popular in the area and enjoyed many successes. They have won the MLS Cup 4 times (1996,'97, 99, 2004), the MLS Supporters Shield 4 times (1997, 99, 2006, '07), the US Open Cup (1996), the CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998 ), and the InterAmerican Cup in 1998. Many casual fans may best remember them as the team who signed 14 year old Freddy Adu to a huge contract in 2004. Adu is the youngest player to appear in a United States professional sporting event since 1887.
The Washington Freedom is a woman's soccer team that was formed in 2001 and is part of the United States Leagues W-League currently. They initially joined the Woman's United Soccer Association in 2001 until 2003, when the league folded. That team featured Mia Hamm and won the 2003 WUSA Founders Cup Championship. From 2004 to 2005, the team played exhibition matches. In 2006, they joined their current league and won the 2007 championship.

Lacrosse is popular in the area, and D.C. has hosted professional team, the Washington Bayhawks, since 2007. They are part of Major League Lacrosse. They were very successful in Baltimore from 2001-06, having won 2 championships in 4 finals appearances.
The Washington Wave were members of both the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League and Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1987 to 1989. They appeared, and lost, in 2 championship games.

Rugby is also a sport that does pretty well in D.C. The Washington Football Club is a SuperLeague rugby union team since 1963. They are the founders of D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival, which started in 1966. The club has won many championships in different divisions throughout their existence. They also host the Potomac Rugby League.
The Washington D.C. Slayers are a semi-pro rugby team that was formed in 2003 and play in the American National Rugby League.

Cricket also has a pro league since 1974 called the Washington Cricket League. There are 28 clubs consisting on 923 members currently.

D.C. also hosts 2 annual marathons: the National Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon.
The city also hosts the annual Leggs Mason Pro Tennis Championships.

As you can see = there is much more to do than visit the monuments, museums, zoo, and other popular points of interest. Washington D.C. has a rich sports history that holds a very strong bond with its citizens. So, if you come to D.C., don't just bring a camera or buy a tourist map. Take a look around and envelop its great people and the traditions.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I've Decided To Branch Out....On A Tiny Limb

Some of you may know I have a recurring series on The Sporting News called CRAZY CANTON CUTS.

In it, I profile great football players who have yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

I have decided to give these players another home to try and spread the word of their omissions.

If you are interested in following along with the posts, this is the link:


Legends We Should Always Remember

Yet another old TSN post :

This is the first installment of a series that will hopefully get fans to remember, and pass on, the legends who have helped shape us as fans and human beings.

I miss Bill Veeck...from Larry Doby, to Satchell Paige, to Max Patkin, the shorts, exploding scoreboards, adding the surnames to jerseys, to having Harry Carey sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", to "Disco Demolition Night"....MLB stole his ideas...but lost sight of the fun that was supposed to accompany it.
His son, Mike, seemed to be following tradition with the Devil Rays when he had a Mike Marshall student pitch for the team briefly, but Mike went to the minors to run a few teams before leaving the game, which is baseballs loss. He was a promotion artist just like his dad, "Sport Shirt" Bill.

The fact is : Bill Veeck was not only good for sports, but for society. Veeck grew up watching his father become president of the Chicago Cubs. His dad got the job due to being a local sports writer who had written about what he'd do differently if he ran the Cubs. The team's owner, William Wrigley Jr. liked the ideas and hired him. Veeck worked as a vendor, ticket seller, junior groundskeeper, and club treasurer for the Cubs. In 1937, Veeck planted the ivy that is still on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field and was part of the construction of the hand-operated center field scoreboard still used today.

Bill Veeck is the last owner in the MLB to purchase a franchise without his own fortunes. In 1941, Veeck left Chicago and purchased the Milwaukee Brewers with former Cubs star and manager Charlie Grimm. After winning three pennants in five years, Veeck sold the Brewers for a hefty profit. In 1942, he acquired backing to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies and planned to stock the club with stars from the Negro Leagues. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis vetoed the sale and arranged for the league to take over the team. Veeck then joined the military. In 1946, Veeck returned and bought the Cleveland Indians. He then signed Hall of Famer Larry Doby to break the American Leagues "color barrier". He followed that by signing legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Satchell Paige. He then moved the Indians to Municipal field, where the fun began. He installed moving fences in the outfield. He'd move them in for his team, and far away for opponents. The commissioner then made a rule to have fences stay at fixed positions. Veeck wasn't done. He wanted to move the Indians to Los Angeles, but decided against the idea after negotiations. Veeck then hired the "Clown Prince of Baseball" Max Patkin to be a 1st base coach. Patkin was a fan favorite, but not of baseballs front office. Veeck cared about the Indian fans so much, that when he was contemplating a trade of Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau, the fans protested so much that Veeck went to every bar in Cleveland to assure fans he would not make the deal. It turned out to be a good move, because Boudreau batted .355 and led the Indians to a World Series victory. When it became obvious that the Indians wouldn't repeat the following season, Veeck buried the teams pennant flag. He sold the team at the end of that year due to the fact his getting divorced had strapped him financially so much, he was unable to run the team. Veeck did return to own a team just 2 years later in 1951. He bought the Saint Louis Browns. Sportsmans Park was owned by the Browns, but their tenants, the Cardinals, were the fan favorites. Veeck hired Cardinal Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby to manage, and Dizzy Dean to announce the games on radio. One of his most famous moves was hiring 3'7" Eddie Gaedel for a pinch hitting appearance. He also had a promotion called "Grandstand Manager's Day. This involved the fans calling plays in the stands by using placards. One of the fans in attendance was Hall of Famer Connie Mack. Veeck suggested that home clubs share radio and television revenue with visiting clubs. This is, of course, now a standard practice. Outvoted, he refused to allow the Browns' opponents to broadcast games played against his team on the road. Anheiser Busch then bought the Cardinals and the Browns days were numbered. Veeck tried to move the club to Milwaukee, then Los Angeles, but was rebuffed by baseballs front office. Out of options, he sold the Browns to owners who moved the team to Baltimore and renamed them the Orioles. Veeck came back to baseball 6 years later and led a group to buy controlling interest of the Chicago White Sox. The team responded by winning their first A.L. pennant in 40 years. There Veeck introduced baseball and its fans to the famous exploding scoreboard. He also added player's surnames on the back of their uniform, a now common practice by most teams. Veeck fell into poor health and had to sell his shares of the White Sox in 1959. Veeck then took a semi sabbatical from baseball, but kept his indelible finger in the games evolution during this time. Veeck wrote an autobiography that exposed most of baseball owners, and he also was the only owner that testified against the reserve clause on the behalf of Curt Flood's case. Veeck then did return as owner of the ChiSox in 1975. Baseballs front offices and fellow owners were not too happy. Then Veeck conducted 4 trades out in the open of a hotel lobby. His testifying for free agency came back on him a bit when the ruling to allow it was passed. Veeck had a hard time competing with the other wealthier owners. He tried to adopt a "Rent-A-Player" motto by acquiring players in their option years. He kept up his showmanship by signing Minnie Minoso in 1976 and 1980 so that Minoso could stake claim to having played in five decades of Major League Baseball. 1976 was also the year he had his players wear shorts for one game. In 1979, Veeck had ChiSox announcer Harey Carey start the tradition of singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch. When Carey moved over to the Cubs in 1981, he took Veecks blessing to carry on the still going tradition. 1979 saw the year where Veeck offered free admission to fans for a game, as well as the now infamous "Disco Demolition Night", where a forfeit was awarded to the Detroit Tigers after a riot ensued. Ultimately, the free agency that Veeck had supported was the reason he had to sell the team after 1981.

Veeck went back to his hometown in Maryland, which happens to be where he discovered Harold Baines, and died in 1984. He was inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame 5 years later. The man certainly lived his life filled with fun, and hopefully he was aware just how much fun and impact he made on the game that still reverberates today. Though blowhards like the Steinbrenners bring their own version of fun to the game, there has never been and maybe never will be, another man to grace our national past time like Bill Veeck.
So, the next time you watch a game, look around and see his impact stare at you in the eyes and smile.
I pretty certain that is all that Bill Veeck would hope for.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lip Licking Liars & Paying Poor Perfomances Proper

This is, yet again, one of those posts no one read on TSN. It was done in March, so it's slightly dated..but BFD. :)

Time to spit out your chaw Jethro. Pop the popcorn and tie down the kids to their cribs securely. There's a storm brewing in the horizon. Amidst the swirl of flying cows and twirling trailer homes = it's POINTLESS PONDERING. OK, you can stop flicking your bics and save the lighter fluid for the Loverboy reunion tour. We only play one song.

Candace Parker is going hardship! WOW! She is leaving to receive a pay cut and much less P.R. to join the WNBA. Guess she's tired of having people watch her play basketball.

Speaking on Tennessee, they are now THE hub of college basketball! Amazing! The Vol's dominate both boards. The men are first and the ladies are third in National rankings. Memphis University has purchased their way to third in men's basketball too. Vanderbilt is in the top 20 too! All four teams could probably beat the Grizzlies.
The last time things were happening and jumping like this down there was when Hee Haw was on network TV, and Andy Kaufmann was wrasslin Jerry "The King" Lawler in the 70's.

Yao Mingh is done and it's a shame. He just took over the mantle of top Center in the NBA, if not world. He has been slowly breaking down and having foot problems for years, and this fracture truly betrays him. Ask Bill Walton, and he wasn't lugging around nearly as much mass. Yao will probably never play more than half a season if asked to start and play 30 minutes a game. It's all downhill from here and probably ends in 4 seasons of pain and fruitless rehabbing. Hope I'm wrong on this take.
Dikembe is a great back up for a 87 year old guy, but the Rockets have no fuel without Yao. Even with the winning streak and T-Mac, they are not going anywhere playoff time.

Best Wishes to ex Dodger great Davey Lopes on a speedy recovery from prostate cancer. Weird life we live that Lopes has it there. Considering what a pain in the a*$ he was to the teams he would steal bases on, rob of hits with great fielding, and come up with clutch hits on some excellent teams. Top coach too.

Does any NBA player deserve more respect and reverence than Allen Iverson? Admit it, we all didn't expect him to last this long, especially as a top scorer. The guy weighs like 165 lbs and might be 6' with shoe lifts. He might not jump as high, that's normal. What is exceptional is his heart, desire, and under rated leadership. He is playing out of position for the sake of his team, yet he still produces. His D isn't what it once was, but if you need points = A.I. will get you a lot either by shooting or passing. The guy is truly amazing and here is one person who hopes the wheels don't fall off while he's still in an NBA uniform.

Is Hank Steinbrenner nuts? This guy is making The Boss look like Wellington Mara in comparison already. His talk of becoming partners with the BoSox has Beantown laughing hysterically in disbelief.

Isaac Bruce was cut by the Rams. Sure, he was scooped right up by the 49ers, but doesn't this make one sick? The owners shot themselves in the foot. They treat players like meat before and after free agency. You can't blame a player for playing musical teams. Soon, the guy playing for 10 teams in 10 seasons will be common, but it SUCKS that a guy can't finish his career with dignity anymore. I wonder if Payton and Tom end up finishing their careers the same way? Probably will.

This may be the worst free agency period yet. Justin Smith gets $65 million for getting 2 sacks? The trades have been interesting. The Jets trade their leading tackler just because he doesn't see eye to eye with the head coach. Great thinking! I guess if every coach were soft in the head like Mangina, then the Steelers should have dumped Terry Bradshaw early on for not getting along with Chuck Knoll, or Jim Palmer should have been traded early for arguing with Earl Weaver. Might've opened up 4 Hall of Fame slots for others too.

Why are teams intent on trading their best players in their prime, even if they are under contract? Andy McPhailure is trying to move Brian Roberts. They have no one waiting in the minors, and Roberts is one of the top second basemen in baseball. I understand trying to get more bodies to rebuild, but don't you want the guys on the field to at least play at the major league level? Roberts can actually help win a few games too, unless the Orioles prefer to lose 120 games this season without a fight.

Some kid turns up a picture of Roger Clemens actually being at Jose Canseco's party. Yet ANOTHER lie under oath by the oaf. If he were a musician, or artist : he would be in Singh Singh right now. The funnier things are the Mitchell Report, which lacked Red Sox due to the fact Mitchell is part owner of them. Mitchell claims Clemens didn't shoot up until Toronto even though he blew out his arm twice in Boston and came back throwing harder each time. Fastballers are supposed to turn into junk ballers after arm injuries....but junkies don't is the new added rule. Watching two faced idiots Posada and Jeter (again) sell out their team mate, Petitte, for being honest just is a small example of why there are so many Yankee haters.
One last thing about Rocket, though him selling out his wife and just short of calling her loose is a trip, I want us to remember his tongue flipping about like a cobra in a basket on meth.
Like Jon Stewart said, either Clemens was really dehydrated from being nervous over his lies or his lips tasted like delicious BBQ sauce.

People are trying to make a big stink over Brady "Call me Rick Mirer JR." Quinn telling people at a auto show he is preparing so he can win the starter job. Ummmm. duhhhh...wake up! You WANT your back up with that mind set. Matt Cassell needs to have the same thoughts. The # 2 guys job is to prepare as if he is # 1 weekly so he is ready when called. What did they expect to hear? "I'm going to sit on the bench and pout. I will hold my breath until I am called the starter with a finger up my..."

Coach K = 800 wins. About 5 decent NBA players. Over 1,000 players paid very well to attend Duke. Wanna know why the General won't talk to him? Because Coach K does the one thing the General hates and finds unforgivable. Krzyzewski runs a dirty program.

But hey, everyone does now. Even Harvard.

Well, it is time for me to make like a baby and head out.

Back to my corner to grumble over life transpiring in front of me as I prepare another episode of vapid, unhinged observations.

Until then.....as they like to say in Ol' Mexico = A.M.F.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The BEST Punt Return Specialists In NFL History

There are many excellent return specialists today in Hester, McGee, Cribbs, Carr, Rossum, Davis, Hall, and many more. Some specialize in returning mainly punts or kickoffs. Some do both.

Last post, I told you about the best kickoff AND punt returner in NFL history:

Brian Mitchell

His 23,330 total yards ranks second All Time. He also averaged 10.8 yards per punt return on 463 attempts. His 19,013 total return yards is a record, as is his 4,999 punt return yards. His 9 punt return touchdowns is the second most ever in NFL history. Brian's 231 fair catches are the most ever, and his 33 in one season is also an NFL record. He is one of just 4 players in NFL history to gain over 2,000 yards four times in his career.

Here is a list of other greats you hopefully haven't forgotten :

Punt Returners

Eric Metcalf

Eric was a first round draft pick by the Browns in 1989. He did return a few kicks his rookie year, but was primarily utilized at Halfback. He ran for a career high 633 yards on a career high 187 carries. He also scored for a career high 10 touchdowns, to go with 51 receptions. He also completed the only pass of his career that year, for a 32 yard touchdown. Eric only carried the ball 183 total times over the next three seasons, but did catch 133 passes over that time. He led the NFL with 52 kick returns, 1,052 kick return yards, and 2 touchdowns in 1990. He returned one for a career long 101 yards. Eric never returned a kickoff for a touchdown again in his career. In 1991, Cleveland decided to let Eric return punts. He was spotted that year, with 12 returns. He became the Browns full time punt return specialist the next season, and stopped returning kicks for Cleveland. He led the NFL with 44 punt returns that year, and took one for a touchdown. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1993, when he led the NFL with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a 91 yard return. His 12.9 yards per punt return was his career high. Eric also carried the ball 129 times for 611 yards that year, and caught 63 passes. Eric returned to the Pro Bowl the next season, as he led the NFL again with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. He took one punt for a career long 92 yards. Metcalf ended up playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 1995. He led the NFL again in punt return touchdowns, while also catching a career high 104 passes for a career high 1,189 yards. He also scored 9 times on offense. Eric played for San Diego in 1997, and made his last Pro Bowl team. He led the NFL with 3 punt return touchdowns. He played for Arizona and Carolina in each of the next two seasons. After not playing in the NFL in 2000, Eric signed with the Washing Redskins in 2001. There, he scored for the last time in his career, when he took a punt for a league leading 89 yards. He did end up playing one game for Green Bay in 2002, but retired shortly thereafter. Eric's 10 punt return touchdowns are the most in NFL history, and his 12 total return touchdowns are second in NFL history. He also caught 541 passes in his 13 year career, to go with 55 total touchdowns. His 17,230 total yards from scrimmage is in the top 15 in NFL history.

Rick Upchurch

Rick was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 4th round of the 1975 draft. He was used as a return specialist immediately. He had 1,084 yards on 40 kickoff returns for an impressive 27.1 average. He also had an 11.6 yard per punt return average on 27 attempts. Upchurch exploded onto the NFL scene the next year, and was named to his first All Pro team. He scored 4 times on punt returns that season, which tied an NFL record. He also led the league with a 13.7 average, and a career best 92 yard return. Rick led the NFL in 1977 with 653 punt return yards. He also scored on a 87 yard return, helping the Broncos capture the AFC Championship. Upchurch, now primarily a punt returner and wide receiver, went back to the Pro Bowl in 1977. He led the NFL with a 13.7 punt return average, while scoring on a 75 yard return. 1979 was Rick's best year as a pass catcher. He had career bests with 64 receptions for 937 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also averaged 10.1 yards on punt returns, as he was honored as an All Pro. Upchurch spent his last few years as a wide receiver mainly. In 1982, Rick returned 15 punts and scored the last 2 touchdowns of his career via special teams. He also led the NFL with a career best 16.1 yards per return. His leading the NFL in punt return average 3 times is tied for an NFL record. Rick Upchurch retired after the 1983 season with 267 receptions and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for 349 yards on 49 attempts, and scored 3 times. Rick had a 24.8 average on 95 kick returns, and a 12.1 average on 248 returns. His 8 punt return touchdowns are tied for the third most in NFL history.

Leslie "Speedy" Duncan

Speedy was an undrafted rookie who was signed by the 1964 San Diego Chargers in the AFL. He only got to play 5 games as a rookie, but did manage to intercept a pass and return one of his 9 kickoff returns for a career best 91 yards. Speedy got on the field more the next year, and lead the league in punt return yardage, average, and touchdowns. He had 2 that season, along with 4 interceptions, and garnered his first All Pro honors. Duncan was an All Pro again in 1966, when he picked off a career best 7 balls. He also scored on a league leading 81 yard punt return, and led the league with a 13.2 yards per punt return average. Duncan was an All Pro again in 1967, when he averaged 12.1 yards per punt return, and picked off 2 passes. He took one for a league leading 100 yard touchdown return. Speedy scored his last punt return TD in 1968. He took a punt for a career long 95 yards, which led the league. In 1969, he had 6 interceptions fora career best 118 yards, while scoring a touchdown. He then was injured in the 6th game of the 1970 season, and missed the rest of the year. Duncan joined the Washington Redskins in 1971, and made his last All Pro team. Duncan led the NFL with a 10.6 yards per punt return average.He also scored his last NFL touchdown, when he took his lone interception for a 46 yard score. Speedy was an important part of the 1972 NFC Champion Redskins. Leslie retired after the 1973 season with a 10.9 career average on punt returns, and 4 punt return touchdowns. He also had 24 career interceptions for 3 touchdowns, and a 25.2 average on 180 kickoff returns. His leading the league in punt return average 3 times is tied for an NFL record.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson

"White Shoes" was a 15th round draft pick by the Houston Oilers in 1974. In 1975 he tied an NFL record with four kick returns for touchdowns in a season. He would celebrate his touchdowns with the "Funky Chicken" dance. This dance, coupled by his white shoes shoes, made him a fan favorite across the league. In today's No Fun League, he would be penalized by that STUPID rule Goodell has implemented. Johnson was named to both the NFL's 1980's All-Decade Team, and to the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He set seven team records in Houston and four in Atlanta and held the NFL record for punt return yardage when he retired. He is still ranked 3rd All Time in punt return yardage in NFL history. He still holds the Oilers' record for punt return yardage. If you want a full flavor of this dynamic players career, I had profiled him months ago in my Crazy Canton Cuts series. http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/3rdStoneFromTheSun/154078/

Jack Christianson

Jack was drafted in the 6th round of the 1951 draft. He had 4 punt return TD's as a rookie, which led the NFL and is a record. He also had an NFL leading 89 yard return that year. The next season, the Lions drafted Hall of Fame Safety Yale Lary. Jack returned 2 punts for touchdowns that year, and made the first of his 6 All Pro teams. He also led the NFL with a 21.5 average on punt returns. Christianson returned 85 punts in his career, and scored 8 touchdowns on punt returns. He also led the NFL twice in interceptions, and scored 3 touchdowns. Jack also carried the ball 19 times for 178 yards in 1951, scoring twice. When he retired, he had a career average of 12.8 yards per punt return, and scored on 8 punt return touchdowns. His 8 punt return touchdowns are tied for the third most in NFL history. Jack also took 59 kickoffs at a 22. 5 yard per return average. Jack Christianson was deservedly admitted into Canton in 1970.

Dave Meggett

Dave was a 5th round pick of the New York Giants in the 1989 draft. He was used as a returner and third down back immediately. He led the NFL in punt return yardage with 582 yards. He also led the NFL with a 76 yard touchdown, while also catching 34 passes for 4 touchdowns. He made his first All Pro team that year. Meggett led the NFL in punt returns,yardage, and touchdowns in 1990, when he 43 returns for 467 yards and a score. Meggett would go on to be on of the top return specialists and 3rd down backs for many years. He caught 50 balls in 1991, while averaging 10.3 yards on punt returns and 22.8 on kickoff returns. In 1992, he took his only score off of a kickoff return, when he went 92 yards. He scored on 2 punt returns in 1994. In 1995, Meggett joined the New England Patriots. Dave made his last All Pro team in 1996, when he averaged 11.6 on punt returns. He also had a career best 588 yards on punt returns, while scoring for the final time in his career on punt returns. Dave played 2 games for the New York Jets in 1998, then retired. Dave Meggett has the second most punt returns yardage in NFL history with 3,708 on 349 attempts for a 10.6 average. He had 7 punt return touchdowns, and one kickoff return touchdown. Dave averaged 22.1 yards per kickoff return on 252 attempts. Meggett also scored 11 touchdowns on 336 receptions, and 8 touchdowns on 398 rushing attempts for 1,684 yards. Dave Meggett was an important member of 2 Super Bowl Championships with the New York Giants on special teams and offense.

Alvin Haymond

Alvin was drafted in the 18th round of the 1964 draft by the Baltimore Colts. He only had 1 return on a punt and a kickoff his rookie year, as the Colts would go on to lose in the NFL Championship game. Haymond then led the NFL in punt returns and punt return yards the next two seasons. He also played Cornerback, and scored 2 touchdowns off of 7 interceptions those 2 years. Alvin was playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1968. It would be his last as a Cornerback. He had the last interception of his career, and also scored a touchdown off both off of a punt and kickoff. Haymond then went to the Los Angeles Rams the next season. He, again, led the NFL in punt return yards. His 3 seasons of leading the league in punt return yards is an NFL record. He also led the NFL with a 13.2 yard per punt return average. In 1970, Alvin lead the NFL with 53 punt returns again. He also returned a career high 35 kickoffs, while leading the NFL with 1,022 yards. He also scored the last time in his career, when he matched a career long with a 98 yard return. He then left the Rams after 1971, and played with the 1972 NFC Champion Washington Redskins. Haymond then played for the Houston Oilers the next year, then retired with a career average of 8.5 yards per punt return, and a 26.1 per kickoff return average.

Desmond Howard

Desmond was a first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 1992. He was used primarily as a kickoff returner as a rookie, but did manage to score a touchdown off of one of his six punt returns. In 1994, Howard had his best year as a wide receiver. He established career bests with 40 catches for 727 yards at an 18.2 average for 5 touchdowns. He ended up in Jacksonville the next year, and returned 24 punts at a 10.3 average. Howard spent the rest of his career being used mostly as a return specialist. He went to Green Bay the following season. Though he only played one season for the Packers, it was a memorable season. He led the NFL with 58 punt returns for 875 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 92 yard return. His 875 are an NFL record, and helped propel the Packers into Super Bowl XXXI with a punt return touchdown in the playoffs. Desmond ended up being the Super Bowl MVP, when he took a kickoff return 99 yards for a score. His 90 punt return yards are a Super Bowl record, and his 244 all purpose yards tied a Super Bowl record. Howard then went to the Oakland Raiders. He led the NFL in 1997 with 61 kickoff returns. He led the NFL in punt return touchdowns in 1998, when he took two in.Desmond split the 1999 season between Green Bay and Detroit, but did score on a 68 yard punt return for the Lions in 5 attempts. Desmond made his lone All Pro team the next year with Detroit, as he averaged 14.7 yards on punt returns ad had 1,401 yards on kickoff returns. He scored his last special teams touchdown that year with a league leading 95 yard punt return.In 2001, Howard set career highs with 1,446 yards on kickoff returns, to go with a 25.4 average. He also had a career long kickoff return of 92 yards, but was tackled just short of the end zone. After an injury plagued 2002, he retired. Desmond Howard was labeled another Heisman Trophy winning flop in the NFL after his first 4 years, but he shed that label when it was all said and done. He is the only special teams player in NFL history to win a Super Bowl MVP Award. He had 8 TD's on punt returns, which is tied for the third most in NFL history. Desmond once returned 10 kickoffs in a game, which is tied for the most in NFL history. He caught 123 passes for 7 touchdowns, had a 22.2 average on 359 kickoff returns, and averaged 11.9 yards on 244 punt returns.

George McAfee

George was a first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1940. He ended up with Chicago before the season started. He played sparingly as a rookie. George "One Play" McAfee made his only All Pro team the next year, when he led the league with a 7.3 yard per rush average, while scoring 12 touchdowns total. McAfee averaged a whopping 31.6 average on 5 punt returns, an 31.9 yards on 9 kickoff returns. He also scored a touchdown on a 71 yard return, and a touchdown on a career long 97 yard return. George was inducted into Canton in 1966. He intercepted 25 passes in his career, and scored twice. He also recovered 17 fumbles, averaged 36.7 yards on 39 punts, completed 6 passes for 3 touchdowns, gained 3,044 yards rushing and receiving with 32 touchdowns, and averaged 27.1 yards on 18 kick returns with two touchdowns. McAfee also scored 2 touchdowns on punt returns. His 12.78 per punt return in a career on 112 returns is 2nd All Time in NFL history. Devin Hester is currently first with 14.06 on only 89 returns

Deserve Mention : Mike Nelms, Eddie Brown, Jermaine Lewis, Darrien Gordon, Leroy Irvin, Louis Lipps, "Bullet" Bill Dudley, Emlen Tunnell, George Atkinson, Greg Pruitt, Leon Johnson, Neal Colzie, Vai Sikahema, Dick Christy, Fulton Walker, Lemar Parrish, J.T. Smith, Rodger Bird, Claude Gibson, Tim Brown