Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jaguars @ Redskins: It's a generation thing!

OK, so I published most of this before. It's still a compelling backdrop to the Redskins-Jaguars game and worth repeating.

Mark Brunell was a hero in Jacksonville. Then he got hurt. The new coach and new management handed the starting job to Byron Leftwich, who never gave it back. Brunell was relegated to the bench where he rusted. Then a rusty coach gave Brunell a shot at resurrecting his career and stuck by him when no one else did. The result was Brunell's 2005 campaign (3,050 yards, 23 TDs, 10 Interceptions, 85.9 QB rating).

I don't think Brunell has a vindictive bone in his body, but pride will drive him to show well against his old team when the Jaguars visit FedEx. The knock on Brunell is his age and sturdiness. But young Leftwich suffered injury late last season and missed critical games. He lacked sharpness in Jacksonville's playoff game and it cost them. His youth would have cost them anyway. Yet, nobody questions that Leftwich is the guy for the Jaguars. Virtually everybody fears that Brunell is too old to start for the Skins. Enough, already! At age 36, Brunell is one year younger than John Elway was when Elway won his first Super Bowl. He's adapting to Al Saunders' version of the Coryell system, although it's been more of a transition than expected.

The GenX (Brunell) vs. Hip Hop (Leftwich) thing flavors an excellent match-up of playoff teams.

Running Redskins! The most aggressive way to attack the Jaguars front seven is to run the ball. Running gives the offensive line the initiative. They can attack Jacksonville's burly linemen, while minimizing penalties. If the Skins are forced to pass block, to play catch-up for example, the advantage goes to the Jags.

Run the ball, win the game. I like the Redskins by five.

For a full game preview, check Hog Heaven.

Alumni rant!

My compliments to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who cracked the college Top 25 ranking for the first time since 1976. To see a picture of head coach Greg Schiano, a sure Coach of the Year candidate, look here.

And here's a picture of the future ex-head coach of the MSU Spartans. After blowing a 16 point lead to the Irish last week and losing homecoming to the Frightful Illini today, this was bound to happen!

How long before basketball season?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Al Saunders Explains

Here's a few nuggets from Deputy Head Coach Al Saunders statement on redskins.com

  • "Right now, defenses are doing a real good job of neutralizing the tight ends role and we've had to keep them in on pass protection to help our tackles on occasion.
  • "We anticipate more five-man protections, but we haven't been able to do that yet. I think as we do some other things and we progress, the offense will be able to open up more.
  • "Also, the depth of the [quarterback] drops and the timing of the [receiver] routes are not quite at the level where we want them to be, so we have cut back on some of the four and five receiver routes."

Translation: not a lot of deep routes against Jacksonville.

It looks more and more like the Redskins will not cash in their policy from Duckett insurance. TJ did not suit up for the Houston game and I'm hearing suggestions of the same for Jacksonville. Maybe he serves his purpose by sitting. Ladell Betts ran pretty well in Houston.

Mark Brunell is listed as probable for the Jaguars game. He considers himself as "day-to-day" as a result of the stitches in his throwing elbow. He did not practice Wednesday and there are radio reports that he missed Thursday's practice too. If that's the case, then he shouldn't play. That was the standard Coach-in-chief Gibbs used in deactivating Clinton Portis for the Dallas game. Portis missed Thursday practice before the Cowboys game. Fairness aside, timing patterns are an issue with the passing game, so there's a real question mark (question Mark! Get it?) about the Brunell's ability to step in without reps, especially against a D like Jacksonville. Note -- I'm not a Brunell basher.

What's really interesting, in a Twilight Zone sorta way, is that it's Todd Collins practicing with the first team, not Jason Campbell. What gives? While Brunell isn't out, this seems like the scenario where Campbell would be prepped to play. Gibbs is saying they are preparing as though Brunell will start, but Collins might have to finish the game.

So what is it we are not hearing about Campbell? Normally it's preferable to keep real player evaluations private between coach and player. This, however, is becoming an issue. Somebody owes us a frank answer, or this is just going to become a big distraction.

Personal gripe - I have Terrell Owens on both my fantasy teams. Now, I'm trying to get receivers like Bernard Berrian on my rosters as insurance policies. I dropped a running back to make room, so for a week or two my roster is overweighted with receivers. I once wrote that intangibles have no weight on fantasy teams. Well, I guess they do!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Grab bag

It's Terrell Owens. It's the blogosphere. Apparently, bloggers must fill their sites with TO news as it happens. I am a blogger, therefore ....

Because it's Terrell Owens, everything he does is magnified by a factor of five. He either did or did not try to end his life yesterday. His overdose of pain killers either was or was not an accident. When asked if he tried to end his life, he said "yes," but, he was too groggy to remember. This all makes my head hurt. If you want to latest on Terrell Owens, see The Boys Blog.

A good insurance policy is something you get and never use. That describes TJ Duckett, the Clinton Portis insurance policy. Duckett was inactive for the Houston game and will not play against the Jags. With Portis and Ladell Betts running well, it seems TJ will not get an opportunity to strut his stuff. He's a free agent after this season. The Skins gave up a third round draft choice to get him. It's hard to see the value in the deal for the team, or for the player. I think it's a conspiracy.

A Jaguars scouting report can be found here.

Here's a quote I picked up from NY Giants blog - "I'm no defensive coordinator, but I will say that we need to bench Arrington or blitz him because he is useless in coverage." (Sept. 26, 2006, "Who's responsible for the Giants being crushed by the Seahawks?") LaVar revisits FedEx October 8.



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spartan Meltdown


After listening to boo birds dump on the Redskins all last week, I don't have the stomach to rail against MSU's collapse against the Fighting Irish. I was really miffed at the coaching staff for what seemed to be stupid playcalling in the fourth quarter until I looked at the play-by-play.

With 14:20 to go, and the Spartans holding a 16 point lead after thoroughly dominating Notre Dame, MSU drove to the Irish 30 yard line poised to burn up clock and at least get a field goal. Running the ball was all that was called for. Then two holding calls put MSU at second down and 27 yards to go. The coaches called for a pass play to get back to field goal range. You can make a strong case for keeping the ball on the ground to burn up the clock and leaving the game to your defense (my choice). But a pass play to set up a field goal was not unreasonable when your quarterback is Drew Stanton. Unfortunately, Stanton was sacked for a 15 yard loss. On third down, Javon Ringer rushed 12 yards to the 50, and the Irish declined another holding penalty.

Notre Dame took the ball on their own twenty and drove for the first of their three fourth quarter touchdowns. That blew the "leave it to the defense" approach.

I've had my doubts about coach John L. Smith, but this was a team breakdown. Coaches don't teach penalties. Too much early celebrating by schoolboys perhaps.

Michigan State reassembled most of the members of the great 1965-66 national championship team only to witness Notre Dame's Charlie Weis announce that he was presenting the game ball to their old nemesis, Ara Parseghian.

It's at moments of crises like this that the Spartan's usually fold the tent on the season, a failing that goes back to the Bobby Williams days. The Spartans haven't had a tough minded football team since Nick Saban was coach. Keeping a the team from collapsing may help Smith keep this job. That game against Notre Dame will surely help him lose it.

Damn.

I'll leave the Spartan bashing to this guy.

Photo: REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)

Yes, this is a Redskins blog. For a recap of the Texans game, look here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Great 10-10 Tie: A Tribute

It was the game of the century. There were several other "games of the century," but this was the first and the biggest. Before there was Texas - Ohio State, before there was Southern Cal - Texas, there was an epic clash between number one and number two that still ranks as one of the greatest college football games ever played. Two score years ago, Notre Dame and Michigan State battled to a 10-10 tie in a game that mesmerized the nation. It was the first college media event and it ranks in football importance with the 1958 NFL Championship game, the contest that made a star of Johnny Unitas. In November 1966, I was in the freshman section (don't do the math) of Spartan Stadium - for one day the center of the football universe. This is my testamony.

The second ranked Spartans and the top ranked Fighting Irish rampaged through their seasons leading up to this game. There were no national college games broadcast at the time. Pete Rozell hadn't yet worked his magic to get the first national TV contract for the NFL. Monday Night Football hadn't been invented and this game was two months before Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers won the first NFL-AFL Championship Game, now known as Super Bowl I. The NCAA changed its rules so that this game could be broadcast nationwide in response to insistent fan demand. The game change the NCAA's perspective on TV broadcasts. Never had a number one and number two team met in the regular season. That lesson was not lost on the grand poobahs of college football.

Most of all, there was star power. On the field that day were ten players who would be selected in the first four rounds of the 1967 NFL draft. Michigan State suited up four players, Bubba Smith, Clint Jones, George Webster and Gene Washington, who were among the first eight players selected in the first round. Some of those names, Bubba Smith in particular, were household names. Notre Dame was Notre Dame, the country's sentamental favorite because of Knute Rockne, the man and the movie. Never before or since would there be such a constellation in one place at one time for one game.

The Great Tie of 1966: Notre Dame @ Michigan State
Coley O'Brien was the star quarterback at Washington's St. John's College High School in 1965. He was recruited by for Notre Dame where he backed up Terry Hanratty of Hanratty & Seymore fame. St. John's was the main rival of my high school, Archbishop Carroll; although I believe St. John's considered Gonzaga a bigger rival. I was graduated from Carroll in 1966 and found myself a freshman at Michigan State University, vaguely aware that O'Brien was on the Fighting Irish roster. Since I saw him play in high school and where he often broke my heart with victories over Carroll, I felt a connection to him and I hated him at the same time, although I never met him.

In November 1966 the top ranked, undefeated Notre Dame traveled to East Lansing to square off with second ranked, unbeaten Michigan State. O'Brien (Hey, I know that guy!") stepped into the breech to quarterback the Fighting Irish after Bubba Smith put a monster hit on Terry Hanratty, knocking him out of the game. Hanratty was already down. Smith knocked him out. The Spartans jumped to a ten point lead, but O'Brien led the Irish back to tie it up. Thereafter, the game turned into a defensive struggle, albeit of titanic proportion. The true excitement came at the end when Fighting Irish coach Ara Parseghian, with possession of the ball and less than two minutes remaining, decided to run out the clock to preserve the 10-10 tie.

The Spartans and Irish flip-flopped the number one ranking through the season. Both were undefeated coming into this game. The winner would cement its claim for the national championship. In a move both cynical and astute, Parseghian figured a tie would freeze the ranking until Notre Dame played easier to beat Southern Cal the following week. The Irish walloped the Trojans 51-0 or some such ridiculous score, while the Spartans, the only team that could match them in talent, were idle for the rest of the season. Spartan coach Duffy Daugherty famously said "a tie is like kissing your sister."

The Notre Dame game was the season finale for the 9-0-1 Spartans. Big Ten rules at the time prevented the league champion from playing in consecutive Rose Bowls and Michigan State, top ranked in 1965, appeared in the Bowl game the previous year. They never had a chance to throttle some hapless team 56-0 to press a claim for undisputed number one.

It was Notre Dame policy at the time to eschew post season bowl games. So Parseghian was smart not to risk a loss at State and go on to victimize Southern Cal, knowing the sporting press would vote the Fighting Irish number one even if they only beat the Trojans 5-0. Rocky Blier wrote about the game in his book FIGHTING BACK with an excerpt shown here.

Epilogue
Although Michigan State won a share of the national title and despite the tie, casual fans recollect that the Spartans lost that game. When I went home for Christmas, a member of my church pulled me aside to talk about the game and asked "as a Catholic, aren't you secretly happy that Notre Dame won?" My intense dislike of Notre Dame athletics was born then. But, I lost more respect for them when Fighting Irish boosters seemed to drive the great Parseghian out of coaching, despite all he had done for the program. (And let's not mention that there were more Catholics on the MSU campus than on Notre Dame's.)

Dan Divine, a later Fighting Irish football coach, once said "There are two kinds of people in the world, Notre Dame lovers and Notre Dame haters. Franky, they're both a pain in the ass."

Southern Cal's rivalry with Notre Dame went up ten notches after that season when John McKay took umbrage with Parseghian running up the score on them. In 1967, the OJ Simpson-led, national champion Trojans trashed the Irish 24-7 in South Bend. OJ and the Trojans beat the snot out of the Spartans when they visited East Lansing earlier that season. Over the next nine years, McKay went 6-1-2 against the fighting Irish.

O'Brien never cemented the quarterback role for Notre Dame. When Hanratty graduated, Coach Parseghian named sophomore Joseph Theesman, later "Theisman, rhymes with Heisman," as starting quarterback.

Those 1965-66 football Spartans were the greatest to wear the green and white and the last to challenge for a national title. Today, when you connect the terms "Michigan State" to "national title," you think of Tom Izzo's basketball program.

The 1965-66 Spartan football team was so tough, that place kicker Bill Kenny routinely kicked the ball barefoot. We're talking the straight ahead kicking style here.

The 1966 season was the high point of Duffy Daugherty's career. He went 27-34-1 in the six seasons following the "game of the century." Blame the Civil Rights movement for confounding Daugherty. Major schools in the deep south excluded Black athletes, making the region a ripe recruiting ground for MSU and other northern colleges. Daugherty was especially successful in Texas, where he recruited Charles "Bubba" Smith, Clinton Jones, Gene Washington, among others. By the late sixties, southern coaches like Darryl Royal and Bear Bryant had had enough. They opened their doors to their citizen athletes of color. The sight of black men teamed with white men working toward a common goal for revered Southern institutions helped create, in a small but important way, a shift in cultural attitudes about race.

One rare thing Daugherty and MSU did in the sixties was to have Negro quarterbacks (we were all Negroes, then). Jimmie Raye, a Texas recruit, quarterbacked the Spartans from 1965 to '67. Bill Triplett, Charlie Baggett and Tony Banks also quarterbacked the Spartans in the years following. They weren't the only Big Ten school with Black quarterbacks. Tony Dungy was a star QB at the University of Minnesota in the early seventies. Both Dungy and Raye built long coaching careers in the NFL.

It's important to note that Daugherty's welcoming of Black athletes did not carry over the Michigan State as a whole. When I arrived on campus in 1966, I was one of only 400 "Negro" students out of a total population of 44,000+. The stereotypes I encountered were more benign than hostile ("no, I am not here on an athletic scholarship."). The kids from Michigan, even those from Detroit, had little or no direct exposure to black people. They seem to think we were white people with dark skins. They never quite "got" all the civil rights agitation. Even with that, I was more welcome at MSU than I would have been at the University of Maryland at the time.

The passing game was not so well developed in the college level in the sixties as shown by Michigan State's and Notre Dame's defensive formation. Spartans lined up five linemen, one linebacker, one rover back and only three defensive backs. The fighting Irish lined up in a 4-4 formation with three defensive backs. What Matt Leinart or Vince Young could have done against those formations -- if they survived the defensive rush, which is doubtful.

Notre Dame at that time had only one black player on its roster. That man, Alan Page, went on to a Hall Of Fame career with the Minnesota Vikings. Today, he is a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.

For the players' recollection of the game and the outcome, look here.
For another perspective from detnews.com, look here.
For the official MSU retrospective, look here and here and here.
A lengthy description of the great game can be found here.
Look here for a game description with pictures.
Scout.com describes great plays in the Michigan State - Notre Dame series.
Oh yeah, the Spartans and Fighting Irish play a game Saturday night. For a game preview look here.
For Spartan keys to the game, look here.
For Fighting Irish keys to the game, look here.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Grab bag.

After being called out by football icon John Madden, beat down as spawn of the devil on message boards and talk radio and subject of "dump Brunell" articles by know-it-all sport columnists, Mark Brunell comments ". . . for me, it's smarter to think about what you have to do to play better." the full story is on redskins.com.

Over at si.com, Dr. Z power ranks the Skins #23 of 32 teams. I rarely agree with his comments about the Redskins, but his comments about the o-line are worth looking at.

Mike Burke at cushingdaily.com recalls another low scoring Monday Night Football game, a 9-5er in 1978 involving names like Theismann, Allen and Larry Cole.

Advocates for the deaf are suing the Redskins to add closed-captioning to scoreboards and video monitoring. "An attorney for the group said deaf and hard of hearing fans can't hear the referees or enjoy the game on television monitors throughout the stadium." Wha? If I were more insensitive, I would point out that the scoreboards provide video replays only. Why do you need closed captioning if you are at the game? But, I'm not the insensitive type.

The dailypress.com points an accusing finger at the Redskins pass rush.

Families, teams, organizations, nations; when adversity hits, the strong ones pull together and get stronger. The weak ones point fingers and fall apart. Pull together team & fans!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Misery Loves Company

Associated Press writer Dave Goldberg wrote a piece on the winless teams in the NFL. He's guessing on a lot of this stuff, but it's an interesting take.

Look who's struggling . . . .

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cowboys & Redskins: Part III - The Future Is Now

Prominent Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams assumed management control of the Redskins in 1968. He, along with fellow board member Jack Kent Cooke, exerted more control over the Redskins in 1962 when they pushed owner George Preston Marshall to acquiece to the government's demand to integrate the team. Cooke and Williams felt that Marshall was on the wrong side of the issue, both because of the the threatened eviction from government-owned DC (later RFK) Stadium, and because the Skins were fielding a less competitive team without Negro talent.

After watching Tom Landry's success in Dallas, Williams pushed for an upgrade in coaching and achieved spectacular success when he lured Vince Lombardi out of retirement to coach the Skins. The Redskins were a competitive 7-5-2 in 1969, their first winning season in 14 years. The shock of Lombardi's untimely death in 1970 numbed the franchise almost as much as it did the Green Bay Packers.

When Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen became available in 1971, Williams jumped at the chance to bring him to Washington. Allen amassed a 49-16-4 record in five years with the Rams.
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"I gave Coach Allen an unlimited budget and he exceeded it." -- Edward Bennett Williams
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Over The Hill. Allen believed in veteran players and traded draft choices to get them, especially for players he had a relationship with, like Jack Pardee, Ron McDole, and Verlon Biggs. He was heavily criticized for signing aging "has beens" to big contracts. Orthodox philosophy was to build through the draft for the future. Allen countered that you never knew how a rookie would turn out. A high prospect player could get injured. Young players make mistakes. He wanted proven talent. He wanted immediate results. "The future is now" he famously said.

The results were immediate. The Redskins became periennial contenders through the '70s. Allen went 67-30 in his stay with Washington. The league was shocked that a group of "has beens" could be so successful. Pundits referred to Allens' crew as "The over the hill gang" named for a popular made-for-TV movie of the same name. That story, starring Walter Brennan, was about a group of broken down, retired Texas Rangers who brought law and order to the West.

America's Team. Ironic that the 1970s Redskins would be identified with TV Texas Rangers. The Dallas Cowboys emerged as "America's Team" and the road to the playoffs went through Dallas. Allen used that to motivate his team. To Allen, it was not enough just to beat Dallas, the Redskins had to beat Dallas' record. Every game to him was a Dallas game. Every loss was a killer.
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"Every time you lose, you die a little. Not all of your organs, but a portion of you; maybe just your liver." -- George Allen
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Everyone can see. There was a second influence that brought the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry to prominance and it was huge. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell worked tirelessly to promote the league and by 1970 had signed national TV contracts with the networks that brought huge audiences to the game. The contract also launched Monday Night Football.

Television is all drama and stars. For drama, the networks wanted games that influenced the playoff race and it wanted identifiable rivalries. And recognizable personalities. There was eccentric, secretive, highly competitive George Allen developing a legitimate challenger to America's Team. TV maximized rivalries. Oakland vs. Kansas City (actually, John Madden's Oakland vs. anybody) and Minnesota vs. Green Bay held appeal. But Washington vs. Dallas could feed the TV beast with Allen vs. Landry, Over The Hill Gang vs. Doomsday Defense, Stauback vs. Kilmer/Jurgensen, Drew Pearson vs. Charley Taylor and an early touch of Red vs. Blue -- another irony given the Redskins history under Marshall.

The rivalry was already intense to Redskins and Cowboys followers. National TV made it famous. As the national audience tuned in to the intensity, there was Allen who was making the games meaningful to the post-season. Allen is forever tied to "making" the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry.

Redskins and Cowboys. The Redskins did not disappoint. They stunned the Cowboys 21-16 in the first meeting in 1971 and were greeted by 10,000 delerious fans who welcomed tham home at the airport. Landry won the rematch 13-0 enroute to Super Bowl VI.

The highpoint of Allen's tenure in Washington was the 1972 team that was 11-3 and got as far as Super Bowl VII. The Cowboys were off to a 20-7 lead in the game at RFK when the Redskins pulled out a 24-20 win. It was the first time anyone was aware that the stadium could be made to shake. Dallas won the rematch in Dallas 34-24, but both teams made the playoffs, Washington as division champs.

That set up one of the most famous events in Redskins lore, the 1972 conference championship game. Washington held home field advantage and the Over The Hill Gang held Dallas to 73 passing yards. Charlie Taylor caught two touchdown passes from Billy Kilmer. With Curt Knight's four field goals, the Redskins crushed the Cowboys 26-3.

The Skins under Allen were always a playoff calibre team, but never made it all the way back after '72. (Among the NFC East contenders was Don Coryell's St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals took the division in 1974 and '75. Coryell had on his staff a promising young offensive coordinator named Joe Gibbs. For more of Gibbs' story, look here.)

The Over The Hill Gang had several memorable games with the Cowboys. Ken Houston's mano~a~mano stop of Walt Garrison at the one yard line on a Monday Night game comes to mind. We don't speak of the Clint Longley game around here. By 1977, the Gang really was showing the effects of age and were swept by the hated rivals.

Allen left the Redskins to return to the Rams for what he thought was a better deal. He would call that a mistake. But his effect on the Redskins survived his departure. Jack Pardee and Richie Pettibone, both Allen disciples, coached the George Allen defense into the 1990s. Then, ex-Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner came along and changed everything.

Damned Cowboys won again.

For the official Redskins summary of the rivalry, look here.

For a graphic depiction of the rivalry, look here.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Cowboys & Redskins: Part II - Aces Wild

Part II. Jurgensen vs. Meredith: Aces Wild
In the 1960's, the Cowboys steadily improved their team as general manager Tex Schramm provided coach Tom Landry with better and better talent. By 1966, they rose to a consistent playoff team with eight consecutive post-season appearances from 1966 through 1973. The Redskins, who hadn't made a playoff appearance since 1946, were stumbling their way to a 46-82-10 record through the decade often because Sonny Jurgensen and the offense couldn't outscore teams that the defense couldn't stop. It was frustrating for the team and the fans, but Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell and especially Jurgensen stoked the flames of hope. Author Jack Clary in the book Pro Football's Greatest Moments described Jurgensen. "In his prime, Sonny was the finest passer in the league. He consistently threw the ball farther, straighter, and with greater accuracy than Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Fran Tarkenson, or Len Dawson ever did."

Dandy Don Meredith was the second starting quarterback in Cowboys history, finally supplanting Eddie LeBaron in 1965. Dallas would have better quarterbacks in its history, but Meredith was the first to lead them to a playoff appearance. Known for his leadership, Dandy Don affected a cowboy persona with a Texas drawl, a twinkle in his eye and mischievous smile to go along with a healthy sense of humor. He became a fan favorite in Dallas, and later, with the same personality, achieved national prominence as a member of the original Monday Night Football announcement crew.

In 1965 through 1967 Jurgensen and Meredith led their teams in four games that produced a combined total of 222 points with only 10 points of overall difference between the two teams.

November 28, 1965, DC Stadium. The Cowboys slapped the Skins with a 21-0 lead on a pass play, a running play and a 60 yard fumble recovery. Despite Jurgensen's 26 yard TD strike to Charley Taylor, the fans in the stands, as impatient as always, called for Sonny to be benched in favor of second string QB Dick Shiner. Jurgy drove the Redskins down field for a second touchdown to cut the Cowboys lead to 24-13. The Skins scored another touchdown on the ground to make it 24-20. Meredith tossed a 53 yard scoring strike to Frank Clarke. Against any other team the Redskins would have folded. Against the Cowboys, Jurgensen pulled another dart from his quiver with a 10 yard pass to Bobby Mitchell. Cowboys 31-27. The Boys couldn't move the ball but used a lot of clock. The Redskins got the ball on their 20 yard line with less than two minutes to go. Jurgy gained nine yards on a busted play. Chuck Howley was called for pass interference on the next play, then Jurgensen completed a 22 yard pass play to Jerry Smith. Next Jurgensen tossed a bomb to Bobby Mitchell that carried to the Dallas 5 yard line. Jurgensen's pass to tight end Angelo Coia gave the Redskins their first lead, 34-31, with about one minute to play.

Meredith was not done. He drove the Cowboys to the Redskins 37 yard line with seven seconds to go. With every orifice in every Redskins fan clinched tight, Danny Villaneuva attempted a tying field goal. It was blocked by Redskins defensive back Lonnie Sanders.

Jurgensen was 26 of 42 passes for 411 yards and 3 TD passes. He also ran for a score. The Redskins gained 51 yards on the ground.

November 13, 1966, DC Stadium. The Cowboys featured "the fastest man in football" in the person of Bob Hayes. He was dangerous. In the second quarter with the score 7-6 Dallas, Meredith threw a 52 yard touchdown bomb to Bullet Bob, followed in the third quarter with a 95 yard repeat. Cowboys 21-7. Washington scored three consecutive times with Jurgensen's 4 yard pass to Jerry Smith and 78 yard pass to Charlie Taylor, followed by a Charlie Gogolak field goal. Redskins 23-21. Meredith drove the Cowboys down field to set up a 1 yard TD run by Dan Reeves. The Skins came back on a drive ending with Jurgensen's 18 yard scoring toss to Charlie Taylor. Skins 30-28.

Meredith got the ball back with no timeouts and the Redskins playing deep prevent. He threw a 26 yard pass to Pete Gent. On the next play Meredith rolled out for a 12 yard gain and ran out of bounds, stopping the clock. The Redskins were 59 seconds from victory. Two plays to Walt Garrison were inconsequential. On third and nine, Meredith completed another pass to Pete Gent that carried the Cowboys to the Redskins 33. The Redskins mounted a strong pass rush to push the Cowboys out of field goal range. Meredith was hit just as he scrambled out of bounds. The penalty put the Boys on the Redskins 12 for an easy Villanueva field goal. Cowboys 31-30.

Meredith completed 21 of 28 passes for 406 yards and 2 TDs. Jurgensen was 26 of 35 for 347 yards and 3 scores.

December 11, 1966, The Cotton Bowl. The Redskins visited the Cowboys a short month later with memories fresh. The Redskins took a 10-7 lead at the half after linebacker John Reger recovered a block punt and ran it in for a score. Then the shootout commenced. Danny Villanueva kicked a tieing 26 yard field goal for the Cowboys and Bob Hays caught a 23 yard pass for for the 17-10 lead. The Redskins tied it up on Bobby Mitchell's 11 yard reception from Jurgensen. The Cowboys regained the lead when Dan Reeves stunned the Redskins with a 67 yard touchdown run. Cowboys 24-17. The Skins drove the field and scored on Jurgensen's 11 yard pass to Jerry Smith, only to have the Cowboys regain the lead with Don Perkins 6 yard touchdown run. Cowboys 31-24. Jurgensen hit Charlie Taylor with a 65 yard touchdown bomb that Taylor caught between two defenders. 31-31. The Skins got the ball back with two minutes to go.

From their 46 yard line, with the Cowboys defending the pass, Redskins running back A.D. Whitfield ran right for a 30 yard gain (fooled ya). The run set up Charlie Gogolak's winning field goal. Redskins 34-31.

October 8, 1967, DC Stadium. This was the lowest scoring of the four games. The Redskins led 14-10 with 70 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys took possession on their 29. Meredith completed a 17 yarder to Craig Baynham, who ran out of bounds. The next two plays were inconsequential. Meredith hit Lance Renzel for 12 yards and a second time for 6. On fourth down with 23 seconds remaining, Meredith hit an open Dan Reeves who beat out linebacker Chris Hanberger to score. Cowboys 17-14. After the kick-off with 7 seconds to go, Jurgensen pitched a long bomb (in the Cold War era, there were a lot of football references to "bombs") to Charlie Taylor, who was brought to ground at the Cowboys 20 yard line as time ran out.

Washington won the rematch in Dallas 27-20, but the ever more powerful Cowboys closed out the decade with four straight wins over the Skins. By the late 60's the Redskins had had enough. If the Cowboys could win with ex-Giants coordinator Tom Landry, then the Redskins would get an ex-Giants coordinator, too. They hired pugnacious Vince Lombardi to lead the team. Lombardi's 7-5-2 record with the Redskins was the team's first winning season in 14 years, but he was swept by the Cowboys. Lombardi's untimely death in 1970 froze Redskins development for two seasons.

Edward Bennett Williams, now in control of the Redskins, set out to make a coaching hire as groundbreaking as was Lombardi's. With his next choice, the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry went from storied to legendary.

Next, Part III - The Future Is Now!

Source: Clary, Jack, PRO FOOTBALL'S GREATEST MOMENTS, Bonanza Books, New York, New York, 1983


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cowboys & Redskins: Part I - It Didn't Start with Allen


The Roots Of Evil. It's Dallas Week. With the Redskins' return to competitive play (thank you, Joe Gibbs), Dallas Week again means something, although it's far from the two-city enthusiasm of the seventies and eighties. It's a common misconception that the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry started with George Allen. While Allen stoked those fires, there was a heated relationship between the teams from the inception of the Dallas Cowboys. And why not, since Redskins founder and owner George Preston Marshall tried to strangle the Texas baby in the cradle.

This Land is My Land. Washington sports fans are well acquainted with Peter Angelos effort to deny a major league baseball franchise to the Washington area. Angelos had an aggravating notion that the Washington TV market belonged to Baltimore and a team located so close his would damage the value of his team, The Baltimore Orioles. Angelos did not originate this twisted logic. Four decades before, Marshall held the same view for the Redskins.

The Dallas Redskins? Marshall asserted that the Redskins market was the South. All of it, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. If it was below the Mason-Dixon line, it was Redskins territory. He built a radio network to broadcast Redskins games and had had quite a large following in the Southeast U.S. His business strategy led practices now viewed as unsavory. To avoid offending his southern listeners, Marshall refused to add Negro players to his teams, even though every other NFL franchise was doing so. Marshall would have the Redskins band play a chorus of Dixie between verses of Hail To The Redskins. The cheers were louder for Dixie than for the Redskins fight song.

By the 1950s, the Redskins were struggling on the field and financially. In a weak moment, Marshall considered selling the team. One prospective buyer was Texas oil man Clint Murchison who was seeking to bring a NFL franchise to Dallas. They nearly concluded a deal that would have moved the Washington franchise to Texas until Marshall insisted on a change in the terms. Murchison suggested what Marshall could do with his change of terms and the deal fell apart.

My Kingdom for a Song. Murchison's next move was to work with Pete Rozell on an expansion team when Marshall created the marketplace argument that would later be used by Peter Angelos. Expansions could only be approved by unanimous vote of the owners. Marshall would have none if it. Then he made a critical mistake, two actually. First he had a falling out with Barnee Breeskin, The Shoreham Hotel orchestra leader who was also leader of the Redskins band from 1937 to 1951. It was Breeskin who wrote the music for Hail To The Redskins. Two, Marshall failed to acquire the ownership rights to Hail, which he discovered to his horror when Breeskin, in a snit, sold those rights to Clint Murchison. Now, a big part of the Redskins mystique is the fight song. Kids learn that song about the same time they learn the words to Jingle Bells. You can't be a true Washingtonian unless you know the first four lines of Hail To The Redskins! It's the song as much as anything that has fans clinging to the team name Redskins. With his beloved tune held ransom, Marshall relented on the Dallas franchise. But, boy was he pissed.

Quarterback Controversy. It was bad enough that Murchison outmaneuvered Marshall to land his team. To rub salt in the wound, Dallas selected Redskins pro-bowl ('55, '57, '58) quarterback Eddie LeBaron off the Redskins roster. Never mind that Marshall failed to add LeBaron to his protected list. Marshall considered Murchison and his Texans underhanded. Historically, that made Marshall the first Washingtonian to say "Cowboys suck!" He took it personally and made sure his team took it personally.

A Rivalry Is Born. In a rivalry full of irony, Marshall insisted that the Cowboys play in the Eastern Division with the Redskins. The Minnesota Vikings were the second expansion team and Marshall did not want to play a late season game in the cold North.

The Dallas Cowboys played their first game in the 1960 season. The Redskins 1960 victory over the Cowboys was their only win that year. The Cowboys were winless. The Skins won two of the first four and tied two others. The rivalry grew as Dallas fans pulled off a series of pranks in the early years. In December 1961, they conspired to release two crates of chickens onto the field during halftime of the Redskins-Cowboys game. The plot was discovered before the chickens were released. The night before the third Redskins-Cowboys game, the nefarious plotters managed to sneak a turkey into Marshall's hotel bathroom, giving Marshall quite a start. At the game, two acrobats in chicken suits ran onto the field at halftime after giant "Chicken" banners were unfurled in 50 yard line stands.

After the first four games, when the Skins went 2-0-2, the tide slowly turned in the Cowboys favor as superior coaching and better talent asserted themselves. In nineteen times in the sixties, the Redskins' record against the Cowboys in that decade was 7-10-2. Rivalries are more than games and records. You must have memorable moments. Those Cowboys-Redskins games were real donnybrooks. In the mid-60s, the Cowboys and Redskins dueled in a remarkable four game series that forever set the tone of the rivalry. More on that in Part II, Jurgensen and Meredith, Aces Wild.

For more information, go to ESPN's A Rivalry For A Song, or to Wikipedia's Cowboys-Redskins rivalry.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Redskins-Vikings: Good Game, Bad Ending

If I weren't a Redskins homer, I might have enjoyed the Vikings game more. Both teams moved the ball. Scoring was close and the outcome was in doubt until the last twelve seconds.

The Saunders' offense gave some indications of what it can be. They moved the ball. There were no interceptions. Antwan Randle El was flashy. They just failed to close the deal by settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Knowing the special team's challenges, we never want to be in the position of depending on a John Hall field goal to win. The offense must fix that scoring problem

Conventional thinking is that the Redskins Super Bowl run will be led by the defense. While the Vikings appear to be better than we thought, the defensive performance was so poor that even redskins.com criticized it. The defense is better than it showed. Minnesota made them look silly.

The Redskins can still go 15-1, I'd settle for 11-5, but only if the defense makes stops.

Kicker Ryan Longwell was a free agent. As best I can tell, the Skins did not bid for him. Someone explain that to me.

Last year, Norv Turner came to FedEx and beat us with a Raiders team going nowhere. This year, it's Brad and Fred. LaVar is coming in October.

It's the curse of The Danny.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Redskins-Vikings: The Unseen Offense

The Unseen Offense. The Redskins practiced their new offense at a secret CIA facility, or something near to it. They went to great length to divulge nothing about it during the preseason. I hear a blogger snapped secret pictures during practice. He’s in Guantanamo now. No one but the players and coaches know what to expect.

The players gush about Saunders' Coryell schemes and hint they will have big years despite touching the ball fewer times. Does that sound like big plays to you? I’m expecting a lot of single back formations in three or four receiver, one or two tight end sets with lots of motion. I’m looking for more passes to the running back, though far fewer that what we will see with the Eagles/Vikings. That suggests that we will see more of Ladell Betts than TJ Duckett. What we need to see is better execution than the Skins showed in the preseason. Great strategies poorly executed are losers. With the Skins defense, it won’t take much offense to get by. The Skins can win 11 games if the O can average 18+ points per game.

It’s The Defense, People. For all the noise about the new Redskins offense, the defense is the heart and soul of the team. The defense will pick up where it left off last season - pressure everywhere, blitz from anywhere. Only, this year, more of the pass pressure should come from the defensive line, freeing the Redskins’ athletic linebackers to either rush or cover; that in turn could free the even more athletic safeties to blitz. See what I mean? Pressure from anywhere.

Nothing Special. Special teams are the Redskins’ Achilles heel. Special teams own field position. They get you good position, put the other guys in bad position and salvage points when drives peter out. The Skins did the opposite of all that in preseason. There is a lot of skepticism in a unit that gives up big returns. John Hall does not remind us of Mosley or Lohmiller. Ali Haji Shank comes to mind.

The Norsemen Are Coming. The Redskins first opponent, the Vikings, are an all new team with a new owner, new coach, new players, new offense, new code of conduct. So, they are hard to handicap. We remember Brad Johnson around here as the one who got away. Smart, competent, well grounded, Johnson won games by knowing where to put the ball and when to put it there. He went on to happier days at Tampa Bay and is experiencing a career renaissance with the Vikings, the team where he got his NFL start. The Vikings boosted the offensive line with Steve Hutchinson to give Johnson time to get the ball to an unimpressive group of receivers, who won’t do much more than catch the ball. He won’t be pressured into making bad throws too often. Chester Taylor comes over from Baltimore to be the starting running back. He joins Travis Taylor, also a Ravens transplant. Neither Taylor distinguished themselves while with Baltimore.

On defense, Pat Williams anchors a solid Vikings D-line. The Vikes imported Darren Sharper at safety to buttress experienced cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and our old buddy Fred Smut, er Smoot. Smootie still has friends on the Redskins, so he’ll have to endure endless jokes about double-headers and Viking long ships.

The Vikes do not have the horses to keep up with the Redskins. Washington takes this one by a touchdown.

For nfl.com's preview of the Redskins-Vikings game, look here.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dallas

Two themes about the Dallas Cowboys are repeated in football blogs:

  1. the O-line sucks
  2. T.O. will implode and drag the Boys with him

Last year, the Cowboys got off to a fast start offensively. Drew Bledsoe was the NFC's top rated passer and suffered relatively few sacks, while tackle Flozell "the Motel" Adams was healthy. Adams was hurt in October and lost for the season. The Cowboys suffered more sacks (50) than Peyton Manning had touchtowns (28). The road to Bledsoe often came through Pettiti Boulevard, as rookie tackle Rob Pettiti struggled against the pressure.

Pettiti did not survive the last roster cut. The Cowboys figure the line will improve with the return of Adams and with Marc Columbo starting at right tackle. Columbo was a first round draft choice by the Bears, who cut him after their loss to the Redskins in 2005 week one. He seems to be past rehabilitating a persistent knee problem. Seventh round rookie Pat McQuistan's development as a back-up made Pettiti expendable. He was quickly picked up by the Saints.

The key to the Cowboys offensive line is Adams, who is as important to Dallas as Jansen is to the Redskins and Runyan is to the Eagles. Although he missed most of the preseason, if Adams returns to his 2004 form, Bledsoe might not seem so immobile and the Boys might average more than the 3.6 yards per carry that they did last season.

As for T.O., who knows, but it's unlikely that he will sink the team by week two when the Redskins visit.

Why is this important? The Cowboys offense had the best preseason performance of all the NFC East teams (1749 yds, 7 TDs compared to 1029 yds, 3 TDs for the Redskins). They did that without Adams and without Owens. Bash them if you must, but if their their O-line issues are resolved, this offense must be respected.

None of this would have escaped the notice of our guys in Ashburn. I know Coach-in-chief Gibbs and his deputies already have a package in place for the Cowboys.

But first, we have to take care of those pesky Vikings.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jansen just grows on you

Jon Jansen made the news yesterday with an eye-opening comment that 10% to 15% of pro football players used human growth hormones to enhance their performance. He backed off those numbers today. "Being a football player, I'm not real good at math." (Well, he went to Michigan.) Jansen said he intended to convey that he heard that a small number of players were using.

Human Growth Hormone, when used in athletics, is supposed to boost muscle growth. It's attractive to some athletes and body builders for two reasons. First, it kick-starts growth for athletes whose performance has peaked while on steroids. Second, there are no known methods for detecting use. For more detail, see Growth hormone treatment for bodybuilding at Wikipedia.

Ex-Redskin Brian Mitchell, on his WTEM radio show today, poo-pooed the effectiveness of growth hormone and steroids. "I've seen many of them come and go," said B-Mitch, "but I never saw steroids boost talent." OK, but it does seem to give an artificial boost to whatever you have. If you are already big, steriods can make you bigger. If you are fast, it can make you faster. If you can hit singles, with steriods you can hit homers.

It's alleged that some major league pitchers, Jansen's 10% to 15% maybe, use human growth hormones. No one knows for sure, but if true, it makes steroid use by hitters almost defensible. Athletic performance should be the result of natural ability enhanced by hard work. That is the highest form of physical endeavor. Altering oneself synthetically is gaming the system. Maybe it's a generational thing where some athletes think it's alright because everybody else is (allegedly) doing it.

Enough preaching.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Football Quotes: Famous, Funny and Otherwise

Every time you lose you die a little; not all of your organs, a portion of you; maybe just your liver. ~ George Allen, Sr.

Every time you win, you're reborn; when you lose, you die a little. ~ George Allen, Sr. 

The future is now! ~ George Allen, Sr.

When we get to the future, I'll decide the future. ~ George Allen, Sr.

You have to play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four. ~ Dan Birdwell

I'd run over my own mother to win a Super Bowl. ~ Joe Jacobi, Washington Redskins


I'd run over Joe's mother, too. ~ Matt Millen, Oakland Raiders


If my mother put on a helmet and shoulder pads and a uniform that wasn't the same as the one I was wearing, I'd run over her if she were in my way. And I love my mother. ~ Bo Jackson


You guys know how this works. You ask questions and I don't answer them. ~ Mike Shanahan to Washington media reporters

In a land of freedom, we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness. ~ Tweet by Robert Griffin III @RGIII


We gotta stop that Buddy ball. Hit everyone you see. Hit that running back. Then run up in the stands and slap their mommas. ~ NY Giants player as quoted on NFL Films

Most football teams are temperamental. That's 90% temper and 10% mental. ~ Doug Plank

One accusation you can't throw at me is that I've always done my best. - Alan Shearer

I'd rather play in front of a full house than an empty crowd. ~ Johnny Giles

Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. ~ Vince Lombardi


Winning isn't everything. Men, it's the only thing. ~ Red Sanders


Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything. ~ Vince Lombardi

Winning isn't everything, but it beats anything that comes in second. ~ Bear Bryant

It's not the will to win that matters -- everybody has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters. ~ Bear Bryant


Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. ~ Vince Lombardi

There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I never want to finish second again. ~ Vince Lombardi


If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score? ~ Vince Lombardi

When you win, nothing hurts. ~ Joe Namath

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. ~ Vince Lombardi

Success is not forever and failure isn't fatal. ~ Don Shula

When you win, say nothing. When you lose, say less. ~ Paul Brown

You're never guaranteed about next year. People ask what you think of next season, you have to seize the opportunities when they are in front of you. ~ Brett Favre

Sure the home field is an advantage -- but so is having a lot of talent. ~ Dan Marino

Fellas, hey fellas, this is why you lift all them weights. This is why you do all that sh^t. ~ Bill Parcells

A successful coach needs a patient wife, loyal dog and a great quarterback, not necessarily in that order. ~ Bud Grant 

Games like this are why I play football. ~ Billy Kilmer just before a Redskins-Cowboys game

Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable. ~ Tom Landry

You are what your record says you are. ~ Bill Parcells

You are only as good as your last play. ~ NFL cliche. (Shouldn't this be "as good as your next play?")


Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. ~ John Wooden. Not a football guy, but it fits.

I'm bored, I'm broke and I'm back. ~ John Riggins returning to football after a one year hold-out

Lighten up, Sandy baby. ~ John Riggins said to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend any amount of time with a Cowboys fan. ~ John Riggins

Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings. ~ George F. Will

Only in football is long-term injury the result not of accidents but of the game played properly. ~ George F. Will

Baseball is what we were; football is what we have become.- Mary McGrory, Washington Post

Every game is an opportunity to measure yourself against your own potenial. ~ Bud Wilkinson

"If you believe, then unbelievable things can sometimes be possible." ~Tim Tebow. 


Beating 'SC isn't a matter of life and death. It's more important than that. ~ Red Sanders on the UCLA-USC rivalry

I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it. ~ Gale Sayers

I just wrap my arms around the whole backfield and peel 'em one by one until I get to the ball carrier. Him I keep. ~ "Big Daddy" Lipscomb


Football is very well a good game for rough girls, but not for delicate boys. ~ Oscar Wilde


When in doubt, punt! ~ John Heisman

Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football. ~ John Heisman

I feel like I'm the best, but you're not going to get me to say that. ~ Jerry Rice

I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that just wouldn't be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory ... lasts forever. ~ Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves), in the movie The Replacements (2000)

Chil', please. ~ Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson

I didn't quit football because I failed a drug test. I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football. ~ Ricky Williams

I don't want to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I want to win enough to warrant investigation. ~ Bob Devaney

If you ain’t holding, you ain’t trying. ~~ Lyle Alzado

Throw me the damn ball. ~ Keyshawn Johnson

Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein. ~ Joe Theismann

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile." ~ Roger Staubach

The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer. ~ John Madden

The street to obscurity is paved with athletes who can perform great feats before friendly crowds. ~ George Allen, Sr.

No back in the history of football was ever worth two fumbles a game. ~ Woody Hayes. 

Maybe a good rule in life is never become too important to do your own laundry. ~ Barry Sanders

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. ~ Archie Griffen

Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors. ~ Frank Gifford

Football isn't a contact sport, it's a collision sport. Dancing is a contact sport. ~ Duffy Daugherty

A tie is like kissing your sister. ~~ Duffy Daugherty

That's old man football, bro'. ~ Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson speaking of the Georgia Bulldog offense

Three things can happen when you pass and two of them are bad. ~ Darrell Royal in published quotes. Royal attributed the quote to Woody Hayes.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people. ~ Woody Hayes

I wouldn't ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was, you know, important - like a league game or something. ~ Dick Butkus

Football is, after all, a wonderful way to get rid of your aggression without going to jail for it. ~ Heywood Hale Broun

I think football would become an even better game if someone could invent a ball that kicks back. ~ David Morecambe

I'd catch a punt naked, in the snow, in Buffalo, for a chance to play in the NFL. ~ Steve Henderson



I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault. ~~Jack Tatum

I believe the game is designed to reward the ones who hit the hardest. If you can't take it, you shouldn't play. ~ Jack Lambert


They're killing me, Whitey. They're killing me. ~ Lou Saban, referring to officials, as captured by NFL Films

This is the NFL. You know what that means? "Not For Long" if you keep making lousy calls like that one. ~ Jerry Glanville comment to an official, captured by NFL Films

Football is not a game but a religion, a metaphysical island of fundamental truth in a highly verbalized, disguised society, a throwback of 30,000 generations of anthropological time. ~ Arnold Mandell

American football makes rugby look like a Tupperware party. ~ Sue Lawley

I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid. ~ Terry Bradshaw


He couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted him the "c" and the "t." ~ Hollywood Henderson speaking of Terry Bradshaw

College football is a sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture. ~~ Elbert Hubbard

George Halas throws nickels around like manhole covers. ~ Mike Ditka

He treats us all the same—like dogs. ~ Green Bay Tackle Henry Jordan, describing Coach Vince Lombardi.

He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings. ~ Torrin Polk, on his coach, John Jenkins


Lombardi, Shula, Landry and Gibbs were innovators. Bill Walsh was a visionary . . . . ~ Michael Wilbon



Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck



If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead. ~ Erma Bombeck

The reason women don't play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit in public. ~ Phyllis Diller

If you're mad at your kid, you can either raise him to be a nose tackle or send him out to play on the freeway. It's about the same. ~ Bob Golic

When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team. ~~ George Raveling

Football is easy if you are crazy as hell. ~ Bo Jackson


I've been big ever since I was little. ~ William "The Refrigerator" Perry

There are two kinds of people in the world, Notre Dame lovers and Notre Dame haters. And, quite frankly, they're both a pain in the ass. ~~ Dan Devine, former Notre Dame football coach

Men are clinging to football on a level we aren't even aware of. For centuries, we ruled everything, and now, in the last ten minutes, there are all these incursions by women. It's our Alamo. ~ Tony Kornheiser

Speed is not your fastest, but your slowest man. No back can run faster than his interference. ~ Jock Sutherland

Just remember the words of Patrick Henry, kill me or let me live. ~ Bill Peterson

We can't run. We can't pass. We can't stop the run. We can't stop the pass. We can't kick. Other than that, we're just not a very good football team right now. ~ Bruce Coslet

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS? ~ Jim Mora at his famous meltdown.

Seventy-five percent of the world is covered by water. The rest is covered by Fred Smoot. ~ Fred Smoot


Hawaii doesn’t win many games in the United States. ~~ Lee Corso



I'm really happy for Coach Cooper and the guys who have been around here for six or seven years, especially our seniors. ~ Bob Hoying, Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback after winning the Big Ten title


The NFL, like life, is full of idiots. ~ Randy Cross


I feel like I'm the best, but you are not going to get me to say that. ~ Jerry Rice


Look up, get up, but don't ever give up. ~ Michael Irvin to his sons at his Hall of Fame induction


When I read about the evils of smoking crack, I gave up reading. ~ Michael Irvin


I can attack a man's weakness and beat him. Or I can attack a man's strengths and break him. ~ Michael Irvin

The past doesn't buy you much. ~ Joe Gibbs upon his return to coaching


I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first. ~ George Rogers


I only have two things going for me: my arms, my legs and my brain. ~ Michael Vick (allegedly)


You only get one shot at a second chance. ~ Michael Vick

Football doesn't build character. It reveals character. ~ Marv Levy

Football is an honest game. It's true to life. It's a game about sharing. It's a team game. So is life. ~ Joe Namath

To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn't know where he's going. ~ Joe Namath

I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow ...'cause I Get Better-Looking Every Day ~ Book title by Joe Namath with Dick Shaap

I don't like to date as I just like to kind of, you know, run into somethin', man. ~ Joe Namath

As a football coach, everything in life comes after your football schedule. I just could not make that commitment. ~ Joe Namath 


When success finds you, it's because you were looking for it. ~ Larry Fitzgerald

One bromide I've always disagreed with is that sports ... say, football ... can build character. I don't think any sport builds character. A sport reveals character. It takes a lot more than a game to shape someone's character ... but a game provides an environment in which the good qualities in a person's character can respond. 

Usually shortened to "Football doesn't build character, it reveals it." ~ Marv Levy


O.J. Simpson, shorn of the magic he once possessed, is am emblem of the fact that the star athlete doesn't possess the magic, the fans give it to him. The fan giveth, and the fan taketh away. ~~ Neely Tucker, Washington Post 
(10/04/2007)



Football today is far too much a sport for the few who can play it well; the rest of us, and too many of our children, get our exercise from from climbing up the seats in the stadiums, or from walking across the room to turn on our television sets. ~ John F. Kennedy


I'm a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football. ~ Barack Obama

I had offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, who were pretty hard up for linemen in those days. If I had gone into professional football, the name Jerry ford might be a household word today. ~ Gerald R. Ford

All I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football. ~ Albert Camus


I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of any one's existence. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master. ~ Theodore Roosevelt in letters to his children

Many of the above quotes were found on http://www.quotegarden.com/football.html and http://quotations.about.com/. The rest were harvested over time as I came across them.


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Sunday, September 03, 2006

What ever happened to . . . ?

Redskins players released by the team often leave disgruntled fans who think we should have kept them. Here is the epilogue on some of those players.

Patrick Ramsey was benched by coach-In-Chief Gibbs in game one of 2005. He was traded on the cheap to the New York Jets and expected to challenge for the starting QB role. He struggled in a four way race to even make the team. The Jets have not released their official depth chart, but a report by newsday.com says Ramsey will play behind Chad Pennington, probably as number two. There are as many questions about Pennington surviving the season as there are about Mark Brunell. Patrick may yet have another shot at the limelight.

The Jets cut former Redskin TE Walter Rasby.

Receiver Darnerien McCants was a good game player, but poor practice player, unlike a notorious, nameless great practice player who was a crappy gamer. McCants found a role as a Ramsey target in the Spurrier experiment, but was quickly dropped by Gibbs & company to the grumbles of some fans. Philadelphia picked him up. For all the Eagles' receiving turmoil last season, Darnerien failed to make a statement. Despite a decent preseason, he was released yesterday.

Nobody misses Rod Gardner. Neither will the Green Bay packers who voted him off the island. Gardner made less of an impact there than he did here.

At last report, LB LaVar Arrington was still on the Giants roster.

Hint to Redskins, the 49ers cut punter Tom Rouen. He's old, but at least take a look.

Within one week, Jeff George was added to and subtracted from the Raiders' roster. What were they thinking?

Robert Royal is listed as the starting tight end for the Buffalo Bills.

Taylor Jacobs is listed as the second string receiver behind Antonio Bryant on the 49er roster.

Former Redskin GM Charlie Casserly and head coach Gary Kubiak bolstered the Texans defensive line by selecting Mario Williams and passing on USC running sensation Reggie Bush. They figured that Domanick Davis could be a dominant running back and that Houston's defense needed much more help. Casserly left the Texans right after the draft. Good thing for him. Events have taken a turn for the worse. Davis is on injured reserve and lost for the entire season. Suddenly, passing on Bush doesn't look so good for the Texan faithful, although building your O and D line through the draft is sound policy. With Houston's notorious offensive line, D'Brickashaw Furguson may have been the better choice anyway. Furguson went to the Jets. There's some mess in Texas. Isn't there always?

For a look at the players released by the Redskins yesterday, look here.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

No worries

Here is the preseason performance the coaches say we shouldn’t worry about.


The Redskins didn’t even use vanilla schemes in preseason. If vanilla means a no frills, simplified version of your offense, then the Skins used something akin to high school generic – and barely practiced that before the exhibition games.

When Gregg Williams says don’t worry, well, he’s Gregg Williams. We’ve seen his defense for two seasons. His schemes are familiar with no loss of talent. Rocky McIntosh has a lot of upside.

When new deputy head coach Al Saunders says don’t worry, well …. We have Kansas City tape to go by and Saunders’ reputation earns him the benefit of the doubt. But, we have not seen the Saunders offense carried out by Redskins players. That’s been well hidden. The players to a man are enthusiastic about what’s coming. The fans, so far, have only seen stuffed runs, dropped passes, miscues and scoring impotency. But, I'm not going to believe what I saw. And I'm not going to worry.

Because the coaches said so.