June 27, 2017

Happy Anniversary Leatherheads!

Happy 4th of July!  Wow, it has been 36 years since the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976.  The year 1976 is when I began to follow sports.  I made my first wager of $1 with my grandmother that the Cincinnati Reds would defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series.  I won and that dollar probably went towards gum or some other candy.  A year later I might have spent that dollar on a pack of Fleer Team Action football cards.  Last year, I spent slightly more than a dollar to launch Leatherheads of the Gridiron with my friend, Mike Lynch of Seamheads.com

The site launched on July 4th with our first post, Welcome to Leatherheads of the Gridiron!, written by yours truly.  In that post, I introduced what our mission was and our outstanding affiliations.  Let me re-introduce those organizations.  Seamheads.com is a leading and ground-breaking baseball site, check-out The Baseball Gauge and the Negro Leagues Database.  The Professional Football Researchers Association is THE organization to be a member of if you love the history of pro football.  PFRA has members worldwide and is growing rapidly.  Last year PFRA published The Early History of Professional Football, a must have for any fan of the game’s early beginnings.  The Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association is headed by Tex Noel, the legendary college football statistics historian.  IFRA membership is free and includes an outstanding monthly newsletter, The College Football Historian.

Since the launch, our affiliations have grown.  Among them is Gridiron Greats Magazine, the leading publication on football history and its memorabilia.  Bob Swick, the editor and publisher of the magazine, hosts a wonderful podcast with co-host Joe Squires on the Leatherheads National Podcasting Network, properly entitled Gridiron Greats: Football History and Its Memorabilia

Speaking of podcasting, we launched the podcasting network on BlogTalkRadio.com on September 22, 2011 with Thursday Night Tailgate and the show’s first guest, former 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker Levon Kirkland.  The show is hosted by Chris Mascaro and his long-time friend Angelo Cane.  Since that first show, these two friends have become first-rate interviewers and entertainers, and have had on the show over 70 current and former NFL players, including Blaine Bishop, Rocky Bleier, Conrad Dobler, Jim Everett, L.C. Greenwood, Rodney Hampton, Roy Jefferson, Karl Mecklenburg, Bart Oates, Dan Pastorini, Andy Russell, Fred Taylor and Richmond Webb.

A third podcast that I would like to call special attention to is Three Point Stance: The Leatherheads College Football Hour, hosted by blogger and college football aficionado Pete Sonski.  Each week, Pete chats with some of the most knowledgable bloggers, writers and historians from around the country to discuss the latest happenings in college football.  My favorite show from last season was the January 7, 2012 show when Kris Brauner of Saturday Night Slant and David Luckie of I Bleed Crimson Red joined Pete to discuss Alabama vs. LSU, the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama won the championship and deservedly so.  I voted Alabama number one most weeks in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 Poll.  Our poll was created by Dan McCloskey and several Leatherheads participated each week, ranking their top 16 teams.  Among our poll contributors are Bo Carter, a correspondent for the National Football Foundation, and Dr. Robert Stevenson, a college football historian and writer.  The poll is a favorite among our visitors and I look forward to the upcoming college football season so I can cast my vote each week after the action on Saturday.

I like to mention a few of our other contributors who have made significant contributions to Leatherheads.  Ken Crippen, the Executive Director of PFRA, who wrote our first article, Building a Champion: 1920 Akron Pros.  Ken has been supportive from the earliest stages of Leatherheads.  George Kurtz faithfully contributed All Out Blitz: NFL Team News and Notes each week during the NFL season while also co-hosting the weekly Leatherheads Fantasy Football Show with host Chris Mitchell.  David Boyce, the Raider Guy, wrote about the Oakland Raiders after watching each game with a magnifying glass.  If you missed a Raider game, just read David’s account of the game and you will know exactly what happened during the game.  Terry Keshner, what can I say?  He may be our MVP among the writers.  He has contributed the most articles and has written in the offseason while many others, including myself, have contributed elsewhere on baseball.  Besides being prolific, he is one funny guy.  I love each and every piece he has written, always making me laugh at some point while reading.

On a personal note, I have had many great football-related moments.  My team, the New York Giants turned an up and down season into a memorable season for sure.  Eli Manning said he was among the elite and he backed it up.  I quoted myself in Hang Time Outside the Hash Marks that Eli had a free pass the rest of his career if he beat the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  He did win.  The rematch took place earlier this year and the results were the same.  Eli is not just elite among active quarterbacks, he is elite among G-Men legends and may have earned a place in Canton. 

Last month, I attended the PFRA meeting at NFL Films in New Jersey.  Not only did I get a chance to tour NFL Films, but I also got a chance to meet in person Leatherhead Chris Garbarino, co-author of The Cookie That Did Not Crumble, and many other PFRA members that I have long admired like Ken Crippen, Chris Willis and new Leatherhead Brian Marshall.  I also had a chance to chat with the son of Lavvie Dilweg, a long overlooked legend of the gridiron who passed away in 1968 and is still waiting to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  PFRA has created a fact sheet to promote his candidacy for election.  He is surely deserving.

Another highlight for me occurred after I posted Ed Sprinkle, a Coffin Corner Classic by the late-great football historian Bob Carroll.  A comment by Lee Bramlett, the son of Navy All-American Leon Bramlett, led to a reunion over the phone between Bramlett and Sprinkle, another overlooked legend of the pro game and a member of the NFL’s 1940s All-Decade Team who played college ball at Navy with Bramlett.  I exchanged a few emails with a woman I discovered on the Internet that new Sprinkle at his retirement community and she sent me his contact information which I relayed to Lee Bramlett.  A great, rewarding story!

Looking back over this past year has been enjoyable.  Looking forward, I get excited just thinking about where we are heading.   As the college and NFL seasons start to approach, we will be increasing our posts and adding to our podcasting lineup.  New contributors join Leatherheads each month.  Currently, we are fifty strong.  We continue to add new affiliations like Stitcher Radio, where you can listen to our podcasts on your phone or iPad.  If you go to our Stitcher page at www.stitcher.com/LEATHERHEADS and download the app, enter the promo code LEATHERHEADS and you will be entered in a monthly drawing to win $100 cash.

Another new affiliation is the Canadian Football Research Society.  CFRS is a fairly new organization that has been founded to promote, develop, and encourage the study of the game of Canadian football.  I am proud to be a member and look forward to watching this organization grow.  Look for more CFL coverage on Leatherheads.

So as we kick off another year as a community, I hope that you will keep coming back.  I say community, because that is what I call Leatherheads when I reach out to our fifty and growing community of contributors.  Not every member has written or been on a podcast, but they all have made contributions in one way or another.  Leatherheads continues to seek more contributors.  So if interested in joining our community as a writer, podcaster, guest, poll contributor or in some other capacity, please reach out to me at jwilliams22@snet.net

In closing, thanks again to all the members of the Leatherheads community.  Thanks also to our readers and listeners. 

I hope you had a glorious 4th of July.

 

The Coffin Corner: May/June 2012 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the May/June 2012 (Vol. 34, No. 3) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

The Class of 2012 by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Highlights, statistics and awards from the football careers of the six members in this year’s Hall of Fame class.

Sam’s Streak by Brian Marshall. An account of Sam Etcheverry’s 34-game touchdown pass streak in the CFL from 1954–56 and a statistical comparison to Unitas’ streak of 47 games in the NFL.

Rating the Rushers by Ken Crippen. A new system for rating the performance of running backs in the NFL, including methods to normalize the rating for running backs from different eras, rate teams in rushing (both offensively and defensively) and factor in the receiving aspect of the modern running back.

The Futility Bowl by Jay Zahn. A humorous look back at NFL games played between uncommonly bad teams. Winless teams, one-win teams or teams with long losing streaks meet in late-season games…with absolutely nothing on the line, except for a possible top draft pick. Speaking of…

The Chosen Few: Colleges in the NFL Draft by Tex Noel. A listing of the top 25 FBS colleges and top five small colleges that have had players selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including players taken during the Common Draft.

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section).

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

The Coffin Corner: March/April 2012 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the March/April 2012 (Vol. 34, No. 2) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

Turning Points by Bert Gambini. An amusing account of the 1966 AFL Championship between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, a game which marked a downturn in the fortune of the Bills franchise in the league’s final years.

Pete Rozelle and the Kennedy Assassination by George Bozeka. An examination of the NFL commissioner’s controversial decision to play a full slate of games less than 48 hours after the president had been assassinated.

When the Florists Ran Wild: The Story of Nashville’s O. Geny Greenies by Joseph S. Page. Part one of a three-part series on a football team in Nashville, sponsored by a local florist, that went on to win the unofficial amateur national championship in 1927.

Wanted: NFL QB for Contender by Lee Elder. The story of ex-Rams quarterbacks of the late 1950s and early 1960s and the success they enjoyed with other teams in the league after leaving Los Angeles.

2011 Player Deaths. A list of the professional football players who died last year including information on the team(s) they played for, the date and location of their death and their age when they passed away.

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section).

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

The Coffin Corner: January/February 2012 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the January/February 2012 (Vol. 34, No. 1) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

The State of the PFRA by Ken Crippen. An annual report from the executive director on the PFRA’s present status and future goals.

Hall of Very Good by the Hall of Very Good Committee. Mini-biographies of the nine members of the Class of 2011.

Johnny Unitas’s 47-Game Touchdown Streak by Chris Willis. A look back at one of the most remarkable streaks in sports history and the unlikely team that stopped it.

Winner Take All by Mark L. Ford. A discussion of final regular season games between two teams with a single playoff spot on the line.

2,000 Combined Yards by Brian Marshall. A review of the players who have broken the 2,000-yard barrier in rushing and receiving yards in a season.

2,000 Net Yards by Ken Pullis. A short introduction and statistical list of all the players (AAFC/AFL/NFL) who have gained more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season.

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section). 

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

The Coffin Corner: November/December 2011 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the November/December 2011 (Vol. 33, No. 6) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

More on the 1954 Sarnia Imperials by Brian Marshall. A continuation of the author’s article detailing the 1954 season of the Sarnia Imperials. Lineups and scoring are included.

Defensive All-Pros: 1938-1940 by John Hogrogian. A detailed look at defensive all-pros from 1938 through 1940.

Chris Hanburger by Mike Richman. A biographical article on one of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s most recent inductees.

The 1982 Make-Up Games by Denis Crawford. A look at how the league rescheduled games after the 57-day work stoppage.

Doubles by T.J. Troup. A chronological list of all players who have caught a touchdown pass and intercepted a pass for a touchdown in the same game.

The AAFtermath by Mark L. Ford. A look at how players dispersed when the All-America Football Conference merged into the National Football League.

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section). 

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

The Coffin Corner: September/October 2011 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the September/October 2011 (Vol. 33, No. 5) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

The Championship Is Back Where It Should Have Stayed by TJ Troup. A recap of the 1943 NFL season and the Chicago Bears’ run for a third championship in four years.

Clem Neacy: All-Pro Guard, Boxer and Surgeon by Michael D. Benter. A biography of Milwaukee Badgers end Clem Neacy. He also spent time with the Chicago Bears, Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals.

Revisiting Super Bowl III by Bill Pepperell. The author’s examination of New York Jets’ safety Jim Hudson’s quote on Weeb Ewbank’s preparation for Super Bowl III.

An Interview With Joe Perry by Martin Jacobs. An interview with San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame fullback Joe Perry.

First Small College Players Drafted by Tex Noel. A listing of the first small college player drafted each year, including the AFL.

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section). The hard copy should arrive to members by October 30, 2011.

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

Cleveland A.C.: Pioneer Team in Pro Football?

This article was written by Tod Gladen and was originally published in The Coffin Corner in 1989. The Coffin Corner is the official magazine of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Visit PFRA’s website to learn how to become a member today!

This is a rather bold headline for a team that’s largely forgotten today. Its accomplishments on or off the playing field are left out of the history books. No articles are written proclaiming its merits. It was a team that did little of any importance or interest.

So why in 1989, almost a hundred years later, is there a sudden interest in this faceless team? Why is there a sudden rush to the microfilm readers and boxes of old documents for a team that disbanded years ago?

The answer is simple. The Cleveland Athletic Club may fall into that important “Historical First” category. The Cleveland A.C. may be the first team that we can prove paid some of its players to play.

The current accepted first pro player was Pudge Heffelfinger, who got $500 (a rather large amount in those days) to play one game for the Allegheny Athletic Association on November 12, 1892. If the Cleveland report is true, the players for the C.A.C. were paid to play a few weeks prior to Pudge’s big payday.

Soon maybe the city of Cleveland can tout itself as the home of professional football as well as rivers that catch fire, Superman and rock ‘n’ roll.

That day, however, is probably some time off. It will take a lot of work to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the C.A.C paid its players. Knowing and proving are two different things.

The club no doubt paid its players under the table. This was a fairly common practice. Everybody did it to preserve their amateur status so they could play college teams. In the 1890s there were very few football programs available, and to be banned from playing any of them could force a team to disband for a lack of opponents.

What brought the Cleveland team into limelight is an out-of-town newspaper article written in 1892 and accidentally discovered recently. The paper was the Ohio State Journal, the Republican paper in Columbus, and a pretty good one too. This was the same paper that Joe Carr, commissioner of the NFL from 1921-39, later worked on.

The best paper in Columbus for local sports was its competitor, the Democratic Columbus Press, but what the Ohio State Journal lacked in local coverage it made up in national coverage. Some of the teams that the paper regularly covered were the Chicago Athletic Association, the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club, the Homestead Library team, the Maryland A.C. and the Massillon Athletic Club, a forerunner of the powerful Massillon Tigers. Sometimes when the paper had enough material, it would group them in a section under the heading “Professional Football”–a practice unusual for the 1890s.

The article that’s drawing current attention was a report of a game between the Cleveland A.C. and Dayton on November 19, 1892. The team from Dayton was listed just like that–as “Dayton,” with no other name of affiliation. The game was played in Dayton in utterly awful conditions. The paper said, “Five hundred football enthusiasts waded through seven inches of slush…to witness the game…The visitors won by a score of 10 to 0.”

What makes the article interesting is what comes next: “The Clevelanders are the champions of Ohio. Their club consists of many professionals.”

The article implies that the players have been professionals for some time. But professional what? The context is about the quality of the players, because right after that the article says Dayton brought in two Yale varsity boys to play for them. The logical assumption is that the quoted reference means the Cleveland team consists mostly of professional football players.

Is the paper saying that the players are professional in their field of work, or professional in being paid to play football? Many of the players on the team were veterans from college varsity football teams. Would a newspaper in 1892 use the term “professional” for their off-field work?

Whatever the truth, it will be some time before we can determine whether the Cleveland Athletic Club was a pro team or not.

For the record, here’s the complete article as it appeared in the Ohio State Journal of November 20, 1892:

Dayton Defeated by Cleveland
DAYTON, OHIO, NOVEMBER 19–Five hundred football enthusiasts waded through seven inches of slush at the Athletic park this afternoon to witness the game between the Cleveland Athletic club and the Dayton eleven. The game was stiffly contested and was a pretty exhibition of skill, strength and science. The visitors won by a score of 10 to 0 after a hard fight.

The Clevelanders are the champions of Ohio. Their club consists of many professionals. The Dayton aggregation was strengthened by two Yale varsity boys. The local club was outweighted 16 pounds per man in the rush line, and this in the main accounts for the score.

A singular fact was that at the end of each thirty-minute half the Daytons had the ball within a few feet of the goal.

The C.A.C. made and kicked a good game in the first half, but did not succeed in kicking it in the last.

On Thanksgiving day the Otterbein winning club will buck the center with the Dayton in this city. If the weather is in any way agreeable, 5000 spectators will be in attendance. Fashionable tally-ho parties will swell the crowd.

Great Forgotten Ends of the 1930’s

This article was written by Stan Grosshandler and was originally published in The Coffin Corner in 1993. The Coffin Corner is the official magazine of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Visit PFRA’s website to learn how to become a member today!

There was once a position called END!

The end played on both sides of the line of scrimmage; therefore, there was a left end and a right end. There were no split ends, tight ends, wide receivers, flankers, wide outs, or anything else.

There were just plain ENDS!

Now end was a very difficult position to play. You had to catch passes all over the field, block a tackle who vastly outweighed you, and stop end sweeps by throwing yourself into an interference that consisted of two running guards built like tanks and a pretty hefty blocking back built like a bull.

You were expected to play sixty minutes, which often meant you had to chase a pass the length of the field, then block that monster in front of you, and next go on defense and break up the interference. Some days it was just plain hell!

Four ends from the 1930’s, Don Hutson, Red Badgro, Bill Hewitt, and Wayne Millner are honored in the Hall of Fame. A fifth, Ray Flaherty, is in the Pro Football Hall for his coaching success, but was a very good end as a player.

During the early years of the NFL, George Halas, an old right end himself, did a pretty good job of collecting most of the talent. Besides Hewitt, he had Luke Johnsos, Bill Karr, Eggs Manske, Dick Plasman, and George Wilson.

Johnsos and Karr played the right side opposite Hewitt. With the Bears from 1929 through 1936, Luke had a career total of 87 receptions and 19 TDs. He served as co-head coach during Halas’ tour in the Navy during World War II. Bill Karr played from 1933 through 1938, scoring 18 TDs on a career total of only 48 receptions.

Eggs Manske studied law before joining the Eagles in 1935. He became a Bear in 1937, went to Pittsburgh the next season, and returned to Bears in 1939. Dick Plasman also joined the Bears in 1937. Known as the last player to play without a head gear, Dick took off two years for military service, returned in 1944 and then played for the Cards in 1946 and 1947. He played both defensive end and tackle with the Cards.

A long time Bear (1937-1946), George Wilson is best remembered as the man who with one block took out Jimmy Johnston and Ed Justice enabling Bill Osmanski to score the first six points of the great 73-0 rout of the Redskins in the 1940 championship game. Considered one of the great tacticians of the game, George coached the Lions from 1957 through 1964 and the Dolphins from 1966 to 1969. He also put in one season in the National Basketball League (1939-40).

The Packers, one of the early teams to have a potent passing attack, had Lavie Dilweg from 1927 through 1934 and Milt Gantenbein who arrived for a ten-year stay in 1931. A fine blocker, Gantenbein was “the other end” to Don Hutson at Green Bay, just as Bear Bryant had been at Alabama.

Joe Carter was one of the better, and lesser known ends of the early days. He played for the Eagles from 1933 through 1940, the Packers in 1942, spent 1943 in service and then two more seasons as a Brooklyn Dodger and Chicago Cardinal. In 1934, Joe tied with Red Badgro for most receptions in the league with 16.

Gaynell Tinsley, a highly touted All-American from LSU, hit the NFL in 1937 as a Cardinal. With his LSU passer, Pat Coffee, Tinsley gained a record 675 yards on receptions as he caught 36 passes and scored five touchdowns. On December 5th, he caught a 97 yard pass from Coffee that is still among the longest in history. The following season against the Rams, he took a 98 yarder from Doug Russell. This was the only TD he scored all season. Tinsley did not play the 1939 season. After a dispute over his salary, he decided to become a high-school coach; however, he returned for the 1940 campaign, his last. In only three seasons, he caught 93 passes for 1,356 yards.

Jim Benton was another high profile collegian when he joined the Cleveland Rams in 1938. At Arkansas, he had teamed with Jack Robbins and Dwight Sloan to make the Razorbacks the best passing team in the nation. Benton sat out the 1941 season, returned in 1942, was loaned to the Bears for 1943, returned to the Rams in 1944 and then moved to Los Angeles with the team, retiring after the 1947 season. Jim led the league in touchdowns by receivers in 1939, was the total yard leader in both 1945 and 1946; also leading in receptions the latter year. His 303 yards in a single game against Detroit in 1945 remains the third best single day achievement on record.

Both the Giants and Redskins were dominant in the 1930’s and each had notable ends. Jim Poole stood out at left end from 1937 until he went into the service in 1942. He played briefly for the Cards in 1945 but returned to the Giants for the 1945 and 1946 seasons. His teammate Jim Lee Howell started in 1937, went to the service for three seasons, and upon returning in 1946 played through 1948. He later coached the Giants for seven seasons.

Charlie Malone joined the 1934 Boston Braves and went with the team to Washington. He did not play in 1941, returned the next year and then entered the service. Bob McChesney also joined the club in Boston and played until 1943 when he went into the service. He never returned to the NFL.

The classic example of a great forgotten end who played with a forgotten team is Perry Schwartz of the late and lamented Brooklyn Dodgers. Starring on both offense and defense from 1938 through 1942, he then lost three seasons to military service before returning to play for the 1946 New York Yankees of the AAFC.

While the stats in the following table may not look impressive, it should be noted the most pass attempts in 1937 were made by the “pass happy” Redskins, a total of 222. The best completion percentage that year was 44.6%. The fewest attempts in 1991 were 414 and no team had a completion percentage below 50.5%.

Jim Benton
Cleveland 1938-40, 1942, 1944-45; Chicago Bears 1943; Los Angeles 1946-47
(288 rec., 4801 yards, 45 TDs)

Joe Carter
Philadelphia 1933-40 Green Bay 1942; Military 1943; Brooklyn 1944; Chicago Cards 1945
(132 rec., 1989 yards, 22 TDs)

Lavie Dilweg
Milwaukee 1926; Green Bay 1927-34
(Unofficial: 126 rec., 2,053 yards, 12 TDs)

Milt Gantenbein
Green Bay 1931-40
(1932-40: 77 rec., 1299 yards, 8 TDs)

Jim Lee Howell
New York Giants 1937-42, Military 1943-44; New York Giants 1946-48
(61 rec., 921 yards, 7 TDs)

Luke Johnsos
Chicago Bears 1929-36
(1932-36: 58 rec., 985 yards, 20 TDs)

Bill Karr
Chicago Bears 1933-38
(48 rec., 1032 yards, 18 TDs)

Charles Malone
Boston 1934-36; Washington 1942; Military 1943
(137 rec., 1932 yards, 13 TDs)

Eggs Manske
Philadelphia 1935-36; Chicago Bears 1938-40; Pittsburgh 1938
(70 rec., 1467 yards, 11 TDs)

Bob McChesney
Boston 1936; Washington 1937-42; Military 1943-45
(59 rec., 679 yards, 7 TDs)

Dick Plasman
Chicago Bears 1937-41, 1944; Military 1942-44; Chicago Cards 1946-47
(56 rec., 1083 yards, 7 TDs)

Jim Poole
New York Giants 1937-41; 1945-46; Military 1942-44; Chicago Cards 1945
(65 rec., 895 yards, 13 TDs)

Perry Schwartz
Brooklyn 1938-42; Military 1943-45; NY Yankees AAFC 1946
(105 rec., 1696 yards, 10 TDs)

Gaynell Tinsley
Chicago Cards 1937-38, 1940
(93 rec., 1356 yards, 7 TDs)

George Wilson
Chicago Bears 1937-46
(111 rec., 1342 yards, 15 TDs)

 

The Coffin Corner: July/August 2011 Issue

The Professional Football Researchers Association has published the July/August 2011 (Vol. 33, No. 4) issue of The Coffin Corner.

 

Here is what you can find in the issue:

Hall of Very Good by Hall of Very Good Committee. Biographies of the finalists for the Hall of Very Good Class of 2011.

The Cleveland Browns: Decade by Decade by Roger Gordon. A brief history of the Cleveland Browns from their beginning in 1946 through the end of the 2009 season.

1916: Almost a League? by Mark L. Ford. Some evidence of an attempt at a league in Ohio for the 1916 season.

It’s Good to be the King by George Bozeka. A biographical article on James Sean Patrick “King” Corcoran.

NFL/WFL Players with 2,000 Career Rushing Yards by Joe Williams. A list of WFL rushers who have had at least 2,000 yards in their career between the NFL and WFL.

Hey, Hey, Tampa Bay by Denis Crawford. The story of the creation of the Buccaneers’ song “Hey, Hey Tampa Bay the Bucs Know How to Shine!”

 

 

The issue is available for immediate download from the PFRA website (Member’s Only Section). The hard copy should arrive to members by August 30, 2011.

 

Ken Crippen is the Executive Director of the Professional Football Researchers Association.

 

Pro Football’s Hall of Very Good

Pro football historians are constantly arguing over whether a player belongs in the Hall of Fame. Usually, the discussion involves some variance on the following statement, “That player belongs in the Hall of Very Good, not the Hall of Fame.” Well, did you know that the Hall of Very Good actually exists? It does and it is run by the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA).

The Professional Football Researchers Association was founded in 1979 as a 501(c)(3) educational organization dedicated to research into and the preservation of the history of pro football. Membership includes many of the foremost football historians and authors. The PFRA publishes a magazine, “The Coffin Corner,” six times each year.

Begun in 2003, the Hall of Very Good seeks to honor outstanding players and coaches who are not in the Hall of Fame and have been retired for at least 25 years. The PFRA does not promote any of the electees for the Hall of Fame nor does it view the Hall of Very Good as a springboard for the Hall of Fame. They simply recognize that there are many players and coaches who had great careers who deserve to be recognized.

In June, the PFRA announced the finalists for the Hall of Very Good Class of 2011. The members of the PFRA were asked to select five players whom they felt were deserving of the honor. A committee of nine then ranked the players to determine the top twenty candidates. Those twenty candidates are the finalists, and for the Class of 2011, they are (in alphabetical order):

Ken Anderson
Position: Quarterback
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals 1971-86

Bill Bergey
Position: Linebacker
Teams: Cincinnati Bengals 1969-1973, Philadelphia Eagles 1974-1980

Cliff Branch
Position: Wide Receiver
Teams: Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1972-1985

Ray Bray
Position: Guard
Teams: Chicago Bears 1939-42 and 1946-51, Green Bay Packers 1952

Charley Brock
Position: Center-Halfback-Fullback
Teams: Green Bay Packers 1939-47

Bobby Dillon
Position: Defensive Back
Teams: Green Bay Packers 1952-1959

Ken Gray
Position: Guard
Teams: 1958-1969 St. Louis/Chicago Cardinals, 1970 Houston Oilers

Cliff Harris
Positions: Free Safety
Teams: Dallas Cowboys 1970-1979

Harold Jackson
Position: Wide Receiver
Teams: Los Angeles Rams 1968, Philadelphia Eagles 1969-1972, Los Angeles Rams 1973-1977, New England Patriots 1978-1981, Minnesota Vikings 1982, Seattle Seahawks 1983

George Kunz
Position: Tackle
Teams: Atlanta Falcons 1969-1974, Baltimore Colts 1975-1978, 1980

Paul Lowe
Position: Halfback
Teams: Los Angeles Chargers 1960, San Diego Chargers 1961-1968, Kansas City Chiefs 1968-1969

Harvey Martin
Positions: Defensive End
Teams: Dallas Cowboys 1973-83

Eddie Meador
Position: Defensive Back
Teams: Los Angeles Rams 1959-70

Lydell Mitchell
Position: Running Back
Teams: Baltimore Colts 1972-77, San Diego Chargers 1978-79, Los Angeles Rams 1980

Ted Nesser
Position: Tackle-Center-Head Coach
Teams: Columbus Panhandles 1920-21

Andy Russell
Positions: Linebacker
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers 1963-76

Lou Saban
Position: Head Coach
Teams: Boston Patriots 1960-1961, Buffalo Bills 1962-1965, Denver Broncos 1967-1971, Buffalo Bills 1972-1976

Tom Sestak
Position: Defensive Tackle
Teams: Buffalo Bills 1962-1968

Jerry Smith
Position: Tight End
Teams: Washington Redskins 1965-1977

Buddy Young
Position: Halfback-Fullback-Defensive Back
Teams: New York Yankees 1947-49, New York Yanks 1950-51, Dallas Texans 1952, Baltimore Colts 1953-55

 

The Class of 2011 will be announced by the end of the year.           

Previous Hall of Very Good enshrines are:

Class of 2010
Robert Brazile, 1975-84 – LB 
Ed Budde, 1963-76 – G
Don Coryell, 1972-86 – Head Coach
Ox Emerson, 1931-38 – G, C, LB
Chuck Foreman, 1973-80 – RB
Bob Gain, 1952, 1954-64 – T, MG, E
Riley Matheson, 1939-48 – G, LB
Jimmy Patton, 1955-66 – DB
Drew Pearson, 1973-83 – WR
Ken Riley, 1969-83 – CB

Class of 2009
Bruno Banducci, 1944-54 – G 
Harold Carmichael, 1971-84 – WR
Blanton Collier, Browns assistant coach 1946-53 and 1962 and head coach 1963-70
Boyd Dowler, 1959-69, 71 – WR
Claude Humphrey, 1968-74, 1976-81 – DE
Ken Kavanaugh, 1940-41, 1945-50 – E
Verne Lewellen, 1924-32 – HB
Walt Sweeney, 1963-75 – G

Class of 2008
Dick Barwegen, 1947-54 – G
Randy Gradishar, 1974-83 – LB
Bob Hoernschmeyer, 1946-55 – HB
Cecil Isbell, 1938-42 – TB
Buddy Parker, 1951-64 – Coach
Spec Sanders, 1946-50 – TB
Jim Ray Smith, 1956-64 – G
Billy Wilson, 1951-60 – WR

Class of 2007:
Frankie Albert, 1946-1952 – QB
Roger Brown, 1960-1969 – DT
Timmy Brown, 1959-1968 – RB
Marshall Goldberg, 1939-1948 – B
Jim Lee Howell, 1937-1947, 1954-1960 – E
Glenn Presnell, 1931-1936 – B
Dick Schafrath, 1959-1971 – T
Jake Scott, 1970-1978 – DB
Ed Sprinkle, 1944-1955 – DE
Tank Younger, 1949-1958 – HB-FB

Class of 2006:
Charley Conerly, 1948-1961 – QB
John Hadl, 1962-1977 – QB
Chuck Howley, 1958-1973 – LB
Alex Karras, 1958-1970 – DT
Eugene Lipscomb, 1953-1962 – DT
Kyle Rote, 1951-1961 – E-HB
Dick Stanfel, 1952-1958 – G
Otis Taylor, 1965-1975 – WR
Fuzzy Thurston, 1958-1967 – G
Deacon Dan Towler, 1950-1955 – FB

Class of 2005:
Maxie Baughan, 1960-1974 – LB
Jim Benton, 1938-1947 – E
Lavvie Dilweg, 1926-1934 – E
Pat Harder, 1946-1953 – FB
Floyd Little*, 1967-1975 – RB
Tommy Nobis, 1966-1976 – LB
Pete Retzlaff, 1956-1966 – HB-E
Tobin Rote, 1950-1966 – QB
Lou Rymkus, 1943, 1946-1951 – T
Del Shofner, 1957-1967 – E

Class of 2004:
Gene Brito, 1951-1960 – DE
John Brodie, 1957-1973 – QB
Jack Butler, 1951-1959 – DB
Chris Hanburger*, 1965-1978 – LB
Bob Hayes*, 1965-1975 – SE-WR
Billy Howton, 1952-1963 – E
Jim Marshall, 1960-1979 – DE
Al Nesser, 1920-1928, 1931 – G
Dave Robinson, 1963-1974 – LB
Duke Slater, 1922-1931 – T

Class of 2003:
Gino Cappelletti, 1960-1970 – E-K
Carl Eller*, 1964-1979 – DE
Pat Fischer, 1961-1977 – DB
Benny Friedman*, 1927-1934 – TB
Gene Hickerson*, 1958-1973 – G
Jerry Kramer, 1958-1968 – G
Johnny Robinson, 1960-1971 – DB
Mac Speedie, 1946-1952 – E
Mick Tingelhoff, 1962-1978 – C
Al Wistert, 1943-1951 – T

*Voted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame after induction into the Hall of Very Good.