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THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 20 - 1998

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Number 1:

All-Time Non-Pro Bowl Team by Mike Sparrow. The author picks offensive and defensive squads composed entirely of stars who never were selected to a Pro Bowl, including such surprising names as Jethro Pugh, Fuzzy Thurston, and Ray Mansfield.

Better Late Than Never by Mark Speck. The picks in the final round of each year’s player draft are generally quickly forgotten, but every once in a while a gem like Warren Lahr or Homer Jones slips through the cracks.

The Minneapolis Marines: Minnesota's Forgotten Team by Jim Quirk. Of the many obscure small town clubs that show up briefly in the records of the NFL for the early 1920s, one of the least known is the Minneapolis Marines, first organized in 1905 as a neighborhood team of working-class teenagers.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Top 20 Passers courtesy of Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lifetime leaders in various passing categories through the 1997 season.

Father Flynn & Last NFL Champ at Yankee Stadium by Victor Mastro. How a Catholic “priest” managed to secure five tickets to the 1962 Packers-Giants title game.

Dan Reeves Moves West by Pro Football Hall of Fame. The story of owner Dan Reeves moving the Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles in 1946.

Little Known and - Facts - Running Backs by Brian D. Marshall.

1938 NFL Championship Game by PFRA Research. New York beat Green Bay 23-17 in front of a record crowd, making the Giants the first team to win two championships since the NFL split into two division in 1933.

8 Great Guards (Not in the Hall of Fame) by Total Football. A round-up of eight guards who were still waiting Canton’s call as of 1998: Dick Barwegan, Joe DeLamielleure, Abe Gibron, Gene Hickerson, Jerry Kramer, Tom Mack, Billy Shaw, and Dick Stanfel.

Football on the Web: Pro Football Researchers Association by PFRA Research. The PFRA debuted its website in February 1998.

Number 2:

Roy Barni - Perfect Form by Jim Campbell. What made defensive back Roy Barni stand out during his five-year NFL career in the ‘50s was his textbook-perfect tackling form.

World Bowl I - And Only by Mark Speck. Recalling the World Football League’s chaotic postseason in 1974, which culminated in the first, last, and only World Bowl between Florida and Birmingham.

Impact of Red Grange on Pro Football in 1925 by John M. Carroll. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, the author states that “the enormous publicity surrounding Grange’s turning pro and his two barnstorming tours with the Bears in 1925-26 brought pro football into the national consciousness as never before….major sportswriters began to seriously report on pro football for the first time.”

Bruiser [Kinard] by Jim Campbell. A brief bio of tackle Frank “Bruiser” Kinard, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1960 NFL Conference Races: The Best Ever? by Tom Farley. Revisiting the 1960 Eastern and Western divisional races, a dramatic season that saw the debut of Red Hickey’s shotgun offense, Chuck Bednarik’s infamous knockout of Frank Gifford, the Lions’ miracle win at Baltimore, and Vince Lombardi’s first—and last—postseason loss.

Pro Football Players Don't Wear Glass Slippers by Mark Speck. Unfortunately, many of the Cinderella stories in pro football over the years have had unhappy endings. Here are a few.

Benny Friedman by Jim Campbell. A short profile of the abrasive but brilliant All-Pro quarterback, who lobbied for his own induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Scrimmage! The USFL Was a Major League by Paul Reeths and Bob Carroll. The authors offer opposing viewpoints as to whether the United States Football League was a major league.

Number 3:

Remembering Ray Nitschke by Ed Gruver. A mild-mannered family man wearing thick glasses when not in uniform, on the field the intimidating middle linebacker epitomized the Packers’ ferocious defense of the 1960s.

A Touchdown Ain't a Bad Defense by Coach TJ Troup. Examining the correlation between a pick-six and a victory. The writer’s chart shows the total number of interceptions each team returned for touchdowns during the 1950-86 period and their corresponding won-lost record in those games.

Nagurski's Debut and Rockne's Lesson: 1930 Season by Bob Carroll. A rundown of the 1930 season, played as the country sank deeper into the Great Depression. A highlight was an all-star game featuring pros vs. a squad of Notre Dame alumni, the event at the Polo Grounds benefiting the New York Unemployment Fund.

You Can't Choo Nittany: Nickname Origins by Stuart Kantor. The stories behind “Choo-Choo” Justice, the New York Titans, and other nicknames and memorable plays.

Hail and Farewell: Player Deaths 1/1/96-6-1/98 by Bob Carroll. Clay Tonnemaker met his maker, as did Don Hutson, Bill Osmanski, and “Tarzan” White.

Hall of Fame Top 20: Rushing, Receiving, Scoring courtesy of Pro Football Hall of Fame. The career leaders in rushing, receiving, passing, and scoring as of the start of the 1998 season.

The Bodyguard and Johnny U by Chris Willis. The relationship between Colts quarterback John Unitas and tackle-guard Jim Parker, whose superior pass-blocking skills made him the first full-time offensive lineman to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Number 4:

The Immaculate Reception by Gene Collier. An absorbing second-by-second account of Franco Harris’s catch for the ages on December 23, 1972, featuring the perspectives of players, officials, and the media.

Paul Krause by Joe Horrigan. After 16 seasons (1964-79) with Washington and Minnesota, Paul Krause retired as the most successful pass-stealing free safety in the history of the NFL.

Tommy McDonald by Joe Horrigan. Deemed too small by NFL standards, the exuberant wide receiver snagged 495 throws for 84 touchdowns during his dozen NFL seasons, most of them spent with Philadelphia.

Anthony Munoz by Joe Horrigan. A profile of the offensive tackle, who starred for 13 seasons (1980-92) with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike Singletary by Joe Horrigan. Mike Singletary’s no-nonsense approach to the game during his 11 years with the Bears was ideally suited for the team and fiery head coach Mike Ditka. “The thing I learned from Coach Ditka,” he said, “is to never say die. Just go out and lay it on the line every play. And when you don’t have any more, find some way to find more.”

Dwight Stephenson by Joe Horrigan. Miami center Dwight Stephenson’s superlative line play earned him many honors during his eight-year career, culminating with a call from Canton.

Clare Randolph by Jim Campbell. During his seven-year NFL career with Portsmouth and Detroit in the 1930s, the two-way lineman was known as the only man that could tackle Bronko Nagurski one-on-one.

Number 5:

Larry Brown: Paying the Price by Mark A. Latterman. As a star running back with Washington from 1969-1976, Larry Brown worked hard, was tough in body and spirit, and ended almost every game in pain. On and off the field, he often fell back on advice he’d gotten from Vince Lombardi, who had drafted him, on how to approach life.

Why the NFC? by Tom Danyluk. Of the first 29 Super Bowls played, original AFL clubs won only 7 of them. Was the NFC’s domination a cyclical phenomenon, the result of age-old superiority, or a combination of both?

The Longest Day by Paul Reeths. The longest game on record was a postseason marathon on June 30, 1984 between the Los Angeles Express and the Michigan Panthers of the United States Football League.

Rating Passers by Ralph Horton. Employing the Relative Performance System (RPS) to correct some of the shortcomings in the NFL’s current rating system for passers.

My Homage to Sam Francis by Albert Packman. A personal salute to the former NFL fullback of the 1930s and retired army officer, who served in three wars and organized an anti-poverty program.

Fifteen Years with the Same Team by Stan Grosshandler. “There have been 29 players in the NFL who have worn the same uniform for 15 or more years. With the advent of free agency that has resulted in players frequently changing teams, longevity with a single club will soon be part of history like the leather helmets, single wing, and the reserve clause.”

When Defense Ruled the Day by Ed Gruver. Remembering some of the game’s great defensive units, beginning with the New York Giants of the 1950s.

The NFL's "Dirty Dozen" by Mark Speck. One researcher’s opinion of the 12 worst NFL teams ever to desecrate a gridiron.

Montana's Professional Football Team by Gerald R. Green. Football provided a natural outlet for the rough mining town of Butte, Montana in the 1890s.

Number 6:

Leo Sugar by Jim Sargent. Football memories from Leo Sugar, who played defensive end for the Cardinals, Eagles, and Lions between 1954 and 1962.

The Smallest Player Ever in the NFL by Buck Bashore. Sizing up all the NFL players who were under 5-6 or weighed less than 150 pounds, including Jack "Soapy" Shapiro, a 119-pound blocking back on the 1929 Staten Island Stapletons.

Great (Ray) Scott by Ed Gruver. Broadcaster Ray Scott and the NFL on CBS were a perfect pairing in the 1960s.

Bud Grant by Brian Marshall. A short biography of end and coach Harry “Bud” Grant, a member of pro football halls of fame in Canada and Canton.

George Hughes by Jim Sargent. Reeling back the years with the Steelers’ Pro Bowl guard of the 1950s.

Goin' to the Dogs by Paul Bennett. The AAFC marked its debut on Sunday evening August 18, 1946, before a crowd of 16,442 in Portland, Oregon, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Rockets played to a 14-14 tie.

Gritz Blitz by Mark Speck. By allowing just 129 points—the record for a 14-game season—Atlanta’s 1977 defensive unit proved to be just as good as some others in NFL history.

Dwight Sloan: Paddlefoot by Stan Grosshandler. A mini-bio of the Cardinals and Lions tailback of the pre-war NFL.

Annual: All-Pro Teams: The Modern Years by John Turney. A comprehensive listing of annual All-Pro selections in the modern era.

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