THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 10 - 1988
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Escape from Purgatory (Buddy Dial) by Bob Kravitz. "Dial holds the team record for touchdown catches in a season (12) and is one of three Steelers to gain more than 1,000 receiving yards in a year." [Dial's TD record (1961) has been tied by Louis Lipps (1985) and Hines Ward (2002), who played 16-game seasons]. Dial's injuries led to an addiction to painkillers, kidney failure and financial ruin, but he had a successful rehabilitation. Dial credited Dallas' defensive back Mike Gaechter as the man who saved his life.
Pain! Lifelong Companion of Many NFL Alumni by Bob Kravitz. "The game has changed, and so has the attitude of players and doctors toward playing with pain." NFL Alumni interviewed by Kravitz were Rocky Bleier, Buddy Dial, Carl Eller, Pete Gent, Dick Hoak, Lee Roy Jordan, Tom Keating, John Kolb, Andy Russell, Gene Upshaw, and Craig Wolfley. From Hoak: "The pendulum was swung completely the other way. Now, guys won't play with the slightest injuries. They're so afraid that the next injury is going to end their careers."
Otto Played in Pain That Won't Quit by Bob Kravitz. Interview with HOF enshrinee Jim Otto, who was on his 11th surgery at the time of the article. "Otto, who never missed a game in 15 years as a center with the Raiders, virtually has no knees.. The result: He is a cripple. Sometimes, he needs a cane to walk, and if he stands in one place for a time, he is bound to collapse."
Along Came (Ralph) Jones by Greg Kukish. "Ralph Jones -- could any name be less memorable? -- is all but forgotten today. Yet, his contributions to football deserve recognition. For one thing, he was the first coach to win a championship for the Chicago Bears." (The 1921 champs coached by Halas were the Chicago Staleys) In his third season, Jones guided indoors the Bears to the 1932 title game, then retired from pro football.
1949 NFL Championship. Reprint of the Associated Press account of the Eagles' 14-0 win over the Rams at Los Angeles. Commissioner Bell refused to postpone the game despite rains that turned the field into a mud pit.
The All-Time Team: Circa 1942 by Joe King. King polled six NFL coaches about the ideal eleven. "The consensus?Sammy to Pass, Bronko to Plunge, Battles to Run." (The others were Hutson, Hewitt, Hubbard, Turk Edwards, Fortmann, Michalske, Hein, and Dutch Clark -- six were in the first HOF class; Hewitt was the 11th, enshrined in 1971)
Dear Cal (Letter to George Calhoun) by Ole Haugsrud. Excerpts from an October 4, 1962, letter to a reporter at the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The Duluth Eskimos were owned by 11 players from 1922 to 1925 and Haugsrud was treasurer, and in 1926, he bought the team for $1 and signed Ernie Nevers. In 1929, the franchise was sold and became the Orange Tornadoes, but the players were kept. . "I also had a promise from the National League that whenever a franchise was to be granted in Minnesota again, I would have the first option to buy the same so today we are the Minnesota Vikings in the National League. The price however was not $1.00 -- it was $600,000."
Ox! Where Have You Gone? by Stan Grosshandler. "Bronko, Bulldog, The Galloping Ghost, Moose, Ox - Where have those colorful nicknames of past gridiron glory gone?" Quotes from Doc Kopcha and Paddlefoot Sloan, and trivia about Red Badgro, Buriser Kinard, Tuffy Leemans, Pug Manders, Moose Musso, Ox Parry, Ace Parker, Bulldog Turner, Whizzer White, Waddy Young, At the end, a list of classic nicknames.
Jack Ferrante: Eagle Great by Richard Pagano. After 9 seasons in the minor leagues, he became an Eagles starter. Not as famous as Vince Papale. Ferrante played his first five years forthe Seymour (Pa.) team in the minor Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, and four years for the Wilmington Clippers. In 1944, at the age of 28, the receiver finally got his big break. "Jack Ferrante sure did survive; for seven seasons he started in every Eagles game except one. He also played on three consecutive Eastern Division championship teams and two consecutive N.F.L. Championship teams."
The Year Greasy Neale Was Fired by Gene Murdock. In his first ten seasons as head coach (1941-49), Neale guided the Eagles from a 2-8-1 team to the 1948 and 1949 NFL champions, in large part by a new method of recruiting. "We had 68 books that we took into the second draft meeting we attended (1943). No team had ever done this before. They laughed at us, but you can bet they stopped after we got ourselves men like Van Buren and Muha with that system!" After the team was sold, the Eagles went from 11-1-0 to 6-6-0 in 1950. ""The problem was that Jim Clark, who headed the 1,000 stockholders who bought the club , didn't know anything about football. He wanted to trim expenses by doing away with my scouts. He thought we were spending too much money for information on football players." Clark fired Neale in February 1951 with a 21 word telegram.
Armco's Semi-Pro Teams by Armco Corp. In the late 1920s, the Armco Corporation placed employees on two teams -- Ashland (Kentucky) Armco and Middletown (Ohio) Armco Blues. Many of the semi-pros were former college All-Americans, including Red Roberts.
The 1975 Chicago Wind by Tod Maher. Owner Eugene Pullano bought the Chicago Fire and sought the World Football League's championship, offering a $ 4,000,000 contract to Joe Namath, and hiring Babe Parilli as coach. Namath turned him down, he fired Parilli after one preseason game, and -- after taking on future Bears' coach Abe Gibron-- folded the team after five games and a 1-4-0 record.
Jim Carter: Former Packer Puts Troubles Behind by Joe Zagorski. Carter played 9 seasons (1970-78) as a Green Bay linebacker, bragged about becoming better than Ray Nitschke, and soon became so unpopular that fans cheered when he was injured. Quotes from a man who made lots of mistakes, but learned from them. Carter retired from the NFL and went on to build a successful Ford dealership in Eau Claire.
Civil Rights on the Gridiron (Washington Redskins) by Thomas G. Smith. Author Smith was a professor of history at Nichols College. "'We'll start signing Negroes,' Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall once quipped, 'when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.' . On March 24, 1961 Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall warned Marshall to hire black players or face federal retribution. For the first time in history, the federal government had attempted to desegregate a professional sports team. Marshall was both an innovative owner who "took a dull game and made it irresistible", but also a racist who kept blacks out of the NFL until 1946, and off of the Redskins until 1962.
WFL by Team Records 1974-75 by Bob Braunwart. All the game scores, and some trivia about the vision for a true "World" Football League, and not just in Canada. Before the Shreveport Steamer had been the Houston Texans, Steve Arnold's franchise had been reserved for Tokyo, while Bruce Gelker had wanted the Portland Storm to play in Mexico City.
Eight Tries at the End Zone (Cle-NY 1950) by Jack Ziegler. After the Browns and the Giants tied at 10-2-0 in the Eastern Division, the playoff was played on a frozen field in Cleveland. In the final quarter, the Giants had first down four yards from goal. Thanks to a Cleveland penalty, the Giants had eight consecutive attempts at a touchdown, and had to settle for a field goal. Instead of leading 7-6 in the final minute, the Giants trailed 6-3 (a safety at :08 made the final score 8-3).
The Hidden Career of Ken Strong by Bob Gill. "Among the list of top-level NFL players who played in other leagues in the 30s and 40s are "stars like Frankie Albert, Ed Danowski, Jack Ferrante, Augie Lio, Harry Newman, Hank Soar, Tommy Thompson and Kenny Washington, plus Hall of Famers Red Badgro, Johnny Blood, Sid Gillman, Vince Lombardi and Ace Parker But without a doubt, among the famous names of football, the one with the most extensive non-NFL career was Ken Strong." Besides 12 seasons in the NFL (1929-35 and 1944-47), he also played in the 1936-37 AFL, and for the minor league Jersey City Giants and Long Island Clippers.
Karl Karilivacz: A Good Football Player by Greg Kukish. Quotes from crewmates Jim David and Yale Lary about the Lions defensive lineman for the "Chris Crew" (1953-57). Karilivacz played in the NFL until 1960.
Dear Leo [Lyons] by Aaron Hertzman. Hertzman, who owned the Louisville Brecks from 1921 to 1923, responded to a letter from former Rochester Jeffersons owner Lyons in 1961. The Brecks averaged 3 games a year, wrote Hartzman, who noted that "The majority of present owners know knowing (nothing) of the hardships Joe Carr went through in finding new clubs each year, most of which lasted only one season - but did contribute dues and assessments, which were essential to the continuance of the league until it finally got on its feet. The three or four or five games [the lesser teams contributed] filled in the schedules of the ruling clubs enabled the league to keep going."
In the Same League by Ernest Cuneo. Written by NFL guard Ernie Cuneo about the Orange Tornadoes in 1929 (he also played for Brooklyn in 1930), who went on to become a lawyer. "For most of us, the reward of playing the game back then - the reward that lasted a lifetime - was to see what we could do against the superstars. The Orange Tornadoes, myself included, weren't great, but we were no slouches either."
It's a Minor Thing by Steven Brainerd. "[N]o team ever did what the Terre Haute Thunder did August 10th, 1986." (they played an unscheduled two games in one day). Other minor and semi-pro highlights: The first overtime in football, the 1940 Eastern Pa. playoff. After six quarters, Chester and Seymour were tied 0-0 in a blizzard. "Chester was declared the winner on the basis of first downs, 12-5." An similar overtime in the 1940 American Association playoffs (after two tied games, the Newark Bears beat the Long Island Indians on a best 3 of 5 coin toss. Odd scores (3-2, 2-0, and Galveston's 4-0 win over Oklahoma City); The Glens Falls' Greenjackets five consecutive EFL championship game losses (1981-85) [this was written before the Buffalo Bills' four straight losses (1991-94)]
George Roudebush by Matt Fenn. Roudebush was a back for the Dayton Triangles in 1920 and 1921, and had played pro ball since 1915 onward. At age 93, he was the oldest living NFL player in 1987 and gave interviews.
The King -- Joe Krol by Bob Sproule. "During the years that he wore an Argonaut uniform, he became one of the greatest players of the game and perhaps the best halfback ever to play in the Canadian championship " He was also the Toronto kicker, and played from 1943 to 1953, helping the Argos win five Grey Cups.
Two American Heroes: Red Grange & Fritz Pollard by John M. Carroll. Grange's Chicago Bears and Pollard's Providence Steamroller met on December 9, 1925 in the first NFL game ever played in Boston. Grange and Pollard were, at the time, the most famous white and black pro football players.
The Continental Football League: Mini-Tragedy by Sarge Kennedy. Subtitled "A Mii-tragedy in Five Acts". The first comprehensive article (including final standings, playoff results and all-star teams) about the largely forgotten Continental Football League. In its five seasons of trying to become a major league, it played in big-league markets and stretched coast-to-coast. Among the teams that came and went were the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Owls, Dallas Rockets, Indianapolis Capitols, Montreal Beavers, Orlando Panthers, Philadelphia Bulldogs, Seattle Rangers, and Toronto Rifles. It also gave a start to coaches Bill Walsh (San Jose) and Sam Wyche (Wheeling), and future NFL stars Ken Stabler, Coy Bacon, and Otis Sistrunk.
Ringers! And the Pride of Portsmouth by Bob Gill. No, not the Spartans of Portsmouth, Ohio, but the Cubs of Portsmouth, Virginia. "What NFL Hall-of-Famer once joined a minor league team at the end of a season and played a decisive role in leading the team to a championship?" Actually, there were two-- in 1939, after the NFL season ended, Ace Parker helped the Cubs win the Dixie League title and Sid Luckman helped the Newark Bears get into the American Association title game.
The Day the Fans Took Over at Pottsville by Joe Zagorski. Thanksgiving Day, 1924, the Shenandoah Yellowjackets and the Pottsville Maroons in an Anthracite League game. "With but several minutes remaining in the contest, hundreds of Shenandoah fans stormed onto the field and refused to leave, thereby halting the game until it was too dark to continue play. and soon, "there were just as many Pottsville fans on the field as there were fans from Shenandoah."
Ole Haugsrud Remembers by Ole Haugsrud. Written in the early 1940s as Haugsrud remembered taking Ernie Nevers and the Duluth Eskimos out west after the 1926 season.
What Are We Doing in Buffalo? by Art Daley. Wednesday Night Football on September 28, 1938 at Buffalo's brand new Municipal Stadium. After trailing in the final minutes, the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Cardinals 24-22 in an NFL regular season game. Played three days after the Cards' 28-7 at Green Bay, and often listed as a Cardinals home game. The win was important-- had the Packers lost, they would have been tied at 7-4-0 with the Lions in the Western Division race.
1963 Championship Game by Jack Ziegler. Subtitled "Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object". As Sid Luckman said beforehand, ""The championship game figures to be one of the best in history...because you've got the Bears' great defense against the Giants' great offense." In 1963, the Giants averaged 32 points per game, the Bears allowed only 10 points per game. In the end, the immovable object won, 14-10.
Shooting Stars: Rise and Fall of Blacks in Professional Football by Gerald R. Gems. "Unlike professional baseball. college football provided at least the appearance of a true democracy. Black players appeared on interscholastic teams throughout the Progressive Era [from 1891 to 1910]."The 1920's. witnessed the golden age of blacks in the NFL. That decade had produced a parade of black talent. The next would confirm the color line that baseball had established so long before." Gems closes by writing that George Preston Marshall "acceded begrudgingly, finally obtaining Bobby Mitchell, the Redskins' first black player, in 1962. Mitchell promptly led the league in pass receptions and the Redskins back to respectability. The experience, however, may have been devastating to Marshall. Suffering from an illness, he died shortly thereafter." Mitchell was the NFL's leading receiver in 1962 and 1963, but Marshall died in 1969 at the age of 72.
The Champagne of Football: Eton Wall Game by R.C. Macnaghten. Reprinted from an 1899 British book about soccer football. An explanation of the football predecessor that has been played annually for almost 250 years.
The Role of the Road Team in the NFL: Louisville Brecks by Brian C. Butler. Copiously researched article about the Louisville, Kentucky, pro football team. They played nine games in the NFL from 1921 to 1923. They also played independently, and in the Falls City Football Federation.
A History of the Dixie League by Bob Gill. With standings, playoff results and narrative about the southeastern league that played from 1936 to 1941. The DFL returned as a top minor league in 1946, but had only four teams in 1947, and folded after playing the opening weekend.
The USFL Antitrust Lawsuit. Not an article, but a copy of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision authored by the Hon. Ralph Winter in USFL, et al., v. NFL, et al., 842 F.2d 1335.
Season of Change: 1972 Packers by Joe Zagorski. After the 1971 Packers finished at 4-8-2, Head Coach Dan Devine led them to a 10-4-0 season the following year. A major factor was cutting 21 players, and replacing 5 of the 11 starters on the 1971 offense.
June 18-21, 2020
Pro Football Hall of Fame