Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Matt Leinart never had a chance, even when chances were repeatedly handed to him. The 2004 Heisman Trophy winner was the tenth overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, a draft considered a weak quarterback class. Vince Young and Jay Cutler headline the group, followed by career backups like Tavaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Kellen Clemens, Brodie Croyle, and Bruce Gradkowski.
Leinart has outperformed all except Young, Jackson, and Cutler, but not by much in cases like Gradkowski. Not the results the Arizona Cardinals were looking for, so they signed 2007 Pro Bowler Derek Anderson after Kurt Warner retired. Anderson was a sixth round draft pick in 2005 now on his third team.
As I predicted upon his signing, Anderson has won the starting job as quarterback of the Cardinals. Now Leinart is crying to the media exclaiming the Arizona coaches never gave him an explanation as to why they went with someone other than him.
Welcome to the NFL Prima donna, a world that sometimes touches a reality many of Earth experience.
Leinart was known as the pretty boy in college, a guy who some were trying to put in the category of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as far as good looks combined with winning games. He led his Alma mater, USC, to a BSC Championship and AP Championship and some NFL scouts thought his game would translate to the pros.
Unfortunately, like many Heisman winners, his game soon was shown to not have what it takes to be an effective NFL player. Even in the modern where rules are heavily slanted to the quarterbacks favor. Some will say his party boy attitude early in his career derailed his progress, but the real reasons run deeper.
One huge reason is his lack of an NFL arm. The Cardinals run an offensive system where a strong arm with accuracy is needed to succeed. Leinart has neither. To have Anderson, coming off a terrible 2009 season, and a not much better 2008, replace him as he learns a new system on the fly speaks volumes.
Leinart wants a reason, and perhaps the truth will set him free. He was an overrated, overhyped college athlete surrounded by immensely talented teammates. The best comparison to him might be Todd Marinovich, a weak armed lefty drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1991 draft. The 6'4" Marinovich, an inch shorter than Leinart, was a USC product who partied his way out of the league after just two years.
Though it appears likely Leinart is destined to be playing his last year in Arizona this season before embarking on a journeyman career bouncing around the league, some think his skill set better fits the dink/ dunk game of the West Coast offense. It is forseeable he ends up in Seattle next year, rejoining college coach Pete Carrol, though it is improbable he could unseat incumbent Matt Hasselbeck or even move on top of Charlie Whitehurst in the depth chart.
Perhaps not all is lost for Leinart. There certainly no guarantees Anderson excels or even stays healthy a full season. It is likely he will be given yet another chance to redeem himself. What he does with it, if given the chance, is also unknown. Yet all signs point to disappointment.
Something he has been since entering the NFL.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Most every football fan knows this refers to the Green Bay Packers. Their 12 championships are more than any other professional football team ever. There have been 21 Packers to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, second only to their main rival the Chicago Bears.
They have played the Bears 178 times, winning 82 and tying six. This is one of the oldest and best rivalries going in the game today, and the Packers are the third oldest team in NFL history. There is a difference of just 116 points scored between the two.
The Packers actually trace back to semi-pro teams in 1896. Curley Lambeau is one of the founders of the professional franchise, borrowing money from his employer, Indian Packing Company, to get uniforms and equipment. The Green Bay Packers are the oldest team by use of nickname and origin in the NFL today.
They were fist referred to as the "Indians", but played their first game known as the "Packers". Their first team colors were navy blue and gold, after Lambeau's Alma mater Notre Dame. Lambeau briefly considered changing the team name to the "Blues".
They changed to their current colors of green and gold in 1950, and then started using the "G" emblem on their helmet in 1961. Despite having the smallest television market in a town of barely over 102,000 people, the fans are considered amongst the most loyal and rabid.
The history that emanates from this team, from Lambeau, who the Packers named their stadium after, to "Blood" McNally, to Don Hutson, the man who many say invented the pass pattern, to Vince Lombardi, the man who the NFL named their championship trophy after, to Bart Starr and even Brett Favre, the lineage is unlike any other franchise.
Now with rising star Aaron Rodgers leading a young roster chock full of talent, Packers fans are looking forward to continue filling up the largest trophy case in the NFL.
Quarterback : Cecil Isbell
Isbell was the Packers first round draft pick in 1938, the seventh overall selection. He was used as a halfback mostly at first, because Hall of Famer Arnie Hebner was the primary quarterback. Hall of Fame head coach Curly Lambeau alternated them often, as well as played them together.
Leading the NFL with a 5.2 yards per carry average, Isbell was named a Pro Bowler his rookie year. He led the team in rushing and passing, helping them get to the NFL Championship game before losing to the New York Giants.
He led the team in rushing again the next year, making the Pro Bowl again. Green Bay faced the Giants again in the championship game and won 27-0. He split time at quarterback with Herber until the end of the 1940 season, when Herber retired.
Now the primary quarterback in 1941, Isbell led the NFL in attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns,, touchdowns and interception percentage, yards gained per pass attempt, completion, and per game played, as well as quarterback rating. He was named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro. His 1,479 passing yards was an NFL record at the time.
He broke that record with another Pro Bowl season the next year by tossing for an NFL leading 2,021 yards. He also led the NFL in touchdown passes, completions, touchdown percentage, yards gained per attempt, passing yards per game, quarterback rating, and a career long 73 yard pass.
Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson was his primary target, grabbing 17 scores, a record that stood 42 years, out of his 24 touchdowns total. Hutson also caught 74 of Isbell's 146 completions, and 1,211 of Cecil's passing yards.
Isbell then suddenly retired from the game, stating he wanted to leave at the top of his game.He went on to become a head coach at the college and professional ranks. His four Pro Bowls is tied with Hall of Famer Bart Starr as the second most by a Packers quarterback, and his 61 touchdown passes still rank sixth best in team history.
He is a member of both the Packers and College Football Hall of Fames, as well as the NFL 1930's All-Decade Team alongside Herber. Cecil Isbell is the only quarterback on that team not yet inducted into Canton, but four Pro Bowls in his five year career shows he was great.
Lynn Dickey, Don Majkowski, and Tobin Rote deserve mention.
Fullback : John Brockington
Brockington was the Packers first round draft pick in 1971, the ninth player chosen overall. He quickly became the main staple of Green Bay's offensive attack, running for 1,105 yards at a career best 5.1 yards per carry.
He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, the only Packer to ever acquire this honor. He won the NFC Rookie of the Year Award by the UPI, and was also named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro that year. He gained over 1,000 yards the next year on a career best 274 carries and nine total touchdowns, getting to his second Pro Bowl.
The 1973 season was his last as both a Pro Bowler and 1,000 yard rusher. He set career highs with 1,144 yards and 81.7 yards rushing per game. Though he churned out 833 yards the next year, it became apparent the amount of carries has piled up on him.
After running for 840 yards the next two years, he was cut after the first game of the 1977 season. The Kansas City Chiefs picked him up for ten games as a reserve, and he retired at the end of the year.
John Brockington is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, and his 5,024 career yards rushing with the Packers still ranks third best in team history. He three Pro Bowls is tied with Hall of Famer Clarke Hinkle as the second most by any Packers fullback.
Though Hinkle and Jim Taylor are Hall of Famers who are thought to be the best fullbacks in Green Bay history, Brockington was a special player in his own right.
William Henderson, Howie Ferguson, Ted Fritsch, Edgar Bennett, Frank Balasz, Gerry Ellis, and Ed Jankowski deserve mention.
Halfback : Ahman Green
Green was a third round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. He spent two years there mostly riding the bench, carrying the ball 61 times total before being traded to the Packers.
Green Bay put him to work immediately as their featured back, and he churned out five consecutive seasons where he gained over 1,000 yards on the ground. He also went to the Pro Bowl four straight years. He also caught 267 passes over those five years, displaying what a complete weapon he was for the team.
No other player gained as many yards in those five seasons than he did. He also was explosive, running for touchdowns from 98 and 90 yards out. He is one of just two players in NFL history to have touchdown runs of 90 yards or more.
After an injury plagued 2006 season that saw him play just five games, Green rebounded the next year with his sixth 1,000 yard season in seven years. He then joined the Houston Texans for two injury riddled years before rejoining he Packers in 2009 to add depth to a depleted backfield.
Though he played just eight games as a reserve, he gained enough yards to become the Packers all-time leader in rushing yards and carries. No Packers halfback has appeared in more Pro Bowls that his four. His 350 receptions are the most by any running back, and ranks seventh on the teams list.
A lot was made of the fact Green fumbled 34 times as a Packer, but he only fumbled one more time with 40 more carries than Hall of Famer Jim Taylor, who is considered the greatest fullback in team history. Ahman Green may very well be the best halfback the team ever had. He recently joined the Omaha Nighthawks in the United Football League.
Billy Grimes, Vern Lewellen, Joe Laws, Tom Moore, Larry Buhler, Dick Weisgerber, Hank Bruder, Donny Anderson, Dorsey Levins, Terdell Middleton, Andy Uram, Travis Jervey, Brent Fullwood, and Jimmy Lawrence all deserve mention.
Wide Receiver : Billy Howton
Howton was the Packers second round draft pick in 1952. He became a star right away, leading the league with career best marks of 1,231 receiving yards and total yards from scrimmage, 102.6 receiving yards per game, and a 90 yard reception. He also averaged a career high 23. 2 yards on 52 catches, scoring 13 times, and making the Pro Bowl squad.
Despite playing just eight games because of injuries the next year, he went back to the Pro Bowl in 1955. He led the NFL with 1,188 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns, and 99 yards receiving per game in 1956, as well as averaging 21.6 yards per catch on a career best 55 receptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl and garnered a First Team All-Pro nod.
He replicated the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors the next season, and made his final Pro Bowl squad in 1957. He joined the Cleveland Browns for the 1959 season before joining the fledgling Dallas Cowboys in their expansion year in 1960.
He stayed with the Cowboys for four years, catching 161 passes over that time. He retired with 503 career receptions for 8,459 yards after 1963, and both were NFL records at the time.
Though he was the very first NFLPA president, and a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, Howton has yet to be close to induction into Canton though it appears very evident he is worthy.
Wide Receiver : Sterling Sharpe
Sharpe was the Packers first round draft pick in 1988, the seventh pick overall. He started immediately and grabbed 55 balls. He led the NFL with 90 catches the next season, attaining his first Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro nods. He made the Pro Bowl again the next year.
The 1992 season may have been his best. He led the league with 108 catches for a career best 1,461 yards and 13 scores. He also averaged an NFL best 91.3 yards receiving per game. His 108 catches were an NFL record at the time.
He won the Triple Crown for receivers by leading the league in catches, yards, scores, becoming just the 6th player to ever accomplish this. All previous players to have done this are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and only Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers has done this since. He was also named to the Pro Bowl as well as First Team All-Pro.
He broke that record with 112 the next year, becoming the first player to have consecutive seasons of over 100 receptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl and got his third nod as First Team All-Pro.
His last year as a Pro Bowler was in 1994, which happened to also be his last as a player. He led the league with 18 touchdown catches on 94 receptions. He injured his neck so severely that year that he was forced to retire.
Not only is Sharpe a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, his 595 receptions for 8.134 yards were team records until Donald Driver surpassed those marks in 2009. The Packers have had a ton of legendary wide receivers, and Sterling Sharpe certainly ranks near the top.
Lavvie Dilweg, Boyd Dowler, Carroll Dale, John Jefferson, Tom Nash, Tillie Voss, Milt Gantenbein, Harry Jacunski, Carl Mulleneaux, Javon Walker, Roell Preston, Steve Odom, Max McGee, Robert Brooks, and Antonio Freeman all deserve mention.
Tight End : Paul Coffman
Coffman made the Packers squad as a free agent rookie in 1978, but did not accumulate any statistics in the 16 games he played that year. He earned the starting job the next year and snagged a career high 56 passes.
He made the first of his three consecutive Pro Bowls after the strike shortened season of 1982. His best season may have been in 1983, when he set career high marks of 814 receiving yards, eleven touchdowns, and a 15.1 yards per catch average.
He left the Packers after 1985 to join the Kansas City Chiefs. After 17 catches over two years, he joined the Minnesota Vikings and suited up for eight games before retiring at the end of the 1988 season.
His 322 catches for 4,223 yards and 39 scores are far and away the most ever by any Packers tight end in the franchises history. His three Pro Bowls is tied as the most by a tight end in Green Bay history. It is safe to say Paul Coffman is the best to have ever played the position for them.
Mark Chmura, Bubba Franks, Ron Kramer, Rich McGeorge, and Keith Jackson deserve mention.
Center : Charley Brock
Charley with Curley Lambeau
Brock was drafted by the Packers in the third round of the 1939 draft, the 24th player chosen overall. He was named to the Pro Bowl and scored off of an interception in his rookie year as Green Bay won the championship.
He made the Pro Bowl again the next season, then saw time at halfback and fullback over the next two years. He intercepted a career best 6 balls in 1942, and also scored off of a fumble recovery while making his last Pro Bowl.
After Green Bay won the 1944 NFL Championship, he was named First Team All-Pro in 1945 after leading the NFL with 122 yards off interceptions and two returns for score. He also led the league with 52 yards off of 5 fumble recoveries.
Brock retired after the 1947 season with 20 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries in his career. His three Pro Bowls is the second most by a center in Packers franchise history behind Hall of Famer Jim Ringo.
Not only is Brock a member of both the Packers and Nebraska University Football Hall of Fames, he is on the NFL 1940's All-Decade Team. He is one of the best all around players in team history.
Larry McCarren, Frank Winters, Bo Svendsen, Tom Greenfield, Ken Bowman, Nate Barragar, and Mike Flanagan all are worthy of mention.
Guard : Gale Gillingham
Gillingham was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 1966 NFL Draft, the 13th player chosen overall. He earned the starting job at left guard late in the year, unseating Pro Bowler and Packers Hall of Famer Fuzzy Thurston.
After helping Green Bay win the famous "Ice Bowl" game against the Dallas Cowboys, he helped the Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first championship game between the NFL and American Football League. It is now commonly known as Super Bowl I.
The Packers repeated as champions the next year as well, as Gillingham started in every game. He would start in every game the team played until 1976, except for 12 games due to injury in 1972.
He made his first Pro Bowl in 1969, as well as garnering First Team All-Pro honors. After repeating that feat the next season, he made the Pro Bowl in 1971 before being injured in the second game of 1972 and missing the rest of the season.
Gillingham returned to the Pro Bowl in 1973 and the following year before deciding to retire at the end of 1976. He is a member of the teams Hall of Fame, and his five Pro Bowls are the most by any Packers guard in franchise history.
Though Packers historians clamor for the induction of ex-guard Jerry Kramer's induction into Canton, Gale Gillingham certainly should be considered as well.
Guard : Jerry Kramer
Kramer was drafted in the fourth round of the 1958 draft by the Packers. He spent his rookie year as a reserve, mostly playing special teams. He earned the starting job the next year, which was also this first of Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi as a head coach. Kramer held onto his starters job until he retired.
He was named First Team All-Pro for the first time in 1960, and was an integral part of Packers teams that won NFL Championships 1961, 1962, and 1965. He made the Pro Bowl and was honored as First Team All-Pro in 1962 and 1963.
What made those two years particularly special was the fact Kramer served as the primary placekicker as well. He led the NFL in field goal percentage in 1962, made 16 out of 34 field goal attempts the next year, and made 81 out of 85 extra point attempts over that time. He would not kick again until his final season.
He played just two games in 1964 because of injury, but rebounded to be named First Team All-Pro in both 1966 and 1967, as well as make the 1966 Pro Bowl squad. He retired after the 1968 season, where he went four for nine on field goals and nine out of ten on extra points.
Jerry Kramer is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, the NFL 50th Anniversary Team, the NFL 1960's All-Decade Team, the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame, and the Senior Bowl 50th All-Time Anniversary Team. He has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a whopping ten times. He is the only member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time team not yet inducted into Canton.
He awaits his induction still, one that should have happened several decades ago, because he is one of the greatest guards in Packers history.
Buckets Goldenberg, Fuzzy Thurston, Gust Zarnas, Bill Lueck, Paul Tinsley, Marco Rivera, Lon Evans, and Ross Letlow deserve mention.
Tackle : Dick Wildung
Wildung was the Green Bays first round draft pick in 1943, the eighth overall selection, but he served in the military until 1946 before joining the Packers.
After playing guard his first two seasons, getting a safety playing defensive tackle as well, Green Bay moved him to left tackle in 1948. He stayed there the rest of his career, but missed the 1952 season because of injury.
He made his lone Pro Bowl in 1951, then retired after 1953. He was inducted into both the Packers and College Football Hall of Fame. Though he was a Packer for just seven years, his impact lasted much longer.
Tackle : Bob Skoronski
Skoronski was drafted in the fifth round of the 1956 draft by the Packers. He won the staring job at left tackle right away that season. He had to leave the team until 1959 because he served in the military during the Korean Conflict. It was also the first season Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi was head coach.
After playing as a reserve that year, he earned back his starting job in 1960 and would hold onto it until he retired after the 1968 season. Skoronski was so reliable that he missed just two games in his whole career.
He was an integral part of a offensive line blocking for Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr. Green Bay won championships five times between 1961 to 1967. Skoronski was named to his lone Pro Bowl in 1966.
Not only is he a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, but Bob Skoronski is one of the best left tackles the franchise has ever had.
Baby Ray, Ernie Smith, Bill Lee, Paul Kell, Howard "Cub" Buck, Charles Schultz, Greg Koch, and Ade Schwammel deserve mention.
Defensive Tackle : Dave Hanner
Hanner was a fifth round draft pick by the Packers in 1952. He was a Pro Bowler by 1953, again getting the honor for the last time in 1953.
He was steady and versatile in his 13 seasons with Green Bay, playing both tackle positions. He was also extremely athletic, getting four career interceptions and a safety. He missed just four games in his entire career.
Not only was he reliable, but Hanner was a winner. He played on two Packers teams that won league championships. When he retired at the end of the 1964 season, he became an assistant coach immediately and was part of two Super Bowl winning teams. He stayed with the team until 1996, filling roles like defensive coordinator and scout.
Dave "Hawg" Hanner is a member of both the Packers and Arkansas Sports Hall of Fames. He is also remembered for sacking Chicago quarterback Ed Brown for a safety, helping secure Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi's first career victory with a 9-6 decision over the Bears.
Defensive Tackle : Bob Brown
Brown was drafted in the first round of the 1964 AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, and in the 13th round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
He did not play until 1966, joining the Packers as a reserve. Green Bay won the Super Bowl that season, and repeated the next year. After playing in just six games because of injury in 1968, he earned a starting job the next year and held onto it until he left the team after 1973.
The best year of his career was in 1972, when he sacked Houston Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini for a safety and was later was named to his only Pro Bowl. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1974, then joined the Cincinnati Bengals the next year. He stayed with them for two years before retiring.
Brown was a consistent force, only missing the eight games in 1968. He is one of just three Packer defensive tackles to go to the Pro Bowl. Hall of Famer Henry Jordan and "Hawg" Hanner are the others. It is safe to say Bob Brown is one of the best defensive tackles in team history.
Mike McCoy and Ron Kostelnik deserve mention.
Defensive End : John Martinkovic
Martinkovic was drafted in the sixth round of the 1951 draft by the Washington Redskins. He soon joined the Packers and earned a starting job as a rookie. He scored two touchdowns in 1952.
He made the first of his three consecutive Pro Bowls in 1953 and was considered one of the top defensive ends of the 1950's. He was traded to the New York Giants in 1957 and retired at the end of the season.
Not only is he a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, but he is one of the best defensive ends in franchise history.
Defensive End : Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
Gbaja-Biamila was drafted in the fifth round of the 2000 draft by the Packers. He appeared in seven games, during his rookie season, getting 1.5 sacks.
He was named a starter the next year and got 13.5 sacks. He has 12 in 2002, and took an interception 72 yards for a touchdown. The 2003 season saw him go to his only Pro Bowl after getting 10 sacks. He followed that up by matching his career high total of 13.5 sacks the next year.
Not only is Gbaja-Biamila recognized as the first to have three straight seasons double digit sack totals, but also the first to do it four consecutive seasons.
In 2007, the Packers used him as a pass rush specialist and he added 9.5 sacks. After being able to suit up for just seven games the next year because of injury, the Packers released him.
Gbaja-Biamila is the Packers all-time leader in sacks with 74.5 total. He has yet to officially retire, but he was one of the finest defensive ends in Green Bay history.
Ab Wimberly, Ezra Johnson, Allen Moore Robert Brown, and Lionel Aldridge deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Dave Robinson
Robinson was drafted in the first round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Packers, and in the third round of the AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He opted to play in Green Bay.
He spent his rookie year as a reserve, but earned a starting job the following season. After helping the Packers win the 1965 season, the 1966 season was his first as a Pro Bowler as the Packers won the first Super Bowl. He earned his second Pro Bowl the next year, as Green Bay won their third straight championship.
After making his last Pro Bowl in 1969, he stayed on with the Packers until 1973 when he was traded to the Washington Redskins. He played two years with them before retiring. He is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.
Dave Robinson is a member of the NFL's 1960's All-Decade Team, and he has been seriously considered for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame several times. He may be the best outside linebacker the team has ever had.
Middle Linebacker : Bill Forester
Forester was drafted in the third round of the 1953 draft by the Pack, the 31st player chosen overall. He started at middle guard in his rookie year, a position later turned into middle linebacker by Hall of Famer Bill George.
After playing left outside linebacker in 1954, he played the following two years at middle guard and picked off four balls each season. Green Bay then permanently moved him to the right outside linebacker spot in 1957 and matched his career high mark of four interceptions.
He made the Pro Bowl for four straight years from 1959 to 1962, earning First Team All-Pro honors the last three years. He also tallied his only points in 1959, off of a safety.
When Forester retired after 1962, he had 21 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries in his 11 seasons. It was the most ever by a Packers linebacker at the time, and still ranks third best. His four Pro Bowls are the most ever by any linebacker in franchise history.
He is a member of the teams Hall of Fame and the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. Forester was also nominated for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a few times, but has failed to get in as of yet.
When Vince Lombardi became head coach of Green Bay, part of the Hall of Famers winning formula was built around Forester on defense. The Packers went to three straight NFL Championship games in Forester's last three seasons as a player, winning in his last two years.
He is one of the best linebackers the team ever had.
Ed Neal, Clayton Tonnemaker, and Jim Carter also deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Fred Carr
Carr was drafted in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft by Green Bay, the fifth player chosen overall. He spent his first two seasons as a back up to Pro Bowler and Packers Hall of Famer Lee Roy Caffey before earning the starters job in 1970.
He would start in every Packers game from then until he retired after 1977. Carr made his first Pro Bowl in 1970, then went back in 1972 and 1975. He was named MVP of the 1970 Pro Bowl, becoming the first to win it in the modern day AFC-NFC Pro Bowl and just the third Packer ever to win the award.
Not only is Fred Carr a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, his three Pro Bowls are tied with Dave Robinson and Roger Zatkoff as the most ever by a Green Bay outside linebacker. He might be the best one the team ever had.
Lee Roy Caffey, John Anderson, Bryce Paup, Tim Harris, Dan Currie, Deral Teteak, George Koonce, Bob Forte, Mike Douglass, and Roger Zatkoff also deserve mention.
Strong Safety : LeRoy Butler
Butler was drafted in the second round of the 1990 draft and spent his rookie season as a reserve. He still picked off three passes and was starting at cornerback the next year.
The Packers moved him to strong safety in 1992, where he would stay the rest of his career. Butler picked off a career best six passes in 1993, 90 tackles, and took a fumble recovery 25 yards for a score. He was named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl that year.
He attained those honors again in 1996, where Green Bay won Super Bowl XXXI. He swiped 5 balls, taking one 90 yards for a score, and had a career high 6.5 sacks. He was also named First Team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in each of the following two years.
When Butler played nine games because of injury in 2001, he retired. He is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame and the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team. He is the only Packers strong safety to be named to four First Team All-Pro honors, and his 38 interceptions rank fourth best in franchise history.
Hank Gremminger and Mark Murphy deserve mention.
Free Safety : Bobby Dillon
Dillon was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1952 draft by the Green Bay Packers. He was the 28th player chosen overall. He attended college at Texas University, and is inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor and to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
He earned a starting job immediately for the Packers, picking off four passes in his rookie year. Then he became even more of a nightmare to opposing teams in 1953, grabbing nine interceptions for 112 yards. He also scored the first touchdown of his career off of a 49 yard return of an interception. Dillon accomplished this despite playing in just 10 of the 12 games that year.
The 1954 season saw him swipe seven more balls, scoring another touchdown as well. He was named to his first First Team All-Pro honor that season. He was named to the first of his four consecutive Pro Bowls and another First Team All-Pro nod the next season after getting nine interceptions for 153 yards.
Dillon gained an NFL-leading and career best 244 yards off of seven interceptions in 1956, scoring another touchdown and was named to First Team All-Pro again.
He tied his career best mark of nine interceptions in 1957, scoring a touchdown off of a 55 yard return in his 180 total yards. He was named to his last Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors in 1958, after picking off 6 balls for 134 yards and scoring his fifth and final career touchdown.
Dillon retired at the end of the 1959 season year and still holds the Packers franchise record for career interceptions and interception return yardage. He is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall Of Fame.
Bobby got a lot of early notoriety early in his career because he was blind in one eye. Since it is more than obvious this did not detract from his play, Dillon's exploits on the field are his real mark on the game.
He averaged over six interceptions a year for his career. There are a few factors that may have kept Bobby from inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame thus far. One is that he played on some bad Packers teams. The only season that he played on a winning team was his last, which also happened to be Vince Lombardi's first year in Green Bay.
Another reason may be that he played just 8 seasons. Those detractors would get some argument from me on these facts. There is the obvious fact of the impact Bobby had on the gridiron. His amazing nose for the ball is not matched by many to have ever played the game.
When he retired, he ranked second all time in NFL history with his 52 career interceptions That mark was tied by Jack Butler of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also retired in 1959. Both are now presently tied for 23rd all time.
There are only four safeties in NFL history with more interceptions than Bobby Dillon (Ronnie Lott's first five seasons were spent at cornerback). If you add these facts up, it eradicates the arguments of his teams won-loss record or his amount of seasons played. Bobby Dillon deserves his inductions into Canton.
Darren Sharper, Chuck Cecil, Irv Comp, and Johnnie Gray are worthy of mention.
Cornerback : Bob Jeter
Jeter was the Packers second round draft pick in 1960, the 17th player overall, after a stellar career at Iowa University. He ran for 194 yards on nine carries in their 1959 Rose Bowl win over California University to procure a National Championship title.
He joined Green Bay in 1963 after military service. Though he spent his first two years as a reserve, he did catch two balls He earned the starting job in 1965 and helped the Packers win the NFL Championship.
After leading the NFL with two touchdowns off of a team leading five interceptions for 142 yards in 1966 that helped Green Bay win the first Super Bowl ever, the Packers repeated as champions the following year with Jeter's eight interceptions leading the team in that category.
He was named to the Pro Bowl and garnered First Team All-Pro honors that season. After a strong 1968 season, he went to his last Pro Bowl the next year.
Green Bay traded him to the Chicago Bears just before the 1971 season, and he played three more years and then retired. His 23 interceptions still rank as the fourth most ever by a Packers cornerback and he is a member of the teams Hall of Fame.
Cornerback : Willie Buchanon
Buchanon was drafted in the first round of the 1972 draft, the seventh player chosen overall, and he stood out immediately. He picked off four passes and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, the only Packer to have won this award.
Despite playing just six games the next year because of injury, he was named to his first Pro Bowl. He repeated that honor the next season in 1974. He played in two games the following season due to injury but would not miss another game in the subsequent six years.
Perhaps his best year was in 1978, where he had a career best nine interceptions. Four came in one game against the San Diego Chargers, which tied a still standing NFL record. He was named to his final Pro Bowl and his only First Team All-Pro honor.
The Chargers were coached by Don Coryell, who was Buchanon's coach in college. Coryell traded for him, where Buchanon started in three of the four years he was with the team. He recovered three fumbles in one game, which tied a still standing NFL record.
After starting in just one of the nine games played in the strike shortened season of 1982, he retired. He is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, the Packers All-Time team, the California State Junior College Hall of Fame, the Oceanside High School Hall of Fame, and the San Diego Hall of Champions.
Jesse Whittenton, Ken Ellis, and Mark Lee deserve mention.
Kicker : Chester Marcol
Marcol was drafted in the second round of the 1972 draft by the Packers. He exploded in his rookie year, attempting 48 field goals and making 33. Both led the NFL and are team records, and he was named NFC Rookie of the Year by the UPI. His 48 attempts are still the second most in NFL history, and the 128 points he had that year led the league and was the only time he eclipsed the century mark.
He was named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro that year, an honor he duplicated two years later when he led the NFL with 94 points as well as 39 field goal attempts and 25 makes. He is the only Packers kicker to be named to the Pro Bowl.
His last year in the NFL was an interesting one. In the 1980 season opener against the Chicago Bears, he had made two field goals as the game went to overtime tied 6-6. As he attempted a game-winner from 42 yards out, it was blocked. The ball went right back to Marcol, who scooted 25 yards for the winning points.
He was released after five games, but the Houston Oilers signed him for one game. It was against the Packers in Green Bay. Marcol chipped in four points for the Oilers victory. He retired after the game.
The 521 points he scored for Green Bay is still the third most by a kicker, and sixth overall. His 128 point season still ranks seventh best in team history, and he is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame.
Don Chandler, Chris Jacke, Ryan Longwell, and Tiny Engebretson deserve mention.
Punter : Donny Anderson
Anderson was drafted in the first round of the 1965 NFL Draft, the seventh player chosen overall. Not only was he a punter, but Anderson was a halfback. He did little of both in his rookie year, as Green Bay won Super Bowl I. He did chip in with a touchdown off a 77 yard punt return.
Gone was the Hall of Fame tandem of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in 1967. Elijah Pitts, their other star running back, was in the twilight of his career. Anderson was third on the team in rushing yards and receptions as the Packers repeated as champions. He also punted 65 times, having one blocked for the only time in his career.
The 1968 season was his only Pro Bowl year. He punted the ball 59 times, and had 1,095 all-purpose yards. Perhaps his best season was in 1970, when he ran for a career best 853 yards, caught 36 balls, and punted a career high 81 times.
He was traded to the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1972 and had one of his better years the next season. He ran in a career best ten touchdowns and caught a career high 41 balls and three more scores. He retired after the 1974 season.
Donny Anderson is a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Texas Tech Hall of Fame. He still ranks third best in punt attempts, and fourth in punt yardage.
What makes his feats as punter even better was the fact he was the Packers main running back for years, which shows tremendous grit, athleticism, and durability to still be able to end up with a career average of 39.6 yards per punt.
David Beverly, Don Bracken, Max McGee, Josh Bidwell, Craig Hentrich, Max McGee, Jug Girald, and Don Chandler deserve mention.
Kick Return Specialist : Travis Williams
Travis was a fourth round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1967 draft. He played just five seasons in the NFL, but his impact has him on top of the leagues record books to this very day.
He returned four kickoffs for a touchdown as a rookie, which is the most by a rookie in NFL history. It is also tied with Cecil Turner as the most ever by any player in one season. He averaged an amazing 41.1 yards per kickoff return, which led the NFL., and is the highest average ever by anyone for one year. As a running back, he scored twice more, while helping the Packers win Super Bowl II.
In 1969, Williams scored on a 96 yard kickoff return, while leading the NFL with 1,517 all purpose yards. He also returned the first eight punt returns of his career, and scored on a 83 yard return while averaging a career best 23.6 yards per return. He also led the Packers with 536 rushing yards, and ran for four more touchdowns. He also led the Packers with 27 receptions, while scoring three times.
Williams got hurt in the seventh game of the 1970 season, and missed the rest of the year. He joined the Los Angeles Rams the next year, and led the NFL with a 29.7 kickoff return average on 25 attempts. He also scored on a 105 yard return, which is tied for 3rd longest All-Time in NFL history. He then retired after that season.
His 6 kickoff returns are the most in NFL history, tied with 4 others. He also has the longest kickoff return in Rams history. He averaged 27.5 yards on 102 kickoff returns in his career.
Steve Odom, Dave Hampton, Al Carmichael, Robert Brooks, and Roell Preston deserve mention.
Punt Return Specialist : 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 five touchdowns. He ended up with the Jacksonville Jaguars the next year, and returned 24 punts at a 10.3 average, then 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 yards are an NFL single season record, and he even helped propel the Packers into Super Bowl XXXI with a punt return touchdown in the playoffs.
He ended up being the Super Bowl MVP, when he took a kickoff return 99 yards for a score to help Green Bay win. His 90 punt return yards are a Super Bowl record, and his 244 all purpose yards tied a Super Bowl record. He is the only special teams player to ever be named Super Bowl MVP.
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. He split the 1999 season between Green Bay and Detroit, but did score on a 68 yard punt return for the Lions in five attempts.
He made his lone Pro Bowl team the next year with Detroit, as he averaged 14.7 yards on 31 punt returns and had 1,401 yards on 57 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 57 kickoff returns, to go with a 25.4 average. After an injury plagued 2002, he retired.
Desmond Howard was labeled another Heisman Trophy winning flop in the NFL after his first four 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 eight career touchdowns on punt returns, which is tied for the third most in NFL history. He once returned 10 kickoffs in a game, which is tied for the most in NFL history.
Billy Grimes, Antonio Chatman, Phil Epps, Will Blackmon, Walter Stanley, Al Carmichael, Johnnie Gray, Ken Ellis, Jon Staggers, and Steve Odom deserve mention.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
The 2010 NFL Preseason has begun, and opening kickoff to the regular season is less than a month away. That also means millions of observers, and even many actual players, will participate in fantasy football.
Today's NFL markets the quarterback mostly, and this is also reflected fantasy football itself. Most of the time, the quarterback accumulates his fantasy their most points through his statistical output.
Here are the five best quarterbacks for the upcoming season:
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Not only does he have Pro Bowlers in wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark, but he has a plethora of other weapons at his disposal. He calls his own plays with a playbook heavily slanted towards the pass.
With young receivers like Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, with versatilr running backs Joseph Addai and Don Brown, expect the ten-time Pro Bowler Manning to approach last seasons career best mark of 4,500 passing yards again.
Not only is he the most consistent regular season quarterback since 1999, many expect the Colts to give him a $100 million contract this year to ensure he retires a member of the franchise.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Not only is he the leader of the defending champions, but Brees is at the top of his game right now. The offense Sean Payton runs is perfect for him, so Brees has an explosive unit under him built on precision. They also have run the ball well just enough to maintain some unpredictability.
He led the NFL in 2009 with an astounding 70.6 completion percentage, and there is no indicator he wont come close to it again with the way the rules of the league are built today. He may not duplicate the 34 touchdown passes he has hurled in each of the last years, but no one is crazy enough to bet against him.
With wide receivers like Marques Colston, Robert Meachum, Devery Henderson, along with tight end Jeremy Shockey and running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, Brees should not miss the recent loss of wide receiver Lance Moore to a season ending ending injury. Adrian Arrington and veteran Mark Bradley will be given every opportunity to try to fill his void because Brees is well known for his propensity to spread the ball out to all his teammates.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
All Brady has done was defied critics ever since he was unexpectedly thrust into action during the 2001 season. What followed was legendary and well known, winning four championships, several awards and five Pro Bowl appearances.
He suffered a knee injury, during the first game of the 2008 season, thought to be so severe that many thought he would never be the same. An injury that takes usually 18 months to fully heal from, he started every game of the 2009 season anyways.
Though his numbers were just as solid as seasons past, he could be on the verge of another special season to include into his life's magical tour. His contract expires at seasons end, and some think the Patriots are waiting to see how he plays before determining the amount in an offer. Others think they might be gambling on the impending players strike at seasons end.
This is something that could be perceived as a lack of loyalty, a recurring theme of the NFL, that could backfire and have Brady in a different uniform next year. Until this situation is settled, expect Brady to show he is 100% healthy and in the running for his fifth ring. With guys like Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Torry Holt, Julian Edelman, Fed Taylor, Sam Morriss, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, and possible sleeper Brandon Tate to go to, Brady should put up huge numbers and a lot of wins this year.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers has an interesting situation in 2010. Gone is future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, in is rookie Ryan Matthews. As they bring him along, expect the smallish Darren Sproles to get many of the reps, thus having the Bolts air it out often.
With an excellent receiving corp led by Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, the three game suspension of Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson shouldn't hurt too much. Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, Josh Reed, Gary Banks, and possibly Buster Davis are all more than capable of picking up the slack.
Rivers is easily capable of surpassing the career best 4,254 passing yards he had last year. With the offensive line seemingly having issues, as stalwart left tackle Marcus McNeill hold out for a better contract, San Diego might have problems running the ball and may need to frequently chuck it to have any success.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers came into his own in 2009, making his first Pro Bowl, tossing for 4,434 yards with 30 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. His 1.3 interception percentage led the NFL, and his has tossed 58 scores against just 20 picks the past two years.
Besides his obvious progression, it is easily seen that the 26-year old is the leader of his team. He led Green Bay to the playoffs last year before losing to the Arizona Cardinals 51-45 in what some call the greatest playoff game of the decade.
He has an excellent receiver corps to work with, led by Pro Bowler Greg Jennings and steady veteran Donald Driver. Jordy Nelson and James Jones are two other big receivers who work well in the slot, and up and coming tight end Jermichael Finley helps Donald Lee and converted linebacker Spencer Havner give Rodgers even more options.
Though the Packers run the ball pretty well, relying mostly on Ryan Grant, they do their most damage relying on their quarterbacks brains and arm. Expect more of the same this year with a team many are picking to win their division and battle for the rights to get to the Super Bowl.
Friday, August 6, 2010
When Albert Haynesworth finally ambled unhappily into Redskins Park, new head coach Mike Shanahan wanted to see how football-ready the highly paid defensive lineman was. Haynesworth showed up after announcing he had shed 15 pounds from his playing weight of 350 in 2009.
Shanahan wanted to see if the weight loss translated into being in playing shape. He asked Haynesworth to run three 100-yard dashes in succession, but Haynesworth has yet to complete the task after a week. Between bathroom breaks and excuses, Haynesworth has made it evident he is showing his displeasure at being a member of the Washington Redskins.
A year ago, Haynesworth was one of the most sought after free agents in the NFL. He signed a 7-year deal at $100 million with Washington, $20 million less than what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered. His reasoning was he wanted to play in front of the Redskins large fan base, something he had yet to experience in his career as a football player.
He struggled most of 2009, and said then-defensive coordinator Greg Blatche's schemes would have him unable to "survive another season in this system if it stays the way it is." Though the Redskins replaced Blache with Jim Haslett, they also decided to run the 3-4 defense in 2010. It is the first time in the teams history that they will run this as their base defense, and Haynesworth has voiced his displeasure with that decision as well.
Haynesworth has never played nose tackle, and is thought to be too big and slow to play defensive end. The weight loss may be his way to attempt to get quick enough to play end, because nose tackle may be the most difficult and brutal position to play in football. Though he frequently faced double-teams in blockers, he would take this and even triple-teams on each and every play at nose tackle.
Instead of embracing the challenge, or for, perhaps, the betterment of the team, Haynesworth has continued to grouse. He is mostly know to Redskins Nation for his constant complaining and $32 million he has collected thus far, not his play on the gridiron. His whining has fallen mostly on deaf ears, though Shanahan took him to task in a "put up or shut up" challenge.
The swelling of the knee has been put out to the media as a major reason Haynesworth has stood watching his teammates practice this week. He has not yet been reported as a distraction in the teams clubhouse, though there has to be a question how much his teammates question him, his drive, or his real desire to win. It mostly seems his main path is to take the money and saunter, not run, to the training room as his fellow Redskins drip beads of sweat under their helmets.
Though it seems quite apparent Shanahan cannot back down on his idealism to get Haynesworth ready to take the field. However, so far he has encountered a similar stubbornness from an overpaid child unwilling to earn his keep. Instead of getting ready to face opponents in hopes of attaining a championship, the only battle in camp has been of wills.
Who caves in first in the ugly tug-of-war is anyone guess. There is a division amongst observers on who is just in their cause and who will prevail. In the era of the Prima donna athlete, most players are used to getting their way. Shanahan's old school approach may seem outdated to many, who perceive his treatment of Haynesworth to be a rookie move straight from the Vince Lombardi playbook. A playbook that won so much, the league named their championship trophy after the Hall of Fame coach, something most players most likely aren't aware of nor care.
What exactly Albert Haynesworth cares about is anybodies guess. Money or rings, the only answer can come from his ego and spirit. Time is ticking on training camp, and the Redskin have to be concerned how many quarters each game they can depend on a man who can't even run the length of the field three times in an entire day.