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Remembering College Football’s “Galloping Ghost” Red Grange 0

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Mike Raffone

MIKE Comic 72 Galloping GhostToday’s Sports Then and Now blog features an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, called this electrifying running back and kick returner the greatest college football player ever.

However, nearly 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football. Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s Sports Then and Now’s blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom recognized as the best college football player of all time.

MIKE on sports!


Pieces in Place for Dallas Cowboys to Contend for Super Bowl 50 1

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Chris Kent

The 2015-16 version of the Dallas Cowboys are about to be unveiled. The stage will be set as America’s Team will be showcased in prime time before a national television audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football tonight. AT&T Stadium will be nothing short of a Texas-sized circus.

An offseason that brought many changes with additions and losses of players through free agency, the draft, trades, and undrafted signings has altered the Dallas team. The team’s offense, defense, and special teams will all feature new faces at key spots and those new faces will largely determine how successful the team is this year. While the Cowboys’ biggest loss is NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, who is now wearing green and white in Philadelphia, other players will be missed. Dallas also lost their punt and kickoff return ace in Dwayne Harris who also contributed as a receiver. Offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell who was a valuable reserve for an offensive line that was regarded as the best in the NFL last season is now in Jacksonville. Also lost in free agency were linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive lineman Henry Melton. Both were important contributors to last year’s 12-4 team that won the NFC East and a playoff game, each for the first time in five years. Murray is the biggest loss out of this bunch as his franchise rushing record of 1,845 yards will be missed. Murray also ran for 13 touchdowns and had 57 receptions for 416 yards last season.

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray.

This year’s running game appears as it will operate by committee unless someone emerges with consistent productivity. Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar all bring different strengths and styles to the position. Randle, a third-year back out of Oklahoma State, brings speed but lacks experience. He has been serviceable in spot duty over his first two years but needs to fulfill his blocking assignments better. Two legal incidents including a shoplifting charge last year following the Cowboys’ upset win in Seattle have raised questions about his character. McFadden, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2006 and 2007, played seven injury-riddled seasons in Oakland where he managed to post only one 1,000-yard rushing season, that being in 2010 when he ran for 1,157 yards on 223 carries. Even then he ran for only seven touchdowns while also missing three games. Dunbar has amassed only 324 yards on 80 carries with no touchdowns in his three-year career. While each of these backs are different, they each can contribute. If McFadden can avoid the toe and chronic foot injuries that have plagued his career, he could be productive for Dallas while Randle will have to stay out of off-the-field trouble and be more consistent. Dunbar’s challenge will be to take advantage of his opportunities and be reliable as a pass catcher and blocker out of the backfield. Waiting in the wings in the backfield is Christine Michael who the Cowboys just signed this past week from Seattle. Michael saw only limited action in his two years as a Seahawk but was on Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII championship team. In time, Michael could make a contribution this season and have a chance to show more. If nothing else, he gives the Cowboys some depth at running back.

Read the rest of this entry →

Here’s How They Set Up Halftime Stages So Quickly 1

Posted on September 10, 2015 by Scott Huntington

It’s the Super Bowl. You’re over at your buddy’s house watching the game when the clock finally expires in the second quarter. Up next are some clever commercials before the broadcast returns and you’re greeted with an epic, gargantuan halftime show that seemingly covers the entire football field.


Ten minutes ago, the field was more or less empty. But right now, there’s a huge stage front and center, not to mention all the props, costumed folks, lighting apparatuses and other spectacles.

How the heck do they pull off these kinds of stunts?

It’s not luck: it’s the result of intense, careful planning. After all, there are only a few minutes to get the stage together. The performance itself is 12 minutes long, and then the stage needs to be completely disassembled and carted off the field.

“It’s the most unique of any unique show or experience,” explains Hamish Hamilton, who’s directed the Super Bowl halftime show since 2010. “It’s easily the most intense and by far the most adrenaline-charged because you have a very real set of factors that can only come together at halftime.” Read the rest of this entry →

Lawrence McCutcheon: Ram Tough 0

Posted on September 02, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Lawrence McCutcheon

Lawrence McCutcheon

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season four times in a five-year stretch, but also threw a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XIV.

A third round draft pick out of Colorado State in 1972, Lawrence McCutcheon played in just three games without a single carry as a rookie. However, beginning in his second season, the fleet runner made five straight Pro Bowl appearances and finished in the top five in the NFL in rushing four times. Read the rest of this entry →

Four Favorites to Win Super Bowl 50 0

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Brooke Chaplan
Now that he has a new contract and one of the best tight ends in football, Russell Wislon should be headed to a big season in 2015.

Now that he has a new contract and one of the best tight ends in football, Russell Wilson should be headed to a big season in 2015.

With the NFL season just around the corner, America is getting excited. Thousands of people will pack stadiums around the country to root for their favorite teams, shops will be littered with excitable fans picking up their favorite star player’s Webobble custom sports bobbleheads or video games. Concession stands and restroom lines will make you feel like you’re actually waiting for the newest amusement park ride, but you do it all for the team! To get the NFL season started this year, we present some of this year’s NFL Favorites.

Seattle Seahawks
Last year’s runner up is this year’s favorite. The Seahawks boast (and what many consider to be) the league’s best defense. They’ve managed to keep together their core group of players and are still adding pieces to the puzzle. One of those pieces the Seahawks acquired this off season, is Jimmy Graham. Jimmy is one of the league’s best tight ends, and will surely add another dimension to Russel Wilson’s receiving arsenal.

Green Bay Packers
With the league’s best offense last year, Green Bay comes in at number two. The Packers had a disastrous collapse in last year’s NFC Championship game, and let the Seahawks sneak by them into the Super Bowl. Green Bay has locked up Aaron Rodgers’ and two favorite targets in multi-year deals, though the loss of Jordy Nelson to a season-ending knee injury will hurt. Fortunately, Rodgers still has Randall Cobb, who has emerged as an elite receiver,  along with powerful running back Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Read the rest of this entry →

Pro Football Hall of Fame Welcomes “Workhorse” Class 2

Posted on August 08, 2015 by Dean Hybl
With eight inductees, the 2015 Hall of Fame Class is the largest since 1967.

With eight inductees, the 2015 Hall of Fame Class is the largest since 1967.

With no quarterbacks and only one first ballot selection, the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class isn’t quite as glamorous as some others in recent years, but it is an important group of workhorse inductees who all enjoyed long and successful careers.

After a period from 1991-2005 when the HOF selection committee created a glut of worthy inductees by picking no more than five people in 12 of 14 years, they have spent the last decade filling the HOF with both glamorous and workmanlike candidates. The HOF has admitted at least six candidates every year since 2006.

The 2015 class of eight selections marks the largest class since 1967 and includes six former players as well as two executives. Bill Polian and Ron Wolf are the first football executives who were not owners to be selected for the HOF since Jim Finks in 1995.

While the marquee player from this class is certainly Junior Seau, all six players enjoyed long and distinguished careers. Several have been eligible for the HOF for several years, but had to wait for others to take their rightful place before it was time for them to receive their busts.

Moving forward, there are still some outstanding players “in the que” as well as several new candidates that will be eligible in the next few years, so it will be interesting to see if the HOF selection committee continues to push the number of new enshrines each year or if they pull back slightly in the coming years.

Regardless, the 2015 class is one for the ages and helps tell the story of football history over the past several decades. Below are brief capsules of each selection:

Jerome Bettis: Known as “The Bus”, Bettis ranks sixth in NFL history with 13,662 yards rushing. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and twice was a first team all-pro selection. An eight-time 1,000 yard rusher, Bettis spent his first three seasons with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He rushed for a career-high 1,665 yards in 1997 and was a mainstay for the Pittsburgh rushing game for a decade. His final game was Super Bowl XL as he helped the Steelers win the Lombardi Trophy.

Tim Brown: Based on statistics alone, Brown certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame. He ranks fifth in NFL history with 1,094 receptions, sixth with 14,934 receiving yards and seventh with 100 receiving touchdowns. Between 1993 and 2002 he caught at least 76 passes every year (NFL high 104 in 1997) and had nine 1,000 yard seasons. Brown was a nine time Pro Bowl selection, but never received All-Pro honors. While Brown was a great talent and had great statistics, it seems hard to justify him as a HOF member when other great receivers from previous eras who were key parts of championship teams, most especially Drew Pearson and Otis Taylor, have not yet been recognized in Canton. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bob Gibson: Big Game Hurler
      October 4, 2015 | 10:33 am
      Bob Gibson

      Bob Gibson

      With the baseball playoffs upon us, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a two-time World Series MVP who hurled eight complete games in the Fall Classic and still holds the record for strikeouts in a World Series game.

      Throughout his 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, opponents knew they were in for a battle every time they faced Bob Gibson.  

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