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Classic Sports Card of The Day

02 Nov

78toppsclarencedavis

1978 Topps football card of former running back Clarence Davis, an underrated player who spent 8 seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He was a clutch player who saved his biggest performances for the biggest games, including rushing for 137 yards on 16 attempts in Super Bowl XI, helping the Raiders defeat the Minnesota Vikings for the franchise’s first NFL title.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: The Curse of Bobby Layne

26 Oct

The Detroit Lions face the Pittsburgh Steelers on this week’s NFL schedule, which takes this week’s Throwback Thursday feature back to an obscure game played between these two franchises on November 8, 1959. Both of the clubs were league bottom feeders that year, even though the Lions had been a dominant force in the decade, winning 3 NFL titles. The game was significant, however, in that it was the first time future Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne, who had led the Lions throughout the decade, was to play against the team that traded him prior to the ’59 season. Layne’s old coach in Detroit, Buddy Parker, was now coaching the Steelers and made the trade to try to lift the lowly Pittsburgh club out of their losing doldrums. At the time of the trade, Layne was so upset that he proclaimed that the Lions “wouldn’t win again for the next 50 years!” And of course, Detroit to this day hasn’t won a title and has made only rare playoff appearances. They, along with the Cleveland Browns, are the only non-expansion teams to have never reached a Super bowl in the game’s 51 year existence. Layne’s proclamation has grown into what is now considered a hex on the franchise known as “The curse of Bobby Layne”. While baseball’s Boston Red Sox finally overcame their “curse of Babe Ruth” after trading the legendary slugger, the Lions’ “curse” has now surpassed the 50 years Layne put on them.

As for the actual game, it was pretty non-descript. Only about 24,000 fans were in attendance at old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh to witness the two losing clubs battle to a 10-10 tie. Layne didn’t get revenge on his old club, but he could take solace in the fact that he provided his Steelers with all of their points, tossing a 20 yard scoring pass to Tom Tracy, kicking the extra point and adding a 29 yard field goal. The season rebounded for the Steelers after this game. They won 4 of their last 5 to finish with a 6-5-1 record, the only winning season they would enjoy with Layne calling the signals.

 

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Bobby Layne was prominently featured on the 1959 Steelers/Lions game program 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

26 Oct

southernu6373

Logo of a small college football team, used from 1963 until 1973, the Southern University Jaguars. The school began play in 1916 and currently plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Jaguars have claimed a total of 9 Black College national championships. The school’s pro football alumni include Mel Blount, Harold Carmichael, Rich Jackson, Isiah Robertson and Aeneas Williams.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

26 Oct

layne

1959 Topps football card of former pro quarterback Bobby Layne, who was one of the last players to play without a face mask. Layne’s career spanned 15 years with 4 different teams. Most of his success came in the 1950s with Detroit as he led the Lions to 3 NFL championships, prior to being traded to Pittsburgh where he finished his playing days. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, was voted to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1950s and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Rozelle’s Regret

19 Oct

Politics and football are crossing paths in a big way these days with NFL players staging National Anthem protests over police brutality and other issues, but there was a weekend in 1963 when there was enormous political controversy in the game. It was on Sunday, November 24th of that year when NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle decided to play a full slate of games even though President Kennedy had been assassinated 2 days earlier. The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, who clash on this week’s NFL schedule, also met on that infamous Sunday, and their game that day is the subject of this week’s Throwback Thursday feature. The NFL was in full competition with the American Football League at the time, and the AFL cancelled all their games that Sunday out of respect for the fallen president. Rozelle made the decision to have all of his league’s games go on as scheduled, although none were televised since the country’s major networks were all carrying non-stop news coverage of the aftermath of the assassination, including Jack Ruby’s murder of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas police station that Sunday morning. Rozelle later stated that the decision to let the games go on was the biggest regret he had during his long term as commissioner. He certainly drew a lot of criticism for making that call. In his defense, Rozelle sought the counsel of Kennedy’s press secretary, his old University of San Francisco classmate Pierre Sallinger. Sallinger advised him to go ahead and play the games, citing that the country needed some semblance of normalcy. The game itself was played in Philadelphia. Had it been scheduled for the nation’s capital, it certainly would have been difficult to play with the president’s funeral taking place there. It wasn’t much of a game either. Both teams were Eastern Conference bottom feeders that year, and the players, still in shock over the weekend’s events, didn’t have their hearts, or their heads, in the game. The Redskins won, 13-10 by virtue of a pair of Bob Khayat field goals. Washington’s Norm Snead and the Eagles’ Sonny Jurgensen each threw a touchdown pass, to Dick James and Timmy Brown respectively. Ironically, Snead and Jurgensen were traded for each other following the ’63 season. That game, and the rest of that weekend’s NFL slate, are likely the least watched games of the modern NFL era, since only fans who attended them in person saw the action.

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JFK’s funeral procession on November 24, 1963

 

 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

19 Oct

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Logo of a college football team, used from 1980 until 1989 –  the Boston University Terriers. The school played in the Yankee Conference when this logo was used, but now are members of the Atlantic Ten. Former Terrier players who have gone on to play pro football include Butch Byrd, Jim Jensen, Bill Brooks, Paul Farren, Mike Leach and Reggie Rucker.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

19 Oct

67philatimmybrown

1967 Philadelphia football card of former pro football running back Timmy Brown, who played 9 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a three time Pro Bowler and helped the Eagles win a championship in 1960. Brown became an actor after retiring as a player, using the name Timothy Brown. He appeared in many movies and television shows, and was one of only 4 actors to appear in both the MASH movie and TV series. He is also an accomplished singer and tap dancer.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Rookie Meets The Old Pro

12 Oct

The Kansas City Chiefs take on the Pittsburgh Steelers this week on the NFL’s week 6 schedule, which takes this week’s Throwback Thursday feature back to November 15, 1970, when these 2 franchises clashed. The game was a match between an old seasoned pro quarterback, Kansas City’s Len Dawson, and a Steelers’ still-wet-behind-the-ears rookie prospect named Terry Bradshaw. Dawson and the Chiefs were defending NFL champs, having throttled the Minnesota Vikings in the previous year’s Super Bowl, while Pittsburgh was in the early stages of a major overhaul under coach Chuck Noll that would transform them into four-time Super Bowl champs later in the decade.

On this day, Dawson schooled the rookie, as he put together a strong passing day in a game in which neither team mustered much of a ground game. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 257 yards ( a big amount in those days) and 3 touchdowns, one to his favorite target, Otis Taylor, and a pair to a player nearing the end of a long career, Billy Cannon, and the Chiefs wound up winning handily, 31-14. The Chiefs’ defense made life difficult for Bradshaw, limiting him to 8 of 19 completions for a meager 74 yards and intercepting him 3 times. Noll eventually benched the “Blonde Bomber” for backup Terry Hanratty, but KC picked him off twice also. Two of the interceptions came from Chiefs’ safety Johnny Robinson, a player who has been overlooked for the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the years  mainly because most of his career was spent in the AFL. Bradshaw today is rightfully remembered as one of the all time great signal callers and is a deserved Hall of Famer, but it’s easy to forget the brutal start he had to his career, which included being berated and benched by Noll numerous times in favor of Hanratty and later Joe Gilliam.

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Chuck Noll and his prize young QB Terry Bradshaw

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

12 Oct

arkstate08now

Logo of a college football team that plays in the Sun Belt Conference, the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The logo has been in use since 2008, when the school changed its’ team name from Indians. Players who have gone on to success in pro football include Bill Bergey, Alex Carrington, Fred Barnett, Maurice Carthon, Ray Brown, Carlos Emmons and Ken Jones.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

12 Oct

66toppscannon

1966 Topps football card of former AFL and NFL star Billy Cannon, who played 11 seasons of pro ball. Cannon was a prize acquisition of the fledgling AFL after he signed with the new league’s Houston Oilers out of college in 1959. He had won the 1959 Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player. Cannon helped the Oilers win the first 2 AFL championships but injuries kept him from ever really attaining star status as a running back. He reinvented his career with the Oakland Raiders after they switched his position to tight end, and played for the Raiders in the second ever Super Bowl game. After retiring, Cannon became a dentist, but became involved in a counterfeiting scheme and served a prison term of just over 2 years. To this day, he is a dentist at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.