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Iron Man Randy Smith 0

Posted on February 02, 2019 by Dean Hybl

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 the rest of this entry →

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 →

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 →

Paul Warfield: The Perfect Receiver 1

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Warfield-DolphinsThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was perfection personified as a wide receiver during his NFL career.

Known for his fluid movement, grace and jumping ability during his 13 year NFL career, Paul Warfield was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and key performer for the Miami Dolphins during their 17-0 campaign in 1972.

Because the role of the wide receiver has changed so much and today’s star receivers get the ball thrown to them so many more times than in the pre-1978 era, Warfield is often overlooked when discussing all-time greats.

But, think about this. Warfield averaged 20.1 yards per catch for his career (427 receptions, 8,565 yards) and 19.9% of his receptions went for touchdowns (85). By comparison, Julio Jones has averaged 15.5 yards per catch for his career and a touchdown in 6.9% of his receptions (46 TDs in 669 catches). Antonio Brown averages 13.4 ypc and a TD in 8.7% (70 of 804) of his receptions. Terrell Owens averaged 14.8 ypc and a TD in 14.2% of his receptions. Even Jerry Rice, considered the greatest receiver of all-time, averaged only 14.8 ypc and a TD in 12.7% of his catches. Read the rest of this entry →

The Athletes Who Went Broke 0

Posted on November 30, 2018 by Scott Huntington

The story of the athlete who turned rags to riches by going pro is one we love to tell. Often, professional sports takes this story to the extreme with the biggest stars earning hundreds of millions. The top 100 highest-earning athletes, according to Forbes, brought in a cumulative $3.8 billion last year.

But the story of pro athletes going from riches to rags is almost as common. According to Sports Illustrated, 78 percent of former NFL players experience financial stress after just two years out of the league, and 60 percent of NBA players go broke after five years of retirement, although the NBA disputes this claim.

Athletes Who Went Broke

Tyson

Whatever the case, though, stories of former stars falling on rough times are plentiful. There was Mike Tyson, who earned more than $400 million over the span of his career but declared bankruptcy before he retired. According to a New York Times article about his bankruptcy filing, Tyson spent lavishly. Tyson has claimed that his former promoter, Don King, cheated him out of tens of millions of dollars.

Read the rest of this entry →

Preston Pearson: The Ultimate Third-Down Back 0

Posted on November 17, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Preston-Pearson-Cowboys-2The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month played in five Super Bowls with three teams during a 14-year NFL season, but is likely best known for being the ultimate third-down situation back during his time with the Dallas Cowboys.

When Preston Pearson was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL draft out of the University of Illinois, there was no expectation that he would develop into one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. In fact, given that Pearson was a two-year starter in basketball and never played a snap of college football, he was a long-shot to ever play a down in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      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.

      Read more »

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