Thursday, June 22, 2017

NEMESIS: Pilfering the Pigskin

LOOKING BACK
By T.J. Troup
Though there have never been any Greek Goddess's patrolling an NFL secondary trying to intercept passes, there have been men who victimized certain teams at an impressive level of interceptions.

The following is the list of men who intercepted at least 10 passes against a specific opponent. Emlen Tunnell tops our list, and since his last interception against Washington came in 1959 no doubt he will remain there forever. A strong statement?

The percentage of interceptions league wide has dropped dramatically in the last fifty-seven years; thus Tunnell will probably stand alone forever. There are men on the list who are Hall of Famers, and men who just happened to play their best against a specific team.

Bobby Dan Dillon of the Packers is the only man on the list who proved to be a "nemesis" against three different teams. Championship teammates are also on the list; such as Yale Lary & Jack Christiansen of the Lions. For many teams though there is just one man who"Pilfered the pigskin" to make the list.

I have been honored/fortunate to have received letters over the years by former defensive backs who answered my many questions concerning coverages, opposing receivers, and teams they played against. The best remains the long letter from former Jet Billy Baird. He detailed playing against the Patriots and his success against them.

A perusal of the list definitely shows that only two recently retired players made the list twice. Rod Woodson is a deserving member of the Hall of Fame, and will be joined (possibly on the first ballot) by safety Ed Reed very soon. Reed not only intercepted against Cleveland and Cincinnati he returned the ball over 300 yards against both—no one will ever achieve that kind of return yardage again. There are men on the list that should be considered for the Hall of Fame, and not just because they were a "nemesis" to a particular team, yet if some of you take the time to respond; would enjoy hearing about men on the list you feel have been overlooked.

11 comments:

  1. Great article. Per your comment 2 players on this list jump out at me as being 'underrated': Jimmy Patton was a great DB in the late 50s and early 60s. Not just consensus all-pro but unanimous in several of those years.You just don't hear his name any more. The other is Johnny Robinson. Probably the best safety produced by the AFL. After the merger in 70 he was still an all-pro. Either of these 2 could be in the HoF and would increase its quality.
    Thanks for this remembrance.

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  2. your welcome John. my thoughts on Patton...elite from 58-63, and when the NYG defense struggled late in his career he became a forgotten man. I will be doing an in-depth story on Jimmy in late september. Johnny Robinson is VERY deserving of consideration for the HoF.....many of the writers do not know how to evaluate safety play.....corners yes, safeties no. Many a discussion with Paul Lionel Zimmerman on who was playing the position well, and why. thanks for the response.

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  3. Tj, what are your thoughts on Ken Riley? He seemed very good in games I saw on youtube. Made a lot of plays on the ball.

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  4. thanks for asking Alen. Besides being durable Riley was very adept at both zone and man coverage, and he had excellent hands.......thus he intercepted plenty. The main reason he never received more acclaim is that he was not strong against the run, and for the early part of his career the other corner; "leaping lamar" Parrish was more versatile, and made many a key play.

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  5. Would Riley make your top 10 corners of all time TJ? My list:

    1. Deion Sanders
    2. Dick Lane
    3. Jimmy Johnson
    4. Willie Brown
    5. Mike Haynes
    6. Darrell Green
    7. Albert Lewis
    8. Herb Adderley
    9. Roger Werhli
    10. Ken Riley

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    Replies
    1. excellent list Alen, and mine would be similar, yet to answer your question....no, Ken Riley does not. I have Aeneas Williams, and Lem Barney in my list.

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  6. It is so hard to separate these guys. I have not seen enough of Barney to really have a great feel for his game. Aeneas Williams was awesome.

    Your opinion that forcing the running plays is important for DBs has made me reevaluate my own opinions. I never thought it was that important before. Mel Blount must have been the best ever at that skill.

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  8. Looking forward to your story on Patton. Have long felt that his years as an elite safety were enough to warrant HOF induction

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