THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 44 - 2022
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These issues are only available in the Members Only section.
PFRA-ternizing Executive Director Lee Elder presents the annual “State of the PFRA” report to members and discusses the increase in membership; the issues faced by the organization as the pandemic continued; the upcoming 2022 budget; the PFRA bylaws vote; the new “Great Teams” book; an updated Coffin Corner schedule for the year; a listing of the various committees and chairs, and the announcement of the host city for next year’s convention.
The Hall of Very Good Class of 2021 by Matt Keddie, Andy Piascik, Matt Reaser, Jay Thomas, John Turney and John Wilke. Career highlights of last year's class are included for Grady Alderman, Russ Francis, Mike Kenn, Tony Latone, Stanley Morgan, John Niland, Clark Shaughnessy, Bill Stanfill, Bob Vogel, and Abe Woodson.
2021 PFRA Awards The official announcement of the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography, the Nelson Ross Award for recent achievement in pro football history, the Bob Carroll Memorial Writing Award for the best Coffin Corner article, and the Jack Clary Award for service to the organization.
The NFL Playoff Bowl: A Bittersweet Trip in the 1960s by Don Shipley. A short history of the postseason matchup every year between second place teams for third place in the NFL—famously called "hinky-dinky" by Vince Lombardi—complete with summaries for each game ending with the merger with the AFL in 1970.
The Packers in Hawaii by Herb Gould. The story of Green Bay’s barnstorming trip to the sunny and warm Pacific isles and West Coast in the winter of 1932–33, organized by Johnny “Blood” McNally after the team was denied a chance at a fourth straight NFL championship.
PFRA-ternizing An update on the recently passed amendments to the PFRA Bylaws, listings of the newly adopted PFRA Forum Code of Conduct and the PFRA Code of Behavior, and a welcome to our new webmaster and board member, Clay Acord.
Direct from Deutschland: NFL Players’ Links to Germany by Peter F. Bonert. A short history of German-born players in the National Football League is presented, from the early days of the APFA and teams such as the Columbus Panhandles that featured the Nesser brothers, to the only Pro Football Hall of Famer born in Germany, Ernie Stautner, all the way up to the present day. A chronological career list of all 86 NFL players from Germany is included.
The Norwegian Connection: Football Pros From a Land Far, Far Away by Jarle Magnus Henriksen. Norway may seem an unlikely place for American football, but players from the Northern Europe country were playing the game even before the birth of the NFL. From Knute Rockne, who played professionally for Peggy Parratt's Akron Indians, to the first footballer from Norway to play in both the AFL and the NFL, Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud, are all covered here, as well as today's current players in both the NFL and the Canadian Football League.
Oh, the Places They'll Go! Changes in NFL Team Names and Locations by Lee Elder. And finally, staying with the travel theme, here's a whimsical tale of the various franchise moves and nickname changes that have taken place throughout the league over the years. It's enough to make your head spin, so don't forget to pack the Dramamine®!
2021 Player Deaths A list of the pro football players who died last year, including information on the team(s) they played for, the date and location of their death (if known) and their age when they passed away.
PFRA-ternizing PFRA President George Bozeka has the details about the 2023 PFRA Convention in Pittsburgh. Registration methods are listed. The hotel accommodations and convention location are listed and the extra activities are included, along with the costs. The current list of speakers is outlined, along with the schedule of events.
Hall of Very Good Ballot The annual Hall of Very Good ballot has twenty candidates. Each ballot must include 10 votes. The methods of vote casting are included on the ballot.
The 1947 Season in Review Andy Piascik’s review of the 1947 NFL season examines more than just the biggest games and eventual champion. The season’s role in the game’s progression is examined, too. Single platoon football was ending, which gave a start to the rise of specialists we have today. The top players and personalities of the era, plus some questionable awards voting, are all spelled out.
December 15, 1963: Showdown in the Bronx Jim Marino examines a little-known classic confrontation between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers in New York on December 15, 1963. The winner would be crowned champion of the NFL’s Eastern Conference champion and go on to play the Chicago Bears for the championship. The game was near the end of some Hall of Fame careers. It was also the final major victory for a great era of Giants teams.
Hugh McElhenny Was the 49ers Franchise Savior Martin Jacobs argues that Hall of Fame running back Hugh McElhenny saved the San Francisco franchise. Attendance was small and ticket prices were low, so the franchise was in trouble. McElhenny’s impact is examined.
PFRA-ternizing An announcement on the launch of the The Official PFRA Podcast this month (which will be available at the Sports History Network website: https://sportshistorynetwork.com, and an update on the 2023 PFRA Convention to be held in Pittsburgh next year.
The Class of 2021 by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Career capsules, highlights, statistics, and awards from this year’s Hall of Fame class: Tony Boselli, Cliff Branch, LeRoy Butler, Art McNally, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Dick Vermeil, and Bryant Young.
Eagles All-Time “Best Buddy”: Head Coach Buddy Ryan by Mark A. Sullivan. A short biography of James David "Buddy" Ryan, the architect of the 46 defense and the pugnacious defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears—dominant winners of Super Bowl XX—who went on to become a beloved (if not entirely successful) head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
American Football in Japan by Tommy Phillips. A brief history of the gridiron game in Japan beginning with the first game in 1934, a hiatus during World War II, followed by the start of a Japanese college football championship game in 1947, and an American college all-star game known as the Japan Bowl from 1976 to 1993. There is also a discussion of NFL preseason games and a history of Japan's X-League, the highest level of football in the island nation.
PFRA-ternizing An announcement on three speakers added to the 2023 Pittsburgh convention, an update on the Official PFRA Podcast and a call for volunteers to join the editorial staff of the Coffin Corner.
Pushing the Pigskin Envelope: Reexamining the 1974 NFL Players Association Strike by Joe Zagorski. A detailed history of the NFLPA strike that took place during the preseason nearly 50 years ago, a look at the causes that led up to it and firsthand interviews with those who did—and didn't—participate in the work stoppage, including Jim Cheyunski, Joe DeLamielleure, Terry Hanratty, Mercury Morris and Phil Villapiano.
A Home Away from Home: The Green Bay Packers in Milwaukee by Scott Melesky. The Green and Gold have not always played their home games in Green Bay. This is a review of some of the more memorable contests of the 167 total that the Pack played in Milwaukee from 1933 through 1994, including the 1967 Western Conference Championship, which was the only NFL playoff game ever at Milwaukee County Stadium—home field for the Packers 126 times—and the game before the Ice Bowl.
2022 PFRA Bookshelf by John Maxymuk. The annual bibliography of pro football books published this year, including those by PFRA members Tom Benjey, George Bozeka, Lee Elder, Michael Jacquart, William H. Johnson, David Kaiser, Greg Tranter, Chris Willis and Joe Ziemba.
PFRA-ternizing An announcement on three speakers added to the 2023 Pittsburgh convention and an update on the Official PFRA Podcast.
The Trade That Kept On Giving: Tarkenton to Giants Built a Powerhouse by Stew Thornley. The Viking odyssey of Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who was selected by Minnesota in 1961 in its inaugural NFL season, traded away to New York in 1967, only to return to Minneapolis in 1972 to find a much better team than the one he left. The reason they were much improved? The two trades of Tarkenton himself.
1972 Through the Eyes of This Week in Pro Football by Jeff Eby. A week-by-week chronology of the 1972 NFL regular season as witnessed by TWIPF co-hosts Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall, TV viewers from fifty years ago, and our very own time-traveling author, who covers the historical, the trivial and other random moments from that year.
Warren Heller and the Reading Keystones by Gordon Dedman. Warren Heller was a unanimous All-American halfback at the University of Pittsburgh who held all the Panthers rushing records until Tony Dorsett came along. Heller would eventually go on to play for the NFL’s Pirates (as the Steelers were known as then) for three mostly uneventful seasons. Between those two stints, he would star for the Reading (PA) Keystones of the Interstate League.
No Bark and No Bite: The 1949 New York Bulldogs by Matthew Keddie. New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, or so they say. If you can’t, well, you may be the Bulldogs, quite possibly the worst pro football team to call the Big Apple home. This is the story of their ignoble 1949 season, after they were the Boston Yanks, and before they became the New York Yanks, where they managed a 1–10–1 record, worst in the NFL.