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Sports Then and Now



The Strange Saga of John Spano 1

Posted on November 25, 2013 by Martin Banks

New York Islanders fans have uttered many a profane word in the last few decades regarding the failures of their beloved team, but none so vile as “Spano.” It is rare, in sports history, to find such a bizarre story of deceit, grandstanding and unabashed bravado as you’ll find in the saga of businessman John A. Spano Jr.’s attempt to purchase the New York Islanders. Recently ESPN has chronicled the tale in one of their incredible “30 for 30” documentaries entitled “Big Shot.” Let’s take a look back at one of the NHL’s most embarrassing follies.

In the 1990’s, there was nothing left of the brilliant Islanders dynasty teams of the 80’s save for the Stanley Cup banners in the rafters and the memories of depressed fans. At the start of the 1995-96 season, Mike Milbury (whose name also is used as a swear word by Islander faithful) had been placed behind the bench as the team’s head coach. It was also the year of the much maligned “Fish Sticks” jersey, which closely resembled the Gorton’s Fisherman logo.

Islanders fisherman

 

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      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

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      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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