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Classic Sports Card of The Day

04 Oct

01scorewycheck

2001 Score football card of former pro football tight end Frank Wycheck, who enjoyed an 11 year career in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, and most notably, with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and one of only seven tight ends in NFL history to record 500 receptions. After his playing days were over, Wycheck dabbled in pro wrestling and broadcasting. He is currently color analyst on the Titans’ radio broadcasts and hosts his own sports talk radio show in Nashville.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: “I Love You, Brian!”

27 Sep

The Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders match up on the NFL’s week four schedule this Sunday, and for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature we’ll travel back to January 4, 1981, a cold, snowy day in Cleveland when these 2 clubs met in an AFC divisional playoff game. The Raiders were a wild card entry in that year’s playoffs, while the Browns enjoyed an 11-5 season in which their quarterback, Brian Sipe, won the league’s MVP award in leading his team to the AFC Central Division title. Sipe and his Browns earned the nickname “Kardiac Kids” for their habit of winning close games with come-from-behind victories all year, and this game played out like many of their regular season contests, except for the ending.

Weather conditions would be a big factor in the game, as neither team could muster much offense. The Browns’ defense broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter when Ron Bolton returned one of his 2 interceptions of Raider QB Jim Plunkett 42 yards for a touchdown. Mark Van Eeghen tied the score before the first half ended with a one yard plunge for a Raider TD. The only third quarter scoring came on a pair of Don Cockroft field goals for Cleveland, leaving the Browns up 12-7 entering the final quarter. When Van Eeghen scored a second 1-yard TD to put the Raiders up 14-12, Sipe and the Browns were put in their familiar spot of needing a fourth quarter comeback to secure a win. Starting at his own 15 yard line, Sipe masterfully drove his team downfield, reaching the Oakland 13 yard line with 49 seconds to play. The Browns were already in position to kick a game-winning field goal, but because of the severe weather conditions, coach Sam Rutigliano opted to have Sipe throw a pass to All Pro tight end Ozzie Newsome in the end zone to get the win. The decision backfired when Raider safety Mike Davis intercepted the pass, ending Cleveland’s season. As a disheartened Sipe came off the field , Rutigliano hugged his signal caller and exclaimed “I love you, Brian!”

The play, which carried the name “Red Right 88”, would become the first of the city of Cleveland’s infamous gaffes regarding heartbreaking Browns’ defeats. “The Drive” starring John Elway and “The Fumble” featuring Earnest Byner would follow in later years. The Browns remain one of the few teams in the NFL to have never played in a Super Bowl (although they were a dominant force in the pre-Super Bowl era). The Raiders took advantage of their good fortune of Rutigliano’s decision to pass by going on to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl that season.

 

Oakland’s Mike Davis seals the win (Getty Images)

 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

27 Sep

SanJoseStateSpartans50s

Logo of a college football team, the San Jose State Spartans, who play in the Mountain West Conference and have fielded a program since 1893. This logo was used in the 1950s. The Spartans have won 16 conference titles over the years, and the list of SJS alumni who have gone on to play pro football is extensive, and includes Steve DeBerg, Kim Bokamper, Gill Byrd, Stacey Bailey, Dan Colchico, Charlie Harraway, James Jones, Art Powell, Mel Tom, Louis Wright and Jeff Garcia.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

27 Sep

79toppssipe

1979 Topps football card of former pro football quarterback Brian Sipe, who played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns before ending his career in the USFL. He was the leader of the Browns’ teams in those years that earned the nickname “The Kardiac Kids” for their penchant for winning close games with fourth quarter or overtime drives. His best season was 1980, when he was named to the Pro Bowl and also won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award. After retiring, Sipe coached a very successful high school team in his native San Diego and also was the quarterback coach at his alma mater, San Diego State, for 6 seasons.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Unitas Rediscovers Moore

20 Sep

The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off an upset defeat at the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, try to rebound against the Indianapolis Colts this week on the NFL’s week 3 schedule. So we’ll highlight a game played between these 2 franchises for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature. It was played on November 21, 1965 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium (the Colts wouldn’t move to Indianapolis for another 20 years or so). The Colts, under coach Don Shula, were having a great season, with a 9-1 record entering the game, while Philly was mired in a losing campaign at 3-7. Baltimore took command early, jumping out to a 14-0 lead as Colt quarterback John Unitas, arguably considered the best in the game at the time, hit Lenny Moore with a 52 yard scoring pass for the first touchdown, and safety Jerry Logan intercepting an Eagle pass and returning it 36 yard to paydirt. The Colts added a field goal but the Eagles showed some grit by netting a field goal of their own and adding a pair of touchdowns before the half, with Norm Snead throwing to his tight end, Pete Retzlaff, for one TD and future Hall of Famer Ollie Matson running for another, leaving the teams deadlocked at 17-17 at the midway point.

The third quarter belonged to Philadelphia as they jumped out to a 24-20 lead and looked poised to pull off the upset, but the Colts asserted their superiority in the final quarter, led by Unitas. He led a pair of late game scoring drives, which was his trademark back then. Jimmy Orr was a recipient of a 22 yard touchdown throw to give Baltimore the lead, while Moore scored again, this time on a 1 yard plunge, to seal the victory, 34-24. Unitas played his usual excellent game in the win, passing for over 300 yards and spreading the ball around to his favorite targets – Orr, Raymond Berry and tight end John Mackey. For this contest, however, he rediscovered the receiving talents of his halfback, Moore, who grabbed 7 of his throws for a whopping 163 yards and a TD. Moore added 54 yards on the ground to the attack, piling up 217 total yards. The NFL has always been a copycat league, and in an era where star halfbacks like Frank Gifford, Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell were transitioning into becoming “flankerbacks”, Shula realized that Moore, who had always been a receiving threat in his earlier years, was perfect for the role.

 

shula-gallery1Colt legends Unitas, Moore and Shula

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

20 Sep

maristredfoxes

Logo of a small college football team that plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Marist College Red Foxes. The school’s gridiron program has existed since 1978, and they currently play in the Pioneer Football League. The Red Foxes have claimed 4 conference titles in that time, the most recent in 2013. Despite their small college status, the school has had a couple of players move on to play in the NFL – Terrence Fede and a current  player, placekicker Jason Myers.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

20 Sep

58toppslennymoore

1958 Topps football card of Hall of Fame halfback Lenny Moore, who played his entire 12 year career with the Baltimore Colts. Sometimes an overlooked player when the discussion of the greatest backs of all time takes place, he certainly belongs in the mix. He was NFL Rookie of The Year in 1956, and helped the Colts win back-to-back championships in 1958 and ’59. Moore was a seven time Pro Bowler, the 1964 NFL Most Valuable Player, and was named to the NFL All Decade team for the 1950s. He is the only player in NFL history to record at least 40 rushing touchdowns and 40 receiving touchdowns. After his playing days ended, he worked for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services for 26 years, mentoring at-risk children.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Out Of The Bears’ Shadow

13 Sep

Week two of the NFL schedule includes a match between two nomadic franchises, the Rams and the Cardinals. The Rams began their existence in Cleveland, moved to Los Angeles, relocated to St. Louis where they had a measure of success, then bolted back to the West Coast to L.A., although technically they are currently playing in Anaheim. The Cardinals started out in Chicago, moved to St. Louis where they stayed for a pretty long period, then ran off to the desert and became the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals in the late 1980s. So the contest this week between teams that both bolted the Gateway to The West city could be deemed The We Screwed St. Louis Bowl.

Anyway, the game we harken back to took place on September 23, 1960. It was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, on the opening day of the ’60 season. It’s significant in that it was the first game the Cards played as the St. Louis Cardinals. After toiling in the shadow of George Halas’ Bears in Chicago since the NFL’s inception in 1920, team owner Violet Bidwill Wolfner petitioned the league to relocate to St. Louis after the 1959 season. At the time, the American Football League was forming to begin play in 1960, so the league allowed the Cardinals to move, mostly to claim the St. Louis market before the fledgling AFL could. Minnesota and Dallas were added as expansion teams during this period also, in proactive moves by the NFL to shut out the new league.

 

ramscards1960Rams vs. Cardinals game program 9/23/1960

The Rams had been an offensive powerhouse in the 1950s, behind future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield. Van Brocklin was now quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles, while Waterfield was the Rams’ head coach. Billy Wade, now L.A.’s signal caller, opened the scoring with a touchdown pass to Clendon Thomas. In the second quarter, Wade threw another scoring pass, a 57 yarder to Red Phillips, while John David Crow scored the first 2 touchdowns for the newly anointed St. Louis club, the first on an 18 yard throw from King Hill, and the second on another passing play, this time a 52 yarder from John Roach, who replaced Hill at quarterback. A pair of Bobby Joe Conrad field goals and a safety put St. Louis ahead 22-14 and the Cardinals coasted from there, led by a spectacular performance from Roach. He connected with star split end Sonny Randle for touchdown throws of 37, 57 and 24 yards to break the game open. Amazingly, Roach only completed 6 passes on the day, and 4 went for touchdowns. The Rams could only muster one more score, as they replaced Hill with backup Frank Ryan. Ryan hit rookie Carroll Dale with a 54 yard TD pass, but in the end the Cardinals, in their inaugural game as the St. Louis Cards, prevailed 43-21. The win launched the Redbirds to a winning season, as they finished 6-5-1, a marked improvement over their 2-10 finish in their last season in Chicago in 1959. (The NFL season only consisted of 12 games back then).

Incidentally, both Wade and Ryan would be traded later on, and both went on to great success. Wade led his new team, the Chicago Bears, to the NFL title in 1963 while Ryan quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to a championship in 1964. Dale, who had a great statistical game in the loss for the Rams (5 catches for 106 yards and the late TD), would later be traded to Green Bay, where he helped the Packers win 3 titles, including the first 2 Super Bowls.

 

1960gridcardinals1960 St. Louis Cardinals

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

13 Sep

WSWfootball

Logo of a Western New York high school football team, the West Seneca West Indians, who won the New York State Class A championship in 2017, led by quarterback Matt Myers, who is now enrolled at the University of Buffalo. Notable WSW alumni include Olympic volleyball player Matt Anderson, former NFL players Jeremy Kelley and Matt Strzelczyk and famed video journalist Josh Pohlman. The 2018 Indians’ club also has high hopes, and their roster includes Juston Johnson, Liam Scheuer, John Speyer, Bryan Ball, Kyle Haettich, Jeb Braunscheidel and Connor Pohlman.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

13 Sep

64philasonnyrandle

1964 Philadelphia football card of former pro football receiver Sonny Randle, who played 10 seasons in the NFL with his most productive years spent with the Cardinals franchise in Chicago and St. Louis. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and was named All Pro in 1960 (when he led the NFL in touchdown receptions) and 1962. After retiring as a player, Randle enjoyed a 13 year career in college coaching at 4 different schools, including head coaching stops at Virginia and Marshall. He also dabbled in sports broadcasting, and even started his own talk radio network in his native Virginia. Randle died in 2017 at the age of 81.