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Sports Then and Now



What’s Brett Favre Doing These Days? 1

Posted on April 06, 2020 by Martin Banks

Before Aaron Rodgers, the Wisconsinite dynasty that is the Green Bay Packers was led by another legendary gunslinger. Millennials might not recall the glory days of Brett Favre delivering laser-guided long-range passes to Antonio Freeman, Mark Chmura and Donald Driver, but he is one of the league’s few three-year consecutive MVPs and a respected Hall of Fame quarterback.

You might spot Favre appearing on the occasional sporting goods commercial, but if you guessed that he’s got much more going on, you’d be right. So what is your favorite QB up to these days?

Staying Active

It’s not just in the commercials that Favre continues to live up to his athletic past. The 16-season NFL quarterback still covers 100-plus miles per week on his bicycle. 

By the look of him, he could step right in behind center today and do just fine. He’s also taken up competing in triathlons and even an Ironman competition in Key West. 

Favre points out that he’s discovered a love for travel., and has visited such places as Yellowstone National Park with his wife, Deana. 

Read the rest of this entry →

A Look at the Best NFL Teams of the Decade 0

Posted on January 22, 2020 by John Harris

2020 is here and a lot has been made of the upcoming Super Bowl, the pending draft and the greatest players of the past decade but what about the franchises that have kept us entertained throughout the past 10 years? Now, we look at the best sides of the 2010s.

NUMBER 5 – DENVER BRONCOS 

It’s quite easy to forget about the Broncos because they’ve been someway off the pace in the last few years. The first half of the decade though was a different story. 2010 saw a poor campaign with 12 losses but when expectations were low Denver took off; five seasons followed where they finished in first place in their division, which was aided with the arrival of Comeback Player of the Year Peyton Manning in 2012. 

The post season was a sore subject for many years though with defeat in NFL Super Bowl 48 a hard pill to swallow but you can’t keep a good Bronco down and their decade reached it’s peak in 2015 as they finally lifted the Super Bowl with a victory over the Carolina Panthers.

NUMBER 4 – BALTIMORE RAVENS 

John Harbaugh has done a tremendous job with the Ravens over the last 12 years but, despite a more than competitive decade, they could have achieved so much more. Four division triumphs, a conference win and narrow Super Bowl glory – where Joe Flacco was named MVP – were the highlights and a win rate of .613 ensures the franchise keeps improving decade on decade. If they can continue the progression into the 2020’s then we’ll have a team on our hands and given they’ve switched style from a defense first approach to a now eye catching offense who knows what lays in wait.

NUMBER 3 – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 

The Seahawks spent the entire decade challenging at the top of their division with all but one of the campaigns ending with the minimum of a second-place finish. Their post season displays were respectable too and although back to back Super Bowl wins eluded them after defeat to the Patriots in 2014 there is simply no ignoring their success the year before where they destroyed the Broncos 43-8, which was the biggest Super Bowl win of the decade.

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NFL at 100: Top 100 Players of All-Time – 75-51 2

Posted on January 01, 2020 by Dean Hybl

One of the cool parts of the NFL celebrating 100 years in 2019 is remembering the great moments and players that have helped shape the history of the game.

The NFL Network and others have developed their own All-Time teams or top 100 player lists.

Not to be out-done, we have also chosen Sports Then and Now’s top 100 players in NFL history.

We are breaking the selections into four groups of 25. You can read our players 100-76 here. We will be featuring the top 50 in two subsequent posts.

In a sport that has seen great change and evolution over 100 years, creating any comprehensive all-time list is going to be subjective and open to interpretation. You can read more about the criteria we used to select our top 100 players.

This is the second of four posts announcing the ST&N Top 100. This one includes players 75-51 (the team listed is the one they were most associated with during their career).

Shannon Sharpe

75. Shannon Sharpe – Denver Broncos – 8 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st Team All-Pro: The most dominant tight end of his era, Sharpe was a key weapon for John Elway during the 1990s. He caught 80 or more passes three times and also had three 1,000 yard seasons. He helped the Broncos win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 and then caught 67 passes to help the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl following the 2000 season.

74. Ernie Nevers – Chicago Cardinals –5 time 1st Team All-Pro: A four-sport college star at Stanford, Nevers played five seasons in the NFL (1926-27 with the Duluth Eskimos and 1929-31 with the Chicago Cardinals) and was a first team All-Pro as a fullback each season. In 1929 he established an NFL record that still stands when he scored all 40 points (six touchdowns and four extra points) in a 40-6 win over the Chicago Bears. He was an inaugural inductee of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

73. Paul Warfield – Miami Dolphins – 8 Pro Bowls; 2 time 1st team All-Pro: One of the greatest deep-threat receivers in NFL history, Warfield averaged 20.1 yards per reception for his career. With 85 career touchdown catches out of 427 career receptions, he averaged a touchdown for every five receptions throughout his career. He helped the Cleveland Browns win the NFL Championship during his rookie season and then proved to be a key addition for the Miami Dolphins as they went to three straight Super Bowls and won consecutive titles in 1972 and 1973.

72. Randall McDaniel – Minnesota Vikings – 12 Pro Bowls; 7 time 1st team All-Pro: One of the top offensive linemen of the 1990s, McDaniel was a first-team All-Pro guard seven times and second-team twice between 1990 and 1998.

71. Randy Moss – Minnesota Vikings – 6 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st team All-Pro: Few players have created the immediate buzz that Moss did as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. He caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and a league-high 17 touchdowns as the Vikings went 15-1. He eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards 10 times during his career and had nine seasons with 10 or more touchdown receptions. In 2007 with the New England Patriots, he established an NFL record with 23 receiving touchdowns to help the Patriots finish 16-0 during the regular season.

70. Steve Largent – Seattle Seahawks – 7 Pro Bowls; 1 time 1st team All-Pro: The first Superstar of the Seattle Seahawks franchise, Largent was one of the most prolific receivers of his era.  He had 70 or more catches six times in his career and eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards eight times, including twice leading the league. He had double digit touchdown receptions three times and was the first player in NFL history with 100 touchdown receptions. At the time of his retirement he was the NFL career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

69. Jonathan Ogden – Baltimore Ravens – 11 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st team All-Pro: A dominant left tackle, Ogden was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the final 11 seasons of his career. He was called for only 15 holding penalties in 12 seasons.

68. Ray Nitschke – Green Bay Packers – 1 Pro Bowl; 2 time 1st team All-Pro: A key member of the Green Bay Packers five championship teams in the 1960s, Nitschke was a two-time first team All-Pro and three time second team All-Pro at middle linebacker. He had 25 interceptions and recovered 23 fumbles during his career.

Read the rest of this entry →

Terrell Who? Today is Jerry Kramer’s Day 0

Posted on August 04, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Jerry Kramer was a key part of the famous Packer power sweep.

Jerry Kramer was a key part of the famous Packer power sweep.

When we started Sports Then and Now nine years ago, one of the first things we did was create a list of former NFL players who we felt were deserving of being included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but up until that time had been snubbed for induction.

Number one on that list was former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer. Today, Kramer’s name can finally be removed from that list.

While one member of the Hall of Fame class of 2018 is trying to steal the attention by focusing on what he believes was a personal snub not to be a first-year inductee, in reality, his perceived snub and hardship is nothing compared to what Jerry Kramer has endured over the last half century.

When the NFL announced the 50th Anniversary All-NFL Team in 1969, Jerry Kramer was one of the two offensive guards named to the team. Yet, it took until just one year before the 100th Anniversary All-NFL Team will be announced before Kramer was selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Green Bay Packers of the 1960s were one of the great dynasty teams in NFL history. Kramer will join 12 other members of the 1960s Packers (plus Coach Vince Lombardi) in the Hall of Fame.

Kramer retired after the 1968 season and was first listed as a Hall of Fame finalist in 1974. Initially, it seemed likely that Kramer would be inducted pretty quickly. He was a finalist seven times in an eight year stretch between 1974 and 1981 while seven of his teammates were inducted.

At that time, Kramer wasn’t the only 1960s Packer having to wait his turn for induction. In 1981, two of his former teammates, Willie Davis and Jim Ringo, were inducted in their sixth and seventh years as a finalist, respectively. Later in the decade, Paul Hornung was selected in his 12th year as a finalist in 1986 and Willie Wood in 1989 in his 10th time as a finalist.

Kramer was again a finalist in 1984 and 1987, but still had not yet received the call. Read the rest of this entry →

Pro Football Hall of Fame Gets a Bit Closer to Legitimacy 0

Posted on February 03, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For me and likely many other long-time lovers of the history of pro football, the relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been a messy one.

I have enjoyed the great fortune of visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame multiple times over the years, including taking my kids to Canton in 2015. The museum is a wonderful place to see, recall and learn about the many great moments, players and teams that have been part of the nearly 100 year history of the NFL.

However, while the Hall of Fame was created to be a historical archive to tell the story of professional football, over the years it has become more associated with the players specifically enshrined as Hall of Famers.

That is where for me the relationship starts to get a bit challenging.

While most of the 310 men who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame through 2017 are unquestionably deserving, the process in which players are chosen has often been an uneven process in which some former players, coaches and administrators are quickly recognized while others with similar credentials either wait for many years or are totally omitted.

Made up of sports media professionals, the Hall of Fame selection committee has a long history of personal vendettas and bias.

Longtime committee member Paul Zimmerman reportedly said that Ken Stabler would never get inducted in his lifetime and sure enough Stabler was not inducted until the year after he died in 2015.

My greatest frustration with the Hall of Fame selection committee stems from their regular practice of making players and coaches who clearly have Hall of Fame credentials wait extended periods of time before being inducted.

Among the clearly deserving Hall of Famers who have been forced to wait beyond their initial year of eligibility were Fran Tarkenton, Shannon Sharpe, Derrick Thomas, Hank Stram, Willie Lanier, Tom Mack and Willie Wood.

The one position that has historically been treated with limited respect by the selection committee is position of wide receiver. Entering 2018, 25 modern era wide receivers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but only four of them (Jerry Rice, Raymond Berry, Paul Warfield and Steve Largent) were selected in their first year of eligibility. Read the rest of this entry →

50 Years Ago: The Ice Bowl 0

Posted on December 30, 2017 by Dean Hybl

It was 50 years ago that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers met in the Ice Bowl.

It was 50 years ago that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers met in the Ice Bowl.

There have been a lot of iconic games during the nearly 100 year history of the NFL, but no game has quite combined championship drama with unprecedented weather conditions like the 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Played fifty years ago on December 31, 1967, the game has become known simply as “The Ice Bowl.”

The buildup to the 1967 NFL Championship Game actually started a year earlier when the Packers made a late goal line stand to preserve a 34-27 victory over the Cowboys in the 1966 NFL Championship Game played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Neither team had an easy path through the 1967 season. In actuality, the two best teams in the NFL during the regular season were the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts. However, they were in the same division and only one of the two teams could make the playoffs in an era before the wild card.

Baltimore entered the regular season finale in Los Angeles with a 11-0-2 record, including a 24-24 tie with the Rams during their earlier meeting. Not only did the Colts lose their chance at an undefeated regular season during their 34-10 loss, they also lost a chance at reaching Super Bowl II. Instead, the Rams earned the Coastal Division title and a spot in the playoffs.

Even though the Rams had a better record (11-1-2) than the Packers (9-4-1), their divisional playoff game was played in Green Bay on December 23, 1967. The Rams had defeated Green Bay 27-24 in a hard fought regular season game two weeks earlier, but this time the Packers dominated. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Randy White: The Manster
      September 4, 2020 | 5:14 pm

      In recognition of the start of football season, we have selected a two-time All-American from the University of Maryland who went on to earn a spot in both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames as our Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Randy White actually came to the University of Maryland as a fullback, but as a sophomore new head coach Jerry Claiborne recognized that he had the skills to be a great defensive lineman and quickly moved him to defense.

      Read more »

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