Monday, April 25, 2022

Pro Football Journal All-1970s Underrated

By John Turney
To make this team these players cannot have been selected to the Official NFL All-Decade Team or be in the Hall of Fame but they can have been selected All-Pro or been voted to Pro Bowls. Their careers can have spilled over from the 1960s a bit and into the 1980s (a bit). Mostly, they are 1970s players who were, in our view, somewhat overlooked in the annals of history. 

Also note that this is not some definitive list, anyone could make their own list with totally different players and it would be just as valid, but we like ours. So, enjoy—
QB—Bert Jones
Ret—Terry Metcalf
ST—Rusty Tillman

There were several centers to choose from but we went with Bob Johnson who was tall (6-5) and solid his entire career. Doug Wilkerson was one of the naturally strongest guards in the NFL and one of the fastest. He was good in pass protection and could pull and lead sweeps as well as any of the guards of his era. We picked Bob Young over Ed White because we'd put White more with a 1975-85 underrated team but they were similar strong-men players.  
Bob Chandler
Bob Chandler was the ideal possession receiver and Harold Jackson was a great deep threat but also could work underneath, he was not a one-trick pony. Raymond Chester started the decade as a Pro Bowler (1970-72) and ended it as one (1979). 

Bert Jones will always be underrated because injuries just ruined his career. In terms of talent, we think he was right there with John Elway and Aaron Rodgers (arm, legs, brains—the whole package). 

Chuck Foreman and Lydell Mitchell were dual threats, running and receiving who could get you 1,000 yards on the ground and catch 50-60 passes as well. 

Lyle Alzado
Cedrick Hardman
Alzado cheated. We suspect he's not the only one that did in the 1970s. And 1980s. And beyond. He was a good run defender and a guy who could also get to the quarterback. Hardman led the NFL in sacks in the 1970s though he was not all the conscientious about stopping the run.

Sherk was the NEA Defensive Player of the year n 1976 was always in on a lot of tackles and came back from a knee injury in 1977 to play well in 1978 and 1979 (12 sacks that year). Larry Brooks gave some of the best guards (Gene Upshaw and John Hannah) tough times. He was devastating at the point of attack and pursued well and could get good inside pressure as well. 
Jerry Sherk

Larry Brooks
Bill Bergey could get into holes and make stops and could also show up in coverage and pick off passes and had that proverbial "nose for the football". Van Pelt was a tall, athletic linebacker who was always playing his guts out for the Giants. Villapiano was making a lot of big plays for the Raider defenses in the 1970s, picking off passes, and making big hits. He was someone who was always noticeable.

Lemar Parrish was someone teams avoided throwing at because he had the ability to wreck a game plan. He was smart, somewhat of a gambler, a poor man's Deion Sanders in a way. He was also an excellent returner in his first few years. Willie Buchanon toiled for some poor Packers teams and came back from a couple serious injuries and still was productive. As coverage goes, he was as good as any.

Smart and tough describes Jake Scott. He was great with the Dolphins then was still very fine finishing off his career with Washington. Bill Thompson never had a bad year including when he began as a cornerback in 1969 through 1981, just a smart, steady, coach-on-the-field type.

John James was in the shadow of Ray Guy but he had a good net average and got his punts off quickly enough to avoid having too many blocked. Fritsch had a good average and had a good leg and seemed to make a lot of clutch kicks.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and Rick Upchurch overshadowed Terry Metcalf who could take both a kick or a punt back on you and was an excellent receiving back as well. Several special teams demon could have been picked, all of them are underrated but we went with Tillman. He was a key to George Allen's special teams in the 1970s and later became one of the best-ever special teams coaches in the NFL, most notable with the Seahawks. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

Did Stats, LLC., Change the Definition of "Stuffs"— Or Did ESPN?

By John Turney 

In 1992 Stats, Inc., as it was known then, introduced a statistic called "stuffs". Simply put it was a tackle for a loss on a run play. Stats, LLC., (STATS) as they are now known tracked store plays ever since. 

For years ESPN used those stats on their online player profiles. Here is the Aaron Donald page screengrab—

We've highlighted the "STF" or "stuff" column for 2015 and 2021. You'll notice that his career-high is 16 in 2021. Next is 13 in 2015. Well, not so fast.

In 2021 either STATS changed their definition to include tackles for no gains (and for pass plays for no gain and for a loss) or ESPN is using another source for stuffs. We don't know which. 

Here are the 2015 plays in question. You can see the ones for losses total 13.5 (The above chart shows 13, we think that is a rounding thing for the chart). But if you add in the tackles for no gain, using the method that STATS used the total would be 17—

For 2021 the plays in question total 10.5 (using the STATS method for stuffs) that were for a loss. But if you add in the tackles for no game it totals 16—the career-high in the ESPN bio above—

The point? Simple. You cannot always compare stat totals in the same bio unless you know how they were kept and some of the media outlets don't let you know when changes were made.

Using the old method (counting tackles made in the backfield only Donald's 2021 total is 10.5 stuffs, not 16. If you use the "new" method his career-high is 2015, not 2021.

it does not matter which method is used, whether one considered a "stuff" to be for no gain and for losses or for just losses, it just matters that they all be counted consistently.

Don't get us started on NFLGSIS's tackles for loss, that is confusing. 

SO, when someone tells you Aaron Donald had 16 stuffs in 2021, they are right. But they are also telling you something that puffs up his total in relation to previous seasons. And this applies to all the ESPN bios found online. Someone, we suppose, just decided that plays for no gain count as a stuff and didn't go back and conform all the previous years to that same standard.

That makes it confusing. It does not take away the terrific play by Donald in 2021 (or any year) it doesn't matter in the abstract if his career-high in stuffs in 2015 or 2021 but if you are going to count things it only makes sense to count the consistently. 
If anyone knows the source ESPN is using for their bios, please let us know. We'd love to get further information to sort this out—If STATS is the provider and they changed or if ESPN is using their own inhouse stats (ESPN Sports & Information) to populate their bio charts.

Now, a discussion for another day is how Donald was credited with 46 assisted tackles in 2021 when his career-high before this year was 26. Bottom line: Tackle stats are hard to trust.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

1947: "Kicking the Dirt on the Fire"

By TJ Troup 
During the 55 games played in 1946, NFL teams combined to gain 15,736 yards passing—an average of 286 yards a game. The NFL increased the number of games played in 1947 to twelve, thus a 60 game season. 

Passers pitched the pigskin all over the field during this remarkable year and gained 21,670 yards—an average of 361 yards a game and a 75-yard per-game increase! Never before had the league shown such an increase in passing yardage. How and why did this happen? 

Yes, teams still did run the ball, and a prime example was in Green Bay where the Packers attempted at least 50 running plays in both games against the Lions. When did that ever happen before? Having studied the stats and watched game film of all the teams, and of course, the men who threw the ball came away with the following; ready? 

Here goes...

The T-formation was used with more frequency, and with the use of motion and alignments with three receivers to one side of the field defenses did not have skilled pass defenders to stop, or even limit the passing game. Though all the teams still aligned in either a 6-2 or 5-3 defense; much more often you saw defenses attempt to combine some form of hybrid zone coupled with man coverage. 

Many defensive coaches had never seen these offensive alignments, and when you add to that the confidence level by passers and receivers as they controlled this territorial game via the air lanes...the passing game was not only here to stay, but would continue to evolve. 
The passer rating became part of the NFL statistically in 1973, yet we can evaluate the passers by using this valuable tool. The 1946 leader was Sid Luckman with a mark of 71.0. He tied Bob Waterfield for the league lead in touchdown passes with 17. Luckman ranked third in '47 with a mark of 67.7, but he threw for an impressive 24 touchdowns. 
The Bears had a history of using backs as receivers, and that continued in '47 as George McAfee shined in catching the ball. Luckman had two outstanding ends in Ken Kavanaugh, and Jim Keane. The Bears were the only team in the league to have both ends catch at least one pass in every game. Luckman in October threw for over 300 yards in back-to-back games—unheard of for that era. Back to the key question of who did lead the league in passer rating? 
Why none other than Slingin' Sammy Baugh with a mark of 92.0 He ranked sixth in '46 with a mark of 54.2, so why such an improvement? Clark Shaughnessey joined the Redskins as an offensive advisor, and though we don't know how well they worked together; there is no doubt that Sam took to this new improved version of the T-formation, and we have Baugh finding an ever better receiver out of the backfield than Steve Bagarus was in 1945 in Bob Nussbaumer. Bob caught at least one pass in every game, and demonstrated an ability to run every type of "underneath" pass pattern to get open. Nussbaumer finished second in the league with 47 receptions. 
Rookie Hugh Taylor exploded on the scene on opening day with 212 yards on 8 receptions, and though he could not sustain that kind of production he forced defenses to focus on him when he was in the game. The rest of the ends on Washington were plodding slow, yet Sam got them the ball. The rest of the backs also caught passes here and there as Baugh set three new league records. When the Redskins lost to Green Bay on October 19th Baugh completed passes to NINE different Washington receivers! There is no way he would do that the next week against the defending league champion Bears right? Right? Ten different Redskin receivers caught passes in the 56-20 loss. 

Washington was the first team to have five different players have a 100-yard receiving game in a season. Taylor caught at least one pass in all ten games he played, and to finish off Washington, and this is amazing; on Wednesday, November 26th when the weekly league leader stats came out, Washington had five men (Nussbaumer, Saenz, Taylor, Duckworth, and Poillon) among the league leaders, five of the top ten in the Eastern Conference! 

Watching film of Sam throwing the ball is a joy to behold but he was not the only passer to have success in 1947. Tommy Thompson directed the Philadelphia Eagle attack with aplomb, and when you have a runner like Van Buren thundering through defenses; the opposition just might not be ready for a pass. 
Black Jack Ferrante and Neil Armstrong shared the left end position. They played well, yet the key was rookie right end and future Hall of Famer Pete Pihos. During a five-game stretch at one point in the season the Eagles gained just 540 yards passing on 39 completions, yet in each of those games there was at least one completion for a minimum of 35 yards! 

Thompson and the Eagles usually threw short, but every game they burned an opponent with a big passing play to augment the potent Philadelphia running attack. When you set team records passing you should be remembered by the folks that cheer for that team.....yet Clyde LeForce is rarley mentioned in Lion history. Rookie LeForce shared the quarterback position with veteran Roy Zimmerman in a vastly improved Detroit air attack.

Zimmerman's best game by far came against the Giants as he completed 9 out of 10 for 143 yards. The next week Roy was awful, and LeForce takes command under center. He is the first Detroit Lion to ever throw for over 300 yards in a game, as Clyde was masterful against Washington in November. In that game he also threw four touchdown passes, thus now with 18 TD passes the Lions had set another team record (the old record was 16 in set in 1944). Detroit, for first time in team history, threw for over 2,000 yards as a team, old record was 1,674, so they bettered the mark by almost 800 yards. John Greene came on strong as the season progressed, and gained over 100 receiving in the loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving. 

The Packer defense focused on the veteran receiver in the December game, and with Zimmerman sharing time with Margucci at quarterback in the league finale Ralph Heywood latched onto 5 passes for 128 yards. Bob Snyder in his lone season as head coach of the Rams fielded a team that was strong on young talent in many areas, yet the foundation was built upon quarterback Bob Waterfield and left end Jim Benton. 

Benton led the NFL in receiving yards for the past two years, but now in his last campaign he discovered he was very popular with defenders around the league since everywhere he went on a pass route there were linebackers and defensive halfbacks waiting for him. Though he caught passes in every game but one; he was not near as productive as the two previous seasons. Not once all year did a Ram catch passes for over 100 yards. Possibly the lack of production by Benton was a cause of Bob Waterfield's less than stellar season? 

During a seven-game stretch he had a passer rating of 17.5—yes, youngsters you read that correctly. Jim Hardy came off the bench and had a few decent performances, but otherwise, the Ram passing game was average at best. Halfback Jack Banta weaved his way through the New York Giant defense for 64 yards—this is the only time a Ram receiver gained over 50 yards on a pass play all year. Owner Dan Reeves reached the conclusion that Snyder's offense was not well suited for his "franchise" quarterback. Since Shaughnessy spiced up the Redskin air attack, Reeves hired him to replace Snyder, and hopefully spark some life into the Los Angeles air game. 

Indian Jack Jacobs saved his best for last during 1947 as he completed 26 of 55 for 319 yards against the Lions and Eagles in December. Ranking among the league leaders in receiving all year were ends Goodnight & fact, Goodnight caught at least one pass in every game, and Luhn would have joined him, but was shut out by the vastly improved Cardinal secondary in October. Seemed like Indian Jack only focused on them as the game against the Lions in late October showed. The record-setting Green Bay running attack ground the Lions into the turf—maybe that is why it is called the ground game? That afternoon Luhn & Goodnight caught all seven of Jacobs completions. Luhn & Goodnight both had 100-yard receiving games during the year. 

The defending Eastern Conference champion Giants started Niles at tailback to begin the season. He showed he just did not have the talent to succeed in the NFL. Coach Owen shifted athletic Frank Reagan to tailback against Washington in October as the New York passing attack showed some life, but the next week against Boston the Giants gained only 120 yards on 13 completions, and the Mara family pulled the trigger on a blockbuster in season trade. 
Former league rushing champion Bill Paschal went to Boston, and the Yanks heralded "pitcher" Paul Governali came to New York. Though the Giants lost to the Eagles in November Paul pitched passes through the Philadelphia defense for 341 yards! The highlight of the season though for New York and Governali was his performance against the 'Skins in December as he gained 255 yards on just 12 completions, with four going for touchdowns. 

Many men got an opportunity to catch the ball for the Giants during the campaign but New York did not have a 100-yard receiver all year. When Governali left Boston the number one question was simply, who now plays quarterback for us? Boley Dancewicz played well in the loss to the Lions early in the season, thus he was thrust into the triggerman role, and the youngster sure had his moments. When your team gains 26 yards rushing on 24 attempts you are going to lose. 

Ok, there are some teams that take a while to become productive running the ball...oh, the Yanks are not one of those teams? The upset win over a powerful Eagle team brought the 'Skins to Boston on the last day of November. 

Having the beautiful color film shot from classic angles is a joy to watch, yet the real joy was viewing Don Currivan set a league record. He switched jersey numbers that afternoon and he gained 181 yards on just three catches. Currivan's burst of speed took him by the Burgundy and Gold in victory for the Yanks. 

Currivan did not catch a pass on opening day, so he caught at least one in the final 11 games of the year, but much more important, he had a nine-game streak where he caught 18 passes for 680 yards, averaging 37.7 a catch! 

Lanky Hal Crisler was the key target early in the year, and he caught passes in ten of the twelve games; thus Dancewicz had two fine ends to pass to. 

When you look at the receiving leaders section of the weekly leaders page the league puts can't help but notice that the NFL made errors on Currivan's weekly production. Can this crusty old warhorse/researcher figure out which games? Just not sure, yet takes nothing away from the new lethal passing combination of Dancewicz to Currivan. Bet you knew that.

Dr. Jock Sutherland knew he could and would have success with his single-wing attack in the Steel City. The trade of Dudley to Detroit meant someone else was going to play tailback in Pittsburgh. Johnny "Zero" Clement was effective and productive luggin' the leather, yet his passing was a key reason why Pittsburgh was going to earn a playoff berth. 

Exhaustive film study of the single-wing tells us that the formation can have multiple alignments, and become a nightmare for defenses with misdirection, and passes thrown against unsuspecting defenders. Clement was a much more accurate passer than his predecessor Bill Dudley, and when you have him firing the ball on wingback reverses, and tailback rollouts..the Steelers finally have a varied and productive offense. Will the Black and Gold run the ball? Is a blast furnace in Pittsburgh hot? Blocking backs, fullbacks, wingbacks and of course, ends got the chance to latch onto the pigskin. 

Through the first nine games of the year with the exception of the blowout loss to the Rams the Steelers had their fair share of long gainers each week with their air attack. Val Jansante was an excellent left end for Pittsburgh, but no Steeler receiver will ever gain over 100 yards receiving for Dr. Jock...just not going to happen, but Jansante did catch at least one pass in every game. When Johnny Clement got hurt early in the Bear game, the passing game struggled. 

Walt Slater had completed a few passes when he played tailback substituting for Clement all year, but he could not carry the load. Gonzalo Morales completed just 8 of 27 for 78 yards and threw four interceptions in the back-to-back losses to the Bears and Eagles. One more victory and the Black & Gold earn a playoff berth. Slater gains 68 yards on his five completions in the regular-season win over Boston, and he also gains 70 yards rushing. He just was not Johnny Clement. 

Looking at the season stats of the Chicago Cardinals during almost any year in the early '40s would quickly tell you this is not a very talented team. Enter a coach with a plan—Mr. Jimmy Conzelman. Executing that plain in the T-formation was Paul Christman. Joe Ziemba's outstanding book details the growth for Christman in '45 & '46. Chicago now has two teams that truly believe they are going to be champions. Who are those teams you ask? Why the defending champion Bears, and the new kids on the block from the southside...the Cardinals. 
The balanced Cardinal offense demonstrates over and over all year they can run the ball, and they sure can pass the ball. The Lions and Cardinals had a few games of offensive futility in years past, but opening day off the bench rookie Ray Mallouf completes 5 of 7 for 110 yards. Very impressive when you add to that—the starter Paul Christman threw for over 300 yards as Chicago set a team record for yards passing in a game. Billy Dewell and Mal Kutner will be among the league leaders in receiving all year. 

Five times in '46 a Cardinal gained over 1000 yards receiving in a game, and they matched that in 1947. Dimanchef and Trippi were fine receivers out of the backfield or in motion and then running a pass route, but the offense centered around Christman getting the ball to his two very talented ends. Since this is still single platoon football we have men who will catch a touchdown pass, and intercept in the same game. How many times in 1947 you ask? Eleven times, and twice Kutner accomplished this feat. We even had two men do it in the same game when Compagno of the Steelers and Pritchard of the Eagles accomplished the "double". 

Sport Reference had decided to keep me on retainer, and my first project for them in 2022 is to list every individual pass attempt for the entire league, Yes folks it is possible to list all 2,991 passing attempts, and accomplished. There is always the possibility of an error, yet have double-checked my "work", and with the valuable resources I have...a story can be written from the stats. Would relish questions and comments from any and all of you out there in football land.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

1966 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
From 1961 to 65, then in 1967, and then from 1969 on there was some form of an All-Rookie team from the United Press International, the Oakland Tribune, Football Digest, and later the Pro Football Writers of America and others. 

However, no teams—that we are aware of—exist in 1966 and 1968. So, Pro Football Journal decided to fill in the holes.

The Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News was Tommy Nobis and the UPI Rookie of the Year was Johnny Roland.

Here is the 1966 iteration—
Pro Football Journal
1966 All-Rookie
C Fred Hoaglin, Cle
G Bob Kowalkowski, Det
G Tom Mack, LA
T Doug Davis, Min
T Willie Young, NYG
WR Ben Hawkins, Phi
WR Dick Witcher, SF
TE Milt Morin, Cle
QB Randy Johnson, Atl
RB Johnny Roland, StL
RB Willie Asbury, Pit
E Willie Townes, Dal
E Gary Pettigrew, Phi
T Walt Barnes, Was
T Don Davis, NYG
MLB Tommy Nobis, Atl
LB Don Hansen, Min
LB Jeff Smith, NYG
DB Ken Reeves, Atl
DB Brig Owens, Was
DB Ernie Kellermann, Cle
DB Bob Riggle, Atl
K Charlie Gogolak, Was
P David Lee, Bal

1968 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

By John Turney 
Since, as far as we are aware, there was no All-Rookie team chosen for 1968, we at Pro Football Journal are picking one retroactively for that season. We did one for 1966 to fill in that year. Other organizations at the time picked ones for 1961-65, 1967, 1969 to the present. We picked teams from 1952-60 as well. 

Earl McCullouch was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year was Claude Humphrey, the Falcons defensive end. The Sporting News and UPI Rookie of the Year was  McCullouch.

The team— Pro Football Journal
1968 All-Rookie
C Gene Ceppetelli, Phi
G Mark Nordquist, Phi
G Steve Duich, Atl
T Cas Banaszek, SF
T Wayne Mass, Chi
WR Earl McCullouch, Det
WR Cecil Turner, Chi
TE Charlie Sanders, Det
QB Virgil Carter, Chi
RB Terry Cole, Bal
RB Bobby Duhon, NYG
E Claude Humphrey, Atl
E Larry Cole, Atl
T Dennis Crane, Was
T Carlton Dabney, Atl
LB Henry Davis, NYG
LB Jamie Rivers, Stl
LB Tom Roussel, Was
DB Gene Howard, NO
DB Bob Atkins, StL
DB Jim Smith, Was
DB Johnny Fuller, SF
K Don Cockroft, Cle
P Mike Bragg, Was

Charles Mann—A Complete End

 ​By John Turney 
Charles Mann didn’t play organized football until his final year of high school. He wanted to play and even snuck in a season of Pop Warner without his mother knowing but that was halted quickly when she found him out. Finally, in his senior year, he began to play football and played well. In that one season as a tight end and defensive tackle he earned two scholarship offers from the University of Nevada and Oregon State deciding on Nevada.

At the University of Nevada, he led the Big Sky Conference with 14 sacks as a senior and was voted the Conference’s Most Valuable Defensive Lineman and an All-American. Later (1995) he was named to the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame.

At 6-6, 235, he was tall, lean, and pretty fast—running a 4.7 forty. However, he lacked bulk and strength. Nonetheless, Washington noticed his potential and in 1983 drafted him in the third round of the 1983 NFL draft.

In his first year, he was part of the team that went 14-2 in the regular season and advanced to the Super Bowl but lost to the Raiders. In 1984, after gaining 15 pounds of muscle, he was the starting left defensive end, gaining the weight to "not take the pounding he did at 235." That year he began to make his mark on the NFL.

By his third year, he was 270 pounds and led the team in sacks with 14½, which was third-best in the NFL. He was really a star to scouts but not yet one to the fans or even the writers of the NFL not gaining many post-season honors. It would be two more seasons before he made a Pro Bowl or even a Second-team All-NFL selection. 

It was also an era in which there were a lot of star defensive ends competing for few All-Pro slots, players like his own teammate Dexter Manley, Howie Long, Mark Gastineau, and others.

However, he and Manley were considered one of the best defensive end tandems in the NFL in the mid-to-late 1980s but Manley, the more flamboyant of the two got most of the publicity. Mann just kept his head down and did his job. Both, though, were productive. 

Mann had what scouts call "base"—the ability to stay lower than blockers, to hold his ground against base blocks. Often shorter defensive ends are the ones most associated with the term "base". However taller ones can too if they play with good technique, keep low, use their arms and knee bend to not allow blockers to move them back or to the side. Mann did that.

The Washington defense of the 1980s was George Allen's. Richie Petitbon kept the same principles that Allen did during his tenure there, using, for the most part, the same playbook. Sure, the coverages were updated and changed to keep up with the passing rules changes and the explosion of the passing game in the 1980s as opposed to the 1990s but the principles were the same, especially for the linemen.

It was a "get-up-the-field" affair for the ends and play the run when it "showed".  So, at 6-6, he was not someone who could be "run at"—he played his techniques well. But since he and Manley were getting up the field, after the passer, they always had good pressure because they could shed blockers well if run "showed". 

However, Mann was known as a better run-stopper because he was able to read when a play was a run could control blockers with his long arms and then play the base block or the trap and not be blown out of the hole or down blocked by the tight end, which was more often than not on his side. One thing scouts noted that Mann lacked was a closing burst like "A Bruce Smith of Reggie White," but then again, few did. Both had good motors—Mann, especially, would get "hustle sacks" looping around the back and catch a quarterback that was flushed out the left side of the pocket.

In 1994 Mann signed with the 49ers and it wasn't a shining success. Said Mann, "My last year I was in a system I never played before and I didn't fit in. It was like you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I've never been a passive player and in that system the coaches want you to be passive. The 49ers wanted you to take on your blocker and open up gaps for the linebacker behind you and that is not my game."

The Redskins were one of the top teams in the NFL and were in playoff contention nearly every season during that time, winning two Super Bowl, one in 1987 and another in 1991.

In 1987, Washington was dominant and Mann led the defense with 9½ sacks. Washington rolled into the playoffs and then crushed the Denver Broncos 42-10 to win Super Bowl XXII. 

The Redskins made it back to the Super Bowl again in the 1991 season, led by their staunch defense with Mann again leading the team with 11 sacks. In Super Bowl XXVI, they held the Buffalo Bills offense to only 43 rushing yards and sacked quarterback four times in a 37-24 victory.

After his 11th season in Washington, the Redskins traded Charles to San Francisco. He played only one year there but he closed out his career with one more Super Bowl title, helping the 49ers to win Super Bowl XXIX over the San Diego Chargers.   

He was named to the Pro Bowl four times and was Second-team All-Pro in 1987 and 1991 and had 83 sacks during his 12-year career. He was named as one of the 70 greatest Redskins of all time and is in the Washington Redskins Ring of Fame is a three-time Super Bowl Champion.

After his career, Mann was a successful entrepreneur operating Charles Mann Enterprises and was involved in several charitable organizations including the Good Samaritan Foundation which he founded.  

Career stats—

Friday, April 1, 2022

Ken Strong Football Kicking Techniques Book (1950)

By Chris Willis, NFL Films 
Ken Strong, New York Giants

Today PFJ looks back at a football book written by one of the NFL’s best kickers and all-around players, Ken Strong. Big and athletic, the 6-0, 206-pound Strong played 12 seasons (131 games) in the NFL for two teams, the Staten Island Stepletons and the New York Giants. He also played two seasons in the rival AFL (1936-1937) with the New York Yanks. After retiring briefly (1940-43), he came back to play for the Giants, mainly as a kicker, until 1947. “(Strong) was not only a great power runner with speed, but he was an excellent defensive halfback…after Ken’s defensive days with the Giants ended, he became the Giants’ all-around kicker. He was recognized as the greatest kicker of his era,” said Mel Hein, former Giants Hall of Fame center and teammate.

Strong was a great athlete, strong runner, solid receiver, could return kicks, and was a great defensive player. He was a member of 1934 Giants team that won the NFL Championship that season. In the Championship Game, he played a huge part in the Giants’ comeback to win the “Sneakers Game” against the undefeated Bears, 30-13. In the game he rushed 9 times for 94-yards and 2 TDs, he also had 2 catches for 17-yards, kicked 1 FG and 2 XPs—accounting for 17 of the Giants 30 points. In two other NFL Championship Games he scored TDs (1933 vs Bears, lost, 23-21; and 1935 a 42-yd. TD catch vs Lions, lost 26-7).

In his career he scored 484 points (his 324 points with the Giants was a team record, broken by Frank Gifford with 484). He also scored 34 total TDs (24 rush.; 7 rec.; 2 punt ret.; 1 INT ret.) and was one of the few fullbacks that would return kicks, had 2 career punt returns for TDs

Ken Strong, ball carrier New York Giants vs Detroit Lions

But his best trait was one of the game’s best kickers. He made 38 career FGs and was 111 of 166 on XPs kicks. He led the NFL in points in 1933 (66) and in FGs made in 1931 (2) and in 1944 (6). Finished 3rd in scoring in 1930 (53 points; McBride- 56; V. Lewellen- 54); 4th in 1931 (behind Blood- 84, Nevers- 66; D. Clark- 60). Five times he finished in the Top 5 in FGs made (1933-35, 1939, 1944). Even later in his career he was an effective place-kicker, booting for the Giants until he retired after the 1947 season at the age of 41.

He was selected to the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team…Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1967…NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, Kicker Runner-Up, 1969…Giants jersey no. 50 retired…First-team All-Pro by Green Bay Press-Gazette (GBPG) in 1930, 1933-1934; by Collyers in 1930-1931, 1933-1934; by Chicago Daily News in 1933-1934; and by UP in 1931…Second Team by GBPG in 1929; by Collyers in 1929; and by UP in 1934…Third-team by GBPG in 1935.

Ken Strong kicking with Giants QB Ed Danowski as holder

After he retired Ken Strong decided to write a football book on kicking. He teamed up with Emil Brodbeck a freelance writer who had written articles for Good Housekeeping and Boys’ Life and would write a best-selling book titled The Handbook of Basic Motion Picture Techniques. The two would author Football Kicking Techniques: A Player’s Guide to Better Punting, Place kicking and drop kicking.

Published in 1950 by McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York) the book was 133 total pages with 68 pictures. The Forward was written by the dean of sportswriters, Grantland Rice. “In view of the book and film they have produced Strong and Brodbeck have my vote for an All-American team in teaching the real know-how of football kicking…He has proved his ability to write and teach (Brodbeck). Together, Strong and Brodbeck are a power-packed team of kicking instruction.”

The book consists of three parts and 13 chapters.

Part One: Grounding the Kicker

Chapter 1- Balance and Off-Balance

Chapter 2- Stance

Chapter 3- The Kicking Steps

Chapter 4- The Kicking-foot area

Chapter 5- The Ball-Handling Zone

Chapter 6- Kicking Action with the Legs

Chapter 7- The Shoes

Part Two: The Punt

Chapter 8- End-over-end Punt

Chapter 9- The Spiral Kick

Chapter 10- Trajectory and Aim

Part Three: Place and Drop-Kicking

Chapter 11- Point of Contact in Toe Kicks

Chapter 12- Place Kicking

Chapter 13- Drop Kicking

Strong goes into great detail on the techniques of kicking, punting, and drop-kicking. The pictures enhance the readers knowledge of the football skill. Some of the photos include Strong’s son, Ken Strong, Jr. The demonstrations with father and son made this an enjoyable experience for the Football Hall of Famer. Strong wrote:

“Never underestimate the importance of the foot in football. One of the most vital advantages of a well-rounded, reliable, effective kicking offense and defense is the extra threat, the added flexibility it gives you. You can use your kicking power to set up other plays. The other team never knows what is coming next. It gives an opponent the jitters if you kick on first, second, or third down. He never knows whether a punt is going to rise out of a regular formation or a run or pass is going to come out of a punt formation. You’ve got him guessing, and, in football, surprise is at least 80 per cent of the battle.”

Ken Strong does demo with his son Ken Strong, Jr. 

The author, Emil Brodbeck, also appears in a few photos. Reviews were generally positive. Jimmy Powers of the New York Daily News wrote in his column:

“Ken Strong has written a wonderful book, “Football Kicking Techniques.” If more youngsters read it, we will see less sandlot football between highly touted, big time college elevens, where kickers, off balance, boot the ball too high, too short or directly at the enemy receivers.”

Larry Press of the Casper Star-Tribune wrote:

“Not to make this a book review column, but here’s just a little note about an interesting book that’s just reached the box. It’s ‘Football Kicking Techniques’ by Ken Strong, perhaps the most famous kicker of all time, and Emil Brodbeck…it’s easy to understand, profusely illustrated and should be interesting to the young gridder. It’s put out by McGraw-Hill publishers and goes for three bucks. That’s quite a wad of dough but anyone who wants to glimpse the book is welcome to drop up to the Trib sports department.”

Ken Strong’s book is worth the read, even 72 years after it was published.

Ken Strong does demo with co-author Emil Brodbeck