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Sports Then and Now



George Blanda: NFL’s Great Old Man 0

Posted on December 15, 2019 by Dean Hybl
George Blanda

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month had two separate careers in pro football that combined to make him one of the legendary players of his era (or eras).

George Blanda, who played a record 26 years in professional football and didn’t retire from the NFL until the age of 48, is best remembered for his nine-year stint as the crusty old kicker and miracle maker for the Oakland Raiders of the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, his career transcended generations and connected legends.

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Bum Phillips Made Houston Fans “Luv Ya Blue” 3

Posted on October 19, 2013 by Dean Hybl

Bum Phillips won 55 games in six seasons as coach of the Houston OIlers.

Bum Phillips won 55 games in six seasons as coach of the Houston OIlers.

Though he is best known for his six-year tenure as head coach of the Houston Oilers, Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips, who has passed away at the age of 90, spent more than 30 years coaching at all levels from high school to college and eventually the NFL.

However, Phillips greatest role occurred even before he ever walked a football sideline. He was an 18-year old student and football player at Lamar College (now Lamar University) when he enlisted in the Marines shortly after Pearl Harbor. He soon became one of the elite Marine Raiders.

After the war, Phillips returned to Lamar and then spent two years playing football at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Phillips spent much of the 1950s coaching high school football at a number of schools across Texas. He did, however, get his first taste of college football as he served as an assistant to Bear Bryant at Texas A&M in 1958.

He later served as the head coach at Texas Western (now Texas El-Paso) in 1962 and as the defensive coordinator at the University of Houston for the 1965 and 1966 seasons.

His first foray into the NFL came in 1967 when legendary coach Sid Gillman hired him as the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. He coached with the Chargers for four years and later served as Gillman’s defensive coordinator with the Houston Oilers.

In 1975, the 51-year old former high school coach completed his improbable journey by being named the head coach and general manager of the Houston Oilers.

Though the Oilers had not posted a winning record since 1967 and just two seasons earlier had won just one game, Phillips led his squad to a surprising 10-4 record during his first season at the helm. Read the rest of this entry →

Earl Campbell: The Tyler Rose 7

Posted on December 04, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Earl Campbell

The December Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is considered one of the greatest running backs in both college and professional history.

Born in Tyler, Texas and known as the Tyler Rose, Earl Campbell spent more than a decade as the most dominating football player in the state of Texas. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

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