Monday, November 30, 2009
REMEMBER : This is a continuing series paying tribute to NFL legends who are not, and perhaps never will be, members of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Quarterback : Dave Krieg
Kreig was an undrafted free agent rookie the Seahawks signed in 1980. He is the second and last player in the NFL to play college football at the now defunct Milton college. The first player was defensive end Dave Kraayeveld, who played with Seattle for 12 games in 1978.
Krieg spent the first four years of his career as a reserve, though he began to get more starts in 1983 when he started half of the season. He led the NFL with a touchdowns percentage of 7.4. With him at the helm, Seattle reached the AFC Championship after winning the first two playoff games ever in franchise history.
He was named the full time starter the next season, and he responded with his first Pro Bowl season. He tossed a career best 3,671 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also led the NFL with a career high 24 interceptions. Seattle won 12 games that year, a franchise record that stood until 2005.
Seattle won just eight games in 1985, and Krieg was sacked 52 times. The 455 yards he lost off of those sacks led the NFL. It was an NFL record then, and is still the fourth most yards lost ever.
He led the NFL in touchdowns percentage in 1987 and 1988. Though he missed seven games in 1988, he was named to the Pro Bowl. He would attain that Pro Bowl honor for the final time of his career in 1989.
Krieg threw more interceptions than touchdowns over the next two years, though he did lead the NFL with a career best 65.6 completion percentage. In 1990, he was sacked by Hall Of Famer Derrick Thomas a record seven times in one game. Seattle decided not to renew Krieg's contract when it expired at the end of the 1991 season.
He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992, and started the whole season. He led the Chiefs to ten wins, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Chiefs then brought n Hall Of Fame quarterback Joe Montana for the 1993 season, relegating Krieg to backup status. Montana was injured often that year, and Krieg started six games. He also had to come off the bench in each playoff game that Kansas City played, throwing a touchdown each time.
Krieg then joined the Detroit Lions for one year in 1994. He started in the last seven games of the year, and set Lions franchise records with a quarterback rating of 101.7, which was a career best, and throwing just three interceptions all year. He led the team to a playoff birth, but they lost in the first round.
Detroit would not commit to his being named starter, so Krieg joined the Arizona Cardinals for the 1995 season. The team struggled to only four wins, and Krieg led the NFL with 53 sacks for minus 380 yards. He left Arizona at the end of the year, then joined the Chicago Bears for the 1996 season. He started 12 games for the Bears, winning six.
He then joined the Tennessee Oilers to back up Steve McNair in 1997. He did not play much that year, attempting two passes. He attempted just 21 the next season, but did lead the Oilers to a comeback win after McNair was hurt in one game. He retired after the year was completed.
Dave Kreig is not only all over the Seahawks record books, he is all over the NFL record books. He ranks 12th all-time in NFL history in passing attempts, completions, and passing yards. He is tenth all-time is passing touchdowns.
He also has the most yards lost from sacks in NFL history, and was sacked the second most ever in league history. Krieg is also third all-time with the most fumbles ever, and second in fumble recoveries.
No other Seahawk quarterback has thrown for more yards, touchdowns, interceptions, or won more games than Dave Krieg, though Matt Hasselbeck may soon to surpass the passing yardage mark.
Jim Zorn deserves mention.
Fullback : John L. Williams
Williams was a first round draft pick of the Seahawks in 1986, and was the 15th player chosen overall. Though the Seattle offense featured Pro Bowl running back Curt Warner, Williams offered them a versatile dimension the team was lacking.
He was starting right away, running for 538 yards and catching 33 passes in his rookie year. It was the only season of his career that he failed to score. He piled up 500 yards the next year, despite missing four games due to injury. He had career longs on a 48 yard run and 75 yards reception.
The 1988 season may have been his best. He gained a career high 877 yards rushing at a 4.6 yards per carry average, and had 651 yards on 58 receptions. His 1,528 yards from scrimmage that year was a career high total, as was the seven touchdowns he scored that year.
He scored seven times again the next year, and he also a career high 76 receptions. He had 71 catches the next year, gaining a career high 699 yards. He also rushed for 714 yards, and was given his first Pro Bowl nod.
The 1991 season was his second and last Pro Bowl season. He gained 741 yards and had 61 receptions. He was never the same running threat again after that year, but maintained his excellence in the passing attack.
After 132 receptions and six touchdowns over the next two years, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 1994 season. He was used mainly as a pass receiver by the Steelers in his two years, catching 51 balls his first year with the team. He showed signs of slowing down in 1995, having career lows of 24 receptions and 110 rushing yards.
The Steelers made it to Super Bowl XXX that year. Williams had scored on a run in their first round playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh lost in the Super Bowl, and Williams retired at the conclusion of the game.
He leads all Seahawks running backs with 471 receptions for 4,151 yards receptions and also 123 games played. His 76 catches in 1989 is the most ever by a Seattle running back, and he owns the top three slots for receiving years by a running back. His six touchdown reception in 1989 is the most ever by a Seahawks running back.
He currently ranks third on the franchise list in receptions, fourth in rushing yards, and sixth in receiving yards.
John L. Williams is not only the best pass catching back in Seahawks history, he may be the most complete running back who ever played for them. He easily is the best fullback they ever had.
Mack Strong, Dan Doornink and David Sims all deserve mention.
Halfback : Shaun Alexander
Alexander was the Seahawks first round draft pick in 2000, and he was the 19th player chosen overall. He sat on the bench most of his rookie year, gaining 313 rushing yards.
He was eventually anointed the starter the next year, and he led the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns. He also ran for 1,318 yards and caught 44 balls. One run went for a career long 88 yards. He scored 18 times total the next year, including having a career high 59 receptions for 460 yards.
He was awarded his first Pro Bowl honor in 2003 after gaining 1,435 rushing yards and scoring 16 times. He went back to the Pro Bowl the next year after running for 1,696 yards and leading the NFL with 20 total touchdowns.
The best year of his career was in 2005. He led the NFL with a career high 370 carries for 1,880 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns. His 28 total touchdowns led the league, and did his 117.5 rushing yards per game. He also averaged a career best 5.1 yards per carry.
He led the Seahawks into Super Bowl XL by running for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers. Seattle lost in the Super Bowl, even though Alexander gained 95 yards on 20 carries.
He was named Most Valuable Player of the NFL that year, and he is the only Seahawk to have ever won the award.
Seattle then signed him to the biggest contract in team history before the 2006 season. He was guaranteed $15.1 million on a eight year contract worth $62 million.He was injured that year and missed six games. He was still able to gain 896 yards in that short time. He was injured the next year again, and missed three games. Seattle, sensing he was done, then released him.
He signed with the Washington Redskins for four games in 2008, and ran for a career low 24 yards on 11 carries. Washington then cut him. Though Alexander has not officially retired, in hopes of latching on with another team, his football career appears over.
He is the franchise leader with 9,429 rushing yards, 2,176 carries, 100 rushing scores, longest run from scrimmage, rushing yards per game, total touchdowns in a career and season, rushing touchdowns in a season, rushing attempts in a season, and rushing yards in a season.
Shaun Alexander is perhaps the best running back the Seahawks ever employed.
Curt Warner, Chris Warren, Sherman Smith, and Ricky Watters deserve mention.
Wide Receiver : Brian Blades
Blades was second round draft pick by Seattle in 1988, and he was the 49th player chosen overall. He started seven games that year, but did catch a career best eight touchdowns on 40 receptions. He averaged a career high 17.1 yards per reception as well.
He started all but two games the next year, and caught 77 balls for 1,063 yards and five scores. He was given his only Pro Bowl nod that year as well.
After catching 119 balls over the next two years, he was injured in 1992 and was only able to play six games. He rebounded in 1993 by setting a then-team record of 80 receptions. He broke that record the next year with 81, as well as gaining a career best 1,086 yards. After getting 77 balls for 1,001 yards in 1995, his production began to drop off.
His next two years were bereft with injuries, and he missed five games in each year. He caught 73 balls over that time. One reception went for a career long 80 yards. He then caught a career low 15 passes the next year. It was also the only year he failed to reach the end zone. Seattle then cut him before the start of the 1999 season.
The 581 receptions for 7,620 yards that he had with Seattle is the second most ever in franchise history. His 34 receiving touchdowns ranks fifth best.
Brian Blades was a terrific possession receiver that several Seattle quarterbacks relied on yearly. After Hall Of Famer Steve Largent, he is the best receiver in Seahawks history.
Wide Receiver : Darrell Jackson
Jackson was drafted in the third round of the 2000 draft by Seattle, and was the 80th player picked overall. He ended up starting ten games that season, and caught 53 balls and six touchdowns.
Now firmly entrenched in the starting lineup, he caught 70 balls for 1,081 yards and eight scores. He had 62 catches the next year, then snagged 68 balls for 1,137 yards and nine scores in 2003. He also averaged a career best 16.7 yards per catch that year, which included a career long 80 yard catch.
His best season was in 2004. He set a team record with 87 receptions, which has now been surpassed, for a career best 1,199 yards. He also scored seven times. Jackson then got hurt in 2005, and was never quite the same again.
He caught 38 balls in the six games he played, helping Seattle reach Super Bowl XL. He tied a Super Bowl record with five receptions in the first quarter, but most Seahawks fans recall a suspect pass interference call on him in the end zone in the quarter that negated a score.
He missed three games the next year, but managed to catch a career high ten touchdown passed on 63 receptions. Seatle then traded him to the San Francisco 49ers for the 2007 season. He had 46 receptions for the 49ers that year, then was released. He signed on with the Denver Broncos 2008 season, and had a career low 12 receptions. He was released after the season, and is currently a free agent.
His 441 receptions as a Seahawk is the fourth most in team history. His 6,445 receiving yards is the third most, and his 47 touchdown receptions are the second most.
Though Seattle has had quite a few excellent receivers in their history, no one can dismiss Darrell Jackson's very productive seven years with the team. He is surely one of the best receivers to have played in Seattle.
Sam McCullum, Daryl Turner, Koren Robinson, Joey Galloway, and Bobby Engram deserve mention. Alex Bannister made the Pro Bowl as a special teams star in 2003.
Tight End : Itula Mili
Mili was drafted in the seventh round by Seattle in 1997, and he was the 174th player chosen overall. He played just seven games that year, but did manage a 20 yard reception.
Over the next three years, he was primarily a reserve. He had 41 receptions and six touchdowns over that time. He became more of a starter in 2002, when he started 12 games and had 43 receptions for a career best 508 yards. He started 12 games again the next year, and had a career best 46 receptions and four touchdowns.
He went back to being a reserve in 2004, but did start four games and have 23 receptions. He was hurt the next year, and recorded no statistics for the only time in his career. After playing ten games in 2006, catching ten balls, he was released by Seattle.
Mili's 1,743 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns are the most by any tight end in Seattle history. His 164 receptions is just two behind Christian Fauria as the most ever by a Seahawk tight end. His 46 receptions in 2003 was a team record for tight ends until it was surpassed by John Carlson in the 2008 season by nine. His four touchdown receptions in 2003 equaled a team record for tight ends set by Mike Tice in 1991 until it was surpassed by Jerramy Stephens five in 2005.
The Seahawks have mostly used the tight end as just a blocker in their 33 years of play, but no one has yet to surpass the numbers that Itula Mili put up for them.
Charle Young, Jerramy Stevens, Mike Tice, and Christian Fauria deserve mention.
Tackle : Steve August
August was the Seahawks first round draft pick in 1977, and he was the 14th player chosen overall. He spent his rookie year on the bench, seeing action in just six games.
He was named the teams starting right tackle in 1978, an honor he would hold onto the rest of his Seahawks career. He was responsible for protecting left handed quarterback Jim Zorn's blind side until 1981, and for most of 1982 and 1983.
One of the highlights of his career occurred in 1981. He caught a tipped pass and rambled nine yards before being tackles. Another highlight for him was the 1983 season, where he missed one game. The Seahawks won their first ever playoff game that year and reached the AFC Championship before losing to eventual NFL Champion Los Angeles Raiders.
After starting the first six games of 1984 for Seattle, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers. He started one of the five games he suited up for the team. He then retired from the game.
Offensive linemen often get overlooked by fans, but their contributions are the primary reason offenses are successful. Seattle had an offense led by star running back Curt Warner and Hall Of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, but it was because of men like Steve August that they were successful.
Tackle : Ron Essink
Essink was drafted in the tenth round of the 1980 draft, the 265th player chosen overall. He had went to college at Grand Valley State, where he was the first player from the school to be drafted and to play in the NFL.
He spent his rookie year primarily as a reserve, but he did start three times. He also caught a three yard pass for a touchdown on a tackle eligible play.
He was named a starter at left tackle the next year, and he would start in every game he played until he retired. During his time with Seattle, he helped the team win their first three playoff games. He was also an integral part of their 1984 team that won 12 games, which was the most wins in team history until they won 13 in 2005.
He was responsible for protecting right handed quarterback Dave Kreig's blindside for parts of 1980 to 1983, and in Kreig's Pro Bowl year in 1984. Essink played 12 games in 1985, but then got hurt and missed the rest of the year. He then retired from the game.
Ron Essink may be the second best left tackle in Seahawks history behind future Hall Of Famer Walter Jones.
Howard Ballard deserves mention.
Guard : Edwin Bailey
Edwin and wife Cherise pose for a calender fundraiser
Bailey was a fifth round draft pick of the Seahawks in 1981, and he was the 114th player chosen overall. He earned a starting job right away with the team and held it until the 1983 season.
That year saw newly hired Seattle head coach Chuck Knox bring in Reggie McKenzie with him. McKenzie, a famed member of the Buffalo Bills "Electric Company", had played five years under Knox in Buffalo up until 1982.
McKenzie took over Bailey's left guard spot in 1983, but Edwin did start two games that year. Seattle ended up winning their first ever playoff games before losing in the AFC Championship to eventual NFL Champion Los Angeles Raiders.
Bailey played 12 games the next year, and started in eight. Seattle won 12 games that year, a franchise record until 2005, and won a playoff game before their season ended. McKenzie retired after that year, so Bailey was back in the starting lineup for good.
He started in every game that he played until he retired with Seattle. In 1986 he ran a ball for three yards. He ended up getting injured in 1990, and missed five games. After starting the first three games of 1991, he was injured again and missed the rest of the year. He then retired.
Edwin Bailey was a long time stalwart of the Seahawks for 11 seasons. He was a solid technician who helped lead running back Curt Warner have his best years. He is surely one of the best guards in the teams history.
Guard : Chris Gray
Gray was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 1993 draft by the Miami Dolphins. He was the 132nd player chosen overall.
He got on the field for just five games as a rookie, but started in two of the 16 games he played the next year. He earned the starting job at right guard, but missed 11 games over two years. He then joined the Chicago Bears in 1997 for eight games.
Seattle picked him up in 1998, and he started 34 games at center over the next three years. He was then moved to guard for the 2001 season, where he would stay until his retirement.
The Seahawks won a franchise record 13 games in 2005, and captured their only AFC title. Gray was a key member of an offensive line that paved the way to seeing running back Shaun Alexander won the MVP Award that season.
He suffered a back injury in 2007, and decided to retire just before the 2008 season started. He had started in every game but one for Seattle since the 2000 season.
Chris Gray was known for much more than his dependability. He was extremely versatile, and played every position on the offensive line in a Seahawks uniform. His streak of 121consecutive starts at guard/ center is a club record. He certainly is one of the best to have played in Seattle.
Bob Newton, Bryan Millard, and Pete Kendall all deserve mention.
Center : Robbie Tobeck
Tobeck joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1994 as an undrafted free agent rookie. He got on the field for five games that year.
Atlanta started him at guard the next year, a job he would hold the next three years. He did catch two passes in 1996, including one for a 14 yard touchdown. He was moved to center in 1998, where he stayed the rest of his career.
He joined the Seahawks in 2000, but got on the field for just four games. He was inserted into the starting lineup the next season, and remained there the rest of his career.
The best year of his career was in 2005, when he was named to the Pro Bowl. He is the only center in Seahawks history to have achieved this honor. Seattle won a club record 13 games that year, and reached their first Super Bowl game.
After starting the first eight games of the 2006 season, he was injured in the eight game and missed the rest of the year. He then retired as probably the best center in Seattle history.
Blair Bush and John Yarno deserve mention.
Kicker : Norm Johnson
Johnson was signed as a free agent rookie in 1982 by the Seahawks. Though he had just 43 points in the strike shortened season that was nine games long, he did complete the only pass of his career for 27 yards.
After scoring 103 the next season, he had one of the best years of his career in 1984. He scored 110 points and was named First Team All-Pro. He is still the only placekicker in Seahawks history to be named to the Pro Bowl. He, along with cornerback Dave Brown and nose tackle Joe Nash, made the Pro Bowl that year, which was just the third time in team history any player was given this honor.. His two field goals against the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC Wildcard Game was the difference in Seattle's 13-7 victory. It was the first playoff win in the franchises history.
The 1986 season was his first that he did not miss an extra point attempt, for he had missed once in each of the four years. He also made a career best five field goals of 50 yards or longer that year on seven attempts, which led the NFL. It is also the third most by any player in NFL history.
Though the 1987 season was know for being a strike year for NFL players, Johnson sat out just two games. He then scored 177 points over the next two years, including 105 points scored in 1988.
The 1990 season was his last in Seattle, and the year he would miss an extra point attempt in his career. He made 301 consecutive extra point attempts over the next nine years, which is the third best streak in NFL history. It was also the fifth season he scored over 100 points in his nine years with the team.
He joined the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent in 1991. He scored 95 points, and ounted for the first time in his career with a 27 yard attempt. He had his last career punt attemp the next year, which went 37 yards. He also scored 93 points.
The 1993 year was his best as a Falcon, and it was the last time he would go to the Pro Bowl in his career. Johnson led the NFL in field goal percentage after missing just once in 27 attempts.After a solid 1994 year, he left the Falcons for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The timing of the signing could not have worked out better for Pittsburgh. Johnson led the NFL with 34 field goals on 41 attempts, both of which are career best totals. He also had a career high 141 points that season, which was second behind Dallas Cowboys Hall Of Famer Emmitt Smith's 150 points. His 141 points is ranked 27th as the most points scored in a season in NFL history.
Pittsburgh would go to play in Super Bowl XXX that year, as Johnson made seven field goals in the post-season. The Steelers would lose to the Dallas Cowboys 27-17 in the game.
Johnson missed just eleven field goal attempts over the next three years, making 71 of them. Pittsburgh decided to release Johnson after 1998, when they drafted Kris Brown. The Philadelphia Eagles then signed Johnson to a contract for the 1999 season.
He was the placekicking specialist that year, while second year pro David Akers was used as a kickoff specialist. Johnson played in 15 games that year, scoring 79 points, before relinquishing his duties to Akers. He then retired.
The 810 points that Norm Johnson scored with the Seahawks is the most in franchise history. Five of his seasons are amongst the top 18 greatest scoring years in Seattle history, and his 1984 season is still ninth best.
Johnson attempted 477 field goals in his career, which is the 12th most ever in NFL history. His 366 made field goals in the tenth most ever. His 638 extra point conversions are the sixth most ever, as is his 644 extra point attempts. He ranks 21st all-time in extra point percentage, and 48th all-time in field goal percentage. It is easy to see why he was dubbed "Mr. Automatic" by Seahawks fans.
His 1,736 points is still the eight most in NFL history, though John Kasay has a chance to pass his this year. Norm Johnson spent half of his 18 year career as a Seahawk, and is the best placekicker they ever had.
Todd Peterson and Josh Brown deserve mention.
Punt Returner : Joey Galloway
Galloway was the Seahawks first round draft pick in 1995, the eigth player chosen overall that year. They put him to work immediately that year. He caught 67 passes for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns. He ran the ball 11 times for a career high 154 yards, including a career long 86 yard touchdown run. It was the longest of the 1995 NFL season. He also returned a career high 36 punt returns, including a career long 89 yard touchdown return. It also led the NFL that year.
He carried the ball a career high 15 times the next year, as well as catching 57 balls for seven touchdowns. Galloway also scored on a punt return of 88 yards on just 15 returns. . He did not return punts in 1997, but he found time to catch 72 passes for 1,049 yards and a career high 12 touchdowns.
He had 25 punt returns in 1998, and took two in for touchdowns. This led the league. He also caught 65 balls for 1,047 yards and ten scores. Galloway asked Seattle for a raise, but was refused. He decided to sit out the first eight games of 1999. When he joined the team, he started in just four of the remaining eight games.
Still unhappy with his contract, Galloway was traded to the Dallas Cowboys before the 2000 season for two first round draft picks. In his first game with Dallas, he blew his knee out in the fourth quarter after catching four passes and scoring once. He sat out the rest of the season.
Galloway returned to Dallas in 2001 and stayed with them until 2003. He led the NFL with a 19.8 yards per catch average in that 2003 season. Dallas then traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a disgruntled Keyshawn Johnson. The Buccaneers got the better end of the deal, because Galloway's career was revitalized by the trade.
Though he missed six games that year because of an injury, he did catch five touchdown passes and return the last punt for a touchdown in his career. He followed that up with a career best 83 receptions for 1,287 yards. He also scored ten times.After catching 119 passes for 13 touchdowns over the next two years, Galloway spent 2008 most injured. It was the first season in his career he failed to reach the end zone.
Tampa Bay released him after the season, and he was signed by the New England Patriots for the 2009 season. He played in two games and caught seven balls before the Patriots released him. Though he has yet to announce his retirement, it is unlikely the 39 year old Galloway will play again.
Of the 675 career passes he caught, 283 of them came with Seattle. It is the seventh most in team history. His 37 touchdown receptions are the third most in Seahawks history. His four touchdowns off of punt returns is the most in franchise history, and his two punt return touchdowns in 1998 is a team record. His 823 punt return yards with Seattle still ranks fifth best in team history.
Though Joey Galloway wore a Seattle jersey for just five years, there was perhaps no player more exciting than him over that time for the team.
Paul Johns, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram, Charlie Rogers, and Bobby Joe Edmonds all deserve mention. Edmonds is the only All-Pro return specialist in Seahawks history.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
The Bucs are an ugly football team right now, and are led by a coach who appears clueless and out of his league. Atlanta is desperately trying to get into the playoffs since their division appears to have been won by New Orleans. The return of star running back Michael Turner for Atlanta gives the team the balance it seeks on the offensive attack.
Falcons 31 Buccaneers 17
Carolina Panthers @ New York Jets
Both teams have just four wins and are seemingly finishing this season for pride and job security right now. Neither team has played as well as they had hoped, so it will be interesting to see if they have given up hope or are angry.
Panthers 27 Jets 24
Seattle Seahawks @ Saint Louis Rams
These are two teams that should play their youngsters and see what positions need help for 2010, because this season is over as far as playoff hopes are concerned. If you watch this game, you may be watching a few players finishing up their careers for the next six weeks. Some of them will be watching with you, because they are on injured reserve.
Seahawks 24 Rams 10
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins are clinging to their slight playoff hopes right now, and will be facing a Bills team that is hurting all over. Buffalo will possibly be missing a starters on defense, and appear to not like any of the quarterbacks on their roster to lead the offense. Expect Miami to try to grind them into submission.
Dolphins 26 Bills 16
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Redskins wish their season was over about a month ago. The team has been victimized by bad coaching, a bad front office, and a plethora of injuries. The ones that are healthy enough to suit up are playing for their careers now. Philadelphia has been immensely inconsistent all season, and have also been hit hard by the injury bug. Still, the Eagles are very much in the playoff hunt and really need this win a lot more than Washington does.
Eagles 23 Redskins 17
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
Fans of the Browns got very excited last week to see their team score one point less in one game than they had in seven other games total this year. There are three reality checks to damper that happiness. One is that the Browns lost the game anyways. Another is that they won the only game of their season in one of those seven weeks. The final reality check is that they scored those 37 points against the Detroit Lions. Cincinnati is not Detroit in geography nor on the gridiron. The Bengals are also mad they lost a winnable game to the unpredictable Raiders last week. Expect them to vent their anger on their inter-state rivals.
Bengals 37 Browns 6
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Houston is on the verge of oblivion right now for the 2009 season. They have dropped to third place in their division, and see the resurgent Tennessee Titans charging hard behind them. Pile on the loss to the former Houston Oilers, now the Titans, at home on national television last Monday, and you see a season the Texans were not hoping for. This game is their season most likely, and facing the undefeated Colts is a daunting task with everything on the line.
Texans 34 Colts 30
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs are playing spoiler right now, ask the Steelers, because there is nothing left for them to play for other than pride and job security. They do present a problem for the suddenly hot Chargers. San Diego is aware what their divisional rivals did last week, and should be prepared.
Chargers 31 Chiefs 20
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Francisco 49ers
Do not look now, but the Jaguars are in second place in their division and very much in the playoff hunt. Jack Del Rio has done a great job keeping his team competitive as he rebuilds the roster. Watching the youngsters step up has inspired Jacksonville two games above .500.The 49ers still have a glimmer of hope to win the very weak NFC West, but it is faint. This game will be run heavy, so the battle in the trenches is key.
Jaguars 28 49ers 27
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
Chicago traded away a lot to get Jay Cutler to quarterback the team. It has not worked out well for them this season, and now all they have left to play for is pride. It may not be enough to defeat a Vikings team that is rolling in every aspect of the game every week thus far.
Vikings 38 Bears 27
Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans
The Cardinals are riding a three game winning streak, and have taken a commanding three game lead in their division. However, their leader Kurt Warner is battling symptoms of a mild concussion and is questionable this week. It may be smart to sit him this week against a rejuvenated and hungry Tennessee Titans, and go with flop Matt Leinhart at quarterback instead. I doubt Warner will sit, so this has the makings of an exciting game. Chris Johnson cannot be stopped, and is a leading candidate on many peoples MVP ballots. The insertion of Vince Young at quarterback was a brilliant demand by owner Bud Adams that has made him look like Nostradamus almost.
Titans 34 Cardinals 30
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
A few weeks ago, this game had a look like it could have a great impact on who sat on top of the AFC North. How can time change things drastically? Well, the Ravens are at .500 and might be a loss away from losing any chance of making the playoffs. Pittsburgh, the defending champions, are just one game better than Baltimore. Instead of fighting for the division, these teams are fighting to stay alive for the 2009 season. Bruises will be plentiful for each team, because they do not like each other. Baltimore is looking to settle a score with Steelers team that ended their season last year.
Ravens 30 Steelers 28
New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints
Game Of The Week
This will be an interesting battle, and finally Monday Night Football can claim to have a game worth watching for all football fans this season. New Orleans put their undefeated season up against a Patriots team that still struggles in short yardage situations. New England should take advantage of a depleted Saints defense that recently rehired the washed up Mike McKenzie to bolster their beat up secondary. Randy Moss should have a few big play opportunities available.
Patriots 37 Saints 27
Last week, including Thanksgiving, I went 14 - 4. I am now 101 - 45 overall.
This might be one of the most mediocre seasons the NFL has had in recent memory. After ten games, there are 14 teams over the .500 mark. Of those teams, four of them have a winning percentage of .600 or less. Most teams have been struggling to stay healthy on the eve of the league thinking of shortening training camps and extending the seasons.
What has been the most obvious flaw in the game the NFL pushes out today is poor fundamentals. Even after the league has revamped their rule books to cater to a group of mostly average quarterbacks and players who rely on kill shots over proper tackling technique, you are left still seeing sloppy football games each week.
Offensive linemen, who hold every play, are now less important to protecting the quarterback than the NFL. The hit zone on the quarterback has now shrunk to the coffee can strike zone of baseball so that points can be put up on the board with much more ease. Even special teams has been effected by changes from a group of men largely consisting of guys who haven't put on pads since school yard days.
Though it is understandable the NFL is trying to progress with society, the failure to hold onto old school principles has helped the game suffer to the point it now resembles basketball with a helmet. To show further example, many players go out on Sunday without hip or thigh padding, because they rather protect up high where most end up head hunting.
The NFL probably doesn't see this, much like they did not see their game stagnating in the 1960's. This allowed the fourth version of the American Football League to gain a following and then later force a complete alignment between the two leagues. Other previous leagues that competed against the NFL had forced the NFL to immerge some of those defunct leagues into theirs, but not all like the AFL did.
Now the United Football League has just completed their first season with an overtime championship game. The difference between the UFL and other leagues that competed against the NFL in the past is that the UFL is being almost marketed as a minor leagues for the NFL by some. The UFL refers to itself as a complimentary addition, though they have several rules different. Their overtime rule is like the college rule, where both teams get a chance to play offense.
The UFL might now have a chance to survive with the NFL shortening training camps. There will be even more excellent football players available after the NFL makes cuts faster, many will happen because of the lack of opportunity many will get with less time in camp or exhibition games. Then there is the chance the NFL players could strike after 2011, much like they did in 1982 and 1987. The NFLPA is advising cut players from going to the UFL, which echoes the same message the league gave to players when they jumped to the AFL in 1960.
If the UFL plays this smart, much like the AFL did in the 1960's, they could offer much needed competition to the perceived fat and lazy NFL. Perhaps the UFL can go a step further and enable the defenses to play less inhibited, unlike the castrated version of defense in the NFL. If the 2009 season keeps wafting along in a uninspiring waddle for the NFL, fans will begin to look more into the other option. Much like they did for the AFL only 40 years ago. The timing of the AFL anniversary and the UFL inception is no coincidence.
Perhaps some of you readers will find this installment of Lucubration tinged with unrealistic hope for more well played football, and perhaps even a few will nod in agreement on some avenues that were attempted to be taken. The ones that are skeptical need only look at the 12 teams in the NFL that were born in other leagues. The AFC itself houses only six teams that have just played in their league alone, though the Bengals franchise is still considered an AFL franchise on paper.
Some say more is better, and this can apply to professional football too. The UFL should continuing applying wrinkles to their game to attract fans. One suggested wrinkle is to apply some old school playing that thr NFL once lived and breathed on. It can work, much like how the AFL once showed the NFL that lots of scoring can bring in fans. It did.
NFL Power Rankings
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. New England Patriots
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. San Diego Chargers
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Denver Broncos
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Baltimore Ravens
13. Green Bay Packers
14. Arizona Cardinals
15. Jacksonville Jaguars
16. New York Giants
17. Miami Dolphins
18. Houston Texans
19. Tennessee Titans
20. San Francisco 49ers
21. New York Jets
22. Seattle Seahawks
23. Carolina Panthers
24. Chicago Bears
25. Oakland Raiders
26. Kansas City Chiefs
27. Buffalo Bills
28. Detroit Lions
29. Washington Redskins
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
31. Saint Louis Rams
32. Cleveland Browns
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Today is a sad day for the Pollin family, the city of Washington D.C., the world of sports, and mankind itself, because Abe Pollin passed away at the age of 85 earlier this evening.
He was much more than the owner of the NBA's Washington Wizards or the longest tenured NBA owner to millions of people. Mr. Pollin was a beacon of courage and hope for all. His impact on the Washington Metropolitan Area for the past 46 years will be felt for countless future years ahead. He was a philanthropist whose generosity has donated countless millions of dollars that fed, clothed, housed, and educated many of the misfortunate dwellers of our Nation's Capitol.
He moved into the area in 1931 at the age of eight years old, and stayed in the area for the rest of his life. He attended George Washington University at a time when future NBA Legend Red Auerbach was a star player on the basketball team. After graduating, he went into the construction business and prospered. Pollin then made a business move in 1964 that changed the landscape of the area forever.
There had not been a professional basketball team since the Washington Capitols went defunct in 1951. Ironically, Auerbach had coached that team for three years and set records that still stand today. Pollin bought the Chicago Zephyrs for $1.1 million, which was a record at the time. He then moved the team to the city of Baltimore and named them the Bullets. The team moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1973, and has been here since.
His teams quickly became a force in the league, and helped the NBA from being a regional marketed game to the global entity is is today. The Bullets went to the Western Conference Finals in 1965, but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Bullets then later became a consistent winner a few years later after drafting two of the greatest players in NBA history, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and Wes Unseld, in two consecutive years on 1967 and 1968.
From 1969 to 1979, the Bullets won seven division titles, including five straight at one point. They also won Eastern Conference crown four times in the era, and won the NBA Championship in 1978. The franchise has failed to achieve any of these accolades since, though there have been several excellent teams that have competed over the last thirty seasons.
Thirty years ago, he had his Bullets travel overseas to play basketball in China to serve as an ambassador to the game and help spread the game into the global market. This was an important move, because several international players have played in the NBA since. The NBA commemorated this trip earlier in the year, and sent another team to play in China. Antawn Jamison and Randy Foye represented Pollin's Wizards in the games.
Another of Pollin's contributions to the city was bringing in the game of professional hockey in 1974, when the Washington Capitals were born. He has just built a huge arena in Landover, Maryland called the Capital Centre, and it was the first arena ever to have luxury box seating and a large screen television that stood in the middle of the arena suspended above the field of play.
The Capitals struggled for decades as the fourth most popular team in the area, behind the Redskins, Bullets, and the neighboring Baltimore Orioles. Many years the team struggled to make the playoffs, though their fortunes began to turn for the better in the 1980's. The Capitals even made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, but Pollin still lost over $20 million that season on the team. He then sold the team to current owner Ted Leonsis.
Pollin also brought the city women's professional basketball in 1998, when he founded the Washingtom Mystics just before the second year of the WNBA. The teams mostly struggled on the court, though they did reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. What the Mystics did attain, however, was a huge following. They led the WNBA in attendance in six of the seven years Pollin owned the team. He sold the team to Leonsis just before the 2005 season.
One common theme he had with his ownership was a family run atmosphere. He was fiercely loyal to his players and teams. He would often voice his displeasure to media members who had spoken negatively of his teams, which he viewed as his family. His loyalty was legendary to the people of Washington D.C. especially.
When he changed the teams name from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1995, he gave his reasons as to being uncomfortable with the names connotation of violence in the wake of the areas high crime and murder rate. When his close friend, Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated, he felt further compelled to hasten the move. Some fans note the lack of success the team has had since this moment, since the Wizards have mostly struggled.
It is almost fitting that his Wizards faced their long time rival Philadelphia 76ers today in D.C., a game he had planned on attending. The 76ers are coached by local legend Eddie Jordan, who was fired one year ago today by the Wizards after a stint of just over five years with the team. Jordan, like many other Wizard employees, probably stayed on longer than he deserved because of Pollin's loyalty.
Sometimes this loyalty was met with the chagrin of fans. This was echoed today by Bullets legend Unseld, the face of the franchise, when he said, "He saw the big picture. He had an answer for everything. He kept me on longer with the team than I should have been, and longer than perhaps I wanted to be at times. He knew what was best for the team and community."
Pollin always put the community first. This can be seen throughout the history of his ownership. He would often fire a star player if he felt that person was having a negative impact. The list of greats he cut ties with is long, and includes such players like Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, and Michael Jordan.
Though he often lamented the escalating salaries of players over the years, he knew how much impact they had on society. He was the man who demanded, and brought in, the rule of player conduct on the current labor agreement of the league. "You may or may not want to be role models, but you are role models. If you don't want to be role models, you should get out of this business and go do something else."
He was a role model himself. He saved a historic synagogue from being turned into a dance club a few blocks from his offices, even though it cost millions of dollars to refurbish. He gave every school in the city working computers so children could use them. He established a program called "Abe's Table", where his team would go door to door and give food to the needy. Today the program was out giving food when he passed away.
A mere hours before he died today, he spoke with his assistant on the phone. He told the assistant to make sure everyone employed by his Washington Sports & Entertainment Company went home early tomorrow to beat the holiday traffic. That truly epitomizes what type of character he had. As he stood on deaths doorstep, he was thinking of others.
The contribution that Pollin gave to the city that may be most remembered was when he built the Verizon Center in 1997 with his own money. He spent over $200 million on the building in his effort to revitalize a part of town that had not yet fully recovered from being torched to the ground during the 1968 riots. "I wanted to build a beautiful arena and one that served as a catalyst to turn things around downtown. I'm proud to say we succeeded in both scores."
That part of town is now immensely popular in the city, and is chock full of restaurants and other businesses. Every person who partakes in this areas enjoyment can thank Pollin for this, and can be reminded of his impact on the street named after him by the arena known to locals as, "The Phone Booth".
This year had been both mixed with pain and pleasure for Pollin. He was diagnosed with a rare disease called progressive supranuclear palsy. The disease impairs movement and balance, and left Pollin wheelchair bound in his final months. The disease and wheelchair did not slow him down, however, as Pollin could often be seen around his team so he could continue to stay close with his players.
Earlier this year, his Alma mater George Washington University inducted him into their School of Business Sports Executives Hall of Fame. At his induction he told fans that he wanted to win another championship, and that the team would not ever move so as long as he owned the team. "I've contracted a very rare disease, but it's not going to keep me from winning a championship. Until then I'm not going to quit, and I'm going to do whatever I can to win a championship for this town, for me, and for the fans."
Leonsis, his longtime business partner, is expected to take ownership of the Wizards and Washington Sports & Entertainment Company as agreed upon by the two men several years ago. Fans of the team are relieved at this thought, and expect the Wizards to be in the area for many more years to come.
All Abe Pollin wanted was for his teams to win. He did not own the Wizards for the money he made alone. He was a competitor, and it showed by his actions both with the team and community. Most of the fans of the team, especially the older ones who had been along with Abe on the fun journey, knew this.
As a life long fan of the team myself, I hope the Wizards rally and win a championship for him this season. Pollin would want them to win it all for the town, fans, and themselves first. As the Wizards would play with a heavy heart tonight against the 76ers, they showed a lot of energy and brotherhood in their hard fought 108 - 107 victory despite being short handed due to injuries.
They did for Abe. As team captain Antawn Jamison said, "It is tough. I love him. He had a lot of faith in me, and I am just trying to walk in the shoes he expected me to wear. It won't be the same without him with his pumping us up and wanting us to do our best. He loved the game of basketball, but is in a better place now. He saw us win tonight."
The real winners were us for having been blessed to have known and to have lived alongside him. Thank you Abe Pollin. Rest In Peace.
Abe And Irene Pollin
Abe And Wes Hug After Winning The Title
Abe Carries The Championship Trophy To The Fans
Your 1978 NBA Champion Washington Bullets
Abe And His Family In China
Abe And Michael Jordan
Abe And Gilbert Arenas
Abe And Antawn Jamison
Abe And Irene
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Matthew Stafford, of the Detroit Lions, has had a rookie season that can best be described as trying. Both he and his team have struggled all season, which was expected by all observers.
There was a time this season some thought Stafford would be shut down for the season as he struggled with a knee injury. Stafford kept plugging along, and has taken his lumps all season long behind a porous offensive line that does not allow the team offensive balance with a consistent running game.
Coming into today's game against the lowly Cleveland Browns, Stafford had thrown 12 interceptions against six touchdown passes in the seven games he was able to get on the field and play. Though the numbers may seem unimpressive to some, others feel the rookie has shown great promise thus far.
Stafford showed an even bigger glimpse at his abilities today when he set an NFL and Lions record of five touchdown passes in a game by a rookie as the Lions won 38-37. It also ties the franchise record, which was set by Gary Danielson in 1978 against the Minnesota Vikings.
He got the ball rolling forward for his team late in the first quarter with his team down 24-3 by finding rookie running back Aaron Brown on a 26 yard pass play. He added two more in the second quarter, including a 75 yard heave to wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
With the Lions defense playing better in the second half, he added two more with each being a one yard toss to his tight ends. The second was was the most important, because it was with no time left on the clock and secured the Lions an important second win of the season.
Stafford still shows fans that he is a rookie. He did throw two interceptions and was called for intentional grounding while attempting to throw out of the end zone, which resulted in a safety. Now up to 14 interceptions this season, fans realize it may take Stafford a few more years of playing experience, to go with solid drafts to upgrade the surrounding talent, for him to truly show why he was the first player drafted overall this year.
Still, Lions fans have to be happy for the win and the prospects of their young quarterbacks future. Though fellow rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has gotten more press, due mostly to his playing in the media heavy New York City, it is easy to say Stafford has played better so far.
Though Matthew Stafford might not win the Rookie of the Year Award this season, he is in the record books already. How much further he can delve into both the leagues and his teams records books remains to be seen, but plan on it being fun to watch.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs come into this game missing two players that they expected to be their top offensive players this season in running back Larry Johnson and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Johnson is now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals and Bowe is serving a four game suspension imposed by the NFL. Facing a team as defensively proficient as the Steelers, it will interesting to see where the Chiefs look for production. Do not expect much of it this week.
Steelers 38 Chiefs 13
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings just extended the contract of head coach Brad Childress. This is a move of good timing, because it establishes a bond and perceived future in their locker room. Seattle remains a mystery on defense, as well as inconsistent on offense. The Vikings are expected to dominate the trenches on both sides of the ball this game.
Vikings 27 Seahawks 16
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
Though perhaps the best rivalry in NFL history appears to not have as much glamour surrounding it this season, this game still has tremendous importance to both teams. Dallas needs this win to stay ahead in the NFC East, while a Redskins win would practically bring them back into the race for the divisional crown. Washington would like to start their era with a win in the Cowboys new stadium like they did with the old one.
Cowboys 26 Redskins 24
Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions
Watching this game might be akin to watching two 97 lbs. weaklings missing all of their limbs in a tug-of-war battle. This is also a game where both teams may be looking for their last win of the season. However, it could be a close game that is decided on the final play.
Lions 23 Browns 14
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints are flying high right now, and their fans are experiencing a joy that has never been felt before in the franchises history. The Buccaneers are not playing well, and appear years away from rebuilding a competitive team. This could be a blow out.
Saints 45 Buccaneers 17
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Giants
This is a battle of two struggling teams trying to get back on course. The Falcons lost their best player last week in running back Michael Turner, so the passing game will be very important. The return of cornerback Aaron Ross could not have come at a better time for the Giants. New York needs to run the ball to win, and the bye week was a time to rest their hobbling backfield. This game will be a good indicator to show how for real the Giants are this season.
Giants 31 Falcons 23
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
The Colts are resilient. They keep winning and are undefeated, which is exactly what one wants if they have championship aspirations. The Ravens have been struggling lately, and this was showed last week when the Cleveland Browns matched them stride for stride over 30 minutes. Now star defensive end Terrell Suggs is out, missing the first game in his career. A big blow, considering Baltimore needs all the pass rushers they can get against an explosive Colts offense.
Colts 27 Ravens 21
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
The Packers are coming off an impressive game where they defeated the favored Dallas Cowboys at home. The 49ers are coming off a less than impressive victory over the struggling Chicago Bears. The Packers stayed at home this week and should be ready to win a game they need to stay within shouting distance of the division leading Vikings.
Packers 34 49ers 24
Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Buffalo comes into this game a few days removed from firing their head coach of over three years. Jacksonville has had the same head coach for over six years. Sometimes a coaching change can inspire an underachieving team to a few victories, but Jacksonville has been showing steady improvement the past couple of weeks.
Jaguars 26 Bills 10
Arizona Cardinals @ Saint Louis Rams
Arizona has been playing much better recently, and they are undefeated on the road this year so far. The Rams best weapon is running back Steven Jackson. It may not be enough to keep pace with the Cardinals high octane offense.
Cardinals 41 Rams 17
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
The Jets have been crying the blues recently. Their season has not met their lofty expectations, but they really shouldn't be stunned because they are starting a rookie quarterback with little playing experience even on the college level. New England will be fired up for this game after all the media bashing they took this week for last weeks loss.
Patriots 34 Jets 17
Cincinnati Bengals @ Oakland Raiders
The Bengals are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and are coming off a game they spanked the defending champion Steelers. The Raiders offense has been so bad, they switched quarterbacks. Facing a defense like Cincinnati's is a tough test for any quarterback, let alone a new one.
Bengals 38 Raiders 14
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
Game Of The Week
This is a very important matchup in the AFC West this week, and could have repercussions for the rest of the season. The Chargers have begun winning again after a slow start, while the Broncos have started to lose after a hot start. The Broncos also might have to resort to using a backup quarterback who was very ineffective during their upset loss to the Redskins last week. Denver's defense needs to win this one.
Chargers 24 Broncos 17
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
The Eagles are teetering on dire straits right now. Their inconsistent play has them on the verge of pushing themselves out of the playoff race. Not having a running game is the worst part of their game, so Donovan McNabb needs to step up now and play the best football of his career for them to have a chance. The Bears are a mess right now. Their trench play has been poor, and their injuries have been key. The big trade for quarterback Jay Cutler has not looked good thus far either.
Eagles 27 Bears 24
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
This is a Monday night game worth watching. Though the fans of Houston will heartily be rooting for the Texans, they have not forgotten how the Titans left them in 1996. The Titans were called the Oilers then, and were the champions of the American Football League for the first two years of their existence. Expect the Houston fans to have a quandry when the Titans walk on the field. Will they cheer them in appreciation or boo them for leaving? Will Titans owner Bud Adams have to tape his middle fingers to his ring fingers? There are a few side stories in this one, and let us hope ESPN does not drop the ball too much on the historical significance of this game. They typically do, but this is the year the inception of the AFL is being remembered. The Oilers were a huge part of that year, as they still are in the lore of the city of Houston.
Texans 34 Titans 30
NFL Power Rankings
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. Cincinnati Bengals
5. New England Patriots
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. San Diego Chargers
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Baltimore Ravens
10. Houston Texans
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Atlanta Falcons
13. Denver Broncos
14. New York Giants
15. Green Bay Packers
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. New York Jets
18. Miami Dolphins
19. San Francisco 49ers
20. Jacksonville Jaguars
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Tennessee Titans
23. Chicago Bears
24. Washington Redskins
25. Carolina Panthers
26. Oakland Raiders
27. Buffalo Bills
28. Detroit Lions
29. Kansas City Chiefs
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
31. Saint Louis Rams
32. Cleveland Browns
Last week I took a bath and went 7-7. I am now 87-41, since I did not pick on the Thursday game.
Let us keep the focus on the Houston Oilers.
Bud Adams started the franchise in 1960 with the fledgling American Football League. Adams put together an excellent team quickly, some with hard work and some with good luck.
His big move in 1960 was signing Billy Cannon away from the clutches of the NFL.
Cannon was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams with the first pick of the draft, and he was the first pick of the AFL as well.
Adams signed the LSU legend and 1959 Heisman Trophy winner on the field after LSU won the Sugar Bowl.
Future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was the general manager of the Rams at that time, and he tried to force Cannon to sign with his team. Adams took the NFL to court and won.
Another of the many key signings that season was of future Hall of Famer George Blanda. Blanda had washed out of the NFL and did not even play football in 1959.
He joined the Oilers and immediately became the team's leader, helping them win the first AFL Championship when he hit Cannon for an 88-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter vs. the Los Angeles Chargers.
Blanda led the Oilers to a second consecutive championship in 1961 and was named the AFL Player of the Year.
He tied the record of seven touchdown passes in a game the next season, as the Oilers reached a third championship before losing to the Dallas Texans in the longest championship game in professional football history.
Blanda also set a record of 42 interceptions thrown in that 1962 season.
Though the Oilers would reach the AFL Championship in 1967, losing to an Oakland Raiders team that now had Blanda on their roster, the team has never won a championship game again.
Many great players played for the Oilers, and several are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Players like Blanda, Earl Campbell, Ken Houston, Elvin Bethea, Mike Munchak, Warren Moon, and Bruce Matthews are just a few players that played for the Oilers and are now enshrined in Canton.
I have also included many Oilers in my Crazy Canton Cuts series. Robert "Dr Doom" Brazile, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Curley Culp, Jim Norton, and Bob Talamini are Oilers whose profiles can be found on crazycantoncuts.blogspot.com. Charley Hennigan is a player I will be profiling in the future.
Despite their legacy, as well as being the first professional sports team to win a championship in Houston, the team relocated to Nashville, Tenn., before the 1997 season.
They changed their name from the Oilers to the Titans just before the 1999 season.
The timing of the name change worked out well for Adams, as his team went on to Super Bowl XXXIV but lose to the St. Louis Rams. It is the only season that the franchise has won the AFC Championship.
To learn more about the Houston Oilers, I encourage you to visit this site : http://www.remembertheafl.com/
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn showed a lot of who is he really is during the Browns 16-0 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. The word flop is perhaps one word that may be too early to be used, but it certainly can be considered a logical assumption.
What Quinn really showed on national television is that he is a pathetically immature loser who lacks leadership and any form of respect. I'm not talking about his unpleasant showing of 13 completions, on 31 attempts, that produced a impotent 99 yards. Most NFL fans have long speculated that Quinn is unwilling or unable to throw a pass more than three yards down the field.
What was mostly witnessed in this game was a petulant child, who has been pandered to most of his life, nearly cost two players their health and playing careers. This move of frustration by Quinn went virtually unnoticed by the three member announcers team covering the game, because the media is jaded and programmed to dote most of their love and attention on the quarterbacks of the NFL.
If this move was perpetrated on Quinn, the television stations across America would have run the highlight on a continuous loop. Quinn had already been anointed a media favorite from his days of playing college football for Notre Dame University, a program rich with history and nostalgia in media lore.This affiliation allowed for the cameras to be held inches from his face in the 2007 NFL Draft, when his hype had him being called a top ten draft pick. As he slipped to the 22nd pick of the draft, viewers were treated by the medias insipid insistence to keep the camera on him the whole time as they tried to predict his emotions as his dreams and wallet got lighter by the moment.
The Browns bailed him out of his misery by trading up with the Dallas Cowboys to gamble that Quinn would be the future of the franchise at the position. It helped that Quinn was photogenic and had grown up in Ohio as well. The Browns organization figured Quinn would help fill seats by his mere presence on the roster, and attendance did increase initially.
While some call his rookie season a failure, due to Derek Anderson winning the starters job and responding with a Pro Bowl season, most were pleased that Quinn could sit on the bench and develop as he learned the nuances of the game. It now seems neither event has happened.
Quinn was handed the starting job entering 2009, mainly from an edict of the ownership of the Browns. The team won just four games the year before, and headed into the season with new coaches and not much prospects of immediate improvement. After a dismal showing the first two games, where Quinn failed to complete a pass over 26 yards, he was pulled from the line up midway through the third game. Anderson replaced him, but did not fare much better, though he did lead the team to their only win of the season thus far.
With the teams record standing at an inept 1-7, Quinn was inserted back into the starting lineup. He responded poorly, which was not a surprise, but the one moment he had on the field should immediately be reprimanded by league commissioner Roger Goodell soon. If the Browns had any spine, they would beat Goodell to the punch and punish Quinn themselves.
Quinn had an interception returned for a touchdown by the Ravens Dawan Landry on the teams second series in the second half. The next time Cleveland got the ball, Quinn threw another interception. As the ball was being returned by Baltimore's Chris Carr, Quinn displayed his true character in front of America.
The Ravens Terrell Suggs was engaged in blocking a Browns lineman for Carr during the return. It was away from the ball, but that did not stop Quinn. He barreled into Suggs knees at full speed, which befell Baltimore's star defensive end. Though Quinn was penalized 15 yards for an illegal chop block, Suggs limped off the field in pain. He contributed just one tackle the entire game, but Brady Quinn almost cost Suggs a football career.
This was not lost on the Ravens defense. As the game was winding down to a close, Quinn tossed a short pass to Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs is Cleveland's best player, and one of the most liked in the community. Many may know how he showed up unannounced recently at a high school homecoming football game to support the son of a deceased college football coach.
Cribbs quickly lateraled the ball to tight end Robert Royal, who was soon tackled himself, but the Browns wide receiver did not see Ravens defensive end Dwan Edwards. Edwards happens to be Suggs back up. As Cribbs turned, Edwards leveled him with a clean shot. The hit knocked Cribbs out, and left him motionless. He was taken off the field on a stretcher straight to the hospital. He was reported to have not lost any feeling nor movement in his body.
The question has to be asked if this moment would have happened for Cribbs if Quinn had not pulled off such a cheap shot earlier. Perhaps Edwards would not have hit Cribbs if his teammate and linemate hadn't almost had his career ended by Quinn.
The quarterback is already no longer a football player in the NFL. They cannot be hit too high, too low, nor too hard. Fines and penalties follow anyone who mistakes these golden boys as football players. Most quarterbacks are amongst the highest paid players in the league, and many are by far the highest paid on their respective teams.
To allow them to pull off stunts like Quinn cannot go without penalties. It sets a bad precedent of double standards. The message would clearly state that players must go on protecting the quarterback, face reprimands if they do not, yet understand they are fair game at the quarterbacks discretion. This has already been brought into question last year, when Brett Favre pulled a similar stunt while playing for the New York Jets.
If Roger Goodell and the NFL Rules Committee are going to allow quarterbacks to vent their frustrations out circa cheap shots on other players, then they cannot logically ask the rest of the players to do the same. Players who play a much more physically demanding positions, where frustration is a factor on each play that transpires. The league also cannot allow a player who is obviously dissatisfied with his career cost other players their careers.
The right message would be to suspend Brady Quinn at least one game, as well as pile on a heavy fine that can go to a league sponsored charity. Let Derek Anderson pilot the team next week at Detroit in a battle now labeled as the "Last Chance For A Win In 2009 Bowl".
Friday, November 13, 2009
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
Carolina relies on the running game to win, and now they will be missing their leading rusher. Atlanta has been getting their running game going the past few weeks. The Falcons also have the better passing game. If Jonathan Stewart rushes for over 100 yards, the Panthers may have a chance.
Falcons 34 Panthers 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins
The good news for the Bucs is that they won't have to travel far for this game. Both teams feature young quarterbacks at the helm, but Tampa's Josh Freeman might throw the ball a lot to try to pick on the Dolphins young and depleted secondary. It might come down to who controls the ball best.
Dolphins 16 Buccaneers 14
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings won their first meeting with Detroit this year by running the ball and controlling the clock. The formula will probably not be changed.
Vikings 38 Lions 24
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets
The Jets desperately need to win this game if they have any hopes at all at contending for a playoff spot. Expect them to try to run the ball down the Jaguars throats, while Jacksonville attempts to reciprocate that notion with All Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew. It will be a smash mouth game, where Rex Ryan will ask his defense to win this one.
Jets 24 Jaguars 13
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Game Of The Week
The Bengals have been the feel good story of the 2009 season thus far. They have a balanced offense and a very good defense. Playoff talk is a long overdue discussion in the Queen City, but it is a reality thus far. The problem is that the Steelers now appear to be clicking on all cylinders right now. If their running game can keep going, it will make the defending champions even more dangerous. This might be the best game of the week.
Steelers 38 Bengals 34
New Orleans Saints @ Saint Louis Rams
This is a week the red hot Saints can be thankful for playing in the NFC South. Not that the Rams are complete pushovers, because they do feature the excellent Stephen Jackson at running back, but New Orleans should win this if they do what they need to.
Saints 41 Rams 17
Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans
Don't look now, but the Titans are on the verge of a third straight win after six consecutive defeats. Chris Johnson is the MVP candidate no one talks about, but the key move might have been played by owner Bud Adams. Adams ordered that Vince Young start at quarterback just three weeks ago The Bills, who have been inconsistent all season, get Trent Edwards back at quarterback. He could have some rust on him, so Buffalo will need to run the ball well.
Titans 24 Bills 21
Denver Broncos @ Washington Redskins
The Broncos can take a big sigh of relief after dropping two straight games. They go into the Nations Capitol to face a beat up and disheartened Redskins squad who may be down to their third string running back. They will have a guy they signed off the street recently if that back, Rock Cartwright, goes down. The plays for the Redskins are called by a guy signed off the street a few weeks ago as well. The Redskins have semi-pro written all over them right now.
Broncos 27 Redskins 6
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Flip a coin here. Keep flipping it, focusing on just the coin, for three hours. It should be more fun than watching this game.
Raiders 24 Chiefs 20
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are a team that even they cannot figure out themselves. They can be very explosive or completely benign. The Seahawks defense is just as unpredictable, having shut out two teams this year. Though Arizona are undefeated on the road and have only one win at home, I'm thinking they put two weks of solid play together.
Cardinals 27 Seahawks 19
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
The Cowboys are leading the NFC East now because they run the ball well and their defensive line has played well. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on pace to being sacked over 70 times this year behind a injured offensive line. Rodgers has been very effective when given time, and has tossed just five interceptions thus far under all of that duress. If Dallas can get to him, they should win.
Cowboys 28 Packers 24
Philadelphia Eagles @ San Diego Chargers
The Eagles are winning despite being a team trying to get healthy again. Having running back Brian Westbrook back will be a tremendous help. The Chargers have been winning because they are passing the ball so well this year. They need to run well to win this one. Philadelphia had an unpleasant experience their last time in California, and will try to make amends. If their safeties play well, they have a good chance. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates could be the key.
Chargers 31 Eagles 30
New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
The Patriots face an undefeated Colts team hurting in the defensive secondary. The Patriots are rolling in every aspect of the game right now, and will be tough to beat from here on out if everyone stays healthy. Peyton Manning will keep his Colts close, but Tom Brady should have fun throwing the football.
Patriots 38 Colts 27
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
The Ravens need a win in the worst way. Luckily for them, they are facing perhaps the worst team in the NFL today.
Ravens 34 Browns 17
After watching Jay Cutler toss his eighth red zone interception in 16 games, I had a few thoughts. None of Jeff George, because even George didn't pull stunts like that. I actually began to recall my questioning Chicago gambling away their future for Cutler. If you recall, the Bears gave up two first round and a second round draft pick for his services.
Please consider these words from Broncos legendary player Karl Mecklenberg, "I have gotten to know Jay through the Broncos and golf tournaments, and he is a child still. He is more concerned with himself than the team, and when McDaniels came in, he came in with a system that wasn't going to throw as much, and Jay saw that and put McDaniels in a tough place where he had really no choice but to get rid of him."
So what you have here is another diva who puts himself before his team. A child who would rather pad his statistics over winning. This is what the Bears traded away their future for. Then there is the old "Sid Luckman Curse". Luckman is the last great and perhaps even good quarterback to play for the Bears. Luckman, a Hall Of Famer, retired in 1950, and is STILL the franchises leader in passing yards with 14,686 yards. Think about that. Luckman played in a run first era where it was a lot harder to throw the ball with the ten yard chuck rule, let alone the way offensive linemen had to block.
Since 1979, receivers have the luxury of the five yard chuck rule and blockers are allowed to extend their arms and hold on virtually every play. It is also easier to play quarterback because they cannot be hit too high, low, or hard. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers had 14,974 yards passing in 71 games coming into this season. This is just a small example of the long line of inept quarterbacks that have followed Luckman in the last 60 years for the Bears.
I am not ready to label Cutler a complete and utter failure yet for the Bears. His receiving unit is nothing special, and his offensive line is pathetic. He is also young, so there is a lot of room to grow and mature. Chicago better hurry up and get him some blockers at least, or Cutler might soon have irreparable damage to his body and fragile ego.
NFL Power Rankings
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. New England Patriots
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Atlanta Falcons
11. Denver Broncos
12. San Diego Chargers
13. Houston Texans
14. New York Giants
15. Green Bay Packers
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. New York Jets
18. Miami Dolphins
19. San Francisco 49ers
20. Chicago Bears
21. Seattle Seahawks
22. Jacksonville Jaguars
23. Tennessee Titans
24. Oakland Raiders
25. Carolina Panthers
26. Buffalo Bills
27. Detroit Lions
28. Kansas City Chiefs
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
30. Washington Redskins
31. Saint Louis Rams
32. Cleveland Browns
Including Thursdays game = I am now 80-34