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THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 4 - 1982

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Number 1:

Big Mac of the Browns' Attack by Bob Braunwart and Bob Carroll. Mac Speedie wore leg braces as a child, but overcame a crippling illness to become a leading receiver for the Cleveland Browns (1946-52), and finished his career in Canada. The article also compares his stats to those of Tom Fears, Elroy Hirsch, and Pete Pihos.

Mr. Touchdown: Evolution of a Canadian Record by Robert Sproule. Canadian TD record. George Reed of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1966-1975) scored 137 touchdowns in his career. Prior holders of the record for career TDs in Canada were Dub Sale, Bob Isbister, Jack O'Connor, Lionel Conacher, Brian Timmis, Virgil Wagner, Normie Kwong and Dick Shatto.

Number 2:

Hinkey Haines: The Giants' First Superstar by Bob Carroll. Hinkey Haines was one of those running backs who blaze across the NFL, sky for only a short time, yet burn so brightly that they are honored long after their last touchdown. Henry Luther Haines (1898-1979) played for the Giants (1925-28), Staten Island (1929, 1931) and then served as an NFL referee from 1934 to 1954.

A Team Named Ernie? [Nevers] by Bob Carroll. After he joined the Duluth NFL team, the club was billed as "Ernie Nevers' Eskimos". Nevers (1903-76) was one of the charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Opinion: The Greatest Offense by Bob Carroll. The 1981 Chargers? The 1950 Rams? A statistcial calculation created by Bob Carroll called "plays per touchdown." Rushing attempts and passing attempts, plus sacks divided by offensive touchdowns.

Father Knew Best: Gino Marchetti by Bob Carroll. His father warned him to "stay out of the other boys' way." During most of his career, of course, the "other boys" had to stay out of Gino Marchetti's way. No one played defensive end better. During the 1958 NFL championship, however, the greatest game ever played, his teammate Big Daddy Lipscomb fell across Gino's leg and broke it in two places. Marchetti was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Number 3:

Arnie Weinmeister by Bob Braunwart and Bob Carroll. Who were the greatest tackles in pro football? One player who is almost certain to show up on the list is Arnie Weinmeister, who played offensive and defensive tackle for eight seasons with the New York Yankees and Giants and the British Columbia Lions.

Autograph Collecting by Jeffrey W. Morey. A researcher explains how getting a player's autograph adds a new element to the learning of history.

1938 by Bob Carroll. New York Giants' coach Steve Owen had so much talent on his roster that he was able to alternate complete teams by quarters-- an early version of the two platoon system. The Giants went on to win the NFL championship 23-17 over the Packers, before a record crown of 48,120 at the Polo Grounds.

The First Lineup by Robert Sproule. American football adopted the "scrimmage system" in 1879. When did Canada pick up the practice that turned rugby into Canadian football? Sproule found the answer in a Toronto paper dated November 6, 1880.

Number 4:

The Era of Hutson by Green Bay Packers. (reprinted from an article in the program for the September 27, 1957 Bears-Packers game). Don Hutson is praised as "the individual who fused a good 1935 team into a champion."

Big Deal in New York: Andy Robustelli by Bob Braunwart and Bob Carroll. Defensive end Andy Robustelli was pushing 30, and after five tough seasons, the Rams decided he was on the verge of slipping. They arranged a trade with the New York Giants. Far from slipping, Robustelli put in nine seasons in New York and was chosen All-League five more times.

Bronko Nagurski by Bob Carroll. "Never fancy, Nagurski didn't dance, jiggle or joke; he just plowed straight ahead-- right through people!" Asked how he might be able to stop the Bears' Nagurski, Giants' Coach Steve Owen replied, "With a shotgun as he's leaving the dressing room."

Jim Ringo by Bob Carroll. The lowly seventh round draft choice figured that he couldn't compete at the 1953 Packers training camp, so he went home. But back in Easton, PA, both his wife and his father jumped all over him. How could he quit after only two weeks without really giving himself a chance? Besides, asked his father, "where else could he earn $5,250 for four months work?"

Rating the Receivers (Humor) by Bob Carroll. Nobody can keep track of their statistics. It's a little known fact that, in the fans' minds, the receivers are rated by the psychological impact of their names. Swann = graceful; Largent = big fellow; Winslow= eventual victory. "NFL teams should think about it at their next draft." Not to be read by the humorless.

Number 5:

Playing for the Pack in the 30's by C. Robert Barnett. An interview with Clark Hinkle, HOF fame fullback from Toronto (Ohio) who played for the Packers from 1932 to 1941. Reprinted by permission from Packer Report, Aug. 13, 1981

The First Canadian Championship by Bob Sproule. Wednesday afteroon, November 5, 1884 - Thanksgiving Day in Canada. The Toronto Argonauts lost to the Montreal FC, 30-0 in a matchup between the champs of the Ontario and Quebec leagues.

Pro Football's Doctor Alumni by Stan Grosshandler. The
Chicago Bears had guards Joe Kopcha, Danny Fortmann, Jim Logan, and Tony Ippolito, as well as QB Nick Sacrinty and receiver Bill McColl. Other M.D.s were Dave Middleton (WR-Lions), Paul Berezney (T-Packers), Tony Adamle (LB) and Bob Kolesar (G) of the Browns, and Mike Mandarino (G-Eagles), as well as AAFC Brooklyn coach Mal Stevens. Les Horvath and Jock Sutherland were dentists. Adapted from an article published in Rx Sports and Travel, Sept/Oct 1970.

A Discovery (Humor) by Bob Carroll. Pro football's greatest boon to the TV fan is the huddle. "In between downs all the players come together in a circle so I can go get a sandwich. As long as Americans keep eating, soccer will never replace pro football in their hearts!"

Number 6:

Doug Atkins by Don Smith. Biography of the Bears' defensive end, who played in the NFL from 1953-1969, and wreaked havoc for 17 years and 205 games on the league's quarterbacks. Atkins, who also played college basketball at Tennessee, entered the Hall of Fame in 1982. Jim Parker comments, "After my first meeting with him, I really wanted to quit pro football. Finally, my coaches convinced me not every pro player was like Atkins."

A Nightmare by Ron Reid. Businessman Jim Schneider of Pittsburgh had an idea for a new system of uniform numbering. Under Schneider's system, every offensive player would be assigned an odd number, every defensive player an even number. The position of every player would be coded by a letter. For example, Terry Bradshaw might have Q-3 on his uniform and Jack Lambert might be L-4. While many agreed that it sounded like a good idea, no team at any level would try it. Reprinted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 21, 1982.

The Second Canadian Championship by Robert Sproule. On November 10, 1892, a crowd of 2,000 turned out in Toronto to watch the champs of the Quebec and Ontario leagues. Osgoode Hall beat Montreal FC, 45-5.

Number 7:

PCPFL: 1940-45 by Bob Gill. Los Angeles Bulldogs, San Diego Bombers, San Francisco Packers, Oakland Giants and Phoenix Panthers. At six pages, a comprehensive article about the Pacific Coast Professional Football League.

All-Pro: 1917 by Bob Carroll. Three sportswriters in Indianapolis, Cleveland and Toledo -- named their choices for the best pro football players. Paddy Driscoll of the Hammond Clabbys, and Jim Thorpe and Greasy Neale of the Canton Bulldogs, are in the Hall of Fame. Frank Blocker of Hammond was on two of the lists. The only players not from Ohio or Indiana were three from the Detroit Heralds.

Red Grange in Canada Reprinted from the November 9, 1926 issue of the Hamilton Spectator. The first American Football League played a game in Toronto before 10,000 fans, with the New York Yankees beating the Los Angeles Wildcats, 28-0.

Number 8:

The Hartford Blues, Part 1 by John Hogrogian. In 1925, the Waterbury Blues were Connecticut's best pro football team, and moved to Hartford in midseason. During the autumn, owner George Mulligan put all four of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame into Blues uniforms. The article includes results for the Blues and for All-New Britain.

Passing Thoughts by Bob Carroll. The NFL has the passer rating, but the Shapiro system adjusts for number of scheduled games per year, the Carroll system adjusts for yards per completion and another system works by subtracting 80 yards from the passer's total yardage for every interception he threw and then dividing by his pass attempts. Otto Graham finishes first in all four measures.

Glenn Presnell by Jim Walker. It seems strange that this man was nicknamed "Press", since it was the press, or lack of it, that may be one reason he is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Presnell helped the Ironton Tanks beat both the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears in 1930, then played in the NFL from 1931-1936 with Portsmouth and Detroit.. Includes an interview with Presnell (1905-2004). Reprinted by permission from from the Ironton (O.) Tribune, July 20, 1980.

Number 9:

The Hartford Blues, Part 2 by John Hogrogian. In 1926, the Hartford Blues became one of the 22 franchises in the National Football League. The story of Connecticut's NFL team, which finished at 3-9-0.

The Bronx by Victor Mastro. One borough in a great city stands atop these mountains of football folklore-- the Bronx. Besides Yankee Stadium, the Bronx contributed Sid Luckman, Ken Strong and Ed Danowski, and the sneakers for the famous 1934 "Sneaker Game". Fordham College provided Vince Lombardi , Al Wojciechowicz and Ed Franco, and was the source of the Rams nickname.

Number 10:

A Disgrace: 1952 Dallas Texans by Stan Grosshandler. "They were a disgrace!" This terse statement from Dick Hoerner, a former Ram fullback great and a member of the 1952 Dallas Texans, aptly describes a nadir in the history of the NFL. The team attracted 50,000 customers-- for four home games, before leaving Dallas forever. The team history includes a roster, and anecdotes from Art Donovan and Chicago's Don Kindt. Eagles coach Greasy Neale sent a scout to watch the Texans practice at their new home in Hershey, PA. Says Donovan, laughing, "When the guy gets back, he tells him we were playing volleyball over the goal posts. Neale thinks the guy is crazy."

Pennsylvania Polka by Bob Braunwart, Bob Carroll and Joe Horrigan. The details of April 8, 1941, when the owners of the Eagles swapped franchises with the owner of the Steelers. Did the Eagles and Steelers exchange teams? No, but they did exchange a great number of players in what amounted to a massive trade, as announced on December 9, 1940... Did the Steelers and Eagles exchange franchises? Yes, on April 8, 1941. Thereby, Bell and Rooney gained the right to put their team of ex-Eagles and Steelers in Pittsburgh, and Thompson gained the right to put his team of ex-Eagles and Steelers in Philadelphia. The article includes a complete list of who went where. We report, you decide.

Number 11:

All-Pros of the Early NFL by John Hogrogian. From 1923 to 1931, an annual poll was conducted by the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Three All-Pro teams were picked for the initial list, published on December 21, 1923, with selections made by sportswriters in 12 league cities, and a Pittsburgh paper.

Bambi! Lance Alworth by Don Smith. The biography of San Diego Charger receiver Lance Alworth. In 1978, he became the first AFL player to be selected to the Hall of Fame. He was the premier pass catcher of an entire decade and the first ture superstar the American Football League ever produced. In 1965, he had 1,602 yards receiving an an average of more than 23 yards per catch.

Number 12:

Lion on Defense: Yale Lary by Don Smith. For the Detroit Lions, who dominated the NFL through most of the 1950s, Yale Lary was the kind of do-everything player who comes along once in a generation. The defensive back, who had 50 career interceptions, was also a punter with a 44.3 yard average. It was the hang time on Yale's punts, as well as the length, that provided the Lions such a lethal weapon for so many years. In 1960, for instance, Detroit opponents averaged less than a yard per return on Lary's punts.

All-Pros of 1927 by John Hogrogian. In 1927, the NFL went from a 22 team behemoth to a tight 12 team outfit. With a reduced number of teams, interested observers could see most of the league's players without spending a fortune on train fare. Besides the Green Bay Press-Gazette poll of 18 writers, five other persons selected teams, including Manhattan attorney Daniel Webster Krulewitch. Rather than a first and second team, Yankees' coach Ralph Scott named a "power attack" team and a "clever attack" team.

Friedman by Bob Carroll. Reflections on Benny Friedman, NFL quarterback from 1927-1934, shortly after Friedman's death in 1982. Friedman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Akron Pros 1920 by Bob Carroll. They won the first NFL title-- officially and against the odds. Yet, they go largely unrecognized. All about the 1920 Akron Pros team, coached by Elgie Tobin, which went 8-0-3. As champions, they were awarded a trophy that was never seen again, manufactured by the Brunswick-Balke Collender Company. Perhaps it's hidden in some Akron attic- the dusty symbol of the NFL's first championship.

Annual:

That Game of Football by Robert Sproule. A great deal of similarity between the Canadian and American versions is apparent. But such was not always the case. The Toronto Argonauts statistician outlines the parallel development of NFL and CFL ball after the 1874 Harvard vs. McGill game.

National Football League Franchise Transactions by Joe Horrigan. From August 20, 1920 to January 21, 1949, the dates for everything - creation, move, demise - and annotations.

Pro Football Spreads South by Bob Gill. Between 1926 and 1936, there was another American Football League with teams in St. Louis and Kansas City (Blues), Dallas (Rams), Charlotte (Bantams), Memphis, Louisville and Tulsa. During 1934, they were the strongest minor league yet in operation.

Renaissance Men and Others by Stan Grosshandler. "They were the men for all seasons-- true Renaissance Men!" In this case, they were major league athletes during football season and baseball season, or basketball season. This was the original compilation of two-sport stars, later a chapter in Total Football.

Columbus Metros: Forced to Punt by Kevin B. McCray. In 1978, the Midwest Football League champs from Ohio sought to become the "Twenty-Ninth Best Team in America". Interesting anecdotes from semi-tough football in the late '70s. The Metros had some of their players suit up for the opposing team to avoid a cancellation; sent former Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam $350 so he could play against them; and on July 12, 1980, played against the Racine Gladiators in a game where cable television viewers could call the plays using a remote in a game that Columbus won, 10-7.

2020 Convention
June 18-21, 2020
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Canton, Ohio

This month's Coffin Corner

1958 Baltimore Colts

The 1966 Green Bay Packers

The All-America Football Conference

The Early History of Professional Football

A Minor Masterpiece