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50 Years Ago: Joe Namath and the Jets Shock the World 0

Posted on January 11, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

Joe Namath dominated the attention prior to Super Bowl III, but few expected his team to win.

With apologies to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the most shocking sports victory of the 1960s took place 50 years ago on January 12, 1969 when the underdog New York Jets lifted the fortunes of an entire league by defeating the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Though the American Football League (AFL) was completing its ninth season and the champions of the AFL and National Football League (NFL) were meeting for the third straight year, most people did not consider the two leagues to be equal. In fact, it is reported that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle believed it might be another decade before the AFL would be an equal to the NFL and that a new format for the Super Bowl might be needed.

In hindsight, we know that the two leagues were indeed much closer in competitiveness than Rozelle believed, but at the time his reasoning was hard to argue against. The NFL Champion Green Bay Packers had claimed the first two Super Bowls by a combined margin of 68-24 and the current NFL Champion Baltimore Colts were perhaps an even more dominant champion than Green Bay.

While the Colts were an established NFL power, the New York Jets were an AFL upstart that had just completed the second winning season in franchise history and were making their first-ever trip to the playoffs.

However, one “ace in the hole” for the Jets was roaming their sidelines. Head Coach Week Ewbank had won two NFL Championships during his nine year tenure as coach of the Baltimore Colts. After moving to the Jets, he had taken the team from a basement dweller to league champions.

During both his time with the Colts and the Jets, Ewbank had the benefit of having an elite franchise quarterback leading the offense.

In Baltimore, he turned Johnny Unitas into an all-time great. Though New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath had not yet reached that status level, in 1967 he did become the first quarterback in pro football history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Read the rest of this entry →

Predicting the 2019 NFL Conference Championships 0

Posted on January 11, 2019 by Kobe Bernard
Can Tom Brady and the Patriots make the AFC Championship Game for the 8th straight year?

Can Tom Brady and the Patriots make the AFC Championship Game for the 8th straight year?

The Divisional rounds are this weekend so it’s time to start looking at possible AFC & NFC Championships matchups and all of the historical data that comes with it.

Odds are out at the top betting site BetOnline as well as SuperBook and many others. At this point shortly before the Divisional Round plays out, the Kansas City Chiefs lead the pack at +160 to win the AFC. Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots are second at +200. The Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts are +450 and +500 respectively.

A Brief History of Conference Championships

Let’s look at the last four years of NFL Conference Championships and see if we can’t find anything that will point us in the right direction as far as predicting this season’s outcomes.

2018 Jaguars vs. Patriots & Vikings vs. Eagles

Ok. we all remember the amazing Jaguars defense that miraculously got Blake Bortles and a less than stellar Jacksonville offense all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Amazingly enough, Bortles passed for 293 yards and a TD without an interception, but it still wasn’t enough. Brady threw two TDs and the Patriots won 24-20 and went on to the Super Bowl.

Then we had the Vikings and their resurgent Purple People Eater defense playing against an Eagles team that had to throw a Nick Foles who hadn’t seen much action all season into the starting role. So the Vikings were three-point favorites, but Foles came out and dropped three TDs and 352 yards on Minnesota. He embarrassed the Vikings in a 38-7 Eagles win. Read the rest of this entry →

Security at the Super Bowl 0

Posted on January 08, 2019 by Scott Huntington

The Super Bowl is one of the largest, most high-profile events held in the U.S. every year. Teams work toward the big game all year, and fans — at least those of the teams that do well — spend the whole season looking forward to it. Tens of thousands of fans attend the game, while millions more watch it at home or their local sports bar.

Planning security for such a large-scale event is no small matter. Law enforcement spent two years planning security for last year’s Super Bowl, which was held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This season’s Super Bowl, which will be held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will require a similar level of preparedness.

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Policing the Party

Last year, the Minneapolis Police Department was the lead agency in charge of security for the Super Bowl. It certainly did not do it alone though. The department’s approximately 840 officers worked together with various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen helped provide security. In total, nearly 2,000 federal agents played in a role in security for last year’s Super Bowl, including members of the FBI, which heads up the counterterrorism efforts surrounding the big game each year. Read the rest of this entry →

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins: Two Memorable Days at Old RFK Stadium 1

Posted on December 29, 2018 by Dean Hybl

1981-Eagles-RedskinsThe Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins will renew their rivalry on Sunday for the 169th time as both teams look to close out the 2018 season with a victory.

Since they first met on October 21, 1934 when the Redskins were still playing in Boston, the Eagles and Redskins have played many memorable games. As division rivals, they typically play twice a year, which has created great drama and familiarity for both the franchises and the fans. They have met one time in the playoffs, with the Redskins ending the Buddy Ryan era in Philadelphia with a 20-6 win over the Eagles during the 1990 season.

The Redskins hold the all-time series lead 85-77-6, but interestingly enough, the Eagles actually have out-scored the Redskins 3,535 points to 3,336.

I had the great pleasure of witnessing two of the most exciting games in the series, both played at the old RFK Stadium in Washington.

The first was during the 1981 season and the second was in 1989. Both games included some fantastic individual plays and exciting endings that resulted in the team that had seemingly been in control for most of the game making a fatal mistake that cost them the win.

December 6, 1981 – Week 14 – Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) at Washington Redskins (5-8)

After reaching the Super Bowl during the 1980 season, the Philadelphia Eagles started the 1981 campaign with six straight wins and seemed poised for another championship run. However, they entered the week 14 game at Washington having lost two straight games and three of their last five.

Conversely, in their first season under the leadership of Joe Gibbs, the Redskins opened the 1981 campaign with five straight losses. After climbing to 5-6 on the season with an overtime win over the New York Giants, they stumbled with consecutive losses to enter the game against the Eagles with a 5-8 record and trying to avoid a losing campaign. Read the rest of this entry →

Syracuse and West Virginia to Clash in the Camping World Bowl Today 1

Posted on December 28, 2018 by Chris Kent

For the first time in five years, Syracuse University is in a college football bowl game. The No. 17 ranked Orange will face No. 15 West Virginia on Friday Dec. 28 in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fl. Kickoff is set for 5:15 pm and the game will be televised on ESPN.

It is the second time Syracuse has played in this bowl game as the Orange also appeared in it when it was called the Champs Sports Bowl in 2004. Georgia Tech beat Syracuse 51-14 in what was the final game for Orange head coach Paul Pasqualoni. This year’s bowl appearance is the first bowl game for Syracuse since it beat Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl following the 2013 season.

Head coach Dino Babers is restoring prominence to Syracuse football.

Behind a breakthrough 2018 season in which the Orange went 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, head coach Dino Babers has restored Syracuse to national prominence on the gridiron. The Orange finished second behind No. 2 Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Orange, who handed Clemson its’ only loss in 2017, gave the Tigers all they could handle this season before Clemson handed Syracuse its’ first loss of the season 27-23 on Sept. 29.

In his third year as Orange head coach, Babers lead Syracuse to a five-win improvement from 2017 that was sparked by a pair of four game win-streaks. Along the way, Syracuse defeated perennial national power Florida State 30-7 on Sept. 15 for the first time since 1966 which ended a 10-game losing streak to the Seminoles. Syracuse finished undefeated (6-0) at home in the Carrier Dome this season, its’ first undefeated home season since 2001 and only its’ fourth all time since the dome opened in 1980.

West Virginia is the fourth-most common opponent for Syracuse as the two have met 60 times on the gridiron with the Orange holding a 33-27 edge. Only Pittsburgh (74), Penn State (71), and Colgate (67) have played Syracuse more often than the Mountaineers. The Orange and Mountaineers formerly met yearly as members of The Big East Conference. The last time the two met was in 2012 when the Orange won 38-14 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY to cap an 8-5 season.

Syracuse emerged this season behind the play of senior quarterback Eric Dungey. Aside from various injuries causing him to miss 10 games over his first three years, Dungey started all 12 games this season for the first time in his college career. Dungey will leave Syracuse as one of the top quarterbacks in Orange history. Dungey and Syracuse legend Donovan McNabb are the only two quarterbacks in school history with 6,000+ passing yards and 1,000+ rushing yards. Entering the 2018 season, Dungey, who is Syracuse’s career leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, stands among the top 10 in school history in 10 other categories including completion percentage (2nd, 61.7 %), passing touchdowns (5th, 40), and passing yards (4th, 6,472). Dungey threw for a season-high 411 yards in a 51-41 win over North Carolina State on Oct. 27 to extend his school career records to 10 300-yard passing games and three 400-yard passing games.

Dungey was healthy nearly the entire season in 2018 and was named the ACC Quarterback of the Week four times. The 6-4 226-pound signal caller was named to the All-ACC Third Team and was the recipient of Syracuse’s Bill Horr award as team MVP. Dungey pressures the defense with his dual threat capability in passing and running where he exudes toughness. In completing 60.1 percent of his passes (205-for-341) this season, Dungey has thrown for 2,565 with 17 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. On the ground, Dungey is second on the team with 732 yards and a team-high 15 touchdowns. Read the rest of this entry →

An Inside Look at AT&T Stadium 1

Posted on December 24, 2018 by Scott Huntington

Back in the early 2000s, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dreamed up a new stadium that would be home to the Cowboys, as well as serving as an entertainment destination. In 2009, that vision became a reality with the opening of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Today, the massive facility hosts college bowl games, concerts and, of course, the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys_Stadium_-_AARK125_1024x1024

AT&T Stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world and the biggest NFL venue. It has more than 3 million square feet of space and has a capacity of about 100,000 fans. In total, the overall site covers about 140 acres. The stadium also has more standing-room-only space than any other NFL facility, with 180,000 square feet of free space.

Budget projections initially estimated building the stadium would cost about $650 million, but the actual construction came in at $1.2 billion. That hefty price tag makes it one of the most expensive sports facilities in the world. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Iron Man Randy Smith
      February 2, 2019 | 5:58 pm

      Randy Smith-BravesThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month may have had a pretty common name, but his iron man streak as an NBA player was anything but ordinary.

      In a streak that lasted more than a decade, Randy Smith played in 906 consecutive NBA games to establish an NBA iron man record that lasted more than a decade.

      That Smith made it to the NBA at all was somewhat of an underdog story.

      A three-sport standout at Bellsport High School in Long Island (basketball, soccer and track), Smith also was a three-sport All-American at Division II Buffalo State College. He helped lead the Bengals to three straight basketball conference championships and a spot in the 1970 Division II Final Four.

      Read more »

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