Coffin Corner Index


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Number 1:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing Executive Director Lee Elder presents the annual “State of the PFRA” report to members and discusses the increase in both membership and social media followers; the sales figures for the line of PFRA books, which total four titles in print now; and the promotion of Greg Tranter to managing editor of the Coffin Corner. There is also additional information on the co-head coaches of the Pittsburgh Passion added as speakers to the 2023 PFRA Convention in Pittsburgh.

The Hall of Very Good Class of 2022 by Matt Keddie, Andy Piascik, Jay Thomas, and John Turney. Career highlights of last year's class are included for Mark Bavaro, Matt Blair, Mark Gastineau, Keith Jackson, Bert Jones, Bucko Kilroy, Clay Matthews Jr., and Lionel Taylor.

2022 PFRA Awards The official announcement of the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography, the Nelson Ross Award for recent achievement in pro football history, the Bob Carroll Memorial Writing Award for the best Coffin Corner article, and the Jack Clary Award for service to the organization.

Four Longhorns Help Upstart Jets Win Super Bowl III by Patrick Gallivan. The 1965 Orange Bowl was the first college football game to be televised live in prime time and pitted top-ranked Alabama, led by quarterback Joe Namath, against the University of Texas. Four key members of that Longhorn squad would later team up with Broadway Joe and the AFL Jets to take on the mighty Baltimore Colts of the NFL on that very same field in Super Bowl III. This is the story of those Texas players and their part in an upset for the ages.

The PFRA Biography Project: Sid Youngelman by Budd Bailey. An account of a Russian-Jewish immigrant’s son who received a scholarship offer to play basketball at Alabama in 1950, but an incident during his freshman year changed the trajectory of his life—he switched sports to football, and that led him to a nine-year career in the NFL.

Number 2:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing An update on another speaker and two players added to the 2023 PFRA Convention in Pittsburgh, and a full rundown of the speakers, activities and accommodations. In addition, there's a complete listing of the seven episodes available to stream now of the Official PFRA Podcast.

They Put the “Foot” in Football: Hall of Fame Position Players Who Punted or Kicked or Did Both by Alan Ross. A comprehensive look at the 54 Hall of Famers who, in addition to excelling at their regular position, also aided their team by placekicking and/or punting, including some who were the best to ever perform at this type of special teams. They're all here from Jim Thorpe to John Lynch. Yes, Lynch kicked off twice in one game, on an emergency basis, and never again.

Indoor Cats: The Detroit Lions Move to the Silverdome by Thomas E. Hall. An exploration of the reasons behind the Lions’ move to Pontiac, Michigan in 1975, and an analysis of the resulting detrimental effect it had on the team’s road winning percentage while calling their last two indoor stadiums—the Silverdome and Ford Field—home.

Canada vs. the United States (in Football) by Gary Cobb. A short history of the exhibition contests between Canadian and American teams from various leagues starting in 1923—from the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU), an early version of the AFL, the AAFC, and all the way up to the last AFL, and the CFL and NFL—the rules they played under, and why this unrelated series of games ended in 1961.

2022 Player Deaths. A list of the pro football players who died last year, including information on the team(s) and league(s) they played for, the date and location of their death (if known) and their age when they passed away.

Number 3:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing The deadline for nominations to the PFRA elective offices—President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer—is announced as September 15, 2023. Also, two new episodes of the Official PFRA Podcast are now available to stream featuring Bills defensive back Jeff Nixon, and Vikings and Chargers offensive lineman Ed White.

Official 2023 Hall of Very Good Ballot Twenty candidates are listed, and each ballot must include 10 votes. Note that the deadline for submitting your ballot is October 31, 2023.

The Class of 2023 by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Career capsules, highlights, statistics, and awards from this year’s Hall of Fame class: Rondé Barber, Don Coryell (coach/contributor), Chuck Howley (senior), Joe Klecko (senior), Darrelle Revis, Ken Riley (senior), Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas, and DeMarcus Ware.

Making Headlines: Identifying Pro Football’s Earliest Stars (1890–1903) by John Wilke. The author scoured almost 600 game accounts in contemporary newspapers to develop a methodology for rating pro football players at the turn of the 19th century, with a mind towards developing an All-Era Team with 11 starters and three honorable mentions.

Number 4:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing PFRA President George Bozeka recaps the recent national convention in Pittsburgh, two new committees are discussed in addition to regional chapters, and a notice on the membership drive being extended until the end of the year.

Official PFRA Elections Ballot Note that the deadline for voting is December 1, 2023.

Wally Yonamine: The Trailblazing Two-Sport Athlete by Joe Hession. A short biography of the native Hawaiian and Japanese American who broke new ground in pro football as a player for the San Francisco 49ers, and as a player and manager in major league baseball in Japan.

"Downright Hatred” The Jets’ Final Step to Super Bowl III by Jim Marino. A detailed account of the 1968 AFL Championship Game that pitted the Oakland Raiders against New York in a Heidi Game rematch that propelled the Jets on to Super Bowl III and Joe Namath’s “guarantee.”

Underrated: Quarterback Joe Ferguson by Evan Grip. An exploration of the life and playing career of the QB they called “Fergy,” who was drafted out of Arkansas, went on to be a 12-season starter for the Buffalo Bills, and became a beloved figure by their fans.

Motley’s Crew: Pioneers of Women’s Professional Football by Bill Johnson. The story of Marion Motley who, in his search to battle racism in the football coaching ranks, ended up landing a blow against sexism in the sport as the first coach of the Cleveland Daredevils in the Women’s Professional Football League.

Number 5:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing The 2023 results for the PFRA’s elective offices are reported with all the incumbents winning reelection, the inductees into this year’s Hall of Very Good’s Class are also announced, an update on the 1964 Buffalo Bills book, and the news of the latest episode of the Official PFRA Podcast showcasing two authors with football biographies on Hall of Fame coach George Allen.

Hammond’s $20,000 Football Team: The 1919 All-Stars by Chris Serb. The story of the Northwest Indiana pro football team a year before the founding of the NFL and their financially troubled owner Paul Parduhn, along with the famous players they employed including Bert Baston, Paul Des Jardien, Paddy Driscoll, and, most famously, a young George Halas, who got his start in professional football with the All-Stars, that played their home games in Weeghman Park, later known as Wrigley Field, in nearby Chicago.

Setting the Bar: Interim Head Coaches Who Took Their Teams to the Playoffs by Ben Carpenter. Since the advent of pro football’s postseason in 1933, only four teams have made the playoffs with different head coaches than those that started the season. All four are highlighted here—the 1942 Chicago Bears, who were led by co-head coaches Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos after George Halas was called to duty in World War II; the 1952 Los Angeles Rams, led by Hamp Pool; the 1961 Houston Oilers, who won an AFL championship with interim coach Wally Lemm; and the 2021 Las Vegas Raiders, coached by Rich Bisaccia after Jon Gruden was fired.

2023 PFRA Bookshelf by John Maxymuk. The annual bibliography of pro football books published this year, including those by PFRA members Lee Elder, Gregg Ficery, Dan Pompei, Tommy Phillips, Mike Richman, Mike Sando, and Greg Tranter.

Number 6:

The Coffin Corner

PFRA-ternizing There are several updates on the local and regional chapters of the organization. We hear from the Michigan, D.C./Baltimore, the brand new Great Plains, and Philly chapters. The Western New York Chapter also announces that their Eighth Annual Conference will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024, in Springville, New York.

The Immaculate Reception That Nearly Wasn’t by Neal Golden. The miraculous catch-and-run off a deflected pass by Franco Harris in the 1972 playoff game between the Raiders and the Steelers has been called the greatest single play in the history of the NFL—if not the most controversial. But for it to happen, all the stars had to be aligned. This is a look at the factors involved that led up to this extraordinary touchdown.

1953 NFL Season in Review by Andy Piascik. A report on the 34th season of the league, including the role of television in growing the popularity of the game, and the outstanding players of the year. Short rundowns of the marquee games in 1953 are listed, as well as a recap of the game of the year—the championship match between Detroit and Cleveland, with the Lions winnning a second consecutive NFL title over the Browns.

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Philadelphia Eagles by Jimmy Grant. A Top 10 list of trivia about the team affectionately known as the Birds, and a follow-up to Randy Snow’s article about the Detroit Lions (Vol. 43, No. 3). Did you know that President Kennedy and his brothers considered buying the franchise? That John Madden’s injury in Eagles training camp ended his playing days but helped launch a Hall of Fame coaching career? The real story behind the booing of Santa Claus? No? Well, read on!