Friday, September 30, 2011
Lick Your Wounds
Losing to your rival hurts, but the pain runs deeper when you know the loss was your own fault. Poor play was seen in a lot of places for the Washington Redskins last week. Gambling on three straight all-out blitzes with the game on the line, the Redskins gave up the big play that ultimately helped them lose the game.
Facing the Saint Louis Rams this week, getting back to basics may be the key to victory. They will face a team that has had difficulty stopping the run this season, so they might need to hand off the ball to Tim Hightower and Roy Helu more than the 19 times they did last week.
While the Redskins defense is ranked fifth best in the NFL in points allowed, their run defense of 11th in rushing yards allowed is deceptive. If you look at the numbers of their three previous opponents top running backs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Beanie Wells and Felix Jones, you can see they have given up 252 yards on only 41 carries against the trio.
Steven Jackson is a much better running back than those three, as well as more versatile a player. He got off to a fast start by running for 56 yards on two carries before being hurt. He returned to very limited duty last week, but still got 23 yards on four carries against an excellent Baltimore Ravens defense.
If he is ready to go at full speed, the Redskins need to keep Jackson off the field as much as possible. This can be done by running the ball well and controlling the clock, while praying their erratic quarterback doesn't suffer another of his frequent brain locks by making throws he should never attempt.
Hightower has already been handling the ball more than he ever has since becoming a pro in 2008. Helu has been quite a find since Washington drafted him in the fourth round this year. Now may the time to get Ryan Torain his first rushing attempts of 2011, especially since he ran for 742 yards in 10 games last season.
Washington has to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. They will get another crack at the Dallas Cowboys just before Thanksgiving, so the Redskins need to focus now on the St. Louis Rams and head into the bye feeling good about themselves.
Washington should be undefeated right now, especially when they prepare to face the Philadelphia Eagles after they get their bye week out of the way. They defeated a beat up New York Giants team that has improved some after the first game. After defeating a Arizona Cardinals squad getting acquainted with a new quarterback, they laid an egg against an injured Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas had an offense in disarray, but Washington quarterback Rex Grossman looked uncomfortable all game and the team once again had difficulties in the red zone. This hurt especially because the Cowboys run defense was stout.
Dallas was barely averaging two yards per carry heading into their contest versus Washington, but Felix Jones ran for 115 yards on just 14 carries. Tony Romo played with broken ribs and his top wide receiver hurt, but he still got the team to win with just six field goals
Growing pains are expected when a team rebuilds, like the Redskins are. Though there is a big infusion of youth on the team, as opposed to the 2010 roster, there are more than enough pro veterans to keep Washington moving in a forward direction.
This game may have a bigger impact on the 2011 season than some may think. Heading into a bye week with another loss can hurt moral in the locker room and have fans hoping for some changes made to the lineup. Grossman's starting job could be on the line this week, especially if he continues to play like he did last week.
A win here may get the team fired up and working hard with a chip on their shoulders in the bye week. As they head down the road of 2011, Washington doesn't seem to have a difficult opponents until week 12 against the New York Jets. The games before then are very winnable, so positive momentum can be attained with a resounding win over the Rams this Sunday.
It was really great having tight end Chris Cooley back in the Redskins lineup. Not just for his abilities, but his leadership certainly boosts moral.
He gutted it out for a few games as he tried to recover from a knee injury that kept him out of preseason games, but the two-time Pro Bowler had a good game last week. He was needed since Fred Davis was limited to one reception.
The eight-year pro quietly passed the legendary Jerry Smith, who belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for the most receptions ever by a Redskins tight end in the first week of 2011.
Cooley caught a season high four passes for 41 yards last week, but he also ran the ball twice for the first time in his career. One rushing attempt resulted in a first down.
With Cooley seemingly back, he should get back to his typical output. Besides his rookie year and 2009 season, which was limited to seven games due to injury, Cooley has not had fewer than 57 receptions. He always to be in the right place for his quarterback, allowing Washington to move the chains.
Davis has slimmed down and gotten in the best shape of his life, so he can split the seam like few tight ends can. He is reminiscent of Smith in that area, because Smith was known for frequently getting deep down the field for big catches. Davis is averaging 17.8 yards on his 12 receptions.
But Cooley is a wily player who has used smarts, innate instincts and his athletic ability to burn defenses for years. He is the most reliable receiver Washington has, so hopefully there will be a heavy dosage of balls thrown his way for the rest of the season.
Kick 'Em While They're Down
The Rams may have been hurt by the players lockout like no other team. They are a young team, so the limited reps in a truncated training camp has done them no favors.
Injuries have blasted this team instantly. Star halfback Steven Jackson got hurt after the first game, but is expected back Sunday from a quad injury. His backup, Cadillac Williams, is slowed by a hamstring injury.
The Rams top receiver, Danny Amendola, may not be ready to go after hurting his elbow in the first game of the year. Their top cornerback, Ron Bartell, is out for the year. They key losses have hurt the winless Rams.
Saint Louis is last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, and second to last in total yards and points allowed. While Williams has done a good job in Jackson's place, the passing game has not done well. Saint Louis ranks 29th in points scored, so getting points has proven to be difficult for quarterback Sam Bradford.
Right tackle Jason Smith has been hobbled by an ankle injury, causing the second overall pick in the 2009 draft to be benched last week. The Rams need him to help an offensive line that is full of more talent than most others in the league.
The Rams have won nine of 31 regular season matchups against Washington, but this is the eighth time they have met since 2000. Saint Louis has won three of their last four games against the Redskins, losing 9-7 in 2009. They won 30-16 last year.
Washington will be facing not only a team desperate to win finally in 2011, they will face a Rams team that is confident that they can win. The Redskins need to defeat a team that is attempting to get off the snide after injuries held them back, or they will be disappointed heading into their bye week at 2-2.
Warm Up The Bullpen
Rex Grossman's gross play last Monday is a big reason the Redskins are no longer undefeated. He is in his third season under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system, but the ninth-year pro plays often like a rookie who is entering his first NFL game ever.
Grossman has not only tossed three interceptions his first three games, he has already taken eight sacks and fumbled the football twice. He has gotten away with a lot of poorly thrown balls that are usually intercepted, and he most likely got away with another fumble last week.
When you are a team that is a week away from getting their bye week finished, a strong start is needed. Especially when your team that has a ton of changes in your roster and is trying to remain competitive while rebuilding. This kind of team cannot afford to have a quarterback playing like a chicken with their head cut off.
Shanahan cannot allow the offensive to wallow for sixty minutes under incompetent leadership another week. Grossman has done nothing to prove he deserves to keep a job he barely won in training camp, helped by circumstances more than actual production.
John Beck had legendary Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann's support during preseason. Theismann said Washington would go with Beck, but Shanahan went with Grossman.
It is not to say Washington would have even two wins with Beck at the helm right now, because all of that is unknown for a quarterback who hasn't played since he suited up as a rookie for a horrible Miami Dolphins squad in 2007.
But you know what you get with the "Rex Hex." Gross play flooded with tons of turnovers and even more poor decisions. This is is given by an unathletic quarterback who is as mobile as a statue and so short he seemingly gets at least a few attempts batted down each contest. There is a reason he has been a journeyman bench warmer most of his career.
If the gross play continues against the Rams, the plug has to be pulled on Grossman. Put Beck in and see what he can do. If promise is shown, Washington can use their bye week to get the rest of the offense more in sync with a mobile quarterback who is a better athlete.
Whether than means whether Beck is a better quarterback or not would be determined on the field of play.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
LeBeau was a fifth round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1959 draft, the was the 58th player picked overall. LeBeau did not make the Browns team, and was cut in training camp. He would then be picked up by the Detroit Lions.
He played six games in his rookie year, mostly on special teams, did recover the first fumble of his career that season. In 1960, LeBeau earned the starting job at cornerback opposite newly acquired Hall of Famer Dick "Night Train" Lane. The Lions defense also had Hall of Fame middle linebacker Joe Schmidt, Hall of Fame safety Yale Lary. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Alex Karras and Pro Bowl safety Terry Barr.
LeBeau picked off four passes his initial season. The next three seasons, LeBeau and Lane formed the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. LeBeau picked off four balls in 1962. He scored the first two touchdowns of his career that year, by interception and fumble recovery.
In 1963, LeBeau picked off five passes and returned them for 158 yards. He also returned one interception 70 yards for a touchdown. LeBeau would then make his first of 3 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 1964. That season also marked Lary's last in the NFL, and Lane played only seven games. LeBeau still managed five interceptions that year.
The 1965 season was the last year for both Lane and Schmidt. LeBeau picked off seven passes and returned one for the last touchdown of his career. LeBeau's last Pro Bowl season was in 1966, when he intercepted four passes.
LeBeau picked off four passes in 1967 by bookending Hall of Fame cornerback Lem Barney. He did this while under new head coach, and former teammate, Joe Schmidt. LeBeau and Barney would then team up for the next three years as one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.
The 1970 season saw LeBeau have a career high nine interceptions. At 34-years old in 1971, LeBeau would intercept six passes. The 1972 season would be the last year as a Detroit Lion for LeBeau and Schmidt. LeBeau was moved to free safety that year, and would not intercept a pass for the first time since his rookie season.
LeBeau only retired from the NFL as a player after 1972. He went into coaching in 1973 for the Philadelphia Eagles as a Secondary Coach. He stayed with the team until 1975. He then held the same duties with the Green Bay Packers from 1976 to 1979.
In 1980, he moved to the Cincinnati Bengals. He served as their secondary coach and a defensive coordinator with the Bengals until 1991. LeBeau then served as the Defensive Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992 to 1996.
This is when LeBeau would gain notoriety for inventing the now commonly used "Zone Blitz" defense. The Steelers defense featured such greats as Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson, Pro Bowl linebackers Greg Lloyd, Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon and strong safety Carnell Lake. They would go to the Super Bowl after the 1995 season.
In 1997, LeBeau returned to the Bengals as a defensive coordinator. He would then be named head coach of the Bengals in 2000, holding that job until 2002. LeBeau then worked for the Buffalo Bills in 2003.
He returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004, and is still the defensive coordinator of the Steelers today. In 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. LeBeau is one of the most respected coaches in NFL history and is called "Coach Dad" by his players.
Dick LeBeau's playing career alone may have had him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He is the first player from the 1959 NFL Draft to make it into Canton. He is a member of the Detroit Lions Legends and his 62 interceptions are the most in the history of the Lions.
Butz was the fifth overall selection of the 1971 draft, chosen by the Saint Louis Cardinals. His career got off to positive beginnings, as he started 10 of the 12 games he played as a rookie.
Then Butz suffered a devastating knee injury of the first game of the 1972 season. The Cardinals believed his playing days were over, so they released him. The Washington Redskins quickly signed the huge defensive tackle.
After being brought along slowly by Hall of Fame head coach George Allen, where Butz started in 16 of the 40 games he appeared in over three seasons, he was elevated to a starters job in 1978. He would remain there the next 11 seasons.
Being 6'7" 291, he was an immovable object in the middle of the defense. While stuffing running backs was his specialty, Butz also batted down a ton of passing attempts. If that wasn't enough of a distraction for opposing quarterbacks, he was also a good pass rusher despite drawing multiple blockers most plays.
The 1983 season is considered his finest year. Butz was named to his only Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro nod after being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Kansas City Committee 101, an award chosen by 101 NFL sportswriters and sportscasters. He had a career best 11.5 quarterback sacks that season.
He was the Redskins model of consistency. After becoming a starter, he missed three games in 11 years. Butz missed five total in his 14 years with the Redskins. Besides having 59.5 career sacks, which is most ever by a Washington defensive tackle, his 203 games played is the fourth most in franchise history.
Dave Butz is a member of the NFL's 1980s All-Decade Team. Not only did he constantly make the Cardinals regret giving up on him, Butz made Redskins fans joyful by helping their team win two Super Bowls. He is one of the 70 Greatest Redskins ever.
Creekmur lasted until the 26th round of the 1948 draft when the Philadelphia Eagles used the 243rd pick on him. He did not make the team, so he was out of football until 1950.
The Detroit Lions offered him a tryout that year, which turned out to be a great move. He earned a starting job at left guard that season and went to the first of eight consecutive Pro Bowls. The 1951 season saw him honored as First Team All-Pro, something he would garner in six of the next seven years.
Creekmur moved to left tackle in 1952, where he would stay the rest of his career. While noted as a fierce run blocker, he was equally exceptional pass blocking. He kept Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne upright.
Layne also happened to be a player Detroit got from another team off that 1948 draft. He was selected by the Chicago Bears with the third overall pick that year, who would trade him one year later to the New York Bulldogs. He was traded to the Lions the following season.
Layne was known for taking his linemen out each week for expensive dinners to thank them for keeping him healthy. Creekmur would later note that Layne was his favorite quarterback to protect.
Detroit would go to four title games and win three of them behind Creekmur. He retired after the 1958 season, but was coaxed back in 1959 to play eight straight games despite not having any time to practice and get in shape. He retired permanently after that season.
Not only is Creekmur inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his six First Team All-Pro nods are the most ever by a Lions offensive lineman. It is also tied with Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Dutch Clark as the most ever by an offensive player in that franchises long history.
Lou Creekmur is the best blocker in Lions history and his toughness is legendary. Creekmur broke his nose 13 times playing football, but he never missed a game and always was great. Not bad for a guy who nobody wanted on their team for the first few years he was out of college.
Blanda was a 12th round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1949 draft. His final two seasons pf college football was played under legendary coach Bear Bryant. Blanda is a member of the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame.
Blanda then went on to play pro football under NFL founder and Hall of Famer George Halas. The two did not get along.
Blanda was given $600 to sign with the Bears, but Halas took the money back after Blanda made the team.
He kicked, punted, and quarterbacked his rookie year. Blanda started the next season with the Baltimore Colts, but found himself back on the Bears for the final 11 games of that season.
While mainly used as a kicker for three years, he spent the 1951 season also playing linebacker. Blanda intercepted the only pass of his career that season.
Blanda earned the starting job at quarterback in 1953, and led the NFL in attempts and completions. He started seven games the next year, and led the NFL in yards gained-per-games played.
He would accomplish that feat two more times in the AFL. Blanda was then mainly used as a kicker until 1958. He decided to retire because of his difficulties with Halas.
He said that Halas no longer seemed interested in the NFL and the game had passed him by. Blanda was quoted to have said, "Halas was too cheap to even buy me a kicking shoe."
After sitting out of the 1959 season, Blanda decided to play for the expansion Houston Oilers in the fledgling American Football League. The Oilers would go on to win the first AFL Championship with Blanda at the helm.
The Oilers repeated as AFL Champions the next year, as Blanda was named to his first All Pro team while leading the AFL in passing yards, touchdowns, and several other categories. He also set a record for fewest receiving yards in a career, when he caught a pass for negative 16 yards.
He would be named an All-Pro the next two seasons as well. He led the AFL in attempts and completions from 1963 to 1965. Blanda also led the AFL in interceptions thrown from 1962 to 1965.
At 40-years old, Blanda joined the Oakland Raiders in 1967. He was named to his last All Pro team, this time as a kicker, helping the Raiders get to Super Bowl II.
He led the league in extra points attempted and made in four of his first eight seasons with Oakland. He led the NFL in scoring in 1967 with 116 points, and had a career high 117 points the following year.
His biggest year in Oakland was in 1970, when he would be named the Bert Bell Award winner for Player of the Year. Blanda had actually been released for a short time in preseason, but was quickly brought back.
That season, Blanda had to come off the bench four times to replace Darryl Lamonica, the starter, due to injury. Blanda led the Raiders to three comeback wins and a tie.
He then had the come in for an injured Lamonica during the AFC Championship game. He booted a 48-yard field goal, and went 17-32 for 271 yards and two touchdowns, but the Raiders fell to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Colts.
In 1973, at 46-years old, Blanda scored 100 points. He then retired after the 1975 season at 48-years old.
Many fans may know that the Hall of Famer Blanda retired with an then-NFL record 2002 points, but he also holds several other records.
He shares the record for seven touchdown passes in a game, owns the record for most seasons played, and most seasons scoring a point (26). He's also the first player in history to score over 2,000 points, the oldest person to ever play in the NFL and in a title game. Blanda has thrown the most interceptions in a season.
He still has attempted and made the most extra points ever. While playing the fourth most games ever, he still has the fifth most points scored ever. His 26 seasons played and most years of scoring a point are also records.
Brett Favre broke his record of 277 interception in 2007, and Drew Bledsoe broke his record of 68 passing attempts in a game during the 1994 season.
George Blanda is truly one of the legends of the game of football, as a kicker and quarterback. Many Raiders will always remember him coming off the bench and leading Oakland to thrilling victories.
Brown was a 27th round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1959 draft. He only was on the roster for one game in his rookie year, and did not accumulate any stats.
He then joined the Philadelphia Eagles the next year. He played very sparingly, but did have a 79-yard kick return on 11 attempts.
The 1961 season would be the year Brown got his chance. He led the NFL with 29 kickoff returns and 811 yards. He scored on a 105-yard return, which still stands as an Eagles franchise record and is the seventh longest in NFL history. He also scored the only punt return touchdown of his career on just eight returns.
Brown led the NFL in all-purpose yards in 1962 and 1963. In 1962, Brown caught 50 balls and averaged an impressive 16.3 yards per catch.
He led the NFL in kickoff returns and kickoff return yards in 1963, with 33 attempts for a career high 945 yards. He was also named to the Pro Bowl from 1962 to 1965.
He led the league with a yards per rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry, as he ran for a career high 861 yards in 1965. Brown became the first ever to score on two kickoff returns in one game during the 1966 season, which is still a NFL record that he shares with nine others.
Brown got injured in the seventh game in 1967 and missed the rest of the year. He joined the Baltimore Colts the next year, and helped the Colts win the NFL Championship before they went on to lose in Super Bowl III. He retired after that season and has enjoyed a fine acting career. Brown was in both the movie and TV version of M*A*S*H.
Timmy Brown rushed for 3,862 yards and 31 touchdowns, while catching 235 passes for 3,399 yards and 26 additional scores. His 14.5 yards per catch is very impressive for a running back, and he also averaged 26 yards on 184 kickoff returns. Brown's five career kickoff return touchdowns is tied for the eighth most in NFL history.
Maynard was drafted in the ninth round of the 1957 draft by the New York Giants. Though he did not make the team that year, he did play the next year for the Giants. He was used as a return specialist mostly, taking 24 punts and 11 kickoffs for 401 yards. Maynard also caught five passes and ran the ball a career best 12 times as a reserve halfback.
He was released after that season, so Maynard joined the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1959. The fledgling American Football League was born the next year, so Maynard left the CFL to join the New York Titans.
He was teamed up with felow wide receiver Art Powe. Powe, who is a member of the AFL's All-Time Team, was another receiver rejected by the NFL the year before. Powe had been an 11th-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, but was also just used as a return specialist.
The duo lit up the AFL for the three years they teamed up. Powe had 204 catches over that time, leading the league in receiving yards and touchdown catches once, before going to play with the Oakland Raiders.
Maynard was equally as dangerous, grabbing 171 balls for 1,935 yards and 22 scores over that time. The Titans weren't a very good team, so the franchise was often on the verge of bankruptcy trying to compete against the Giants in the same city.
Renamed the Jets in 1963, the franchises fortunes began to change for the better after drafting future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath. He and Maynard soon developed an excellent repertoire and Namath often looked the way of his favorite receiver when the team needed yards most.
Making his first Pro Bowl in 1965, Maynard led the AFL with a career best 14 touchdown receptions. Namath became the first quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards in 1967, and Maynard's career best 1,434 yards and 102.4 yards receiving yards per game, both of which led the league, was a big reason why. He also averaged 20.2 yards on 71 receptions while scoring 10 times.
This set the stage for the Jets magical 1968 season. Maynard led the AFL with a career best 22.8 yards per catch average, while also leading the league with a 99.8 yards receiving per game average. He piled up 1,297 yards and caught 10 touchdown passes.
In the 1968 AFL Championship, Maynard burned the Oakland Raiders secondary for 118 yards on six receptions. Not only did he score the first touchdown of the contest, he also scored the last. That latter touchdown won the game for the Jets 27-23.
The Jets then faced the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Tired of hearing the media constantly tell him the Colts would dominate, Namath made his famous guarantee that his team would win. Baltimore was so intent on stopping Maynard, Namath used him as a decoy and targeted George Sauer instead.
While Maynard did not touch the football, the strategy worked. New York won 16-7, an important moment in AFL history that ultimately forced a merger between the leagues. It is still the only championship season in Jets history.
The 1969 season was not only Maynard's last Pro Bowl year, it was his only First Team All-Pro nod. He averaged 20 yards on 47 receptions. His production began to decline over the next three years, so he joined the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1973.
After one catch in two games, he joined the Houston Texans of the World Football League in 1974. The Texans were later renamed the Shreveport Steamers because the WFL was struggling financially. He retired after that season.
Not only is Maynard inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is a member of the AFL's All-Time Team. Maynard is one of 20 players to play the entire 10 seasons the AFL existed, and he is one of seven to have played his entire AFL career for one franchise. He is also one of just a few players to play for the NFL, CFL, AFL and WFL.
Maynard was once just one of only five players to record more than 50 receptions and more than 1,000 receiving yards in five different seasons for many years. He left the game with the most receptions and receiving yards in pro football history at the time. He is the first receiver ever to exceed 10,000 receiving yards.
He still is the Jets all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns caught. His 18.7 career yards per catch average is even more amazing because Maynard dealt with the 10-yard chuck rule and caught balls from over a dozen different quarterbacks.
Known for his sure hands, Maynard also was had great improvisational skills when running routes. He is easily the greatest receiver in Jets history, let alone one of the best in pro football history.
In the final round of the 1947 draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Lahr. Just six players were chosen after him. He did not make the team, but he was the last of 16 players from Case Western Reserve University to play in the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns had him try out in 1949 and he made the team. His rookie season found Lahr used in assorted ways, where he caught his only career pass and scored his only offensive touchdown off of nine rushing attempts.
Safety was the position he would make his mark quickly. He had four interceptions his rookie year as the Browns won the All-American Football Conference title for the fourth and final time. The AAFC merged with the NFL the next season.
Cleveland dominated the NFL in 1950 and Lahr was certainly a big reason why. He snagged a career best eight interceptions, two of which he returned for two scores. He led the league in scores off of interceptions that year.
When Cleveland beat the New York Giants in a 8-3 defensive struggle, Lahr picked off a pass that helped preserve the win. It helped substantiate the Browns as a legitimate powerhouse as well as showed the three AAFC teams belonged in the NFL.
He came up big in the Browns first title win. The Los Angeles Rams had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin, but Cleveland picked off five of their passes that day. Lahr led the way with two, as the Browns prevailed 30-28.
Lahr led the NFL again with two touchdowns off of interceptions in 1951. Cleveland mowed through the league with one loss behind the top defense. They scored five times off of 58 turnovers that season.
The Browns faced Los Angeles again in the title game, where Lahr had an interception and two fumble recoveries. The Rams won the game 24-17 on a 73-yard bomb from Van Brocklin to Hall of Fame wide receiver Tom Fears late in the fourth quarter.
Despite 22 interceptions in his first four seasons, Lahr did not get to the Pro Bowl until 1953 after gaining a career best 119 yards off of five interceptions, He scored the final touchdown of his career in 1954, as the Browns won another championship.
Cleveland repeated as champions in 1955 as Lahr had another five swipes. In his first seven seasons, he had piled up an impressive 34 picks and never had fewer than four in a season. He stayed with the team until 1959 before retiring.
His 44 career interceptions are still the second most in Browns history, and his five touchdowns off of interceptions is still the most in franchise history. He is a member of the Browns Legends and should soon find himself inducted into the newly created Browns Ring of Honor.
Morrall was a first round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1956 draft. He was the second player chosen overall that year.
He was mostly used as a punter in his rookie year. He did start four games when the starter, Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, was injured. Morrall was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers after that year, and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1957.
After starting the first two games of the 1958 season for Pittsburgh, Morrall was traded to the Detroit Lions for Hall of Famer Bobby Layne. There, he backed up Tobin Rote, Jim Ninowski, and Milt Plum until 1964. During the 1963 season, Plum was injured early in the year and Morrall ended up starting 11 games.
Morrall tossed 24 touchdowns on 2,621 yards. Both totals would be the second highest of his career. He was hurt early in the 1964 season, and missed the rest of the year. He was then dealt to the New York Giants during the offseason.
He started the entire 1965 season, and threw the longest pass of that season for 89 yards. Morrall started seven games the next year and threw a pass that is still franchise long of 98 yards to Homer Jones, the man who invented the spiking of the football after a score.
He was replaced by Gary Woods as the Giants went 1-12-1. Morrall soon became a reserve behind Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. He then was dealt to the Baltimore Colts in 1968, where his career would be reborn.
Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas was injured in the last preseason game and was out for the year, so Morrall became the starter. He led the Colts to a 13-1 record after throwing for a career high 26 touchdown passes with a career best 2,909 yards.
He led the NFL in touchdown passes, touchdown percentage and yards gained-per-pass attempt. He was selected to his last Pro Bowl and was named the 1968 NFL MVP. The Colts would go on to lose in Super Bowl III. With Unitas healthy again, Morrall started three games over the next two seasons.
In 1970, the Colts would win Super Bowl V when Morrall was called upon again after Unitas was injured early in the game. Morrall helped the Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13.
Morrall started the first nine games of the 1971 year, leading the Colts to a 7-2 record. He was then injured and replaced by Unitas as the Colts would go on to lose to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship game.
The Colts then cut Morrall, but he was claimed by Miami. Dolphins head coach Hall of Famer Don Shula had coached him on the Colts' 1968 Super Bowl team, so he knew what kind of player he was getting.
The move paid off early into the 1972 season, when Hall of Famer Bob Griese was injured during the fifth game.
Morrall started the next 12 games and helped lead the eventual Super Bowl Champion Dolphins to the only perfect season in modern NFL history. He took them to the AFC Championship game, but was replaced by Griese.
Morrall was named the AFC Player of the Year in 1972, and he also won the first Comeback Player of the Year Award that year. He started one game the next year, as the Dolphins repeated as Super Bowl Champions. Morrall retired after the 1976 season at the age of 42-years old.
Though Earl Morrall started only 102 of the 255 games he played over 21 years, he won 60 and tied three. He also was an important part of four Super Bowl teams and has to be considered one of the best firemen in NFL history.
Taylor was drafted in the 15th round of the 1965 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was also selected in the fifth round of the American Football League's draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
What happened next is part of both AFL and Chiefs lore. Taylor was brought into the Eagle camp to try out, but legendary Chiefs scout Lloyd Wells had other ideas. Wells had successfully stolen Hall of Fame talents like Buck Buchanan, Emmitt Thomas and Willie Lanier from the NFL.
Taylor was being watched closely by Eagles personnel to prevent him from talking to Wells, but were unsuccessful. In a moment called the "Babysitting Incident", Wells coerced Taylor to sneak out the Eagles facility and sign a contract with the Chiefs.
It turned out to be a great move for Kansas City because Taylor became the big-play receiver the needed. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1966 after having the best year of his career.
Taylor led the league with a 22.4 yards per catch average on 58 receptions for a career best 1,297 yards. He scored eight times, including one on a league leading 89-yards catch.
He led the AFL with a career best 11 touchdown catches the next year, as well as grabbing a career high 59 balls, then spent the next three seasons battling injuries. Yet he was there when Kansas City needed him most, which was seen in the 1969 season.
The Chiefs won the last AFL title that year, which propelled them into Super Bowl V. Taylor led all Chiefs receivers with six catches for 81 yards. He sealed Kansas City's 23-7 victory in the fourth quarter with a catch that covered 46 yards en route to a touchdown.
The 1971 season saw Taylor return to the Pro Bowl and earn his second First Team All-Pro nod after grabbing 57 passes for a league-leading 1,110 yards. He made his final Pro Bowl the next year after getting another 57 receptions.
After a decline in production over the next two seasons, he suited up for one game in 1975 before retiring. He was more than a productive receiver with a propensity of making a big play, Taylor was also a fierce competitor who is one of the best blocking wide receivers to ever play the game.
This fierceness was seen in a game against the Oakland Raiders in 1970. Chiefs Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson was speared by mammoth Raiders defensive end Ben Davidson as he laid on the ground. Taylor attacked Davidson, which provoked a bench-clearing brawl.
Not only is he a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame, Taylor is still all over the teams record books. He ranks second all-time in receiving yards and touchdown catches. His 410 career receptions still ranks third best in Kansas City history.
Wells was a huge reason the Chiefs got their only Super Bowl win. His famous encounter with Taylor helped give the team the best wide receiver that team ever had wear their uniform. Taylor also made the NFL regret not keeping a closer eye on their prospects.
Retzlaff was drafted in the 22nd round of the 1953 draft by the Detroit Lions, where he was the 265th player chosen overall. The Lions cut Retzlaff in training camp, so he went back to college and worked as an employee of the school for a year. He then enlisted in the United States Army for almost two years before coming back to again try out with the Lions.
Detroit sold his contract to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1956, where he would spend the first two seasons of his career as a reserve fullback. Though he did not have a rushing attempt over that time, the Eagles coaching staff noticed his excellent receiving skills.
Moved to wide receiver in 1958, Retzlaff exploded onto the NFL scene. He went to his first Pro Bowl after leading the team with 56 receptions. After a solid 1959 season, Retzlaff became part of Philadelphia lore.
The 1960 season is the last year the Eagles have won an NFL title. There were eight Pro Bowlers on that squad, which included Retzlaff, and four future Hall of Famers in Norm Van Brocklin, Sonny Jurgensen, Tommy McDonald, and Chuck Bednarik.
While all three Eagles receivers went to the Pro Bowl that year, Retzlaff led the team in receptions and receiving yards. He would catch 80 passes over the next two years, but he got hurt in 1962 and missed six games.
The Eagles asked Retzlaff to move to tight end in 1963, where he excelled immediately. Making the Pro Bowl until the 1965 season, he led the team in receptions and receiving yards each season.
The 1965 is considered by many his finest year in the NFL. Retzlaff set career best marks of 66 receptions for 1,190 yards and 10 touchdowns. Not only was he given his only First Team All-Pro nod, Retzlaff was the recipient of the Bert Bell Award for NFL player of the year.
He was 35-years old in 1966, an advanced age for an NFL tight end. Despite having another productive season, Retzlaff decided to retire at the end of the season after 11 years.
Dubbed "The Baron" and "Pistol Pete" by his teammates, Retzlaff bled the Eagles colors. He loved his peers so much, he was the second ever National Football League Players Association president.
He was also the second general manager in Eagles history. Not only has the franchise retired his jersey number, Retzlaff is a member of the Eagles Honor Roll.
Retzlaff still ranks second in Eagles history with career receptions and receiving yards. He also ranks fifth in touchdown catches. His five Pro Bowls is tied with McDonald and Mike Quick as the second most ever by a Philadelphia receiver.
Philadelphia got real lucky Retzlaff came along when he he did. Pete Pihos, the legendary Hall of Fame end of the Eagles, had just retired in 1955. Buck Shaw and his coaching staff also deserve credit for switching his position.
His experience as a fullback made him an exceptional blocker and a threat once he caught a pass. Retzlaff averaged over 16 yards per catch in his career, never averaging less than 15.4 yards in the last eight years of his career.
While the spectacular and diminutive McDonald got most of the press, which was also shared with Pro Bowl tight end Bobby Walston, Retzlaff was consistent. He led the Eagles receptions six times throughout his career.
Not only could he split the seam of a defense by being a deep threat, Retzlaff went and got the tough pass over the crowded middle of the field. He missed just 12 games in his career, showing the toughness and durability he exemplified.
The main reason Favre lasted until the second round of the 1991 draft is because teams were concerned about reports of a hip condition he had. The Atlanta Falcons used the 33rd overall selection on him.
He got into two games as a rookie, throwing two interceptions off of four attempts. Green Bay then hired Ron Wolf as their general manager, who then began trying to acquire Favre.
Wolf had been working for the New York Jets before that and had planned on drafting Favre until the Falcons snagged him one pick before the Jets could. New York took Browning Nagle instead, and the quarterback stayed in the NFL until 1996.
Giving up Green Bay's first round pick of 1992, a running back named Tony Smith, the Packers obtained Favre's services. Smith, who was out of the league after 1994, happened to be Favre's teammate at Southern Mississippi University.
What happened next is often compared to Wally Pipp. Pipp was the first baseman of the New York Yankees who sat out a game and never got his job back because Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig would man the position for the next 17 seasons.
Green Bay had a Pro Bowl quarterback named Don Majkowski, but he got hurt in the third game of the season. Favre took over and stood out immediately, making the Pro Bowl. It was the third straight year Majkowski got hurt, so he was released after the season and was out of the league at the end of the 1996 season.
Favre began a career where he went to the Pro Bowl in nine of his 16 seasons with the Packers. He not only had the respect of his peers, the media loved him. He would be named NFL MVP three times.
The 1996 season was his most successful. Favre led the NFL with a career best 39 touchdown passes while tossing just 13 interceptions. Green Bay would go on to win Super Bowl XXXI, where the gunslinger tossed a pair of scores in the 35-21 victory.
He led the NFL a third straight year in touchdown passes in 1997, something he would do one more time in his career. The Packers reached the Super Bowl again, but would lose 31-24 despite Favre's three touchdown passes. This would be the last time in his career that he took a team that far.
After setting a ton of NFL and Packers records, Favre decided to retire after the 2007 season, his last Pro Bowl season with Green Bay. He then decided he wanted to play again, but the Packers opted to go with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback.
He was traded to the Jets and got off to a good start, tossing a career best six touchdowns in the fourth game of the season. He would make the Pro Bowl that season, then decide to retire again.
The itch to play quickly returned, so Favre decided to suit up for the Minnesota Vikings in 2009. He went to his 11th and final Pro Bowl after having maybe the best season of his career. The 40-year old tossed a career low seven interceptions against 33 touchdowns. His 4,202 yards thrown that year was the third highest total of his career.
After taking the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game that year, he decided to play in 2010. Unfortunately for him and Minnesota, he played like a 41-year old quarterback. He got hurt, which ended his streak of 297 consecutive starts, and missed three games that season. He retired for good soon after.
Favre owns several records, like most consecutive games started, most touchdown passes thrown, most passes attempted and completed. and most wins by a quarterback. He is the only player named NFL MVP by the Associated Press three straight years and he is a member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team.
There is the other side of his gunslinger attitude that most likely prohibited him from winning more than one title. Favre owns the NFL records for most interceptions thrown, most fumbles lost, most turnovers ever by a player, and most times sacked.
Yet he did take his teams to five conference championship games and two Super Bowls in his career. Pretty good for a guy given up on early in his career because people thought the avascular necrosis in his hip would prevent him from attaining the greatness he later achieved.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Don't You Forget About Me
Tim Hightower rebounded from a mediocre first week as a Redskin to explode against the Arizona Cardinals, his former team, last week. He ran for 96 yards on 20 carries, most of which happened in the first half of the Redskins 22-21 victory.
His backup, rookie Roy Helu, piled up an additional 74 yards on just 10 attempts. Yet both did not get many touches in the second half as offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan seemed to call for a pass every down. Though Washington eked out a win, Shanahan's disregard for the effective running game hearkened back to 2010.
If was the first year he and his dad held jobs in the organization. There were quite a few games the team lost, like the their match up with the Indianapolis Colts, where he got obsessed with calling pass plays and it cost his team in the end.
The Dallas Cowboys have been stout at stopping the run for several years, so most teams have been attacking their dinged up secondary. Yet their offense relies on the pass so much, it could mean their defense spends much more time on the gridiron.
If this happens, then an effective run game will be needed even more. Especially in the fourth quarter, where most overworked defenses begin to tire. Hightower and Helu will need carries all game, not just a portion of it. The old adage that a good ground game gives the offense more options will certainly come into play if Shanahan decides to opt for a better offensive balance.
Not only are two of the Cowboys best cornerbacks dealing with injury issues already, a third will not play at all because of an ankle problem. This could benefit Washington when quarterback Rex Grossman looks to pass.
Orlando Scandrick is out and his replacement, veteran Terence Newman, is playing in his first game this year because of a nagging groin injury. Grossman will probably test that groin a lot, as well as nickle back Alan Ball. The Redskins currently have the ninth best passing attack in the NFL, and four different wide receivers have receptions.
Santana Moss may be the best receiver Washington has, but Mike Jenkins may shadow him. Jenkins, who has a sore shoulder, is the best cornerback Dallas has right now. This means Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney will need to beat Newman and Ball.
Tight end Fred Davis has been amazing since coming into training camp in better shape. He is averaging a healthy 17.4 yards on 11 receptions, so Washington was afforded to let Chris Cooley fully recuperate from a knee injury. Cooley is now back, so he gives the Redskins another weapon.
Washington has had some early successes in the pass same this season, so this is a game to keep the momentum going. If Newman is still hobbled, it will draw safety help and give Davis or Cooley more chances to gouge Dallas for big chucks of yards after the catch.
No Miles To Run
Miles Davis is the best Cowboys receiver. He leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns this year. He has been vital to an offense with an inept ground game. Dallas averaged barely over two yards per attempt this season, and starting halfback Felix Jones is dealing with a shoulder issue.
The other starting wide receiver, Dez Bryant, has a thigh injury that has limited him to one game so far. This has made Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rely heavily on Miles and Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Witten's 13 catches is one less than Davis.
If Bryant is still too hurt to be his usual dynamic self, this helps the Redskins because they have a few injuries in their defensive secondary. Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall are not at full health, but are expected to play. Strong safety LaRon Landry has yet to play this season, because of a hurt hamstring, and his is listed as questionable.
His replacement, Reed Doughty, is good against the run but mediocre versus the pass. Romo, now having to lean on Witten, will go after Doughty in a number of attempts that will exceed double digits. Even if Doughty is assigned to reserve tight ends Martellus Bennett and John Phillips, Romo will look to pick on him much like Eli Manning did two weeks ago.
If Dallas has wide receivers like Kevin Ogletree and Jesse Holly as their weapons, perhaps free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe can focus on Witten and give Romo a harder time. Since Romo is already dealing with broken ribs, the secondary shutting down the Cowboys passing attack will leave the quarterback more available to being hit by Washington's pass rushers.
Dallas has two placekickers on their 2011 roster. One, rookie Dan Bailey, handles all of the short kicks. The other, David Buehler, is injured in the groin of his kicking leg and will try to play. Washington's diminutive return specialist Brandon Banks may get a shot a returning kickoffs if Buehler's injury shortens his kickoffs.
Considering Dallas may have the best punter in the NFL in Mat McBriar, it was unlikely Banks would get many opportunities whenever the Washington defense forced McBriar on the field. It will also be an uneasy situation for Dallas if Baily has to attempt anything longer than 50 yards, though Bailey did hit a critical 48-yard attempt last week.
Redskins kicker Graham Gano has yet to make a kick over 34 yards. He has missed twice already on attempts between 30 and 39 yards. If Washington struggles to get in the red zone against Dallas, they will have to rely on a player who has eight of his 13 career misses come from distances of 30 yards or more.
Remembering A Rivalry
Rivalries in the NFL today are harder to maintain because of free agency. Teams are no longer able to maintain the bulk of their roster like in the past, where they would develop their players and a stronger bond of unity would be an outcome.
Redskins Hall of Fame head coach George Allen taught his team to dislike the Cowboys, and the teams passionate fans followed suit. This came from the fact both Washington and Dallas dominated their conference when Allen joined the franchise in 1971.
The Redskins made the playoffs in five of Allen's first six seasons, which included a Super Bowl appearance. Dallas had made the postseason every season but two times between 1966 and 1985. They were the class of the NFC usually, once earning the nickname "America's Team."
Allen knew his team had to beat Dallas to achieve success, no small task with Hall of Famer Tom Landry as the head coach of the Cowboys. The 60 wins the Cowboys have in their meeting, out of 100 contests, is the most over any other NFL franchise. Washington, however, has beat them in both playoff games they met in.
Landry beat Allen eight times in the 15 games he faced Allen, but the Redskins great beat him in their only playoff game. That victory, a 26-3 drubbing, propelled Washington into their first ever Super Bowl and first NFL title game in 28 years.
Dallas took command in this series since the second game of the 1997 season. Washington has won just seven times in the last 27 meetings. The 2005 season has been the only time the Redskins won both games over that time.
Yet fans of both teams will admit the unpredictable often happens when these franchises battle. Good examples are the 1989 season, where the Cowboys lone victory that year came at the expense of the Redskins, and the 1991 season.
Washington had stormed out of the gates at an 11-0 record when Dallas came to town that year. After losing by three points, Washington's run at perfection ended. They rested their main players in the final game, giving them their only other defeat. Had they has beat Dallas, they stood a better chance of matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins for a truly perfect season.
Maybe the history of these franchises escapes most of those involved with both teams today, but the Redskins have legacy to remind. General manager Bruce Allen is the son of the Hall of Fame Redskins coach, so he certainly knows how important it is to beat Dallas. The Cowboys head coach is Jason Garrett, who was a backup quarterback with Dallas for eight years. He also understands this rivalry.
The Redskins are currently undefeated and alone on top of the NFC East. A loss here drops them into a tie with Dallas and the New York Giants. Washington already beat New York, so a victory over Dallas would give them two big wins within their own division, which is important at times when the playoffs approach. These two wins could give them enough in the percentage points department if there is a tie-breaker.
There may not be as much venom between these squads compared to the past, but there will be no love lost. With Hall adding fuel to the fire by being recorded by cameras saying he will try to tackle the injured Romo and Jones hard, players will come in fired up as the ghosts of legends egg them on to greatness.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Like a pound of high grade skunk smuggled past the vigilant guard dogs at an airport by being crazy glued to the taint of a 400 lbs midget, it is time for POINTLESS PONDERING.
Does anyone besides me make the huge mistake of turning on ESPN while an actual sporting event is not being broadcast? Not that crap the network pretends is a sport, like poker or competitive eating, but a sport where a participant actually breaks a sweat from physical activity while not sitting on their fat asses?
Turning on the boob tube one day, I saw ESPN oozing out a gabfest called "First Take." The shrow sprinkles a few active and retired athletes around three women who are the main characters of this pretend talk show. The most dramatic queen of the three is a geriatric know-nothing named Skip Bayless.
Bayless, who probably couldn't tell you who George Halas was even though he was born ahead of Papa Bear, has the memory of a fruit fly and thinks that everything at this moment is the 'greatest of all-time.' This pole smoker is known throughout ESPN as the former sports journalist who tries to get attention by besmirching athletes like Lebron James.
ESPN has been in mourning since Brett Favre retired finally a few months ago. Missing scrolling his name in huge letters constantly across the viewers screen, they still mention the Hyckocrite several times a day even if Favre is no longer part of the sports landscape and was last seen being accused of molesting women younger than his own children.
They knew they had a replacement lined up. A guy who, compared to Favre, is akin to being near beer versus real beer. Yet, like Favre, his concocted image far outweighs his actual abilities or talents. In others words : all hype and no substance. Just like EPSN itself.
Bayless and his fellow paparazzi have spent the 2011 NFL season drooling and batin' to Tim Tebow's picturesque image. Tebow, who is a third-string quarterback who even has a former first-round draft pick bust named Brady Quinn ahead of him on the depth chart, has become a polarizing figure thanks to the constant attention he receives from stalkers who pose as sports media members.
Tebow is not even close to being a NFL quarterback in most experts eyes, but do not tell that to Bayless. The old fruit spends every possible moment he can calling Tebow the best player the Denver Broncos have, because Bayless is a typical NFL puppet who believes the game revolves around the universe of this one position on the gridiron.
Ever since ESPN took over the Monday Night Football duties, they have tried to rival the NFL's own network in soft coverage they try to pawn off as news to viewers, carefully trying not to besmirch the monster entity. They earned this by constant on-air fellatio on the likes of Favre and other questionable characters with personal lives just as shady as the Hyckocrite's is.
A few weeks ago, Denver was losing agame on Monday Night Football. Broncos starting quarterback Kyle Orton played admirably, despite having terrible blocking and a shoddy rushing attack that produced a paltry 25 yards from his running backs against one of the worst run defenses in the league.
While Orton threw for over 300 yards in a game Denver would lose by a field goal, ESPN spent their times using the cameras to scan the stands for any idiot wearing a Tebow jersey or holding a sign professing their love for a player who has yet to do anything worth noting on a professional football field. The same "Christian" fans who would later piss away $10 grand on a billboard showing support for Tebow instead of doing something for society... like feeding homeless children.
Skippy has twisted his manpon since this moment, as well as showing the world once again he knows absoloutely nothing about football. Bayless has basically called Orton a loser while proclaiming Tebow to be the next Favre. He continued his tirade even after Orton led Denver to a win after getting help from an effective rushing attack last Sunday.
It doesn't really seem it will matter if Tebow is a career reserve or a future Hall of Famer to ESPN, because the network has found their new deity to stand along Favre on the ESPN pedestal. They will continue to feed their sheep while dropping his and the Hyckocrite's name at every turn possible, while viewers are forced to watch people like Bayless drools incessantly at perverted dreams that will never come true.
Breaking news! A Cincinnati Bengals player is in trouble with the law. No...wait! Make that two Bengals. As Led Zeppelin once said, "The Song Remains The Same."
Some franchises are forever snakebitten by bad karma, it seems. The ghosts of men Paul Brown, who founded the team, screwed over seem to be drowning this team in ignorance and forgettable obscurity. Somewhere upstairs, the ghosts of Mac Speedie and others are probably smiling in content as yet another Bengals player embarrasses himself, his family and teammates.
Whether the player is a moron like Adam "Pac Man" Jones paralyzing a person for life after making it 'rain money' at a strip club, or a deceased player like Chris Henry for having continual alcohol issues while alive, the Bengals franchise has had their players arrested over 32 times since 2000. It is easily this highest number amongst NFL teams, and this issue is a huge reason the team has gone 73-104 since 2000.
Brown, a legendary Hall of Fame coach who won seven championships in his 17 years with the Cleveland Browns, founded the Bengals in 1968. Though he coached in Cincinnati for just eight years, he got the franchise off to a fast start by helping them to a 55-56-1 record. He then ran the team from his offices from 1976 to 1991, when he died of complications from pneumonia.
The Bengals reached the playoffs three times with Brown as their head coach, then four more times with him as the general manager. This includes the only two Super Bowl appearances in franchise history, where Brown's teams lost both times to the San Francisco 49ers. The team has reached the playoffs just twice since Brown passed away.
It is ironic the team lost both Super Bowls to the 49ers Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh. Walsh is another person who was once screwed over by Brown after having been a Bengals assistant coach from 1968 to 1975. He was promised the Bengals head coaching job for years, but offensive line coach Bill "Tiger" Johnson was chosen instead.
Johnson resigned five games into the 1978 season while Walsh became the San Francisco head coach in 1979 and won three Super Bowls in his nine seasons on the Niners sidelines. Brown was accused of almost preventing Walsh of even getting the head coaching job in San Francisco once by Walsh himself.
Walsh claimed that Brown "worked against my candidacy" to be a head coach anywhere in the league. "All the way through I had opportunities, and I never knew about them," Walsh said. "And then when I left him, he called whoever he thought was necessary to keep me out of the NFL."
It is reminiscent of Brown's issues with Speedie, a Pro Bowl wide receiver during the Browns championship years. When Speedie wanted a raise in pay, he was rebuffed by Brown. He then bolted to the Canadian Football League for a bigger paycheck.
Years later, Speedie became a coach and scout in the American Football League. The Bengals joined the AFL initially, so the two men once met on the gridiron before a contest. When Speedie extended his hand as a greeting, Brown turned his back on him after telling Speedie, "Yes, I know. You're the one who went to Canada."
Speedie went to his grave believing Brown's influence prevented his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are other frustrating examples of how Paul Brown infuriated people along his career, but time constraints will inhibit this endeavor.
His son Mike hasn't done any better since taking over the team, as the Bengals have gone 113-181 under his regime. He is known for his frugality and much as he is for overseeing squads that frequently have members ending up arrested.
Brown has frustrated people himself, as recently seen by quarterback Carson Palmer's refusal to play for the team and walking away from millions of dollars after Brown turned down his request to be traded to another team.
Now current players Jerome Simpson and Anthony Collins are in trouble after being arresting in a drug sting where over five pounds of marijuana was taken from Simpson's home after undercover agents delivered about two pounds of the drug to the wide receivers home.
Simpson, who is leading the Bengals in receptions this year, has been viewed a disappointment as a player since being drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the team. Before 2011, he had appeared in just 11 games and had 21 receptions in his career. Collins, drafted two rounds behind Simpson in 2008, has started has started 16 of 34 career games as an offensive tackle.
Both of their NFL careers are in jeopardy right now, a conundrum the league offices are used to dealing with when it comes to Bengals players. It may seem to be business as usual for this team, but the act has to have worn thin for the NFL long ago. Perhaps the only way out of these constant messes for the Bengals is to hold an exorcism in an attempt to finally bring this team good karma
Yoooooooooooo! Dis iz 7thStone once again! I is 3rdStone's cuzin, four doze of yous who fourgot me. I do predikshuns of da NFL four him becuz I iz a ex-bookie.
Yo! I iz 21-11 overall now after goin 11-5 las weak. Not two shabby, not to strong. Capeesh?
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Carolina Panthers
I know Cam Newton has a lot of passin yards, but yoooooooo! Da Panthers dont run da ball no mo! WTF iz dey paying DeAngelo Williams all dat cash and givin him da ball on just 22 times so far? Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 1,133 yards in 2009, has only 23. Newton leads da teem in rushing attempts and yards, besides bein da only Panther to run four a score dis seasun.
I don't care how good Newton iz, dat is STUPID Yo! Dis teem kneads two run too win! For all dat passin, dey iz still only 18th in scoring in da NFL so far. Da D is 26th in points allowed.
Dey should move up dis week facin a Jags teem dat has one player, Maurice Jones-Drew, who can actually do sumfin with da football. Jack Del Rio's gamble on cuttin David Garrard has looked dumb so far because his replacemint sucked donkey balls. Capeesh?
Now Jacksonville is starting there rookie quarterback, but dis guy cant do any badder den da scrub dat was their las weak. Still, dey is goin to feed MJD da ball like 30 times or more. Dat will bee da key hear.
Jaguars 23 Panthers 21
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
Da Donovan McNabb Era haz gone so good dat Vikings fans iz calling four rookie Christian Ponder. Dis teen cant score and dey iz ranked 31st in da league in passing.
Detroit iz doin just what we all tought dey iz doin. Yo! Dis teem iz four reel. Capeesh? Watch dem and sea what I meen.
Lions 34 Vikings 20
San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Yo! Not only did da Bungles top receiver get busted with sum good smoke by da Feds da other day, da teem just found out top running back Cedric Benson iz being suspended three games. Guess Benson can go finish out his jail time now after his apeel iz reduces his sentence or gets rejected next Tuesday.
Da Niners blew a win las week, but dat iz cuz Alex Smith is just a crap QB. Dis piece of crap is going to be benched wifin three weeks, mark my words. But da 49ers iz pissed enough over las weak to win dis one.
49ers 24 Bengals 19
Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns
OK, da Browns iz not as good as I tought dey would be. Dey iz young, so I still feal dey will bee good by da end of da yeer. Miami iz da better teem hear, espeshully after finding a good running back in Daniel Thomas las weak.
Dolphins 27 Browns 24
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
Everyone iz happy da Bills is 2-0. But da dreem stops hear. A reality check is cummin. Capeesh?
Patriots 37 Bills 27
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
I saw dis stat dat Mike Vick completed 43% of his passes against da Giants blitz las yeer. Now da dog killer is hurtin in his chicken neck.
Still, da Jints secondary sucks ass and Eli Manning just has had reality's scrotum teabagging his girly ass so far. Dis boob says he in a elite QB, but do elite quarterbacks lead a 27th ranked scoring offense wif a 80 QB rating? Dat ratin goes down more against dem three Pro Bowl cornerbacks Philly has.
Eagles 30 Giants 21
Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans
Da Titans shocked da NFL in weak 2 by beatin da Ravens HANDILY with no running game to speek of. Chris Johnson looks like a guy who didn't do training camp with his 77 yards on 33 carries.
But dat defense is da story Yo! Ranked fouth in da league in points allowed, it iz hard to pass on dem. Dey already have alreddy forced 8 turnovers.
Denver kneads to run da ball hear. Dey cant rely on just chuckin passes, so mebbe Tim Teblow will run a few option plays since dat iz about allhe iz good four.
Titans 20 Broncos 10
Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints
Since 1950, only 11 running backs have run for over 100 yards in their first 11 games. This list includes Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Marshall Faulk. Another guy is dis list iz Ben Tate of da Texans. Look four him do get his third easily against a terruble Saints run defense.
Drew Brees will be testin out Wade Phillips revamped Houston defense. They rank first in both points and yards allowed so far. Dis will bee da difference as dat explosive Texans offense wears down a mediocre Saints defense.
Texans 38 Saints 27
New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders
Watchin da Raiders blow dat win against Buffalo las weak was ugly yo. While dey can score points, dey cant stop opponents from scoring. Da Raider have scored and given up 58 points, not a formula four success.
Da Jets dont let opponents score. Oaklands rushing attack is there best strength, while da Jets run defense is dat squads best strength. Plus New York kneads to stay pace wif da Pats yo.
Jets 34 Raiders 20
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers
Da Chiefs are goin so bad, head coach Todd Haley will bee luckin two win five games dis yeer. All there best players are getting hurt so bad, dey iz out all seesun. Da Chargers offense iz just two powerfull.
Chargers 42 Chiefs 14
Baltimore Ravens @ Saint Louis Rams
Da Ravens got embarrassed last weak after embarrasin da Steelers da weak before. Saint Louis iz goin to attack dat suspect Ravens secondary dat iz ranked 28th in passing yards alloud. With deep threat Lee Evans out dis weak, Baltimore will knead to rely on da run game and young tight ends.
Sam Bradford won't have Danny Amendola two throw too, so Mike Sims-Walker will knead two bee big. Even if star halfback Steven Jackson plays this weekend, he may be best served is the passing attack since Baltimore is stout against the run.
Ravens 24 Rams 21
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game of the Week
This could be a helluva battle! Da Bucs rediscovered the run game las weak, witch will helps against a mediocre Falcons defense that is 28th in points alloued and 27th in yards alloud. Tampa Bay cannot leen on da pass game as much as dey have da furst too weaks.
Matt Ryan has been incunsistunt so far, but he did help Atlanta cum back in a thrillin win las weak. Pro Bowl halfback Michael "Burner" Turner has been da Falcons biggest star this yeer, which is not a good deel for a Buccaneers defensedisappointedly ranked 31st in run defense and 28th in total yards alloud.
Da best run game should win dis, witch iz why I iz goin wif Atlanta.
Falcons 23 Buccaneers 17
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Da Bears have played no teem more den dey have da Pack. Though they are 91-83-6 against Green Bay, da teems have met just twice in postseesun. Da last time was in da 2010 NFC Championship Game, where da Packers prevailed 21-14. In da three games dey played las yeer, every contest was decided by a one score difference.
Da 2011 Bears season iz lookin a lot like 2010, where da defense is carrying a erratic offense. The Bears offense kneads two step up dis weak cuz da Pack has da worst padd defense in da NFL after givin up 800 yards in da air alreddy.
But da Packers got weapons galore on offense. Plus dey take care of da football by not turnin it over. The secondary is da weekness of da Chicago defense, so I expect Aaron Rodgers to pick them apart when he kneads it mostest.
Packers 23 Bears 21
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Yo! Snoozeville! Capeesh? Let's leeve it at Larry Fitzgerald has a big day.
Cardinals 30 Seahawks 20
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts
OK, Kerry Collins iz alreddy banged up and hasn't even been in da Colts system for to months. Dis iz not a good sign when facing a angry Steelers teem still seething for having there butts kicked two weaks ago.
Steelers 34 Colts 10
Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys
OK, dis rivalry is like all NFL rivalrees today. Watered down by free agency, so dey have A LOT less meening to da players these daze. But Dallas is banged up good and da undefeeted Redskins iz healthy.
If dat moron Kyle Shanahan does almost blow it again wif his crappy play calling, like how the jackass forgot da run game in da second half of las weaks win after Tim Hightower had dominated da furst half, den Washington should get there 39th win in 101 games versus da Cowboys thanks too dat solid defense.
Redskins 27 Cowboys 24
1. Green Bay Packers
2. Houston Texans
3. New York Jets
4. New England Patriots
5. Detroit Lions
6. Washington Redskins
7. Buffalo Bills
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Baltimore Ravens
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
12. Chicago Bears
13. Tennessee Titans
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
15. New Orleans Saints
16. San Diego Chargers
17. Oakland Raiders
18. New York Giants
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Cincinnati Bengals
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
22. Arizona Cardinals
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Miami Dolphins
25. San Francisco 49ers
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Saint Louis Rams
28. Denver Broncos
29. Seattle Seahawks
30. Carolina Panthers
31. Indianapolis Colts
32. Kansas City Chiefs
OK, I gots two go. I gots dis fine hunny lined up at dis club I know. She can spin on a pole, capeesh? As dey say in Ol' Messico = A.M.F.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Week one of the 2011 NFL season saw five games where both starting quarterbacks on each team exceeded 300 yards passing. Some may say the sloppy defensive play stems from a truncated preseason caused by a players strike, but this is more an indictment of the direction the game is headed.
In 1978, the NFL made two huge rule changes that have drastically changed the game of football. The first was to allow offensive linemen extend their arms and grab defenders, as opposed to the chicken wing style of blocking that had been allowed since the beginnings of the NFL.
If that wasn't enough, they set receivers free to basically prance around the gridiron without care. The 10-yard chuck rule had been lessened to a paltry five yards, making the receivers jobs much easier while their statistics ballooned.
These two rules have caused an offensive explosion in the NFL, basically turning quarterbacks the face of the game because these rules benefited them most. It is akin to when Major League Baseball lowered their mounds, shrunk the ballparks, then juiced the ball and players to increase scoring in order to lure the novice fan who had been avoiding the game for years.
The strategy has filled the National Football League's pockets like no other sport on the planet. Already a tax-free organization that had enough power to push their blackout rules through the Senate, Congress and White House in one day, this insanely rich league saw the rules cashing in ability and took it further.
The game today basically has turned a quarterback into something besides a football player. The position is a gilded image the NFL is hell-bent on protecting because that is what they deem to be their cash cow.
Not only is a defender not allowed to hit the quarterback too high or low, he cannot hit them too hard. If he lands on a quarterback, a penalty and fine are on their way for putting too much of his body weight upon the golden boy.
The term "put a skirt on them" has been used to describe an NFL quarterback for decades now. Others think the NFL may as well put flag football rules as the protective bubble the league so desperately seeks for this position.
Defenses have been castrated beyond recognition. If a team wants to play defense as the way NFL Films often hails in historic clips, they will be fined and suspended without fail. Not only has the aura of a great defense been lessened drastically, but the personalities that go with them have been greatly tempered.
It is as if the league ignores the fact defenders can come off the edge while dragging a mammoth blocker who has been clawing at them since play commenced. Despite this, the onus is on the defender to somehow pull up and not lose momentum, risking serious injury to legs especially, and lay the quarterback gently as if it were a newborn infant.
Rules that prevent clotheslines and head shots make sense, especially now that the NFL is being forced to look at head injuries. This is something they ignored since the inception of the league. While the NFL reluctantly is making adjustments, they do so with a smile as they continue to ignore all of the countless alumni of their league that have been suffering for decades.
Yet the two rules in 1978 have pretty much destroyed football as a competitive sport. It has become more an indoor track meet in hospital clean environments these days. Defenses tend to just be warm bodies providing temporary obstacles these days, instead of having a fair chance to compete anymore.
I had a discussion with Pete Rozelle in 1978. Rozelle, then the NFL commissioner, bristled at my questions of why these rules would even be allowed. Especially since it so blatantly punished the defenses and gave that side of the football much less opportunity to compete.
I thought Rozelle would understand my position, considering his background. He helped fight racism as a publicist at the University of San Francisco in 1951, the last year the school played football, where 11 members of the football team went on to the NFL. Three are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame while five were Pro Bowl players. Rozelle joined the Los Angeles Rams soon after.
While with the Rams, he saw the team have two Hall of Fame quarterbacks split plays on the field in Bob Waters and Norm Van Brocklin. Besides having a powerful running game, the Rams passing attack was lethal. with Hall of Fame receivers Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch and Tom Fears.
The Rams had just won the 1951 championship, where the two quarterbacks ranked first and second in passing that season. Van Brocklin threw for 554 yards one game, a record that still stands today.
When Rozelle continued to be evasive giving specific answers, I decided to end the conversation by pointing out how the American Football League showed a game could accrue a ton of yards and points without castrating the defense. Rozelle, now with a red face filled by anger from mentioning the hated AFL, called me a jerk and that was the end of my chance to discover what the league's thought process was.
Rozelle was later replaced by Paul Tagliabue, a lawyer whose only athletic expertise came from playing basketball at Georgetown University. Tagliabue continued to tinker with those two rules, especially when it came to trying to help the receivers and quarterbacks.
He did such a job that now Jerry Rice is called by NFL Films the greatest player in NFL history. Rice, who constantly ran the five-yard slant pass in a dink-dunk offense that smartly took advantage of the rules, was a quick player with average speed and a tremendous work ethic. Put Rice in the 10-yard chuck rule, his 1,549 career receptions could possibly be at about 600 instead
When the NFL started out, it was a running game. One where ball carriers were not tackled until they stopped moving, meaning they could continue to crawl for more yards after contact. Scores, as expected, were generally low-scoring affairs..
The college game was the more popular sport, but that changed in 1925 when the Pottsville Maroons beat Notre Dame University in an exhibition game. Despite beating the Fighting Irish and their famous "Four Horseman" backfield, the champion Maroons were stripped of their title even though that win brought the NFL legitimacy. The reason given was that commission Joe Carr had told the Maroons not to play, while the team claimed Carr had given his approval.
Passing the football came into vogue in the NFL when the Washington Redskins drafted Sammy Baugh in 1937. Baugh is considered the innovator of the passing game in the NFL. He was so successful, the Chicago Bears drafted Sid Luckman two years later and the passing game was on its way.
Baugh, for all of his successes, had just two years of over 2,500 yards passing. In 1947, he set career high marks of 210 completions on 354 attempts for 2,938 yards and 25 touchdowns
He never passed for over 2,000 in any of his other 14 years, which includes winning two of three NFL title games. Baugh also played safety on defense for six years, grabbing 34 interceptions.
He still holds the NFL record for average yards per punt average in a career, and was inducted in Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 1963. While holding extreme importance to the NFL passing game, his numbers greatly pale to those quarterbacks who enjoy the rule changes of 1978.
Washington was also lucky to later have another quarterback to take the passing game of the NFL to even a higher level. Sonny Jurgensen set many team records in his career, and still holds on to a few this day.
Jurgensen was first mentored by Van Brocklin with the Philadelphia Eagles, serving as his backup on the Eagles 1960 title team. He was traded to the Redskins in 1964 for Pro Bowl quarterback Norm Snead, who had grown up nearby and was the second overall selection of the 1961 draft.
Jurgensen, who passed for 3,723 yards in 1961, exceeded his career high total by 25 yards previously set in 1967. He had a span of over 400 passing attempts three times over four years, highlighted by the 508 attempts he had in 1967.
Washington's head coach that year was Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham. His strategy was to throw the ball often, which is seen by the team-leading 91 carries halfback A.D. Whitfield had that year.
Jurgensen was part of a trio that would later get inducted into the Hall of Fame. Wide receivers Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell combined for 130 receptions and 1,856 yards. Tight end Jerry Smith had 67 receptions for 849 yards himself, becoming the first team ever to have their two wide receivers and tight end to have at least 849 yards each in one season.
Taylor led the NFL in receptions, while Smith was second in both receptions and touchdown catches. Mitchell was fourth in NFL receptions that year.
Joe Theismann, not Baugh or Jurgensen, is still the Redskins all-time leader in career passing yards. He was at the helm when the NFL made those three key rules changes in 1978.
His passing yards totals increased in 1981, exceeding 3,300 yards in three of the next four years. The one time he didn't was in the 1982 strike season, where he helped the Redskins win their first title since 1942.
Theismann's career high passing yards mark of 3,714 yards has been passed by Redskins quarterbacks Jay Schroeder and Brad Johnson. The team has had 12 different quarterbacks lead the team in passing since Theismann's career ended in 1985.
Washington isn't alone as a team that has struggled to find a long-term quarterback over the years. Sid Luckman, who retired way back in 1950, is still on top of the Chicago Bears list for career passing yards.
Chicago isn't the only team whose passing yards leader never was fortunate to play after 1978 and enjoy the rules that ultimately changed the game. Hall of Famers Len Dawson, Bobby Layne, Joe Namath and Luckman are the only quarterbacks whose careers ended before the 1978 rule change and still lead their franchises in career passing yards.
Layne left the Detroit Lions in 1958 after just over eight years with the team, where he led them to three NFL titles in four attempts. Credited with inventing the two-minute drill, Layne is second to Luckman in longest-running leader in passing yards for a team.
Namath is credited by some as the man who led the way to forcing the NFL to merge with the American Football League. Not only because the AFL was deemed to having a more exciting brand of football with their wide open passing attacks, but also due his famous guarantee the preceded the New York Jets defeating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
Namath was called "Broadway Joe" during this time where he was king of New York City. He was in movies and modeled, but he also had a gun for an arm. In 1967, Namath became the first professional quarterback ever to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season.
His brand of football helped bring the AFL more popularity than it had ever experienced since their 1960 inception. The NFL was known for a hard nosed running game before then, but the league tried to match their rival that season through the arms of men like Jurgensen and Fran Tarkenton.
Dawson joined the Kansas City Chiefs, then the Dallas Texans, in 1962. He led the Chiefs to three AFL titles, one that is still the longest championship game in professional football history, and two Super Bowl appearances.
His 1969 season saw the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV, the last AFL game ever. He retired after the 1975 season, having played 19 seasons total.
Tarkenton's Hall of Fame career ended with the Minnesota Vikings in 1978. He spent 13 of his 18 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, retiring with a then-NFL record of 47,003 career passing yards.
Yet it was his final year where he threw for a career best 3,468 yards, which also happened to lead the NFL. The "Mad Scrambler" had exceeded the 3,000 mark just once in his career before then, getting 3,088 with the New York Giants in 1967.
Tarkenton also led the NFL in attempts and completions in 1978. Enjoying the new rules that made his job easier, he exceeded his career best mark of attempts by 147, while surpassing his best total of completions by 82.
Some quarterbacks, who were there for the rule change in 1978, still lead their organizations in passing yards. Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, who won four Super Bowls, joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970 and stayed there until 1983.
Despite all of Bradshaw's successes, it wasn't until after the rule changes of 1978 that his statistics picked up exponentially. He had passed for over 2,000 yards just three times in his eight previous seasons, yet that quickly changed after his job became easier.
He made two of his three career Pro Bowls after 1978, which also includes his lone First Team All-Pro nod and NFL MVP award in the 1978 season. Bradshaw passed for at least 2,887 yards the next four year, which includes a career best of 3,724 in 1979. After suffering an injury in 1983, he retired.
Kenny Stabler joined the Oakland Raiders in 1970. He won a Super Bowl and the 1974 NFL MVP with them.
Yet his 1979 season saw Stabler throw a career best 3,615 yards. He had never exceeded 3,000 yards before that. Stabler's season high in passing attempts was 310 attempts, which happened in his MVP year. Starting in 1978, he had 904 attempts in his final two years as a Raider.
Ken Anderson joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 1971 and stayed with them until 1986. His lone First Team All-Pro year came in 1981, where he set career high totals in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns.
He led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl that year, where he set Super Bowl records in completion percentage and total completions in the Bengals loss. Anderson then set an NFL season record for completion percentage in 1982.
Perhaps no quarterback enjoyed the rule changes more than Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. The rule change coincided with the San Diego Chargers hiring head coach Don Coryell, revitalizing Fouts' career.
Coryell, whose offensive genius is still seen in every NFL offense today, ushered in an era simply called "Air Coryell". Fouts not only had Hall of Famers Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow catching his passes, he also had the services of Pro Bowler wide receivers like John Jefferson and Wes Chandler.
Fouts joined the Chargers in 1973 and had never thrown for more than 2,535 yards before Coryell's arrival. He exploded on the NFL from 1979 to 1981, exceeding 4,000 yards passing all three years. He twice led the NFL in attempts and completions as well.
The 1981 season was his best, where he set career high totals in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. He may have surpassed these totals in 1982, if it were not for the players strike shortening the season to nine games. Fouts retired after the 1987 strike-shortened season.
Steve Bartkowski joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1975 and stayed there until after the 1985 season. Jim Hart joined the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1966 and stayed there until 1983. Brian Sipe joined the Cleveland Browns in 1974, lasting there until 1983.
All three enjoyed their best statistical seasons after the 1978 rule change. Sipe threw for 4,132 yards in 1982, Bartkowski had 3,829 in 1981, and Hart had 3,121 in 1978. Hart is the only one of these three to go to the Pro Bowl before 1978, which he accomplished four times.
The other 21 NFL teams have career passing leaders who joined their teams after the 1978 season. Of the 20 players who own the most career passing yards in NFL history, only Tarkenton, Fouts, Hart, and Johnny Unitas had their careers start before 1978. Unitas is the only one who never experienced the pleasurable rule changes quarterbacks now enjoy.
It isn't just the quarterbacks whose statistics have been greatly jaded since 1978. The receivers have enjoyed way more credit that they deserve perhaps. Of the top 40 players in career receptions, just Hall of Famer Steve Largent had his career start before 1978.
Joiner, Harold Jackson, Stanley Morgan along with Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Fred Belitnikoff are the only receivers in the top 100 in career receptions whose careers started before 1978. Belitnikoff retired after the 1978 season.
There are only six players in that list of the top-100 receivers who never enjoyed the 10-yard chuck rule in their career. Hall of Famers Don Maynard, Charley Taylor, Raymond Berry, Lance Alworth, Bobby Mitchell and the underrated Lionel Taylor, who should be in Canton, are those players.
While the modern fan might try to say the athlete today is superior, that is true in athleticism only. In regards to football ability, that can be debated more because fundamentals of the game were so much more important then.
The players of the past held a second job, not paid so much that they could afford to train every day of the year like the modern athletes are able to now. Those past players had to make time to get into shape to prepare for training camp, which usually meant after they had worked eight hours at their primary job.
Then there is the obvious observation that the human race grows each generation. Players who weighed over 300 pounds were not too plentiful until the last few decades. Now it is common for players to weigh that much, and there are quarterbacks now closing in on that size.
The rule to help blockers cannot be argued for or against too well. The older player was subject to head injuries because they were taught to lead with their heads. The modern blocker gets to extend his hands to prevent this, but is basically allowed to hold every play.
Raymond Berry told me that this change made in blocking in the primary reason for the increase in offense. He explained that this gives a receiver and quarterback extra time to get open, giving them a tremendous advantage.
He used an example of a 15-yard out route. Berry said this play, that might have taken five seconds to run in the rules before 1978, now can last up to six or more seconds because the quarterback and receiver are afforded longer opportunities to exploit a defense.
With timing being so important between the quarterback and receiver, the extra time to delve into the opponents can mean more yards for the offense. Berry, who is known for the fantastic timing he shared with Johnny Unitas, is also a former head coach who led the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl in 1985.
Technology has also been implemented. The debate of whether it helps or not can last a long time. While now medical personnel can examine the entire body of an athlete better, there are also more cameras to examine every inch of the gridiron. The equipment players have used has been improved gradually ever since the NFL began play.
Human error is a rich part of NFL history, but this factor is now lessened by instant replay. The problem with instant replay is it can stop the game and cool down athletes, making them more susceptible to injury.
While the NFL smartly seeks to improve their brand, sometimes the lure of cash detracts from actual achievement. Loads of fans today, many who no concept nor concern for history, think the game today is better than it has ever been.
The novice fan today wants the 45-42 final score over the 17-14 tally. Much like how the baseball fan of today has been conditioned to want home runs hit over no-hitters thrown, the football fans wants a ton of touchdowns made each Sunday.
The memories of greatness achieved, when football was truly a hard sport to play for everyone involved, of history fades further into the past as the modern player posts obscene statistics helped by rules. Statistics that dwarf predecessors who had to actually earn their accolades without being helped out by the league's front office nor rules to carry them further down the gridiron.
With Tagliabue's student, Roger Goodell, now at the helm, it will get worse before it gets better for football purists. Purists who now basically have the defense sitting on the sideline with them as the offense runs their plays unabated.
Whether the 1978 rules changes helped the NFL or not is subject for debate. The modern fan will point to the cash now raked in without realizing this league has been pulling big gates in for years no matter what the dollar is actually worth. The Rams still hold attendance records set during that era Rozelle oversaw.
The fickle fair-weathered fan of today may be content with the pandering of the offense because it results in more scoring, but the idea of bring back even the 10-yard chuck rule could show them players actually earning their accolades while being fairly defended.
But fairness left the NFL long ago. The importance of cash overrides actual competitive play now. It just furthers the saying, "This isn't your fathers NFL". It's yours now. Good luck.