August 17, 2017

Bubba Smith

Bubba Smith passed away last week and joined his teammate John Mackey in the great Super Bowl in the sky. His playing days were a bit before my time. I mainly remember him from Miller Lite ads. I forget if he was part of the “Tastes Great” or the “Less Filling” camp, but he’d rip the cans open.

Joe Williams here calls me Mr. Connection. I caught the bug when my buddy, the White Rhino, turned me on to the Kevin Bacon game. That’s where you name an actor and try to link him to Bacon in the fewest steps. I came up with the ultimate Kevin Bacon game earlier this year; The Diner at The Center of The Universe. It transcends the screen. Bacon played Fenwick in Diner. Barry Levinson directed it and two of the other cast members were Mickey Rourke and Ellen Barkin. Bacon’s father, Edmund, was a city planner who knew Buckminster Fuller. Levinson once roomed with Boston George Jung. Jung was a drug smuggler and was played by Johnny Depp in the movie Blow. Rourke tried his fists at boxing. Freddie Roach trained him for some of his fights. Roach now trains Manny Pacquiao. Barkin was married to Ron Perelman for a while. Perelman was a buyout artist who purchased Revlon with the help of Michael Milken’s junk bonds (or high yield, if you prefer.) The worlds of genius, cocaine, boxing, and Wall Street are all within two degrees of separation from Bacon. But one connection didn’t occur to me until last week.

The movie Diner is about young men growing up in Baltimore fifty-some years ago. One of the gang, Eddie Simmons, is getting married. Before he ties the knot, though, he wants to ensure that his bride to be has a firm grasp on Colts trivia. He makes her take a 140-question test on the team. Steve Guttenberg played Simmons. Guttenberg would go on to the Police Academy movies where he’d play Carey Mahoney. Bubba Smith played Moses Hightower in those flicks.

Smith, of course was a Baltimore Colt. He played with Johnny Unitas. Unitas had a long career and he quarterbacked the team in the famous 1958 championship game. Alan Ameche ended that game with a touchdown run. Ameche was a Heisman trophy winner and he made a big splash in his NFL debut. He had a 79-yard run from scrimmage on opening day 1955 against Chicago. Tying things together, this was the answer to one of Simmons’s quiz questions: “What was the longest run from scrimmage by a rookie in his first game?”

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension— a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Red Zone.

John Mackey RIP!

Baltimore Colts legend John Mackey passed away yesterday at the age of 69. A powerful and speedy tight end, Mackey helped revolutionize the position from mostly a blocking position to another passing option downfield with the possibility of breaking it for the end zone. His 15.8 yards per catch average ranks high among all tight ends in history. In 1992, Mackey was the second tight end, after Mike Ditka, to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In tribute to the pioneering tight end, below is a listing of all players who primarily played tight end during their career and had at least 200 career receptions:

            CAREER RECEIVING LEADERS – TIGHT ENDS
PLAYER           GAMES    REC   YARDS    AVG  TDS  YEARS
Tony Gonzalez     222   1,069  12,463   11.7   88  1997-2010
SHANNON SHARPE    204     815  10,060   12.3   62  1990-2003
OZZIE NEWSOME     198     662   7,980   12.1   47  1978-90
Jason Witten      127     617   6,967   11.3   36  2003-10
KELLEN WINSLOW    109     541   6,741   12.5   45  1979-87
Antonio Gates     119     529   7,005   13.2   69  2003-10
Jeremy Shockey    121     510   5,688   11.2   33  2002-10
Frank Wycheck     155     505   5,126   10.2   28  1993-2003
Ben Coates        158     499   5,555   11.1   50  1991-2000
Steve Jordan      176     498   6,307   12.7   28  1982-94
JACKIE SMITH      210     480   7,918   16.5   40  1963-78
Todd Heap         133     467   5,492   11.8   41  2001-10
Mickey Shuler     180     462   5,100   11.0   37  1978-91
Todd Christensen  137     461   5,872   12.7   41  1979-88
Pete Retzlaff     132     452   7,412   16.4   47  1956-66*
Wesley Walls      196     450   5,291   11.8   54  1989-91,93-2003
Keith Jackson     129     441   5,283   12.0   49  1988-96
MIKE DITKA        158     427   5,812   13.6   43  1961-72
Bob Tucker        156     422   5,421   12.8   27  1970-80
Jay Novacek       158     422   4,630   11.0   30  1985-95
Jerry Smith       168     421   5,496   13.1   60  1965-77
Chris Cooley      103     420   4,638   11.0   33  2004-10
Charle Young      187     418   5,106   12.2   27  1973-85
Brent Jones       143     417   5,195   12.5   33  1987-97
Freddie Jones     123     404   4,232   10.5   22  1997-2004
Riley Odoms       153     396   5,755   14.5   41  1972-83
Russ Francis      167     393   5,262   13.4   40  1975-80,82-88
Dallas Clark      104     393   4,535   11.5   44  2003-10
Jackie Harris     167     393   4,410   11.2   25  1990-2001
Randy McMichael   132     387   4,217   10.9   24  2002-10
Pete Metzelaars   235     383   3,686    9.6   29  1982-97
DAVE CASPER       147     378   5,216   13.8   52  1974-84
Alge Crumpler     155     373   4,743   12.7   39  2001-10
Rodney Holman     212     365   4,771   13.1   36  1982-95
Raymond Chester   172     364   5,013   13.8   48  1970-81
Pete Holohan      163     363   3,981   11.0   16  1981-92
Eric Green        120     362   4,390   12.1   36  1990-99
Kellen Winslow     76     362   4,073   11.3   21  2004,06-10
Dave Parks        118     360   5,619   15.6   44  1964-73*
David Hill        176     358   4,212   11.8   28  1976-87
Ken Dilger        156     356   4,099   11.5   24  1995-2004
Mark Bavaro       126     351   4,733   13.5   39  1985-90,92-94
Jimmie Giles      188     350   5,084   14.5   41  1977-89
Marcus Pollard    192     349   4,280   12.3   40  1995-2008
Kyle Brady        197     343   3,519   10.3   25  1995-2007
Paul Coffman      154     339   4,340   12.8   42  1978-88
CHARLIE SANDERS   128     336   4,817   14.3   31  1968-77
JOHN MACKEY       139     331   5,236   15.8   38  1963-72
Jerome Barkum     158     326   4,789   14.7   40  1972-83*
Desmond Clark     162     323   3,591   11.1   27  1999-2010
Rich Caster       161     322   5,515   17.1   45  1970-82*
Tony McGee        156     322   4,089   12.7   21  1993-2003
Preston Carpenter 149     305   4,457   14.6   23  1956-67*
Jim Mitchell      155     305   4,358   14.3   28  1969-79
Doug Cosbie       144     300   3,728   12.4   30  1979-88
Bob Trumpy        128     298   4,600   15.4   35  1968-77
Dan Ross          104     290   3,419   11.8   19  1979-83,85-86
Jim Gibbons       140     287   3,561   12.4   20  1958-68
Heath Miller       92     286   3,233   11.3   29  2005-10
Pete Mitchell     114     279   2,885   10.3   15  1995-2002
Milt Morin        129     271   4,208   15.5   16  1966-75
Hoby Brenner      175     267   3,849   14.4   21  1981-93
Billy Joe DuPree  159     267   3,565   13.4   41  1973-83
John Spagnola     133     263   2,886   11.0   15  1979-82,84-89
Aaron Thomas      133     262   4,554   17.4   37  1961-70*
Bubba Franks      122     262   2,347    9.0   32  2000-08
Marv Cook         112     257   2,190    8.5   13  1989-95
Bruce Hardy       151     256   2,455    9.6   25  1978-89
Christian Fauria  191     252   2,529   10.0   22  1995-2007
Bo Scaife          90     251   2,383    9.5   12  2005-10
Dave Kocourek     115     249   4,090   16.4   24  1960-68
Stephen Alexander 118     247   2,519   10.2   14  1998-2006
Owen Daniels       65     245   2,972   12.1   17  2006-10
Don Warren        193     244   2,536   10.4    7  1979-92
Troy Drayton      122     243   2,645   10.9   24  1993-2000
Eric Johnson       71     240   2,178    9.1    9  2001-02,04,06-07
Tom Mitchell      145     239   3,181   13.3   24  1966,68-77
Vernon Davis       72     237   3,011   12.7   29  2006-10
Ed West           211     237   2,665   11.2   27  1984-97
Jermaine Wiggins  107     236   2,141    9.1   14  2000-06
Benjamin Watson    87     235   2,865   12.2   23  2004-10
L.J. Smith         98     233   2,556   11.0   18  2003-09
Ron Hall          119     230   2,609   11.3   10  1987-95
Ron Kramer        128     229   3,272   14.3   16  1957,59-67
Chad Lewis        116     229   2,361   10.3   23  1997-2005
Zach Miller        62     226   2,712   12.0   12  2007-10
Emery Moorehead   158     224   2,980   13.3   15  1977-88
Henry Childs      103     223   3,401   15.3   28  1974-81,84
Monty Stickles    115     222   3,199   14.4   16  1960-68
Mike Barber       129     222   2,788   12.6   17  1976-85
Daniel Graham     126     222   2,465   11.1   24  2002-10
Rickey Dudley     108     221   3,024   13.7   33  1996-2004
Jay Riemersma     112     221   2,524   11.4   23  1997-2004
Bob Klein         145     219   2,687   12.3   23  1969-79
Alvin Reed        116     214   2,983   13.9   14  1967-75
Eric Sievers      122     214   2,485   11.6   16  1981-90
Ethan Horton      116     212   2,360   11.1   17  1985,87,89-94
Willie Frazier    121     211   3,111   14.7   36  1964-72,75
Andrew Glover     153     208   2,478   11.9   24  1991-2000
Visanthe Shiancoe 128     207   2,268   11.0   24  2003-10
Dave Moore        220     207   2,028    9.8   28  1992-2006
Willard Dewveall   72     204   3,304   16.2   27  1959-64
Ernie Conwell     125     203   2,188   10.8   15  1996-2006
Bennie Cunningham 118     202   2,879   14.3   20  1976-85
Jerramy Stevens   121     202   2,217   11.0   22  2002-10
Howard Cross      207     201   2,194   10.9   17  1989-2001
Steve Heiden      148     201   1,689    8.4   14  1999-2009
Billy Miller      114     200   2,248   11.2   10  1999-2000,02-08
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fred Arbanas      118     198   3,101   15.7   34  1962-70
Jim Whalen         89     197   3,155   16.0   20  1965-71
Joe Senser         49     165   1,822   11.0   16  1980-82,84


Notes: Arbanas and Whalen are the only tight ends to have 3,000 yards receiving and not catch 200 balls.
Senser is the only tight end to have 1,000 yards receiving in a season and not catch 200 balls.
Players in ALL CAPS are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
*Played significant time at Offensive End or Wide Receiver.