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Sports Then and Now



John Hadl: San Diego Gun Slinger 0

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Dean Hybl

Before Dan Fouts and Philip Rivers gained fame slinging the football down the field for the San Diego Chargers, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month quarterbacked the high-flying lightning bolt offense during the 1960s.

Drafted by both the Detroit Lions of the NFL and San Diego Chargers of the AFL in 1962, John Hadl chose to join future Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman and the perennial AFL contending Chargers. Read the rest of this entry →

Otis Taylor: KC’s Game-Breaker 0

Posted on November 30, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor

The December Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was once famously shuffled out of a window during the AFL-NFL player wars and went on to become one of the top big-play receivers of his era.

After playing college football at the tiny, historically black, Prairie View A&M University, Otis Taylor was selected in the 1965 draft by both the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL and Philadelphia Eagles from the NFL. He ultimately signed with the Chiefs and became a key weapon for a Kansas City team that appeared in two of the first four Super Bowls. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Loses a Legend With Death of Oakland Raiders Boss Al Davis 18

Posted on October 08, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Oakland Raiders managing partner Al Davis has passed away at the age of 82.

For all the jokes that have been made about the Oakland Raiders in recent years, there has always been a special aura around the “silver and black”. The reason for that was the man who built the Raiders practically from scratch, Al Davis. His death at the age of 82 is a huge loss not just for the Raiders, but for all of professional football.

Few could have predicted when the 33-year-old Davis became the youngest person in the history of professional football to hold the position of head coach and general manager at the same time that Davis would turn the Raiders into one of the iconic sports franchises in America.

Though he showed glimpses of brilliance immediately as the Raiders went 10-4 and Davis was named AFL Coach of the Year during his first season as head coach. He spent two more seasons as head coach and compiled an overall record of 23-16-3.

In April of 1966 Davis was named commissioner of the AFL, but his tenure would prove to be very short. While Davis was working to make the AFL stronger and more formidable in their competition with the NFL, other owners (without his knowledge) were working on an agreement to merge with the NFL. Davis ultimately opposed the merger because he felt the NFL was receiving excessive compensation from the AFL teams, but the merger still went through.

He ultimately resigned as commissioner and returned to the Raiders where he bought a 10 percent share of the team and became one of three general partners.  He also served as head of football operations as the Raiders played in Super Bowl II and continued to build a squad that would be among the best in football during the 1970s.

In 1972 he took control of the Raiders as managing general partner and served in that role until his death. Read the rest of this entry →

Lionel Taylor: The First 100 Catch Man 4

Posted on October 08, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Lionel Taylor

It was 50 years ago that the October Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became the first player in professional football history to catch 100 passes in a single season.

Reaching the century mark for receptions in a season has been accomplished by at least one NFL player in every season except one since 1990, but when Lionel Taylor caught 100 passes in just 14 games for the Denver Broncos it was an accomplishment that had never previously been approached.
Read the rest of this entry →

How Joe Willie Namath Saved Football from Itself and Changed a Nation Forever 2

Posted on July 25, 2009 by L.J. Burgess
Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath each personified an era in Pro Football history.

Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath each personified an era in Pro Football history.

I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow…’Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day“…words to live by.

I was a 10-year-old farm boy when Joe Namath signed the biggest contract in pro football history.

The war between the AFL and NFL had reached its apex, and the news of Namath’s choosing the upstart AFL traveled far and wide—even to our local weekly, the little ol’ “Reidsville Review” down in Carolina.

At that point in my life, my knowledge of professional football was gleaned from family gatherings around a huge woodstove on Sundays and an occasional peek at a snowy black and white TV that the men huddled around after church…as long as I was quiet.

Out of those bull sessions, I surmised that Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts were, and always would be, the greatest group of athletes in the history of the game…forever, 1958′s “Greatest Game Ever Played” being the benchmark against all who would challenge their superiority.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Sudden Sam McDowell
      July 4, 2017 | 8:48 pm
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      Sudden Sam McDowell

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a hard-throwing lefthander who often led Major League Baseball in both strikeouts and walks. His off-the-field story also made him the prototype for a famed television character.

      Sudden Sam McDowell made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians a week before his 19th birthday and pitched in the majors for 15 seasons.

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