RSS
 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

03 Nov

Logo of a professional football team that plays in the East Division of the Canadian Football League, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Established in 1950, the franchise has won a total of 8 Grey Cup championships over the years. The Ti-Cats have 35 former players in the CFL Hall of Fame. That list includes Angelo Mosca, Damon Allen, Darren Flutie, Dieter Brock, Tom Clements, Tony Gabriel, Ron Lancaster and Bernie Custis, who is credited with being the first black quarterback in CFL history as he quarterbacked Hamilton in 1951.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

03 Nov

1985 Topps football card of former pro football quarterback Steve Fuller, who played 7 seasons in the NFL for 3 different teams. He was a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl team, and appeared with teammates in the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video that won a Grammy. His college jersey number (4) is retired by his alma mater, Clemson. In his retirement, Fuller has served as a head coach and offensive coordinator at the high school level.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Friendly Fire

27 Oct

It’s already week 8 of the NFL season, and in contrast to our post from a couple of weeks ago that featured a game from just 8 months prior, this week our Throwback Thursday time machine will travel a long way back into the league’s history, to November 4, 1945 for a contest played between two Pennsylvania clubs, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, who also are matched up on this week’s schedule. The explanation of why this game is significant requires some historical background. In 1943, in the midst of World War II, a lot of NFL players enlisted in the military to serve the country. As a result, the Eagles and Steelers found themselves in a position of lacking enough players to field teams. The owners of the 2 franchises made the mutual decision to combine rosters and field a single team, temporarily for the ’43 season, that the league record book would officially deem the “Phil-Pitt Combine” but would take on the unofficial moniker as the “Steagles”.

That takes us back to this week’s featured contest. The November, 1945 game would be the first time the clubs met as separate rivals again after their combined efforts a couple of seasons earlier. The Eagles were a contending franchise in the ’40s, and played in 4 title games later in the decade, winning a pair. As for most of their existence prior to the 1970s, the Steelers were awful. Ben Agajanian, whose career would stretch all the way into the 1960s with the AFL, put Pittsburgh on the board first with a field goal, but that’s all they would muster on the day. Eagle QB Roy Zimmerman zipped a pair of touchdown throws to end Jack Ferrante of 26 and 65 yards, and Philly was up 13-3 at halftime. The Eagles came out determined in the second half also, and took control of the game. Future Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren scampered 20 yards for a score and Zimmerman found Fred Meyer from 27 yards out to up the lead to 26-3 entering the final quarter. With the comfortable lead in hand, Philadelphia coach Greasy Neale turned to his running game. The result was 3 rushing TDs from 3 different backs. Jack Banta scored from 22 yards out with Mel Bleeker following up with a 14 yard jaunt. Abe Karnofsky added the icing to the cake with a 19 yard run for the final score, and the Steelers left town with their tails between their legs, on the wrong end of a 45-3 rout.

Despite the one-sided score, the players on each side must have still had a little love and respect for each other, as the entire 60 minutes was played without a single penalty being assessed on either side.

 

The Phil-Pitt “Steagles” from 1943

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

27 Oct

Logo of a defunct football team that played a single season in the National Football League, the Phil-Pitt Steagles. As a result of losing many players to military service during World War II, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles franchises temporarily merged to form one team to compete in the NFL in 1943. Since the remaining players had to have draft deferments to be able to stay out of the military and play, the combined team players that were left included Tony Bova, who was blind in one eye and partially blind in the other, Ed Michaels and Ray Graves,who were both deaf, and John Butler, who had poor eyesight and bad knees. The team still managed a winning record for the year at 5-4-1.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

27 Oct

1948 Bowman football card of former pro football end Jack Ferrante, who played 8 seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles. Nicknamed “Black Jack”, he played on the Eagles’ back-to-back championship teams of 1948 and 1949, and was named to the league’s All Decade team for the 1940s. He worked as a salesman for a brewing company after his playing days ended, retiring from that job in 1977. Ferrante passed away in 2006 at the age of 90.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: Joe Cool’s Revenge

20 Oct

It’s week 7 of the National Football League’s schedule, and a key matchup between AFC and NFC clubs will take place, featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. Joe Montana, who guided the Niners to 4 Super Bowl titles, didn’t finish his career in the city by the bay, however. He was traded to Kansas City to open up the starting quarterback position for Steve Young. On September 11, 1994, Montana and the Chiefs hosted Joe Cool’s former team for the first time since the trade took place, and that is the game we will highlight for this week’s Throwback Thursday post.

It was early in the ’94 season, week 2 to be exact, and both teams were coming off opening day wins. Montana gave the Chiefs an early lead when he found Joe Valerio open from a yard out for the only score of the first quarter. In the second quarter Montana’s replacement, Steve Young, found his rhythm and guided the Niners on a pair of touchdown drives. The first culminated on a 5 yard Young to Brent Jones TD toss, with Marc Logan finishing off the other with a one yard run. Kansas City gained a bit of momentum before the half ended when they pinned the 49ers deep in their own territory. The Chiefs’ All Pro linebacker, the dangerous Derrick Thomas, trapped Young in his own end zone for a safety, cutting the San Fran lead to 14-9.

The Chiefs’ defense carried that momentum into the second half as they shut down Young and the 49er offense in the third quarter. Montana, as he was always sure to do, came out hot in the second half. He engineered 2 third quarter scoring drives. The first ended with Joe Cool finding tight end Keith Cash for an 8 yard touchdown. He then completed a 2 point conversion pass to J.J. Birden to put the Chiefs up 17-14. Another future Hall of Famer, running back Marcus Allen, upped the K.C. lead to 24-14 with a 4 yard run for a score. Both defenses stiffened in the final stanza, with the only scoring coming on a Doug Brien field goal for San Francisco. That left Young on the short end of a 24-17 final tally, giving Montana a small measure of revenge on the club that traded him to open up the starting job for Young.

The long NFL season took different turns for these clubs as the year progressed. Montana managed to push the Chiefs into a second place AFC West finish and a wild card berth, only to lose that wild card game to Miami. Montana decided to retire after that game. San Francisco had better luck. They plowed through the rest of their schedule, winning the NFC West title and sweeping their playoff matchups all the way to the Super Bowl XXIX, where Young won the game’s MVP award with a dominating performance in a 49-26 thrashing of the San Diego Chargers.

 

 

Young, Montana meet as rivals

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

20 Oct

Logo of a college football team that plays in the Mid-American  Conference, the Akron Zips. The school played it’s first season in 1891 and has appeared in 3 bowl games and won 1 conference title. Former Zips who have gone on to play pro football include Chase Blackburn, Victor Greene, Charlie Frye, Dwight Smith, Domenik Hixon, Reggie Corner and Hall of Famer Jason Taylor.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

20 Oct

1989 Score football card of a former pro football linebacker, the late Derrick Thomas. In his 11 year NFL career, all spent with the Kansas City Chiefs, he was named to the Pro Bowl 9 times, was NFL Defensive Rookie of The Year in 1989, NFL Man of The Year in 1993 and was a member of the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1990s. Unfortunately his career was cut short when he passed away in 2000 from complications of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: An Instant Classic

13 Oct

Our Throwback Thursday posts here on Rayonsports span the decades of classic NFL games, but every once in awhile we are compelled to take short trips back in time to find a gem to highlight. That is the case this week, week 6 of the NFL schedule, as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Buffalo Bills. We travel back a short distance in time, only a matter of months in fact, to the epic AFC Divisional playoff game the 2 franchises staged on January 23  of this year.

The game was a rematch of the previous season’s AFC Championship game, and the Bills had somewhat avenged that defeat by beating the Chiefs in the regular season. This was a win or go home scenario, however, and Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is tough to beat in those situations. Buffalo struck first on a 1 yard Devin Singletary run, but Mahomes answered that with a pair of scoring drives, scrambling 8 yards to the end zone to finish off the first one, then finding Byron Pringle from 2 yards out to give the Chiefs a 14-7 lead. In a portent of things to come, Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen threw an 18 yard touchdown pass to Gabe Davis to tie the score at halftime.

The Chiefs took control in the third quarter. Harrison Butker kicked a field goal and speedster Mecole Hardman took a jet sweep 25 yards to paydirt, and after Butker missed the extra point K.C. had a 23-14 lead. Allen and the Bills were far from finished, however. The fiery Bills’ leader immediately launched a perfect 75 yard rainbow into the waiting arms of Davis for a score that shortened the deficit to 23-21. Butker opened the fourth quarter scoring with another field goal, but Buffalo then took the lead as Allen and Davis hooked up again, this time from 27 yards out. A successful 2-point try gave the Bills a shocking 29-26 lead and the shootout was clearly on. Doing his part to advance his club to the AFC title game, Mahomes answered with a drive ending on a 64 yard catch and run with the “Cheetah”, wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill took a short pass and whizzed past the bewildered Bills’ secondary to retake the lead at 33-29 with a little over a minute left. The game appeared over, but Allen had other ideas. Coming off a near perfect outing in the wild card round against New England in which he guided 7 touchdown drives in 7 possessions, the rising star from Wyoming calmly led the Bills downfield and hit Davis again to put Buffalo ahead 36-33 with only 13 seconds left on the clock.

 

Bills’ Gabe Davis torched the Chiefs’ secondary

 

Those 13 seconds will live in infamy in Buffalo Bills’ lore for the utter failure the team produced in that short span of time. Inexplicably, they kicked off into the end zone for a touchback rather than put the ball into the field of play to force the Chiefs to use a few precious seconds. They then employed a very questionable defensive strategy as they played soft and had their cornerbacks protecting the sideline even though Kansas City had all 3 time outs left. This left the middle of the field wide open and Mahomes deftly exploited it, moving his club easily into field goal range, where Butker connected on a 49 yarder to tie the game at 36-36 and send it into overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss and Mahomes shredded the Bills’ defense, moving his team downfield and hitting All Pro tight end Travis Kelce for the winning score from 8 yards out. The touchdown ended one of the greatest games played in NFL history as K.C. prevailed 42-36. The fallout from this classic battle caused a fury of backlash about the league’s overtime rules, as Buffalo and Allen never had a chance to answer the Chiefs’ drive. Ironically, Mahomes lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the same manner a couple of years prior. The resulting anger from fans and even rival GMs led to a rule change beginning in the 2022 season that allows both teams to possess the ball in overtime. Also, the 13 second gaffe resulted in the Bills’ special teams coach, who supposedly didn’t relay the message to his kicker not to boot the ball into the end zone, to quietly leave the organization for a lateral job in Jacksonville.

Lost in the craziness of the game’s ending was the record-breaking performance of Davis, who caught 8 passes for a massive 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. Helped by the extra attention the Chiefs paid to star receiver Stefon Diggs, Davis’ four scores set an NFL playoff record.

 

A forlorn Josh Allen after the final gun

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

13 Oct

Logo of a small college football team that plays in the Gulf South Conference, the University of West Alabama Tigers. Their program was formed in 1938 and won an NAIA national championship in 1971. They also have 11 bowl appearances, with 5 victories, in their long HBCU history. Tiger alums who have gone on to play pro football include Malcolm Butler, Deon Lacey, Seth Roberts, Charles Martin and Tyreek Hill.