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THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 19 - 1997

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Number 1:

Kapp-ing a Memorable Season by Ed Gruver. “Injun’ Joe” Kapp—“big, loud, and fearless”—came down from Canada to quarterback the ’69 Vikings into Super Bowl IV.

The Grange League by PFRA Research. Contemporaneous news accounts describe the 1926 creation of the American Football League, a circuit organized around one man—Red Grange.

The Other Buffalo Bills by Joe Marren. The Buffalo Bisons became the Bills their second season in the All-American Football Conference.

Ralph Vince by Cleveland Plain Dealer. An obituary in the Cleveland Plain Dealer fleshes out the football career of prominent attorney and judge Ralph Vince, who in the 1920s played in the NFL and AFL.

The Scoring Machine by Stanley Grosshandler. With such stars as Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Tom Fears, Glenn Davis, and “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, the Rams’ offense rewrote the record book in 1950.

Papa Bear's Nightmare by Phil Dietrich. The Akron Bears of the American Football League won on the field but lost at the box office, costing George Halas $40,000 in its single year of operation.

Jim Conzelman by Bill Schubert. Looking over the varied and colorful life of Hall of Famer Jimmy Conzelman.

Number 2:

Mike Haynes: Hall of Fame Defender by Joe Horrigan. Nobody was better in man-to-man coverage than defensive back Mike Haynes, who in 14 seasons (1976-89) made sure to always “watch the belt buckle” of the receiver.

Book Review: Pigskin by Robert W. Peterson by Bob Carroll. The reviewer has kind words for the book by Robert W. Peterson, which draws heavily on PFRA sources.

Wellington Mara: A Giant by Joe Horrigan. The soft-spoken, multi-talented executive of the New York Giants was responsible for much of the team’s postwar success, but he always maintained a “league first” approach to his business.

Don Shula: All-Time Winner by Joe Horrigan. On November 14, 1993, Don Shula passed George Halas to become the most successful coach in NFL history when he registered victory number 325. As a coach in Baltimore and Miami, Shula left his mark on the game in many different ways, including as an innovator of defensive complexities and situational substitutions.

Mike Webster: The Iron Man by Joe Horrigan. Profiling the indefatigable Mike Webster, a stalwart on the offensive line during his 17 seasons (1974-90) with Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Professor (Victo Mastro) Finds Bronx Lore In NFL by Jessica Bloch. A thumbnail bio of Vic Mastro—math professor, PFRA member, and the world’s only Bronx football specialist.

Opinion: Sack Race by Bob Carroll. The writer has an issue with unofficial sack numbers.

The World Football League's "Diamonds in the Rough" by Mark Speck. Highlighting some notable NFL careers that were launched in the short-lived WFL.

Cecil Isbell: A Short Time in the Spotlight by PFRA Research. Recalling the achievements of the standout passer of the Green Bay Packers, who left at the height of his career to become Purdue’s head coach.

Number 3:

An AFL Legacy: The Odd-Front Defense by Ed Gruver. Exploring a defensive philosophy that developed from the AFL’s early days, when coaches slid huge, dominating tackles like Kansas City’s Buck Buchanan, San Diego’s Ernie Ladd, and Buffalo’s Tom Sestak from their tackle position to head-up on the center.

When the Eagles Flew High by Stanley Grosshandler. The post-war Eagles under coach Greasy Neale were one of the great powerhouses of the NFL. Fielding such stars as Steve Van Buren and Alex Wocjciechowicz, Philadelphia captured three straight Eastern Conference crowns from 1947 to 1949, winning back-to-back championships in 1948-49.

In Detroit, Where the Wheels Fell Off by Mark Speck. A tale of woe in the Motor City, where the 1974 Detroit Wheels ran out of gas before completing their only season in the World Football League.

Lem Barney by Don Smith. A biography of the Detroit Lions’ electrifying cornerback, whose 11 seasons (1967-77) of excellence earned him a call from Canton.

The "Famous" Ironton Tanks by Carl M. Becker. A history of the Ironton Tanks, a force to be reckoned with in the Ohio Valley during the 1920s.

Pros' Woes by Phil Dietrich. After a winless 1961 season, the Akron Professional Football Club, Inc. of the United Football League faded into the sunset, just like their namesakes of the 1920s.

Number 4:

Oh, Those X's and O's: The Evolution of NFL Strategy by Jim Campbell. According to the writer, “the evolution from very basic football of the 1920s to the latest strategies and techniques may not be as long a pass as might at first be thought.”

The Legend of "Wildman" Willey by Ron Pollack. A pass-rushing terror, Philadelphia defensive end Norman Willey was credited with 17 sacks in a single game against the Giants in 1952.

Buffalo's 2-Sport Guys by Joe Marren. Luke Urban, Tillie Voss, and Mike Wilson didn’t believe in an offseason.

Ox Emerson by Fred Crawford. Despite regularly winning All-Pro honors at guard, Gover “Ox” Emerson was one of the overlooked members of the Portsmouth Spartans and Detroit Lions during the 1930s.

Herman Hickman: The Tennessee Terror by Mike Gershman. “Few men can recite Victorian poetry, wrestle professionally, and coach All-American linemen, but Herman Hickman managed it all with aplomb.” A biographical sketch of the 1930s Brooklyn Dodgers guard.

Football on the Web: Pro Football Hall of Fame by Bob Carroll. Surfing the Hall of Fame’s home page.

Number 5:

The Lombardi Sweep by Ed Gruver. The Green Bay power sweep was the signature play of the Packers’ dynasty and symbolized an era.

Indians Occupy Faded Spot in Buffalo Scrapbook by Joe Marren. The Indians provided unexpected comic relief as they changed names, coaches, and players while only managing a 4-14 record through two dismal American Professional Football League seasons in 1940 and 1941.

NFL Called on Buffalo in 1940 by Joe Marren. On September 15, 1940, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Cardinals played to a 0-0 tie in a rainstorm at Buffalo’s Civic Stadium.

Ron and Rich [Saul] by Jim Sargent. After graduating together from Michigan State University in 1970, twin brothers Ron and Rich Saul both played an identical dozen years as offensive linemen in the NFL.

Twas the Night Before the PFRA Meeting by Bob Carroll. Poetry by the PFRA founder-editor, subtitled “The Curse of Worse Verse Than You’d Hear in a Hearse.”

Andre Reed and the Hall of Fame by Keith Joyner. In 1965, Johnny Morris led the NFL with 93 receptions, which was 28 receptions more than his nearest competitor. In 1995, 10 receivers had more than 93 receptions. How does one evaluate receivers in this pass-happy era? The writer presents his system and arrives at the top 50 receivers in history.

Football on the Web: College Football Hall of Fame by Bob Carroll. The writer finds the web site of the College Football Hall of Fame to be “colorful, entertaining, and informative.”

Greedy? Enough Already! (opinion) by Bob Carroll. The author opines on the excessive use of the word “greedy.”

Number 6:

Pass That Drumstick! Go, Lions! by Bob Carroll. A history of Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day game, focusing on the 1934 contest with the Bears that kicked off the tradition.

The Game Not Played, Packers vs. Spartans 1931 by Carl Becker. Green Bay’s highly controversial decision not to play a season-ending game with Portsmouth in order to preserve its third straight NFL championship led to major changes in how games were scheduled.

New Year's Eve, 1967, Lambeau Field by Victor Mastro. A poem inspired by the Ice Bowl.

The Fire Burned Bright Before It Went Out by Mark Speck. The Chicago Fire briefly burned bright in the World Football League before flaming out.

The Outlanders by PFRA Research. A list of winners of the Outland Trophy, 1946-96, awarded annually to the country’s top college lineman.

Pro Football's "Worst to First" by Mark Speck. Examining some of the biggest season-to-season turnarounds in pro football history.

The Greatest Ever by Bob Carroll. Comparing Barry Sanders and Jimmy Brown, with a mention of Bronko Nagurski. The verdict?

Don Hutson's First NFL Game by John Hogrogian. Did the great Green Bay end really catch an 83-yard touchdown pass on the first play of his first pro game?

Top 100 Rushers by PFRA Research. A listing of the all-time rushers, topped by Walter Payton.

Annual: 1923 Season by PFRA Research. There were 20 teams in the NFL in 1923, but only one went undefeated as the Canton Bulldogs (11-0-1) repeated as champions.

2020 Convention
June 18-21, 2020
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Canton, Ohio

This month's Coffin Corner

1958 Baltimore Colts

The 1966 Green Bay Packers

The All-America Football Conference

The Early History of Professional Football