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THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 26 - 2004

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Number 1:

Ron Kramer: All-American by Jim Sargent. Considered by some to be the first modern tight end, Ron Kramer enjoyed a stellar career with the great Green Bay Packer teams during the Vince Lombardi era and later with his hometown Detroit Lions.

Kenosha Maroons 1924 - A Brief Spot in History by Roy Sye. Revisiting the short-lived Kenosha franchise, whose sole season in the NFL was filled with lopsided losses and cancellations.

Wicarhpi Isnala 'Lone Star' (Dietz) by Rob Jackson. The odyssey of William “Lone Star” Dietz, an artistic and athletic half-Sioux who was acquainted with Jim Thorpe, Walt Disney, Buffalo Bill, Knute Rockne, George Halas, and Pop Warner.

Quarterback Al Dorow by Jim Sargent. Quarterback Al Dorow was an All-American at Michigan State, a Pro Bowler with the Redskins, and an All-Star with the New York Titans, all sandwiched around a two-year stint in Canada.

What If There Hadn't Been Strikes? by Roger Gordon. Exploring the “What if?” possibilities of the strike-marred 1982 and 1987 seasons.

Number 2:

Gail Cogdill by Jim Sargent. A long conversation with the Detroit wide receiver, who was Rookie of the Year in 1960 and went on to an 11-year career filled with injuries and memories.

Olympic Gold, NFL Lead by Mark L. Ford. Every four years, the world’s greatest athletes compete for international fame in the Olympic Games. Some go on to play pro football, where greatness is the exception, rather than the rule.

Cliff Battles by Michael Richman. The career of Hall of Famer Cliff Battles, the NFL’s first official rushing leader in 1932.

Player Deaths in 2003. Adrian Burk, Sid Gillman, and Tex Schramm were among those lost in 2003.

Ace Gutowsky by Doug Warren. A brief bio of the hard-running Lions back of the 1930s.

Hall of Very Good 2004. Introducing inductees of the Hall of Very Good: Gene Brito, John Brodie, Jack Butler, Chris Hanburger, Bob Hayes, Billy Howton, Jim Marshall, Al Nesser, Dave Robinson, and Duke Slater.

Post-Season Football TV Announcers 1948-2003 compiled by Tim Brulia. A compilation of all broadcasters who worked a mic in the postseason from 1948 to 2003.

Number 3:

Jerry Groom, All-American by Jim Sargent. A biography of the center-linebacker for Notre Dame and the Chicago Cardinals.

Bob Brown: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2004. An aggressive blocker who utilized great size and strength, tackle Bob Brown was named first-team All-NFL seven times during his 10-year career (1964-73). He was elected to six Pro Bowls—three with the Eagles, two with the Rams, and one with the Raiders—and named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1960s.

Carl Eller: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2004. As the left end on Minnesota’s “Purple People Eaters” defensive line, Carl Eller was a force to be reckoned with. During Eller’s career, the Vikings enjoyed great success, winning 10 NFL/NFC Central Division titles in an 11-year span and appearing in four Super Bowls.

John Elway: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2004. Winner of back-to-back Super Bowls with Denver, the versatile John Elway was only the second quarterback in NFL history to record more than 40,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing during his career. Elway’s record 47 fourth quarter game-winning or game-tying drives are legendary. In the 1986 AFC title game, he engineered a 98-yard come-from-behind touchdown drive to tie Cleveland and send the game into overtime. The Broncos went on to win 23-20. Today, the Elway-led fourth-quarter rally is simply referred to as “The Drive.”

Barry Sanders: Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2004. Elusive and electrifying, Barry Sanders rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his 10 seasons with Detroit (1989-1998), the first running back ever to do so, and gained 15,269 yards rushing overall. The 1988 Heisman Trophy winner was also just the third person to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season, a feat he accomplished in 1997, when he posted a record 14 straight 100-yard games and was named league MVP. Sanders was a first- or second-team All-NFL pick in each of his 10 seasons and was selected to 10 Pro Bowls.

Norm Schachter in Super Bowl V: The Official Version by Mark Ford. Examining the work of referee Norm Schachter and the other five game officials in Super Bowl V, a game filled with turnovers, miscues, and costly penalties. Baltimore and Dallas combined for a then-record 14 penalties.

Did Too Many Coaches Spoil the Broth? By Mark Speck. A glance at the historical record shows there may be a reason the NFL hasn’t seen co-coaches in quite a few years.

The Unique Career of Greasy Neale by Alan Mann. Alfred Earle “Greasy” Neale is the only man in the history of American sports to play in the World Series, coach a football team in the Rose Bowl, and coach a team in two NFL championship games.

Chronology of Pro Football on TV, Part I (1939-69) compiled by Tim Brulia. A timeline of football on television from 1939 to 1969.

Number 4:

Chris Spielman by Roger Gordon. A profile of the intense Ohio State linebacker, who went on to star for the Lions and Bills.

The 75 Days of the NAFL by Mark L. Ford. For less than three months, from December 19, 1949 to March 3, 1950, the 10 NFL teams and three teams from the old AAFC were referred to collectively as the National-American Football League, part of the terms of the merger agreement hammered out between the two leagues. The name didn’t stick, but a lot that happened that winter affected the NFL for years to come.

Clyde Shugart by Michael Richman. The guard and linebacker remembers the highs and lows of his six seasons with Washington, 1939-44.

Walt Kowalczyk, The Sprinting Blacksmith by Jim Sargent. The 1956 Rose Bowl hero shares memories of Duffy Daugherty, Paul Hornung, Chuck Bednarik, and a pro career that never quite took off.

Ralph Hay: A Forgotten Pioneer by Chris Willis. An interview with Dr. James F. King, grandson of Ralph Hay, the man who put together the first organizational meeting of the American Professional Football Association in Canton, Ohio on September 17, 1920 in his automobile showroom.

Chronology of Pro Football on TV, Part 2 (1970-79) compiled by Tim Brulia. A timeline of football on television from 1970 to 1979.

The Magnificent Seven by Coach T.J. Troup. When assessing a quarterback’s career, how much emphasis should be placed on his passing statistics? Comparing Otto Graham with six other top quarterbacks.

Number 5:

Close But No Cigar by Mark Speck. A rundown of the 10 best teams in pro football history that didn’t make the playoffs.

Football's Least Replaceable Players by Greg Thomas. The author discovers that he’s been living in a world of statistical misconceptions when it comes to football numbers. He shares what he’s learned.

Spiderman, the Jimmy Allen Story by John Bennett. The life of Jimmy Allen, an underrated defensive back with Pittsburgh and Detroit in the 1970s, took a sad turn after he left the game.

1952: The Dawning of Motown's Gridiron Empire by Doug Warren. With the addition of key rookies like Yale Lary and Jimmy David and the hiring of Buster Ramsey as defensive coordinator, Buddy Parker’s Lions were set to win their first of three straight division titles.

A Safety Analysis by Gary Selby. Everything you ever wanted to know about the two-point safety in pro football history.

Chronology of Pro Football on TV, Part 3 (1980-89) compiled by Tim Brulia. A timeline of football on television from 1980 to 1989.

Number 6:

Dick Nolan: Man of Many Seasons by Don Shipley. Winning the 1956 NFL championship as a defensive back with the Giants and the 1970 Coach of the Year award as coach of the 49ers stand out as Dick Nolan’s best memories, but he looks back on his entire four-decade-long career with considerable satisfaction.

Interim Coaches: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Mark Speck. Interim head coaches have met with varying degrees of success in the long history of pro football. Some men have handled it well, and some, not so well.

A 'Win Shares' System for Football by Greg Thomas. Borrowing from Bill James and Jim Henzler, the writer devises a system that rates players according to their offensive production but adjusts for their efficiency as well.

Chronology of Pro Football on TV, Part 4 (1990-2003) compiled by Tim Brulia. A timeline of football on television from 1990 to 2003.

Book Review: Curly Lambeau by David Zimmerman by John Vorperian. The reviewer’s verdict: “an original and insightful chronicle” of Green Bay’s pioneering coach and executive.

11-3 and Forever Second by Doug Warren. A recap of Detroit’s heartbreaking second-place finish in 1962 and the two memorable Lions-Packers clashes that season.

This month's Coffin Corner

1958 Baltimore Colts

The 1966 Green Bay Packers

The All-America Football Conference