Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Top NFL Mount Rushmore Lists

By John W. Lesko

Mount Rushmore National Memorial features a sculpture of four United States Presidents carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are the four Presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore. They were chosen because they were arguably the four most famous Presidents. In the sports talk show industry, it is common to hear hosts discuss “the Mount Rushmore of NBA players” or the “Mount Rushmore of NFL head coaches.”  A theoretical Mount Rushmore of NBA players would consist of the four greatest NBA players or the four most important ones.

It can sometimes be fun to discuss the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks, running backs, Super Bowl venues, horrible officiating calls, etc. It might also be boring. I don't really know because I am more concerned with silly things like the Mount Rushmore of frog habitats and squirrel interests.

For the longest time, I did not know in which direction to go with this article. A long poem? Too corny. A fictional football story involving 20 or so Mount Rushmores which would mean having to add about 80 players to the story? I would rather just write a novel and not be forced to fit in stuff. A simple list with no prose other than the two prior paragraphs? Now that actually would work. Alas, there will be some other comments.

This is meant to be a fun topic but there are rules. Louis Lipps cannot be on the Mount Rushmore of Body Parts. What are lipps? Why is there a red line appearing under lipps after I write lipps in this Word document? Oh, that is because lipps do not exist. Lips do, however. When somebody with the surname of Lips plays in the NFL, then maybe that guy will make the Mount Rushmore of Body Parts.

The second rule is that the quality of a name is of major importance whereas the quality of the player is not important. As arguably the greatest running back of all-time, Jim Brown would be an obvious choice for the NFL Mount Rushmore of Colors if the quality of the player was a main factor. It is not a factor here. A lesser running back named Ivory Lee Brown is a much better choice for this Mount Rushmore because he has two colors in his name. Similarly, if an NFL player had the last name of California Condor he would be a significantly better fit for the Mount Rushmore of Birds than somebody with the last name of Bird.

The third rule is it is best to not have a player appear on two different Mount Rushmores for no other reason than to get more players listed here. John Woodcock would make sense for both the Mount Rushmore of Birds and the Mount Rushmore of Woodland Creatures but he has only been placed officially on one of those.

Now that the rules have been explained and some direction has been given, let's start with the Mount Rushmore of Directions. Jim North, Ronnie Lee South, Ron East, and Charlie West are the members.
Mount Rushmore of U.S. States- Russell Maryland, Dwayne Missouri, Joe Montana, Joe Washington

Mount Rushmore of State Capitals- Bo Jackson, Keith Lincoln, Greg Montgomery, and Ed Salem

Mount Rushmore of U.S. Cities- David Boston, Greg Cleveland, Ken Houston, Fred Provo

Mount Rushmore of Countries- Larry Canada, Reggie Germany, Steve Israel, Dick Spain

Mount Rushmore of Frog Habitats- Amos Marsh, Ralph Meadow, Antwaune Ponds, Philip Rivers

Mount Rushmore of Generic Locations- Don Alley, Pat Beach, Tai Streets, Ickey Woods

Mount Rushmore of Places to Live- Eric Castle, Jon Condo, Kevin House, Greg Manor

Mount Rushmore of Dudes- Paul Johns, Greg Lens, Larry Marks, Colin Scotts. Note- if your name is Paul Johns it might as well be John Pauls.

Mount Rushmore of U.S. Presidents- Blair Bush, Houston Hoover, Lincoln Kennedy, Sam Madison

Mount Rushmore of Guys With Three First Names- Walker Lee Ashley, Waldo Don Carlos, Bobby Jack Floyd, Peter Tom Willis

Mount Rushmore of Royalty- Wesley Duke, Kenny King, Ryan Prince, Jeff Queen

Mount Rushmore of Religion- Blaine Bishop, Bob Christian, Art Monk, Bucky Pope

Mount Rushmore of Vocations- Fred Broker,  Carl Painter, Charley Quilter, Lou Usher

Mount Rushmore of Rap- Warren Bone, Raekwon McMillan, Chris Redman, Buster Rhymes

Mount Rushmore of Nice Fellows- Tom Good, Larry Peace, Anthony Pleasant, Lousaka Polite

Mount Rushmore of Movie Characters- Jim Bond, Andy Gump, Ricky Powers, Ken-Yon Rambo

Living Things
Mount Rushmore of Woodland Creatures- Brad Badger, Tim Fox, Eddie Hare, Dick Wolf

Mount Rushmore of Farm Animals- Ronnie Bull, Amos Bullocks, Fred Chicken, Brad Lamb

Mount Rushmore of Fish- Glenn Bass, Mark Pike, Mike Salmon, Lyle Sturgeon

Mount Rushmore of Birds- John David Crow, Elvis Peacock, Kendrick Starling, John Woodcock

Mount Rushmore of Plants- Dick Flowers, Corey Ivy, Randy Moss, Tad Weed

Mount Rushmore of Trees- Juddy Ash, Howard Maple, Mike Palm, Ed Pine

Things to Eat or Drink
Mount Rushmore of Fruit- Jim Apple, Deron Cherry, Dave Pear, Milt Plum

Mount Rushmore of Meat- Coy Bacon, Jack Ham, Max Kielbasa, Demetrin Veal

Mount Rushmore of Condiments- Wayne Capers, Ron Mayo, Chad Mustard, Craig Yeast

Mount Rushmore of Sweets- Jamaal Fudge, Leo Sugar, Carl Wafer, Donald Angel Food Cake. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Nobody with the surname of Angel Food Cake has yet to play in the NFL. Cookie Gilchrist is the final member of this Mount Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore of Drinks- Tom Beer, Ed Champagne, Bob Margarita, Rich Martini
Mount Rushmore of Cat Activities- Jerry Groom, Jim Hunt, Russ Lay, Dennis Lick

Mount Rushmore of Court Rooms- Bob Jury, Charlie Justice, Dou Innocent, Ty Law

Mount Rushmore of Things to Wear- Bill Brace, Walt Fedora, Bill Ring, Peter Shorts

Mount Rushmore of Violence- Frank Gore, Tuffy Maul, Webster Slaughter, Henry Slay

Mount Rushmore of Weapons- Billy Cannon, Glen Spear, Sam Sword, Clyde Van Sickle

Mount Rushmore of Months- Mike January, Ray May, Cato June, Steve August

Mount Rushmore of Colors- Ivory Lee Brown, Terrance Copper, Joe Lavender, Willie Teal

Mount Rushmore of Body Parts- Loyd Arms, Tommy Neck, Darin Shoulders, Reggie Tongue

Mount Rushmore of NFL Team Names- Fred Cardinal, Alex Eagle, Terry Falcon, Walter Packer

Mount Rushmore of NBA Team Names- Phil Blazer, Cub Buck, Scott Bull, A.J. Hawk

Mount Rushmore of Days- Larry Friday, Carlyle Holiday, Andy Sabados, Jeff Saturday

Mount Rushmore of Football Actions- Mike Hold, Patrick Pass, Bob Rush, John Sack

Mount Rushmore of Writing- Bob Books, Jack Read, Bill Story, Barry Word

Mount Rushmore of Squirrel Interests- Fred Acorn, Cliff Branch, Joe Little Twig, Frank Seeds

Quite a number of Mount Rushmore ideas were left on the cutting room floor usually because there was not a fourth name to be found whatsoever or there was but it was just sort of good. We want to avoid "sort of good." We are not into reaches. Hmm. Reaches. What are things that reach? Well, while I go ponder that hopefully, some readers will put their own Mount Rushmores in the comment section.

John W. Lesko is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and a graduate of Seton Hall University. He is a contributing writer of  "The 1958 Baltimore Colts: Profiles of the NFL's First Sudden Death Champions" and wrote an article for "The Coffin Corner" on all the major pro football games without a touchdown.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Pilfering the Pigskin

By TJ Troup
Credit: NY Giants
This past Sunday Curtis Riley of New York Giants returned a deflected pass by the Redskins Mark Sanchez nine yards for a touchdown in the Giants blowout victory. New York has now returned 21 interceptions for a touchdown against Washington in their history, which ties the Chiefs (against Denver) for the most ever against a specific opponent.

Watching the show "The Aftermath" yesterday afternoon on the NFL Network the panel (enjoy these men since they actually tell me something) they discussed defense. More specifically which teams are actually playing defense this year (very few), and which aspect has the most meaning.

While stopping the run, and sacking the quarterback sure has merit—the panel was in agreement that the "takeaway" is the key to victory this year in the explosive NFL. Chicago leads the league in interceptions with 25, and the four interceptions the navy blue & burnt orange Bears pilfered against the high powered Rams on Sunday was no doubt a key to victory.
When is the last time the Bears led the league in interceptions you ask? Why during their playoff season of 1990 with 31. With three games to go, and if Chicago grabs three more errant passes by opponent passers they will tie the 2013 Seahawks for the most in the last six years.

The challenge for the Chicago secondary on Sunday comes in the form of Mr. Rodgers as he ventures into the Bears neighborhood with record-setting ability of NOT throwing an interception.

Chicago is on the verge of a division title; which would be their 17th since 1940, and the Bears record against Green Bay is 27-6-1 in those seventeen seasons. The Packers would relish beating their long time rival and in 2001 Green Bay beat the Bears twice, yet Chicago won the division anyway.
Jordan Howard has been among the league leaders in rushing during his two years in the league, but has not been near as productive in 2018. Sunday night, almost lost in the discussion was the fact that Howard gained 101 yards rushing to become the ninth different Bear runner to gain over one hundred against the Rams. Thirteen times a Bear has gained over 100 yards against the Rams with a record of ten wins and three losses in those games.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Green Bay On Point Against Atlanta

By Eric Goska
The Packers scored 34 unanswered points against the Falcons Sunday.
Running back Aaron Jones capped Green Bay's point parade with a 29-yard TD run.
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)
The Atlanta Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening possession against the Packers Sunday.

Then the roof fell in.

Green Bay returned fire after Atlanta’s opening salvo, embarking on its best scoring spree of the season. The run on points effectively overwhelmed the Falcons who tumbled 34-20 at Lambeau Field.

As the Bears, Redskins, 49ers, and Patriots did earlier this season to the Packers, Atlanta cruised to a touchdown the first time it had the ball. It hummed 75 yards in seven plays taking but three minutes, 24 seconds off the game clock.

The payoff was a 16-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones.

With three receptions, Jones accounted for 63 yards on that opening drive. Among his catches were gains of 28 and 19 that withstood red-flag challenges from Green Bay.

Up 7-0, Atlanta petered out. It didn’t score again until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

By then, Green Bay had poured on enough points to withstand all but the most improbable of comebacks.

Surrendering a touchdown early can be unnerving. How the scored-upon party responds can be telling.

Green Bay’s reply to Atlanta consisted of 34 unanswered points. The Packers counted seven in the first quarter, 13 in the second and 14 in the third.

The outburst was the team’s most one-sided since Nov. 9, 2014, when it ripped off 45 in a row while shellacking the Bears 55-14.

Against the Falcons, Green Bay posted four touchdowns and two field goals. It scored on five of its first six possessions.

Davante Adams kicked off the festivities by taking a seven-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers midway through the first quarter. The end zone visit was Adam’s 12th this season as a receiver, tying his career best of 2016.

Aaron Jones capped the explosion with a 29-yard burst up the middle in the third quarter. For Jones, it marked the fifth consecutive game in which he has rushed for a touchdown.

In between, Randall Cobb hit paydirt for the first time since opening day, and Bashaud Breeland nabbed a pick-six. Mason Crosby booted a pair of field goals from 50 and 48 yards out.

Since 1921, nearly 200 teams have scored touchdowns on their opening possessions against the Packers. Green Bay’s record in those games is 62-133-2 (.320).

The numbers are a bit misleading. In the last eight seasons, the Packers actually have a winning record (19-13) in games in which the opposition scored touchdowns on their opening drives.

What is rare is Green Bay piling on as it did Sunday. Only once before had the Green and Gold responded so forcefully after an opponent scored a touchdown on its opening series.

On Nov. 10, 2002, Az-Zahir Hakim reached the end zone on a 64-yard strike from Joey Harrington the first time the Lions had the ball. Green Bay then countered with 37 consecutive points in a 40-14 romp.

Sunday was not the first time Ryan and the Falcons have pounced on Green Bay early. On Oct. 5, 2008, the quarterback connected with Justin Peelle for a TD on Atlanta’s first drive. On Oct. 9, 2011, he found Roddy White for a score under similar circumstances.

The Falcons won the first game, 27-24. They dropped the second, 25-14, after Green Bay closed with 25 unanswered points.

Stringing together points – and loads of them – is an offensive coordinator’s dream. The Packers are 53-0 when scoring more than 30 unanswered points in a game.

Come Sunday in Chicago, don’t expect that record to improve to 54-0. The Bears, who held the high-flying Rams to just six points in their latest conquest, have improved significantly since allowing the Packers to card 17 unanswered points in Green Bay’s remarkable season-opening, 24-23 comeback.

Retaliatory Barrage
Games in which the Packers scored more than 25 unanswered points after their opponent scored a touchdown on its first possession.

Pts.      Opponent        Date                      Result
37        Lions                Nov. 10, 2002       GB won, 40-14
34        Falcons            Dec. 9, 2018          GB won, 34-20
31        Vikings             Sept. 21, 1997       GB won, 38-32
31        Colts                Oct. 19, 2008        GB won, 34-14
28        Rams                Dec. 17, 1960        GB won, 35-21
28        Bears               Jan. 2, 2005           GB won, 31-14
27        Lions                Oct. 1, 1944          GB won, 27-6
27        Lions                Nov. 26, 2009       GB won, 34-12
26        Steelers            Nov. 3, 1963         GB won, 33-14

Through 13 Weeks: Who is the NFL's Top 4-3 DE?

By John Turney
Cam Jordan
It's tight, very tight. And the last three weeks will be the determination because there is not a clear top player, in our view, but there are a handful that are standing out as the best 4-3 ends this year.
Demarcus Lawrene
The ones, to me, that are the most fun to watch are Demarcus Lawrence and Cameron Jordan and we have them (narrowly as the top two). Lawrence has 9.5 sacks and 10.0 sacks for a total of 19.5 sacks + stuffs (s+s) and is playing on a top run defense and top total defensive team.

Jordan is playing on a top run-stopping team as well and has 12.0 sacks and 5 run stuffs for a total of 17.0 s+s. Jordan will move around some, even standing up as a linebacker giving the Saints a 3-4 look from time to time.
Danielle Hunter
Danielle Hunter had 4.5 stuffs and 11.5 sacks for a total of 16 plays behind the line of scrimmage. He was hot in the middle of the season and has four games left to show his impact.
Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett  has 3.0 stuffs and 12.5 sacks for 15.5 s+s. He's also a treat to watch. he has a chance to move up and seems to be getting hot in recent weeks.

Chandler Jones, now a full-time defensive end moving from a 3-4 OLber and 40 DE in nickel, but his role isn't that much different but he's still making plays but not at the rate he did last year. Jones has 12.5 sacks nad 4 stuffs for a total of 16.5 s+s, however, the Cardinals run defense, after being terrific last year is anything but terrific this year. However, Jones has been good, more steady than great, though.
Chandler Jones
Frank Clark doesn't quite have the numbers as the others but in the ole' "eye test" he passes. When we see him play he seems to always have an impact on a resurging defense.
Frank Clark
Jason Pierre-Paul has the sacks, but we will see if he can blow up in the next month. Lots of things go into our decisions, but we also follow the Pro Scout, Inc. axiom "Blue players make blue plays" and for a defensive end the big plays are sacks, stuffs, forced fumbles, QB hits—things that can impact games. Also, we are looking forward to reviewing the film as well to see who best passes the "eye test".

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Who Was the NFL's First "Fearsome Foursome"?

By John Turney
The Original Rams Fearsome Foursome 1963-1966
Lamar Lundy (85), Rosey Grier (76), Merlin Olsen (74), Deacon Jones (75)
It's an easy question—'Numerical Nicknames for one thousand, Alex'.  "This team's quartet was the first NFL defensive line to be known as the "Fearsome Foursome"? Who are the Los Angeles Rams, Alex".  No, sorry, it's the New York Giants.


Yep. The term "Fearsome Foursome" was first used, we think, to describe golf teams as early as 1911 or maybe even before. It was used for some college football backfields in the mid-20th century as well.

But, for a football defensive line the New York Giants line of Jim Katcavage, Rosey Grier, Dick Modzelewski, and Andy Robustelli were described with that moniker in 1959 and perhaps before.

In 1961 both the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions had a defensive line also called in print the "Fearsome Foursome".

The Chargers line was composed of Earl FaisonErnie LaddBill Hudson, and Ron Nery
Left to right: Hudson, Nery, Ladd, Faison

The Lions iteration was Darris McCord,  Alex Karras, Roger Brown, and Sam Williams.

In 1963 Rosey Grier was traded to the Los Angeles Rams and the New York press noted the ending of the "Fearsome Foursome".

Near the beginning of the 1964 NFL season was when the first mentions of a Rams version of the nickname showed up in print. And it became the place where the nickname stuck and stands as one of the great nicknames and defensive lines of all time. Deacon Jones was the left end, Merlin Olsen was the left tackle, Rosey Grier the right tackle (replaced by former Lions DT Roger Brown in 1967) and Lamar Lundy was the right defensive end.

And the rest, as they say, 'was history'.

Later in 1964, even one paper in Philadelphia listed the Cowboys line of George Andrie, Bob LillyJim Colvin, and Larry Stephens though it seems to be short-lived. The Cowboys line was quite good and got even better when Jethro Pugh joined the group but the nickname that caught the imagination of sportswriters and telecasters was "Doomsday".

In 1974 the Associated Press posted on their wire an article calling the Rams new defensive line of Jack Youngblood, Olsen, Larry Brooks, and Fred Dryer the "new" Fearsome Foursome but it never caught on. Partially because the players themselves didn't like it, now wanting to "gravy train", if you will, on the success of the previous players. They said in various articles they wanted their own identity and eschewed nicknames as "corny".

The 1967-69 version with Roger Brown (78) in Grier's Place
So, yes, the Rams line is THE Fearsome Foursome, they were not the first—just the best.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Phil Olsen's Comments on Isiah Robertson

By John Turney
Phil Olsen
This comment came after we had posted our story on the untimely death of Isiah Robertson and we are doing a separate post rather than editing the first one due to its length but also it's thoughtfulness.

The comment is from Phil Olsen, a defensive tackle for the Rams at the time that Robertson entered the league.

"Isiah “Butch” Robertson was a good friend of mine.

We came to the LA Rams the same year, 1971. Butch and Jack Youngblood were the Rams first- round draft choices that year and I had arrived via free-agency from the Boston Patriots. Butch lived in the Harbor Lights apartments in Huntington Beach with Jack & Diane Youngblood, Connie and me and another LA Ram, Rich Saul and his wife Eileen. Almost daily, we would carpool to practice at Blair Field in Long Beach.

Butch had a standing invitation to join us for dinner. Many nights, our wives would have collaborated to shop for ingredients and they would then cook the food and serve it family-style. Other nights, each couple would cook their own dinner. Butch would routinely make the rounds to see what we were all having for dinner before deciding where he wanted to eat. Eileen, Diane, and Connie took good care of Butch and they always made sure he had plenty to eat. He could be as rough as a cobb when he was with and around the guys, but he was always cordial, charming and well-mannered when he was around our wives.
Isiah Robertson

Butch drove a purple Cadillac Eldorado, which was his trademark “ride” for years. People recognized the car and knew who was driving it. One morning, I was standing outside the LA Rams’ practice facility at Blair Field just before practice. I saw Butch come around the corner in his Caddy with a motorcycle policeman riding right behind his car. I thought it was a little bit strange because the officer didn’t seem in a hurry and there were no lights flashing on his motorcycle.

Butch simply pulled in and parked quickly. He then jumped out of his car and raced into the player’s dressing room briefly shouting to the officer who was then climbing off his motorcycle that “he was late for practice and had to run.”

The police officer approached me and asked, “Who was that?” That, I said, was Isiah Robertson #58.  “I thought so,” he said. “Tell him to slow down.”  I’ve been trying to pull him over for the last five miles with no luck.  So, I finally decided just to follow him all the way to his destination. The officer shook his head, slowly climbed back on his motorcycle and rode off.

Butch found personal faith in God shortly after his NFL career ended. For many years, he’s been operating a facility for troubled youths in Texas called “Isiah’s House.”

Butch will be missed!"
Isiah Robertson, Chuck Knox, and Phil Olsen

Friday, December 7, 2018

R.I.P. Butch Robertson

By John Turney
Credit: Merv Corning
Former NFL All-Pro linebacker Isiah Robertson (nicked named Butch) was killed in a car crash near of Dallas on Thursday night, December 6, 2018, He was just 69. Robertson, according to police was killed after his limo went round a corner at an 'unsafe speed'. The crash is still under investigation.

Robertson was a First-round draft pick (10th overall) by the Los Angeles Rams in 1971 and was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, an All-Rookie selection and a Second-team All-Pro that year.
He played twelve years in the NFL, eight with the Rams and four with the Buffalo Bills. He was a three-time First-team All-Pro and a Second-team All-Pro three other seasons and was a six-time Pro Bowler and was a First- or Second-team All-NFC pick seven times.

He was named the NFC Linebacker of the Year in 1973 and was the second-leading vote getter for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year that same seasons (was runner-up to Dick Anderson). In 2016 he was voted to the Pro Football Researcher Association's "Hall of the Very Good" noting his excellence of play.

He ended his career with 879 tackles and 24½ sacks and 25 interceptions and he scored four defensive touchdowns. He also forced 24 fumbles and defensed 79 passes in addition to his pick total.

He was a personal favorite of Howard Cosell, due to Robertson seemingly making a big play in every game the Rams were on Monday Night. When that happened Cosell would make sure the audience knew how "good that Isiah Robertson was".
His roommate, as a rookie, was Jack Youngblood, a fellow rookie and fellow alum of the College All-Star game in Chicago that year. a game that both excelled in. "Butch was one of the top 4-5 athletes I had the privilege of playing with, he's right up there with Monte Jackson, Nolan Cromwell, Johnnie Johnson and Eric Dickerson in terms speed, agility, reactions—those type things. If he played in this recent era he'd have been like a Derrick Brooks or Lance Briggs, a buck-type 'backer who could flow over the top and make a play or get into coverage and find the ball and take it to the house for you. He was a good rusher—every few games he could sting the offense on a linebacker dog and get a sack and force a fumble".  Youngblood then added, "Damn, this news sucks. Butch could be a bit of trouble—he had his demons but I loved that kid, He could play some ball".

Pro Scout Inc.'s Mike Giddings agreed,  "Gifted OLB, one of first OLBs to fit modern game—could run with most RBs, cover any TE, and play the run via technique and quicks." All-Pro safety Nolan Cromwell's views were sympatico with Giddings, "He was a very athletic linebacker that could cover any back or tight end in the league. He had the knack of making BIG plays."

Fred Dryer added, "This is heartbreaking—Butch and I had a special gameday relationship. He was a unique person and personality and a gifted athlete and a great teammate. He loved to laugh and was the focal point of much kidding. Come gameday you never knew what to expect because he made so many big plays—he was really something special as a player as a teammate and as a friend".

Robertson attended Southern University from 1967-70, was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.  In 1970 he made 112 tackles and had 45 assists. Isiah was chosen to The Sporting News and TIME 1970 All-American team in 1970 as well as being named AP and UPI small college All-American Teams.

Originally the Rams saw him as a middle linebacker, the position he played in college, but when they got him to camp he was best suited for the outside position. His first two seasons he was a weakside linebacker, always away from the tight end but in 1973 moved to what the Rams called the "buck" linebacker, always on the right. However, in that era, tight ends were usually on the offensive right putting Robertson on the weak side most of the time anyway.

He had a knack for the big play as evidenced by his interception, forced fumble and sack totals. In addition to his four defensive touchdowns, he had an additional pick-six in the 1974 playoffs, stealing a Sonny Jurgenson pass and returning it for a score to seal the victory for the Rams.

Robertson was a tremendous athlete with excellent speed and flexibility. His teammates loved him but often lamented the fact that he'd sometimes play the wrong coverage and still make a big play. Such was the case for the 59-yard touchdown in the 1974 playoff game. Jack Reynolds once told us that the reason Sonny Jurgenson threw the ball where he did was because no Ram was supposed to be there, but "Butch was" and he caught the ball and did what he often did—weaved his way through traffic to the end zone.

The contract issues in 1978 caused Robertson to be accused of loafing in practice and led to his benching, though he still came in on passing downs after he had lost his job to Bob Brudzinski. After the season, Chuck Knox, the Bills coach saw value in Robertson and shipped a 4th round pick to the Rams for Butch's services. Said Giddings, Robertson had a "second career" at Buffalo by adjusting to loss of step with smarts".

With the Bills, Robertson played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense rather than in the 4-3 that the Rams ran. He played on the left in his initial season there and in 1980 he moved back to his more usual right side post, albeit still in a 3-4 scheme. In his time with the Bills he helped Knox rebuild the Bills and turned them into a playoff team in 1980-81 and then he retired after the 1982 season.

Robertson's contract issues were solved in Buffalo as well. In 1979 he was the NFL's highest-paid linebacker at $230,000, in 1980 he was the NFL's second-highest paid linebacker, also at $230,000 and he received that same salary in 1981 and 1982 though he dropped down the 'highest paid' lists as others got fatter contracts.
After retiring from football and conquering his own addictions Robertson founded a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Mabank, TX, very near to where the fatal crash occurred last night.
Robertson is often remembered as the guy who Earl Campbell ran over in a game in the Astrodome in 1978. And Butch took a lot of ribbing for it. And he'd bristle but lived with it but also liked people to know later in the game he knocked Campbell's out of the game with a hit to the thigh and the Rams held on the win that game. In recent years the two have posed together for photos, so it ended all with an "all's well that ends well". 
Butch, you will be missed, you were one of a kind.

12/8/2018—This article has been edited to add quotes and minor content.

Duke Babb, R.I.P., A Major Force in Developing the NFL Combine

By John Turney
Gene “Duke” Babb, age 83, died December 2, 2018. He was born December 27, 1934, and was a football standout at Odessa High School (of Friday Night Lights fame).

He then attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas.  and was drafted in the 19th Round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. After two seasons in San Francisco, he joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 for their inaugural season, playing both fullback and linebacker. After two years with the Cowboys, he spent two years with the Houston Oilers before concluding his professional playing career.

After retiring as a player, Duke coached four years at Austin College then and coached one season at SMU before moving on to be the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State for three seasons.

Babb then got into NFL scouting, joining the Atlanta Falcons as a team scout. He subsequently joined National Football Scouting, eventually assuming the role of President. In addition, Duke was the Director of the National Invitational Combine.

He served in these roles for twenty-three years until his retirement. During that time, Duke trained and developed numerous scouts for NFL clubs, and was instrumental in transforming the NFL Scouting Combine into the event it is today. He was also on the Board of Directors of NFL Films.

When Babb was part of the team that was developing the NFL Combine it was little-known to the fans of the league. But it has become a major, integral part of the National Football League and Babb's contributions ought to be celebrated.

Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Correcting the Record: Bart Starr's INT-free Streak

By Eric Goska

This story by Art Daley appeared in the Dec. 5, 1964
edition of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
It’s time to publicly state my case.

Against the Cardinals at Lambeau Field this weekend past, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers extended to 336 his personal best for most consecutive passes attempted in the regular season without an interception. He broke Bart Starr’s team record.

Sunday against the Falcons, Rodgers can snap the NFL mark (358) held by New England’s Tom Brady.

Kudos to Rodgers. As the quarterback who has thrown interceptions at the lowest rate in league history, supplanting Brady would solidify Rodgers’ standing as the most interception-averse passer ever.

Starr also limited the number of passes he threw to the opposition. In the mid-1960s, No. 15 had a remarkable run that spanned parts of two seasons.

The question: How many interception-free passes did Starr throw during that time?

The Green Bay Packers say 294. Check out the Stat of the Week on page 6 of the team’s Dope Sheet for the upcoming Atlanta game.

The Elias Sports Bureau says 294. It is the keeper of league statistics.

I’m convinced the number is 293. I’ll explain why.

In October 2014, Packers historian Cliff Christl emailed a fan’s question to me. In helping answer the query, I took a closer look at Starr’s passing during the 1964 and 1965 seasons.

Please check my work. Elias apparently can’t or won’t. Two letters and an email to them have resulted in nothing but crickets.

On Sept. 28, 1964, the Packers defeated the Lions 14-10. Starr completed 12 of 16 passes for 160 yards.

The play-by-play for that game included halftime statistics. Starr’s numbers after two quarters were exactly the same as his game totals: 12 of 16 for 160 yards.

If Starr threw a pass in the second half, it was wiped out by penalty. If not, his first-half numbers and his game numbers could not possibly agree.

According to the play-by-play, Starr’s first 10 passes in Detroit either wound up in the hands of his teammates (eight) or were incomplete (two).

Starr’s 11th toss was picked off by Detroit cornerback Bobby Thompson. The theft ended a promising Packers’ drive and cleared the stage for Starr’s record streak.

Starr fired five more passes before halftime. Not one of those was intercepted.

The nine-year veteran did play one series for Green Bay in the second half. He did let fly a pass intended for fullback Jim Taylor.

The attempt, however, did not count because of a 22-yard Lions penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

So Starr left Detroit having thrown his last five passes (Nos. 12-16) without an interception.

By early December, Starr had gotten close enough to Milt Plum’s then-NFL record (208 consecutive) to get some ink. As the Packers prepared to play the Bears on Dec. 5, Art Daley of the Green Bay Press-Gazette noted that Starr’s streak had reached 186.

Or had it?

In order, here are Starr’s attempts for the games that fell between the Lions in late September and the Bears in early December: Vikings (21), 49ers (22), Colts (33), Rams (23), Vikings (18), Lions (20), 49ers (5), Browns (18) and Cowboys (20).

No matter how often I add those numbers, I always get 180. Throw in the five from Detroit and that’s 185 in a row, not 186.

Daley, the NFL and I all agree on the number of throws that occurred during the Bears contest and those in the games that followed. Starr’s amazing run ended when Jim Johnson of the 49ers intercepted him on Oct. 10, 1965.

Starr’s achievement remained the NFL record until Bernie Kosar (308) surpassed it in 1991. Starr’s remarkable run occurred during a time when passers and receivers were far more vulnerable than today.

That second-half pass in Detroit – the one erased by penalty – has to be the reason the league and I disagree. I surmise that as Starr got closer to Plum, someone looked back through the play-by-plays to get his totals and inadvertently counted that play.

Twice I have sent Excel printouts to Elias showing Starr’s every pass for the 1964 and 1965 seasons. Someone there signed for my second mailing.

I am not in the habit of contacting Elias. I prefer to avoid the arrogance I have encountered there.

When I have made contact, I have been right. Late in 1991, I demonstrated that Don Hutson’s streak of 95 consecutive games with at least one pass reception was, in fact, two streaks of 50 and 44. Six years later, my line-by-line review of the play-by-play for Super Bowl I resulted in Jim Taylor getting credit for an additional three yards on a carry that had been missed.

So what, you may ask? What’s the big deal? Who cares if Starr’s streak is 293 or 294?

At one time, Elias might have. Brett Favre was originally listed as having attempted five passes as a Falcon in 1991. Years later, the bureau went back and determined he had thrown only four.

One pass made a difference then. Why not now?

I rest my case.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


By TJ Troup
Credit: Time-Life
This coming Sunday on the 9th of December the Rams travel to Soldier Field to play the Bears. The 9th of December is also the birthday of David "Deacon" Jones and Richard Marvin Butkus.

Oh yeah, as a man who relishes watching movies it is also the birthday of Kirk Douglas. If you ever have the chance try and find a way to watch Kirk and Burt Lancaster in "The Devil's Disciple"—one of the best films ever that no one hears about.

Today the saga is about the 1970 Bears. Have lots to share, and yes by this time we all know my bias (will be buried in navy blue & burnt orange). Are you ready for the background?

Here we go—the defending champion Bears of 1963 will win 33, lose 34, and tie 3 over the course of the next five years ('64-'68). There are changes in the Windy City as my coaching guru George Allen leaves to take command of the Rams. Halas steps down, and his choice to coach the Bears is Jim Dooley.

In my book "The Birth of the Modern 4-3 Defense" each team for the seven years researched is discussed in detail concerning coaching, personnel, and strategy. Using that formate lets head to Chicago and see why the 1970 Bears are one helluva fascinating team.

First, the coaching staff. This will be Dooley's third year at the helm and keeps his job though he went 1-13 in 1969 with the league rushing champion (Sayers), and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (Butkus). Ed Cody is in his sixth year coaching the offensive backs. Sid Luckman is in his last year as an advisor. Jim Ringo does an admirable job with the offensive line in his second year, and Bob Shaw in his second year does a fine job with the receivers.

Don Shinnick coaches the linebackers in his first year on staff, and he sure has some talented players to work with. Perry Moss is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Abe Gibron will fail as a head coach, but he sure did a fine job with the defensive line in his sixth year. Notice that a secondary coach is not listed above. Possibly they spent time with Shinnick, yet will surmise that Dooley attempted to form a cohesive unit with this group (he fails badly).

There are seventeen men that play for the Bears in 1970 that are in their last or only season in Chicago. The draft does bring in a couple of players that help, yet due to trades the first player selected who actually contributes is George Farmer (54th pick in the draft). George Allen was a superb defensive coach, yet his greatest contribution to Halas was his ability to judge talent, and make trades. When he leaves the front office stumbles blindly on, and makes poor decision after poor decision.

The offense of the Bears shapes up as follows: the offensive line of Randy Jackson at left tackle, Howard Mudd at left guard, Bob Hyland at center (trade from Green Bay to replace the retired Mike Pyle), right guard Jim Cadile, and right tackle Wayne Mass. Overall a solid group, but no one stands out or is deserving of Pro Bowl recognition.

When Mudd is injured he is replaced by rookie Glen Holloway (235th pick in the draft), and he does a workmanlike job as inexperienced as he is. Randy Jackson also struggles with injury and rookie Jeff Churchin tries to fill the breach.

Lugging the leather is suppose to be a Chicago Bear strength and the men who carry the ball are Ronnie Bull, Ross Montgomery, Don Shy, Craig Baynham, Mike Hull, and Ralph Kurek. Most of these men are past their prime, never had one, and would be cut from any other team in the league.
Oh, a name was left out? Yes, Mr. Gale Sayers returns for his sixth season, and after four games is injured and finished for the year (watching him chase Alan Page to the end zone on the Viking Hall of Famers 65-yard fumble return was painful).

Bob Oates was an outstanding writer for both the Los Angeles Times and Street & Smith's magazine. Quoting Mr. Oates in the 1970 issue: "(A)ny team with a Gale Sayers has a running team and the Bears still have Sayers, who in the last two years has kept them one or two in NFL rushing. With Howard Mudd now at guard in the offensive line, Sayers and the Bears will run more efficiently than ever."

Well Bob, the Bears gained just 1,092 yards total rushing in fourteen games. There is pathetic, and then there is PATHETIC. Take away the three longest runs of the season; Montgomery 38, Shy 45, and Bull 28 and Chicago gains just 981 yards on 350 attempts. This equates to 2.8 a carry.

Bobby Douglass in his second year does not play much, yet his performance in the victory over Buffalo is eye-popping. He throws four touchdown passes but watching the film of the rocket he throws to Jim Seymour in the end zone shows the power in his left arm. Jack Concannon does not run near as often as years past, and still misfires into coverage, but this is by far his best year. He actually shows signs of consistency and accuracy. Should we give credit to Coach Moss, or possibly "state street Jack" has matured?

Whatever the reasons, the Chicago Bears for the first time since 1965 have a decent passing attack. The injury to Bob Wallace limits the tight end position, as his replacements (Hester and Coady) are plodding pass catchers on a good day.

Jim Seymour shows promise, and rookie George Farmer has his moments, but the key is six-year man Dick Gordon. Brad Schultz in his book "The NFL, Year One" states "Dick Gordon was having a breakout year at wide receiver, and would eventually lead the league in catches (71) and touchdown s(13) on his way to the Pro Bowl." Film study shows him a capable route runner, with decent hands who accelerates out of his cuts and finds open areas on a variety of patterns. Gordon flashes by a number of quality corners to score. He is by far the Bears offensive MVP.
Mr. Joe Zagorski has written the definitive book on the decade of the '70's ( The NFL in the 1970s: Pro Football’s Most Important Decadeand on page 28 states "(P)erhaps the most unpredictable performance of 1970 came from Chicago Bears wide receiver Dick Gordon."

The Chicago Bears have had a long history of hard-hitting defense entering 1970, but surrendered 339 points in 1969—Ouch! There is proof from both the stats and film study that Chicago played improved defense in '70.

Let's take a look at who took the field on that side of the ball. When the Bears won the title in 1963 they had the best secondary in the league. The foursome of Dave Whitsell, Bennie McRae, Rosey Taylor and Richie Petitbon not only worked well in cohesion, they ALL could and did make the big play.

The aging Whitsell heads to expansion New Orleans and plays standout football in '67 and '68 but no corner lasts forever, and his eventual replacement at right corner is Joe Taylor. Joe always gives an effort, and is a solid player, but he struggles during the '70 season and is replaced often by Butch Davis (his only year), and Ron Smith.
Left corner Bennie McRae in his last year just does not play well. Earlier in his career, the swift, tough undersized former hurdle champion was a key component in Dooley's attempt at a nickel coverage called the "Dooley Defense". McRae would align as an outside linebacker at 186 pounds and would stop sweeping runners in their tracks, and pick off short passes. Bennie does none of this in 1970. Though not on the level of Herb Adderley or Barney—he gives the Bears everything he had for nine years. His time is done.

Rosey Taylor earned a Pro Bowl berth in 1968 but was traded to San Francisco during the middle of 1969 for Howard Mudd. Only Jim Dooley could explain why he traded a quality defender like Taylor away?

How good was Rosey? When San Francisco wins their first division title in 1970 the Len Eshmont award winner was Mr. Taylor. Since Dooley has traded this speedy, tough tackling valiant warrior; he must have a quality replacement right? Oh, Dick Daniels is not going to make any all-star teams? In fact, this is his last year in Chicago and is often replaced by athletic Garry Lyle at free safety.

Daniels misses tackles, and is out of position on deep passes way too often. Lee Calland could not keep a starting assignment in either Minnesota or Atlanta. Calland is released by Atlanta on October 29th, 1968 and signed by the George Allen Rams. Calland is then traded to Chicago for veteran strong safety Richie Petitbon.

Calland never suits up for the Bears, and is off to Pittsburgh to play for a 1-13 team, while Petitbon gives the Rams two savvy seasons. Richie did not have one of his better years in '68, and the blown coverage in the devastating loss to Green Bay to close the season might be laid at his doorstep? Possibly Dooley and Richie did not see eye to eye? Dooley "gave" this outstanding player away for nothing.

The starting strong safety for the Bears in '69 was castoff George Youngblood, and he is possibly the worst starting strong safety in the league. So, who starts in '70 you ask? Phil Clark is stiff in coverage, pedestrian slow in pursuit, and an average tackler at best.

The best defensive back on the team is Ron Smith. He starts at right corner to begin the year and also sees plenty of action at strong safety. This group finishes 25th in the defensive passer rating category with a mark of 79.5 (league average is 65.6). Since the Bear defense of '70 is improved; somebody must be doing a helluva job.

The right defensive end is veteran wild man Ed O'Bradovich, and he still gives an effort on every play. A solid pass rusher, who pursues well, and fights left offensive tackles every down. The right defensive tackle comes in a trade with Cincinnati in the form of Big Bill Staley. An adequate pass rusher, who mans the fort well on running plays.
George Seals was a quick, strong offensive guard who is moved to defensive tackle. Seals sheds blocks well, pursues with a vengeance, and can and does crush the interior pass pocket. His forced fumble sack of Bob Berry in Atlanta was one of the best plays by a Bear defender all year. Since we have men like Olsen and Greene in the league; Mr. Seals gets no recognition, but he sure played strong football in 1970.

The NFL did not have a "most improved player award", but if they did Willie Holman would have been a finalist for the award. Carl Eller, Deacon Jones, and Claude Humphrey all play left defensive end, and are in the Hall of Fame. Willie Holman got more sacks (14) in 1970 than any of them! Every technique is textbook, and he and Seals are outstanding on the end/tackle stunt.
Chicago finished third in the league in sacks with 42 (at least 32 by this quartet). The Bears in a trade with Green Bay acquire Lee Roy Caffey. He is very fast for a big man, experienced, and played championship football for Lombardi when he felt like it. Benched for his lackadaisical play at times, the Bears need a right linebacker, and Caffey should help right? Though he plays solid football at times the first half of the campaign in his only year in Chicago he is replaced often by undersized rookie Ross Brupbacher (100th pick in the draft). Ross is learning his lessons quickly and will go on to give Chicago some strong seasons.
Doug Buffone is a terrific storyteller and in his long career, he saw plenty to tell about. Doug was also a quality left or strong side linebacker. He played the sweep well, and when asked to blitz he came with purpose. His main strength was in zone pass coverage where his instincts and experience limited opponents. Buffone intercepted four passes in '70 to lead the team. Some of the plays he demonstrates athleticism and sure hands. He worked extremely well with the middle linebacker of the Bears.
The magazines of this era usually had feature articles on the best quarterbacks or running backs (there were plenty to choose from), but in November of 1970 Sport magazine did an article on Richard Marvin Butkus. The title of the article by Gary Cartwright is my title for this saga. Though could go hours with why he is the best of his generation, and probably of all-time—let's focus on 1970.

He is continually around the ball carrier and arrives in a bad mood bent on destruction. His blitz of Norm Snead to finalize the Bear victory over Philadelphia is a classic. His range on zone coverage is incredible when you figure how big he is. Excellent angles on his pass drops, and soft sure hands.

Opponents gained 1,471 yards rushing against Chicago. Detroit and Minnesota ground out yards with punishing rushing attacks, yet the longest run of the year against the Bears was just 23 yards. The Chicago front seven led by Butkus were the best in the league in run pursuit. Rather than go through all fourteen games; will end this saga with the final game ever in Wrigley Field.

Green Bay won eight of the ten games in Wrigley in the decade of the '60's. The Packer victory over the Bears earlier in the year in Green Bay was another of veteran Bart Starr's ability to lead his team down the field when it counted most (Packers won 20-19). Since the Bears began the year 2-0 they have now won just twice in their last ten games.

Today on December 13th would be different as the offense and defense both contributed. Green Bay goes three and out, and Concannon drives the Bears 89 yards to score (all 89 yards came on pass plays). Butkus sacks Starr, and the Packers again punt. Concannon gains 54 yards on his two completions and he hooks up with Farmer for 42 yards and the score.

Jack has begun the game 5 of 5 for 143 yards and two touchdowns! Late in the first quarter, Dale Livingston puts Green Bay on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal. On that drive, Starr is injured and is replaced by Patrick. The only score in the second quarter is Concannon running 15 yards to score. Hall of Famer Willie Wood pilfers Jack's first pass of the second half, but the Bears recover a Carroll Dale fumble to avert disaster. Mac Percival misses a 44-yard field goal attempt, but get the ball right back on a Dick Daniels interception. The short drive to score is Dick Gordon's league leading 13th touchdown catch of the season.

Late in the 3rd quarter, Green Bay advances to their own forty-seven, but the Chicago pass rush led by Willie Holman registers two sacks, and Anderson again punts. Linzy Cole of the Bears fumbles and the Packers move right down the field and score on a Donny Anderson 7-yard run. Chicago responds with a 69-yard scoring march as Concannon gains 69 yards on his four completions.

Though Chicago leads 35-10 there is never going to be a Packer team that does not give its' all in a game against the Bears. Doug Hart partially blocks Bobby Joe Green's punt (one of only three punts Green had in his 14-yearcareer) and the Packers begin on their own forty-nine late in the game with Rick Norton now at quarterback.

Though the youngster is sacked twice on the drive, the Packers find the end zone one last time on a 29-yard toss from Norton to Hilton. The Bears close the season with a road victory over New Orleans to finish 6-8.

The challenge in evaluating any team is not only looking at the statistics but studying game film. A Bear team that scores only three rushing touchdowns all season and is outgained all year brings about questions of just how good are they? The Bears scored only 37 points in the 3rd quarter all year which begs the question of how good was this coaching staff at half-time adjustments? Chicago also lost the turnover battle for the year, yet somehow managed to win six games.