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Classic Team Logo of The Day

17 Jan

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Logo of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, a college football team that plays in the Eastern Division of Conference USA. The program has been in existence since 1911 and has sent numerous players on to careers in pro football, including Erik Walden, Kelly Holcomb, Dwight Stone, Ray Oldham, Mike Caldwell and Don Griffin. Current Tennessee Titan safety Kevin Byard is also a Blue Raider alumnus.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

17 Jan

60fleerkinard

1960 Fleer football card of an original member of the American Football League’s Buffalo Bills, defensive back Billy Kinard. He played 3 seasons in the NFL for Cleveland and Green Bay in the late 1950s before joining the Bills for their inaugural AFL season in 1960. Kinard was a mainstay in the defensive secondary for that season, playing all 14 games, but he retired after just the one year. He held various coaching positions in college and the NFL for years after retiring, stretching into the 1980s.

 

NFL – Bills’ Season Review – Part 1

14 Jan

This is Part 1, 2017 edition, of our annual four part series reviewing the Buffalo Bills’ season.  This first section deals with the management and coaching side of the franchise:

All this team needs is a real leader who will demand accountability from his players and who has some semblance of organizational skills.”

That was the final sentence of the management/coaching section of the 2016 season review, describing what owners Terry and Kim Pegula needed to find in their search for a new head coach.  In hiring Sean McDermott to lead the franchise, they accomplished this, judging by the first year results the new coached provided. Using catch phrases like “trust the process” and “playoff caliber”, McDermott drove home a consistent message to his players that a new standard was being set for the team. Thanks to a miraculous fourth down touchdown engineered by Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd, the Bills qualified for the playoffs on the season’s final day. Also brought in by the owners was a new general manager, Brandon Beane, who had worked with McDermott in Carolina. Unlike previous regimes, Beane and McDermott seem to be on the same page when it comes to the overall vision for the franchise. Beane showed guts by being unafraid to unburden the team from players who didn’t fit his and the coach’s type of character people they want to go forward with. Gone in trades were Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, Marcell Dareus, Cardale Jones and Reggie Ragland. Beane hit home runs in his free agency signings, landing a pair of standout safeties in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, a starting guard in Vlad Ducasse, fullback Patrick DiMarco, as well as kicker Stephen Hauschka. He also added possible pieces for the future by acquiring receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews,and cornerback E.J. Gaines in trades. In all, McDermott got amazing results from a roster that had few playmakers and was loaded with marginal players plucked from the waiver wire or signed off the street. Offensively, the team regressed from a mediocre 2016 season, and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison paid the price for that, being fired shortly after the season. Western New York native Brian Daboll was just hired as his replacement. Daboll has an impressive resume, having had OC experience with 3 different NFL teams as well as serving in that role for Alabama’s national champion team this year. He also has multiple Super Bowl rings from his days as a New England assistant. Beane acquired a number of high picks for the 2018 draft, and the Bills will have to hit on those picks, as well as have another successful free agency period, to take the next step toward their ultimate goal of establishing themselves as a consistent winning franchise.

 
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Classic Team Logo of The Day

14 Jan

vegasoutlawsXFL01

Logo of a football team that played in the now-defunct XFL, the Las Vegas Outlaws. The team had a ferocious defense that was nicknamed “The Dealers of Doom”. The league lasted only a single season, in 2001, and some notable Outlaw players included future NFLers Mike Furrey, Kelly Herndon and Rod Smart, who became famous for wearing the name “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

14 Jan

65toppsbuncom

1965 Topps football card of former pro football linebacker Frank Buncom, who played 7 seasons, all in the American Football League. He was a three-time AFL All Star with the San Diego Chargers, and played on the team’s 1963 AFL championship team. He was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 expansion draft, and played one year for them. However, on the morning of opening day of the 1969 season, Buncom died of a pulmonary embolism. His grandson, Frank Buncom IV is a safety on the Stanford University football team.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Saturday Night Surprise

28 Dec

The final week of the NFL’s regular season will be played this weekend, and one of the matchups is between 2 old rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The Steelers are headed to the playoffs with a first round bye secured, while the Browns are winless and are the league’s ultimate bottom-feeders, having won only one game in the past two seasons. Our final Throwback Thursday feature for 2017 harkens back to October 10, 1964 to a meeting between these 2 franchises back when their fortunes were reversed. The Browns were a powerhouse in the league and were on their way to claiming the NFL Championship that season, while the Steelers were half a decade away from hiring Chuck Noll as head coach and turning the team’s fortunes around. Pittsburgh was a rough team that played hard-nosed, and sometimes dirty, defense, while routinely losing games.

In what was an annual tradition at that time, the game was played on a Saturday night rather than the usual Sunday afternoon, and on this night, the Steelers pulled off a Saturday Night Surprise, as they dominated the Browns on their own home field, the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Using a power running game that featured future Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson,  Pittsburgh threw the ball only 11 times all night, and wound up gaining 354 yards on the ground on 64 attempts. Johnson carried 30 times for an even 200 yards and scored all 3 of his team’s touchdowns, while Clarence Peaks added another 96 yards on 21 tries. Meanwhile, the rugged Steeler defense neutralized Cleveland’s star fullback, Jim Brown, holding him to only 59 yards for the night. They also harassed quarterback Frank Ryan, sacking him 4 times (although sacks were not an official statistic at the time). In all, the Steelers outgained the Browns in the game, 477 total yards to 217 in securing a 23-7 victory. It was Cleveland’s first loss of the year, dropping their record to 3-1-1, while the win lifted Pittsburgh to 3-2 and within a half game of overtaking the Browns.

Pittsburgh reverted to their losing ways, however, finishing the season at 5-9 while the Browns, as stated earlier, went on to capture the league championship. Coach Blanton Collier’s Browns also got revenge on the Steelers later that year, going into Pitt Stadium and pulling out a 30-17 win in November.

 

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John Henry Johnson grinds out yardage vs. Browns (Getty Images)

 

 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

28 Dec

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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.

 

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Yellow ribbon tied around the Superdome for the Iran hostages

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

21 Dec

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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.