Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Remembering Sports Greats We Lost in 2016 4

Posted on December 31, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Muhammad Ali won the Heavyweight Boxing Championship three times during his career.

Muhammad Ali won the Heavyweight Boxing Championship three times during his career.

While it is inevitable that every year we say goodbye to some of those who shaped sports history, it seems like 2016 included more than the normal share of all-time sports legends. Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer were not just sports legends, they were national icons whose celebrity transcended sports. At their peak, Pat Summitt and Gordie Howe were synonymous with their respective sports. In addition, the year included the death of several well-known members of the sports media as well as a number of accomplished coaches.

Below is a brief remembrance of some of the sports greats who passed away in 2016:

Muhammad Ali: While it is not difficult to poke holes into Ali’s self-proclaimed moniker as the “Greatest of All-Time”, there is little doubt that during his peak, Ali was one of the most recognized people on the planet. An Olympic boxing champion in 1960, Ali (then known as Cassius Clay), won the Heavyweight title in February 1964 with a sixth-round TKO of champion Sonny Liston. Ali, who was 22-years-old at the time he won the title, maintained the belt until 1967 when it was stripped following his federal conviction for refusing draft induction. It would be more than three years before Ali would return to the boxing ring. During the 1970s, Ali regained the Heavyweight title twice more while participating in some of the most iconic boxing matches of all-time. He fought Joe Frazier three times, winning the last two, and also defeated George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.” After retiring in 1980, the once polarizing Ali developed into an American icon. His battle with Parkinson’s syndrome over the last two decades saw the charismatic Ali struggle to communicate, but he was often in the public eye.

Ralph Branca: Branca won 88 games and as a three-time All-Star during his 12 year Major League career, but he is best known for giving up the “Shot Heard Round the World” to Bobby Thomson during the 1951 National League Playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. He had only eight career wins before going 21-12 with a 2.67 ERA during the 1947 season. However, what Branca is perhaps best known for during the 1947 season was his willingness to stand next to teammate Jackie Robinson at the beginning of the season when others were reluctant. Branca won 13 or more games three other times during his career.

Dennis Byrd: Byrd’s NFL career was cut short in 1992 when he was paralyzed as a result of an on-field hit. He recovered enough to walk onto the field to start the 1993 season and went on to be a motivational speaker. He died as a result of a car accident in October.
Read the rest of this entry →

Philadelphia Eagles 1988-1992: On the Edge of Greatness 7

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Reggie White (#92), Jerome Brown (#99) and Mike Pitts (#74) were part of the dominating defense of the Eagles during the late 1980s.

A new NFL Network special looks back at a time 20 years ago when the Philadelphia Eagles also had a team that many believed had the talent to win a Super Bowl. However, while three of their division rivals were able to win titles in the early 1990s, the Eagles were left to contemplate what could have been.

The documentary focuses on two of the defensive stars from the Eagles teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jerome Brown and Reggie White. Both players were key components of one of the dominant defenses of the era and both players passed away far too early (as did fellow Eagles from that era Todd Bell and Andre Waters).

Between 1988 and 1992, the Eagles posted a 52-28 regular season record and joined the San Francisco 49ers as the only teams in the NFL to post double digit victory totals in all five seasons. However, while the 49ers claimed two Super Bowl titles during that stretch and the other three were won by the Eagles’ NFC East rivals the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys, the Eagles were left waiting for a next year that never came.

Under the guidance of head coach Buddy Ryan, defense was the calling card of the Eagles during that era. Utilizing the 4-6 defense that had helped the Chicago Bears win a Super Bowl, Ryan turned the Eagles into an intimidating, ball-hawking defense that regularly created big plays on the defensive end of the game.

While the unit had many talented players, the unquestioned leader of the defense was defensive end Reggie White. The “Minister of Defense” was a defensive juggernaut and regularly punished any quarterback or running back that dared get in his way.

During his eight seasons with the Eagles between 1985 and 1992, White registered 124 sacks in 121 games, including an amazing 21 sacks in just 12 games during the strike-shortened 1987 campaign. He also forced 18 fumbles and recovered 12.

When Philadelphia made defensive tackle Jerome Brown their first pick (ninth overall) in the 1987 draft, it provided White with a rush partner that forced opposing offenses to worry about the rush from both the inside and outside.

By 1988, their third season under Ryan, the Eagles had gelled as a team and were ready to make a run at the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Who was the best NFL Quarterback in the 1970s?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top