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Sports Then and Now



Archie Griffin: Two-Time Heisman Winner 0

Posted on December 09, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Archie Griffin

The December Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season. Read the rest of this entry →

2012 Heisman Trophy – Johnny Football Becomes Johnny Heisman 0

Posted on December 09, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Freshman Johnny Manziel claimed the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

The selection of Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner showed us quite a lot about the evolution of college football.

Freshman Rising – Some may not realize that it was just 40 years ago when freshmen were first allowed to compete on varsity teams. Prior to that, all freshmen competed on what were then known as “freshmen teams” to get accustomed to college life and college athletics. They then had three years of varsity eligibility. Of course, once freshmen were given varsity eligibility in 1972 it started the trend of “redshirting” which has some of the same benefits of the old system in allowing the new student-athlete to get accustomed to college, but does not include the freshman team competition that utilized a year of eligibility. Johnny Manziel is a beneficiary of the redshirt program as he did not walk right off a high school campus this past spring and suddenly develop into the Heisman Trophy winner. Instead, he had a year of seasoning at Texas A&M before being thrust into the spotlight.

Still, that he was able to post such strong numbers playing in the toughest conference in college football as a freshman is a testament to his abilities and the ability of the new coaching staff that came to College Station this season to put him in immediate position to succeed. Read the rest of this entry →

Young Colt: Who Needs Luck When You’ve Got LUCK? 0

Posted on November 08, 2012 by Andy Larmand

 

Through the first eight games of his NFL career, Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, has thrown for 2,404 yards and helped his team win five games.

There was a lot of pressure on the Colts coming into the year. I mean a lot. For starters, they won just two games last season and were winless through their first twelve. On top of that, they parted ways with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time to move on to their quarterback of the future.

As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, No. 1 draft pick and successor to Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck has been forced into learning a little bit about living up to the hype. After leading Stanford to a 30-8 record in three seasons and racking up two second place Heisman Trophy finishes, Luck is rolling with the big boys now – even though he already was one in college.

Luck passed up the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 to return to Stanford for his senior season and develop even more skills as well as get his degree. When his college career was finally over, he had thrown for 9,430 yards and 82 touchdowns in just three seasons.

Then, on  Thursday, April 26, 2012, Luck began the next phase of his football career. He was officially drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts to be their immediate starting quarterback and replace one of the icons of professional football, Peyton Manning.

As a rookie, he has completely bought in to the Colts’ way. His leadership and work ethic are both already much further along than they should be at the young age of 23, which he turned just three days after the start of the season. If that wasn’t enough, he even recently shaved his head in support of coach, Chuck Pagano, who has been battling cancer for much of the season.

His first test as a pro came against the Chicago Bears and their crazy good as well as experienced defense. Luck looked all right, but his performance against what would turn into the top defense in the league in 2012 reflected that of a rookie. He threw three interceptions and just one late touchdown when the game was already out of reach in his team’s 41-21 loss on opening day.

The team went 2-3 through the first six weeks of the season with losses to the Jaguars and a 35-9 demolishing to the struggling Jets. They did, however, beat a couple of playoff contenders in the Vikings and the Packers. Luck did throw for 1,208 yards in the first five games (241.6 ypg). It was just a matter of really finding some consistency.

With the Jets game behind them, the Colts would be staring at some favorable match-ups in the coming weeks. A Week 7 game against the Browns with fellow rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden, and Week 8 at Tennessee provided the Colts with a chance to turn things around. And Luck did just that.

With his team trailing late in both games, Luck engineered back-to-back game saving drives that ended up resulting in wins. His game-winning touchdown pass in Week 8 beat the Titans, got Indy to .500 in the division and pushed them over .500 overall for the first time since Manning had left.

Week 9 was more of the same as the Colts grinded out a 23-20 win over the hot Dolphins. Luck threw for a rookie record 433 yards in the win and mixed in two touchdowns with no interceptions. Through eight games, Luck has thrown 10 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions. Through eight games, Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards which is exactly what Manning had through his first eight games and tied for the most ever. Most importantly, through eight games, Luck has the Colts sitting at 5-3 and in 2nd place to the tough Texans in the AFC South at the season’s midway point. If the season ended today, the Colts would be in the playoffs as a wild card team. They have also already more than doubled their win total from last season.

Luck has become the second rookie in NFL history with four 300-yard passing games in his first year. The other was his predecessor, Manning. He also has four 4thquarter or overtime game-winning drives through eight games.  The four other rookie QB’s have combined for four among them. Of course, it helps to have a world class talent like Reggie Wayne at his disposal. Wayne has 61 catches for 835 yards and three touchdowns on the year and more importantly, has given Luck that go-to receiver that all young quarterbacks need.

Compared with the second overall pick of this year’s draft, Robert Griffin III, Luck has 2,404 passing yards to Griffin’s 1,993 and has two more touchdown passes. More importantly, Luck has two more wins than the electrifying Griffin, whose Redskins sit at 3-6 through nine games.

The hype, the preperation and the execution all have the Colts in position to return to the playoffs this year. As Luck prepares to face the Jaguars tonight, he can help his team take a giant step towards that goal. A win would improve the team to 6-3 and more importantly, to 2-1 in the division.

The Colts travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jags at 8:20 pm.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

Happy 70th Birthday Roger Staubach 16

Posted on February 05, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Happy 70th Birthday to American Hero and NFL All-Time Great Roger Staubach.

Sports Then and Now wants to wish a Happy 70th Birthday to one of our favorite athletes of all-time, “Captain Comeback” Roger Staubach.

Known for his late-game heroics, Staubach was one of the iconic figures of the NFL during the 1970s.

During his nine seasons as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Staubach seemed to always have the uncanny knack of making the big play needed to lift his team to victory. He led the Cowboys to 23 fourth quarter game-winning drives during his career, including 15 times with his team trailing.

The Cowboys reached the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons as the starting quarterback and advanced to the Super Bowl five times.

He was named MVP of Super Bowl VI and also led Dallas to the title in Super Bowl XII.

Staubach was a winner even before joining the Cowboys.

He spent three seasons at the Naval Academy and as a junior in 1963 won the Heisman Trophy while leading the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record and a number two national ranking. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering College Football Legend Doak Walker 128

Posted on January 01, 2012 by Dean Hybl

Doak Walker won the 1948 Heisman Trophy and finished third in the voting in 1947 and 1949.

It was 85 years ago today, January 1, 1927, that one of the great legends of college football was born in Dallas, Texas. At a time soon after World War II when college athletics was at its peak, Doak Walker became a national hero and Heisman Trophy winner for the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

A high school teammate of another Texas football legend, Bobby Layne, Walker was a triple threat as a running back, defensive back and kicker. While Layne decided to play collegiately at the University of Texas, Walker chose to stay in Dallas and attend SMU.

While Walker played football, basketball and baseball at SMU, it was on the gridiron where he gained his greatest fame.

After playing briefly for the Mustangs as a freshman in 1945 and then serving 1946 in the Army, Walker started to build his legacy during the 1947 campaign. Dangerous both as a runner and passer, Walker quickly developed into one of the top players in the country.

The 1947 Mustangs won their first nine games before ending the year with ties against TCU (19-19) in the regular season finale and Penn State (13-13) in the Cotton Bowl. In the game against TCU, Walker had runs of 80, 61 and 56 yards. He finished the year third in the Heisman Trophy balloting behind John Lujack and Bob Chappius.

The next season Walker claimed the Heisman Trophy while leading SMU to a 9-1-1 record and their second straight Southwest Conference Championship.

It was during this season that SMU began playing their home games permanently in the newly expanded Cotton Bowl, which became known as “The House That Doak Built.” The season ended with a 21-13 victory over the University of Oregon (quarterbacked by Norm Van Brocklin) in the Cotton Bowl.

After starting the 1949 season with a 5-1-1 record, the Mustangs lost their final three games to end the season with a 5-4-1 mark.

Though Walker did not repeat as the Heisman Trophy Winner (Walker finished third behind Leon Hart and Charlie Justice), he did earn consensus All-America honors for the third straight year.

SMU posted a 23-5-4 record during Walker’s final three seasons and won a pair of SWC championships. He completed his college career with 288 points, 2,076 rushing yards, 1,786 passing yards (completing 128 of 22 attempts), 454 yards receiving, 764 yards returning kickoffs and 750 yards returning punts.

Walker was selected by the New York Bulldogs with the third pick of the 1949 NFL Draft, but never played for the Bulldogs as he returned to SMU for the 1949 season and then was traded to the Detroit Lions. Read the rest of this entry →

10 Best NFL Players Who Won the Heisman Trophy 15

Posted on July 21, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Cam Newton will try to join a small group of former Heisman Trophy winners who have been successful in the NFL.

2010 Heisman Trophy Winner Cam Newton is set to begin his career as a NFL quarterback with the Carolina Panthers.

Newton will have fight the Heisman “curse” in which former Heisman Trophy winners do not have productive NFL careers.

However, there have been a number of Heisman winners that not only had successful careers in the NFL, but some ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here are now the 10 Best NFL Players who won the Heisman Trophy:
10. Jim Plunkett-For the first half of his career, Plunkett was a bust as he struggled with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers following his Heisman win at Stanford in 1970.

Plunkett joined the Oakland Raiders in 1978 to become its backup quarterback and in 1980 became the starter when incumbent Dan Pastorini broke his leg and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title and was the game’s MVP with a 13-of-21 performance for 261 yards and three touchdowns.

Plunkett remained with the Raiders for six more seasons and led the Raiders to another Super Bowl title in 1983.

9. Paul Hornung-“The Golden Boy” won the Heisman in 1956 despite his Notre Dame Fighting Irish winning only two games, then became a vital part in the Green Bay Packers’ dynasty of the 1960s with his versatility as a halfback, receiver, and kicker.

In his nine NFL seasons, Hornung accounted for a total of 760 points and led the league in scoring from 1959-61, including a then-record 176 points in 1960 and the NFL MVP in 1961.

Hornung helped the Packers to four NFL championships despite missing the 1963 season for betting on NFL games.

8. Eddie George-The 1995 Heisman winner Ohio State became one of the toughest and best running backs during his time in the NFL.

George played nine seasons in the NFL, all but one with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, and never missed a game to injury during his time with the Titans.

In his eight seasons with the Titans, George rushed for over 1,000 yards in each season except 2001 where he rushed for 942 yards, and was named to four straight Pro Bowls form 1997 to 2000.

George was a part of the Titans’ Super Bowl team in 1999 where he rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s 23-16 defeat to the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

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