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Larry “The Zonk” Csonka 0

Posted on January 29, 2022 by Dean Hybl
Larry Csonka

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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Report: Tom Brady Retiring From the NFL 0

Posted on January 29, 2022 by Dean Hybl

Less than a week after leading a spirited, but ultimately unsuccessful comeback in the NFC Playoffs, multiple sources are reporting that 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady is retiring from the NFL.

Multiple sources are reporting that Tom Brady is retiring after 22 seasons in the NFL.

If the reports are accurate, it is truly the end of an amazing era in NFL history. Not only has Brady played in more Super Bowls (10) and has more Super Bowl rings than anyone else (7), but he holds the NFL records for most passing attempts, most passing yards, most touchdown passes and most passing yards in NFL history.

However, unlike some of the quarterbacks he overtook for the all-time passing records (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino), Brady’s legacy is truly less about the statistics than it is about his winning history.

In the 20 seasons in which Brady was the full-time starting quarterback, he led his squad to the playoffs 19 times, including the last 18 years in a row. His career playoff record of 35-12 in 47 games represents nearly three full regular seasons worth of postseason performances.

When describing great coaches, they often use the adage that he could take his team and beat your team and then take your team and beat his team. Tom Brady is one of a handful of football players for which you could make the same comment. If Brady was the quarterback of the team, you knew they always had a chance to win.

Few (okay, no one, except maybe him) predicted such lofty greatness when Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 draft with the 199th overall pick.

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80 Years Ago: NFL Action on “A Day That Will Live in Infamy” 3

Posted on December 07, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The first Sunday in December of 1941 began much like Sundays have for years prior and for the 80 years since.  The morning for many included a church service and then was followed by Sunday afternoon National Football League action.

December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans’ Day at the New York Giants football game.

Though the NFL in 1941 was not the Sunday national obsession that it has become over the past 80 years, there was still excitement for the final three games of the regular season.

In New York, a crowd of 55,051 packed the Polo Grounds for “Tuffy Leemans’ Day” as the New York Giants were recognizing their All-Pro running back in the final regular season game of his sixth NFL season. Leemans had led the NFL in rushing with 830 yards as a rookie in 1936 and as was common during the era, he was a multi-threat who also could be a passer, receiver, punt returner and play defense. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

The Giants entered the game with an 8-2 record and having already clinched the East Division title. Their opponents, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers (yes the Brooklyn Dodgers was also the name of an NFL team from 1930-1943) entered the game with a 6-4 record.

Brooklyn had defeated the Giants 16-13 earlier in the season, but a recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers had knocked the Dodgers out of contention for the division title.

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Predictions for This NFL Season 0

Posted on August 24, 2021 by Zach Chambers

It’s right around the corner, and before you know it the NFL season will be upon us. There is nothing better than the fall when football returns, and Sundays are taken up with cheering, talking trash, and biting on your fingernails. With the NFL, the anticipation is not as good as the arrival, but it’s still fun to make predictions about what might happen in the coming season. Here are some bold, and maybe not so bold, prognostications heading into another exciting fall and winter of NFL football. 

Can Ezekiel Elliott Return to Prime Form in 2021?

Ezekiel Elliott Bounces Back In A Big Way

Last year was a rough one for the Dallas Cowboys, and Elliott was a big part of that. He’s won the rushing title twice already, even though he’s only 26 years old. However, last season he struggled, gaining fewer than 1000 yards and averaging only 4.0 yards per carry. To some, he might be considered washed up. However, there are plenty of reasons why he might bounce back and even win the rushing title yet again this year. 

To start, Dak Prescott will be back under center once again after a catastrophic injury early on in 2020. He’ll be throwing to their three-headed monster of a receiving corps, with Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. The ability to air it out will open up a lot of space for Zeke, allowing him to do what he does best. Plus, the Cowboys play in the weakest divisions in the league. This means that they should be able to win a lot of games. When they are in the lead, Elliott will get the ball a lot to run down the clock and lock down the wins. It should also be noted that Elliott had a very similar season in 2017 to the one he had in 2020, and he bounced back and won the rushing title the very next year. 

Julio Jones Takes The Titans To New Heights

If Julio Jones hasn’t been the best receiver in the NFL since he came into the league, he’s at least been in the conversation. With the Falcons, he was an instrumental part of one of the best offenses in the league year in and year out. Now he finds himself on the Tennessee Titans after requesting a trade in the off-season. 

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Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch 0

Posted on August 07, 2021 by Dean Hybl

Drew Pearson

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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Four Cowboys Among Twenty-Eight Inductees Set to be Recognized at the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1

Posted on August 04, 2021 by Chris Kent
Football fans from everywhere will be flocking to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the annual induction ceremonies and festivities taking place August 5-9.

With 17 enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame among players, coaches, and executives who spent their whole careers or made their primary contribution with the franchise, the Dallas Cowboys have always been well represented in Canton, Ohio. This coming weekend of Aug. 7-8, three more primary Cowboys and a fourth who spent only one season in Dallas will be enshrined in the hallowed hall where their busts and bios will be preserved forever. These four Cowboys are part of 19 individuals who will be officially inducted this year. Dallas is one of several franchises with multiple enshrinees this year. Other franchises with multiple inductees who have at least some ties to them include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Green Bay Packers among others. Both the classes of 2020 and 2021 are being inducted this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that forced the 2020 enshrinement to be cancelled. The two classes total 28 inductees, nine who were elected posthumously. Special video tributes of these nine will be shown between the live speeches during the two enshrinement ceremonies. Each of them were enshrined in a separate ceremony on April 28 at the Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Johnson, Harold Carmichael, Cliff Harris, and Drew Pearson are the four former Cowboys being inducted this weekend who played or coached in Dallas. Harris and Pearson played their entire careers with the Cowboys and were teammates for much of the 1970s when Dallas appeared in five Super Bowls and won two. Johnson made his mark as head coach of the Cowboys for five seasons from 1989-93 leading them to the franchise’s only back-to-back Super Bowl Championships following the 1992 and ’93 seasons. Johnson also was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1996-99. Carmichael played only one season for Dallas which came in 1984, his final season as a pro after playing 13 years for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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