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THE COFFIN CORNER - VOLUME 28 - 2006

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Number 1:

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PFRA-ternizing. John Gunn and Chris Willis are named winners of PFRA’s annual achievement awards. Tim Brulia expresses interest in forming two research committees—one dedicated to radio and TV commentators, the other to each team’s uniform designs and colors.

When Having the Best Record Didn't Mean Home Field Advantage by Andy Piascik. For decades, the NFL rotated the home field for title games. The author provides a detailed look at a flawed system and how it may have affected championships.

August 'Gus' Cifelli by Jim Sargent. A profile of the rugged Notre Dame and Detroit Lions tackle of the postwar era.

Complete History of African American Quarterbacks in the NFL, Part 2 by Lloyd Vance. Opportunities opened up for black quarterbacks beginning in the 1980s, thanks to rival leagues, NFL expansion, and a new wave of African-American signal-callers in college. By 1997 there were six black starting QBs in the NFL, and a bigger explosion of talent at the position was on the way.

John Riggins by Michael Richman. The powerful running back with the Jets and Redskins doubled as an entertainer who relished the spotlight.

Cornerback by Darwin by Bob Carroll. The writer’s explanation for why two-thirds of NFL players are African-American.

Dave Smukler by John Maxymuk. Moody and unmanageable, fullback Dave Smukler played four seasons with Philadelphia in the late ‘30s before deciding the army was a better bet.

Player Deaths in 2005. The annual roll of player deaths.

Number 2:

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When Having the Best Record Didn't Mean Home Field Advantage, Part 2 by Andy Piascik. A recap of AFC and NFC playoff pairings from 1970 through 1974 and how teams would have been paired had today’s postseason rules been in force.

Repeat Three-Peat, Almost by Jim Campbell. When it comes to a team winning three straight championships, it’s usually close but no cigar.

The Tereshinskis of Georgia by Jim Campbell.

Darrell Dess by Andy Piascik. The longtime offensive guard experienced the highs and lows of playing with the New York Giants the ‘60s.

Book Review: Keep A-Goin': The Life of Lone Star Dietz by Tom Benjay review by John Vorperian. The reviewer says the author’s biography of the legendary “Lone Star” Dietz, a flawed man of many talents, “easily reads like a screenplay.”

The Hall of Very Good 2006. The latest HOVG class includes Chuck Conerly, John Hadl, Chuck Howley, Alex Karras, “Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb, Kyle Rote, Dick Stanfel, Otis Taylor, Fuzzy Thurston, and “Deacon Dan” Towler.

Leroy Kelly by Roger Gordon. “If Jim Brown wouldn't have retired,” says Leroy Kelly, “I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.” A conversation with the man who took over Brown’s spot in the Cleveland backfield and carved out his own niche in the record book, including consecutive NFL rushing titles in 1967-68.

When Eagles Dared by Ed Gruver. Buddy Ryan built one of the NFL’s most dynamic teams in the late 1980s. So why did Philadelphia fail to win a title?

Who to Root For? by Roger Gordon. When friends are on opposite ends of the rooting spectrum.

Points Allowed in Context by Andy Piascik. Evaluating the top defenses across the decades by adjusting a team’s points-allowed total by era.

By a Coin Toss by Timothy Holland. A flip of a coin can sometimes determine a team’s destiny.

J.D. Smith and the 1961 49ers by Coach Troup. Whether running out of the T formation or the shotgun, J. D. Smith proved himself one of the NFL’s best backs.

Charley Taylor by Michael Richman. A rugged receiver and a great open-field runner, Washington’s Charley Taylor tormented defenses during his 14-year career.

Number 3:

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Art Rooney, Jr. by Tom Danyluk. The son of team owner Art Rooney, Art Rooney Jr. got his start in the Pittsburgh organization when his mother got him a job selling tickets. In this interview, the executive shares his memories of scout Bill Nunn, coach Chuck Noll, artist Leroy Neiman, and his father—“The Chief.”

The King of Siberia: Bill Howton by John Maxymuk. From All-Pro end in Green Bay in the ‘50s to a prison cell in the ‘80s, and then on to Spain to write his memoirs—such was the twisting life journey of Billy Howton.

Greg Pruitt by Roger Gordon. Reeling back the years with the small and shifty running back, who spent a dozen seasons with Cleveland and the Los Angeles Raiders.

The Birth of Modern Football by Tom Benjey. How the revolutionary single wing became the dominant offensive scheme for the first half of the 20th century.

Ricky Bell : The Heart of a Champion by Denis Crawford. Ricky Bell was one of the most star-crossed players ever, succumbing to a heart attack at age 29. But his unselfish commitment to his team, his refusal to be cowed by injury or illness, and his charitable works in Tampa Bay led the Buccaneers to honor him by creating the Ricky Bell Award. The Award is presented to the Buccaneer player who best exemplifies his spirit in performing community works.

What Might Have Been in Colorado by Timothy Holland. In the early days of the American Football League, the Denver Broncos could spot talent—they just couldn’t sign them.

Tom Sestak by Greg Tranter. Tackle and team captain Tom Sestak was the cornerstone of the Buffalo Bills’ great defensive teams that led the Bills to AFL championships in 1964 and 1965 and fell one game short of playing in Super Bowl I.

Number 4:

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Troy Aikman from Pro Football Hall of Fame. A short bio of Dallas’s Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins during his 12-year career (1989-2000). Aikman’s 90 career wins in the 1990s are the most of any quarterback of any decade.

Harry Carson from Pro Football Hall of Fame. A biography of Harry Carson, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006. Carson was known for his all-out play as a linebacker during his 13 seasons (1976-88) with the New York Giants.

John Madden from Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer John Madden left behind an enviable coaching record when he entered the broadcast booth, compiling a 103-32-7 record during his 10 seasons (1969-78) as Oakland’s head coach. His .759 regular season winning percentage ranks as highest ever among coaches with 100 career victories.

Warren Moon from Pro Football Hall of Fame. Quarterback Warren Moon, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006, began his pro career with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, where he won five straight Grey Cups. He signed with the Houston Oilers in 1984 and went on to pass for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns over his 17-season NFL career, which included stops in Minnesota, Seattle, and Kansas City.

Reggie White from Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall-of-Fame defensive end recorded more sacks (124) than games played (121) in eight seasons with Eagles before going on to become the Packers’ all-time sack leader. White was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year with both clubs—1987 with Philadelphia and 1998 with Green Bay. The “Minister of Defense” was elected to 13 straight Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro in 13 of 15 seasons (including 10 as first-team selection), and retired after a final season with Carolina as the NFL’s all-time sack leaders with 198.

Rayfield Wright from Pro Football Hall of Fame. Known as “Big Cat” during his 13 seasons with Dallas, offensive tackle Rayfield Wright started in six NFC championship games and played in five Super Bowls. He was named to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Art Rooney, Jr. - Part 2 by Tom Danyluk. Continuing the conversation with the Pittsburgh executive, who talks about the Chuck Noll-Terry Bradshaw dynamics and a couple of exceptional drafts in 1971 and ’74.

Book Review: Pro Football in the Days of Rockne by Emil Klosinski review by Frank J. Stevens. A positive review of Emil Klosinski’s reissued football history.

Frank Ryan and Gary Collins by Roger Gordon. Catching up with the pass-and-catch duo that stunned Baltimore in the 1964 NFL title game.

Mario Gianelli by John Maxymuk. The big guard, nicknamed “Yo-Yo,” was a “double eagle,” playing for the Boston College Eagles and Philadelphia Eagles in the 1940s.

Un-Bear-able Quarterbacks by Timothy Holland. How the Chicago Bears lost out on Otto Graham, Bobby Layne, and Terry Bradshaw.

Number 5:

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One on One - Conversation with Jim Brown: Part 1 by Roger Gordon. The first of a three-part interview with the former Cleveland fullback, who addresses the ways in which the game has changed since his playing days and the qualities that make for a great player.

The Masters of Versatility by Greg Selber. There were many outstanding pro running backs beyond the usual big names—multi-talented fellows like Chet Mutryn, Dan Towler, Lenny Moore, and Timmy Brown.

Gene Hickerson by Andy Piascik. One of the fastest linemen of his era, guard Gene Hickerson transformed the task of running interference into an art form during his 15 seasons (1958-72) with the Browns.

The Most Enduring Major Passing Record on the Books by Roy E. Brownell II. Despite dramatically inflated passing statistics, nobody has yet topped Norm Van Brocklin’s record 544 yards passing in a 1951 game against the New York Yanks.

PFRA Member Bringing Football and Its History to Young Fans by Mike Kennedy. Mark Stewart has authored many football books geared to young readers.

The Super '70s: Memories of Football's Greatest Era by Tom Danyluk. Press release announcing the publication of author Tom Danyluk’s new book, which features 18 chapters of interviews with football’s most influential players, coaches, and sportscasters from the 1970s.

Most Combined Scores in a Quarter of a Regular Season Game. Listing the most explosive quarters in NFL history.

Book Review: Notre Dame, Chicago Bears and 'Hunk' by Emil Klosinski review by Frank J. Stevens. A review of the recently reissued autobiography of Hunk Anderson, arguably the greatest line coach ever.

Some Journalistic 'Hitchhiking' by Bob Irving. The writer analyzes the analysts.

Interstate Trade by Tim Holland. Turnabout was fair play when the Colts walloped Cleveland, 34-0, in the 1968 NFL championship game.

Ed Khayat by John Maxymuk. The long and not always smooth football journey of player and coach Ed Khayat.

Six Degrees of Separation for NFL Teams from John Maxymuk. The writer applies the commonly cited theory to each NFL franchise. The Denver Broncos, for example: Wide receiver Lionel Taylor (1960-66) played with center Larry Kaminski (1966-73) who played with linebacker Tom Jackson (1973-86) who played with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway (1983-98) who played with wide receiver Rod Smith (1995-2005).

Double Dippin' by Timothy Holland. Tobin Rote and Paul McGuire won championships with two different clubs.

Number 6:

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PFRA-ternizing. Bob Gill discusses his new book, Outsiders: Minor League and Independent Football, 1923-1950.

Committee Reports. Updates on the various PFRA committees.

Pro Bowl Teams of the Fifties by Joel Bussert. Sorting out the confusion surrounding Pro Bowl rosters during the game’s first decade, 1951 to 1960.

Book Review: Last Team Standing by Matthew Algeo review by Bob Hoover. A book review of Matthew Algeo’s Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles—‘The Steagles’—Saved Pro Football During World War II.

One on One - Conversation with Jim Brown: Part 2 by Roger Gordon. The continuing conversation with Jim Brown touches on such topics as Franco Harris, Dick Butkus, Bill Belichick, the passion of Cleveland fans, and retiring in his prime.

Paul Briggs: A Lifetime Dedicated to Football by Jim Sargent. The big tackle’s single NFL season with the 1948 Detroit Lions was the springboard to a lifetime of coaching happiness.

Chuck Bednarik by John Maxymuk. The tough-as-nails center and linebacker relished his persona as “Concrete Charlie” during his seasons with Philadelphia, but his latter years were filled with feuds and bitterness.

Galen Fiss courtesy of Jock.bio. On a franchise known for its leaders, Cleveland linebacker and team captain Galen Fiss embodied the qualities of leadership like no other Brown. When he hung up the pads for the last time after the 1966 season, Fiss had missed only five games in 11 seasons.

Number 7:

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Warren Rabb by Jeff Miller.

One on One - Conversation with Jim Brown: Part 3 by Roger Gordon. The final installment of a candid interview with Jim Brown, in which he gives his views on salary caps, the corporate naming of stadiums, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton, and being remembered.

Luggin' the Leather by T.J. Troup. Do 100-yard rushing games guarantee victory?

Turk Edwards by Michael Richman. Washington’s immovable lineman of the 1930s made a big impact in the NFL’s early years.

Dick Schafrath by Roger Gordon. The veteran Browns lineman of the ‘60s talks Woody Hayes, Paul Brown, Blanton Collier, and Jimmy Brown.

This Game Is Going into Sudden Death by Steven M. Brainerd. The interesting history of overtime games begins in a blizzard during a minor-league game in Philadelphia in 1940.

The Clues Were All There by Timothy Holland. Some upsets can be predicted.

Davey O'Brien by John Maxymuk. After two disastrous seasons running for his life and passing constantly to no avail, quarterback Davey O'Brien quit the Philadelphia Eagles in 1941 to join the FBI.

The 'Other' MVP by Patrick Gallivan. Looking back on Super Bowl MVPs and the difficulty in singling out one man in a team effort.

This month's Coffin Corner

1958 Baltimore Colts

The 1966 Green Bay Packers

The All-America Football Conference

The Early History of Professional Football

A Minor Masterpiece

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