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.
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."
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.
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|