RSS
 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

28 Dec

scotclaymoreNFLE9504

Used from 1995 until 2004, this is the logo of a former football team that played in the World League of American Football, the Scottish Claymores. The Claymores won their only “World Bowl”, signifying the WLAF championship, in 1996. Over the years, their roster included Joe Andruzzi, Jim Ballard, Siran Stacy, Yo Murphy, Dante Hall and Barry Stokes.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

28 Dec

61fleerjhjohnson

1961 Fleer football card of former pro football fullback John Henry Johnson, who played 13 seasons of pro ball, including a one year stint in the Canadian League. He also played 11 years in the NFL for 3 different teams, and closed out his playing days with a year in the AFL. He was a member of the San Francisco 49ers’ “Million Dollar Backfield” in the mid-1950s, and helped the Detroit Lions win the NFL championship in 1957. Johnson was a four-time Pro Bowler, 3 of those honors earned while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1960s, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Tie A Yellow Ribbon

21 Dec

The Philadelphia Eagles face the Oakland Raiders on this week’s NFL schedule, taking our Throwback Thursday feature back to Super Bowl XV, played between these 2 franchises on January 25, 1981 in New Orleans, to decide the NFL’s championship for the 1980 season. The atmosphere surrounding the game was patriotic, as the Iran hostage crisis had ended just 5 days earlier. The episode was a hostage situation in which 52 American diplomats were held hostage in Iran for 444 days, and minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new U.S. president, they were released. A national symbol of the crisis saw Americans tying yellow ribbons around trees as an expression of hope that the hostages would be freed, and for the Super Bowl game, the New Orleans Superdome was adorned with a giant yellow ribbon.

The game itself was a contest between two organizations that were diametrically opposed. The Raiders had a reputation of being rebel castoffs who were free spirits, an image their owner, Al Davis, not only cultivated but advanced with his own behavior as a renegade owner. The Eagles, on the other hand, were a button-down, by the book team that mirrored their stiff, high-strung coach, Dick Vermeil. The Raiders, being their usual loose and fun-loving selves, took advantage of the nervous Eagles and jumped out to a quick 14-0 first quarter lead on the strength of a pair of Jim Plunkett touchdown passes – a short 2 yarder to Cliff Branch and an 80 yarder to running back Kenny King. Philadelphia got on the board in the second quarter on a Tony Franklin field goal, but the Raiders countered that when Plunkett again found Branch for a score, this time from 29 yards out. That gave Oakland a 21-3 lead that they never relinquished. The Eagles finally managed a touchdown when Ron Jaworski found Keith Krepfle for an 8 yard TD, but they never seriously challenged the Raiders, who added 2 Chris Bahr field goals to complete a 27-10 victory.

It was a day of redemption for Plunkett, who had been considered a major bust after failures in New England and San Francisco to start his career. On this day, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and the 3 touchdowns to earn the game’s Most Valuable Player award. Vermeil took a lot of criticism for being too rigid and having his team wound too tight to the point where they didn’t perform well, but he learned his lesson later in his career, when he coached the powerhouse St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show On Turf” club to an NFL title.

 

superdomeyellowribbon

Yellow ribbon tied around the Superdome for the Iran hostages

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

21 Dec

jets6466

Logo of the New York Jets, used from 1964 until 1966, during their American Football League days. It was the beginning of the Broadway Joe Namath era, when the Jets were building toward the Super Bowl upset win they would accomplish in 1969. Weeb Ewbank, who had coached the NFL’s Baltimore Colts, began his second season at the Jets’ helm in ’64,and that season was also the team’s first in their shiny new home, Shea Stadium.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

21 Dec

73toppsplunkett

1973 Topps football card of former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett, a 16 year veteran of the league. Although he was a prize top draft pick of New England, he struggled there and later with the San Francisco 49ers before catching on with the Oakland Raiders. Plunkett then came into his own, guiding the Raiders to a pair of Super Bowl wins. Born in New Mexico, he was the first Latino quarterback to win the big game. Always considered underrated or perhaps because of the failures of his early career, Plunkett is the only two-time Super Bowl winning QB not to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Mel Gray’s Phantom Catch

14 Dec

It’s another week of the National Football League schedule, and another Throwback Thursday feature. This week, the Washington Redskins face the Arizona Cardinals, and our TBT will highlight a game played on November 16, 1975 between these two teams. The Cardinals were based in St. Louis at the time and both clubs were members of the league’s NFC East division. They entered this contest fighting for the division lead with identical 6-2 records. A defensive struggle produced a scoreless first quarter, then St. Louis’ Jim Bakken hit a short field goal to give his team the lead. Redskin quarterback Randy Johnson, a journeyman veteran filling in for regular signal caller Bill Kilmer, hit on a pair of touchdown passes, to Charley Taylor and Mike Thomas, to give Washington a 14-3 lead. The Cardinals pulled to within 14-10 when Jim Hart hit J.V. Cain on an 8 yard scoring toss, but Mike Moseley extended the ‘Skins’ lead to 17-10 with a field goal. Later in the fourth quarter, Hart led his team down the field attempting to tie the game, and reached Washington’s 6 yard line. He then proceeded to toss 3 consecutive incompletions, setting up what would be one of the most controversial plays in Redskin history. He fired a pass to his favorite target, Mel Gray, who clutched the ball in the end zone as he was being hit simultaneously by Redskin cornerback Pat Fischer. The ball popped out and hit the ground, and while one official ruled it incomplete, another called it a touchdown. After a huddle among the zebras, the play was ruled a touchdown. Bakken’s extra point tied the game, and the Cardinal kicker won it in overtime, 20-17, with another field goal.

Fischer, a former Cardinal, protested the call and insisted the pass was never caught. Gray even put his hands on his helmet in frustration, thinking it was an incompletion. There was no replay review in those days, so the officials’ call on the field was gospel. One thing is certain – there is no way, under today’s rules, that the pass would be anything but an incompletion, as a receiver is required to hold onto the ball and make a “football move” to complete the catch. The game knocked coach George Allen’s Washington team out of first place, and they never recovered, falling to an 8-6 final record which kept them out of the playoffs. St. Louis used the victory as a springboard to their second consecutive NFC East title.

 

MelGraycatch1

Cardinals’ Mel Gray snags a Jim Hart pass in the end zone

MelGraycatch2

Gray “completes” the “catch” for the tying TD

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

14 Dec

houtexansWFL74

Logo of an old defunct football team that played one season (1974) in the old World Football League, the Houston Texans. They are in no way related to the current NFL franchise in Houston that is also named the Texans. Despite their one year existence, the team boasted a roster of well-known pro football veterans, including Don Maynard, Warren McVea, Sid Blanks, Jim Nance, Jim Kanicki, Joe Robb and Garland Boyette.

 

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

14 Dec

66philapatfischer

1966 Philadelphia football card of former NFL defensive back Pat Fischer, a 12 year veteran of the league who split his playing days between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Redskins. A three time Pro Bowler, he was a ballhawking cornerback, intercepting 56 passes in his career. He was also known for his tackling ability, despite his diminutive size (5’9). After retiring, Fischer was a stockbroker and owned a successful real estate business.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Golden Boy’s Final Golden Moment

07 Dec

Throwback Thursday for this week harkens back to the 1965 National Football League championship game, played on January 2, 1966. It was contested on a sloppy field between two teams that match up on this week’s NFL schedule – the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns. Both franchises were powerhouses at the time, with the Browns returning to the title game after being crowned champs in 1964, and the Packers heading to the championship after winning back-to-back titles in ’61 and ’62. The weather conditions were bad and it didn’t take long for the field to turn into a quagmire, which meant a strong rushing attack would be an advantage in the game. That figured to favor the Browns, who had pro football’s most dynamic back of all time, Jim Brown, lined up in their backfield. Coach Vince Lombardi’s proud Packers, however, were determined to reclaim their glory and had not one, but a pair of future Hall of Famers in their backfield in Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, not to mention another future HOF inductee in quarterback Bart Starr.

Early in the first quarter before the field deteriorated, both teams managed to score through the air, with Starr hitting Carroll Dale on a 47 yard strike and Cleveland’s Frank Ryan countering with a 17 yard scoring toss to the 1964 championship game’s MVP, Gary Collins. The Browns missed the extra point on their score, and with the weather worsening the defenses took over and the teams traded field goals, with Green Bay’s Don Chandler and Cleveland’s Lou Groza both connecting on a pair of three-pointers. The Packers took a slim 13-12 lead into the locker room at halftime, and then took over the game in the second half with a pounding, ball control run game featuring their vaunted power sweep. Hornung, the one-time “Golden Boy” from Notre Dame who was getting up in age, put in a dominant performance in what turned out to be his last shining moment in a Packer uniform. He wound up with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries and pretty much sealed a 23-12 victory for his team on a 13 yard sweep into the end zone in the third quarter. Taylor carried 27 times for another 96 yards as Green Bay amassed 204 yards on the ground in the game, dominating the time of possession. This kept Jim Brown off the field for most of the contest. He churned out 50 yards, but only got 12 carries as Lombardi’s troops kept the ball on long, time-consuming drives most of the day. It was the type of performance that Lombardi loved, and the Pack not only dethroned Cleveland as NFL champs, but went on to beat Dallas in the next 2 NFL championships, following up those wins with victories in the first 2 Super Bowls.

It was a fitting swan song for Hornung. He remained with the Packers for the 1966 season but played very little due to injuries, then was left unprotected in the expansion draft the next year and was picked by the fledgling New Orleans Saints in that draft. He never played for them due to all his injuries, but his backfield mate, Taylor, also wound up with the Saints, being traded there by Lombardi when he balked about his salary and threatened to hold out.

 

HornungFollowsTaylorThurston

Paul Hornung grinds out yardage in the muddy 1965 NFL title game

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

07 Dec

ChicagoCardinals30

This simple logo from the 1930s belonged to the Chicago Cardinals, who shared residence in the Windy City with the Bears until 1959, when they moved to St. Louis. The Cards won a pair of NFL titles while in Chicago, but had only 2 winning seasons in the ’30s. Nineteen members from the Cardinal franchise are enshrined in pro football’s Hall of Fame, including Ernie Nevers, Jim Thorpe, Charley Trippi, John Driscoll, Walt Kiesling and Guy Chamberlin from the early Chicago days.