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Repeating History? Cooper Kupp Conjures Memories of Bucky Pope 0

Posted on December 09, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Bucky Pope caught 10 touchdown passes and averaged 31.4 yards per catch during his rookie season in 1964.

Bucky Pope caught 10 touchdown passes and averaged 31.4 yards per catch during his rookie season in 1964.

Even though Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp was a third round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft and a third-generation NFL player, his emergence as a star receiver for the Rams conjures comparison to another small school player who made an immediate impact more than 50 years ago.

With a 5-7-2 overall record, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t have a lot to celebrate during the 1964 campaign. However, one bright spot was the emergence of eighth round draft pick Bucky Pope. Known as the “Catawba Claw” because he played his collegiate football at tiny Catawba College in North Carolina, Pope proved to be one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history.

He emerged as a deep threat with a 65-yard touchdown reception from Bill Munson against Detroit during the second week of the season and over the year caught 10 touchdown passes, including six touchdowns of 48 yards or greater.

In a 42-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in week six, Pope caught four passes for 141 yards, including touchdown catches of 48, 68 and 18 yards from Roman Gabriel.

Twice facing Vince Lombardi’s Packers, Pope had a 55-yard touchdown reception in their first meeting and a 95-yard score in the final week of the season.

Overall, Pope caught 25 passes for 786 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 31.44 yards per catch were the second highest single season total in NFL history.

Unfortunately, Pope’s amazing rookie season proved to be something he could not repeat. He hurt his knee during a preseason game in 1965 and didn’t play at all that season.

He caught one pass, a 14 yard touchdown pass, during the 1966 season. In 1967, he caught eight passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Included in that total was a 48-yard touchdown catch against the Eagles that would prove to be the final touchdown catch of his career.

Clearly no longer the player he had been in 1964, Pope was released by the Rams and spent a brief period of time in camp with the Atlanta Falcons before playing in three games, with no catches, for the Green Bay Packers in 1968. Read the rest of this entry →

Lawrence McCutcheon: Ram Tough 2

Posted on September 02, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Lawrence McCutcheon

Lawrence McCutcheon

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season four times in a five-year stretch, but also threw a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XIV.

A third round draft pick out of Colorado State in 1972, Lawrence McCutcheon played in just three games without a single carry as a rookie. However, beginning in his second season, the fleet runner made five straight Pro Bowl appearances and finished in the top five in the NFL in rushing four times. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Deacon Jones, the Secretary of Defense 1

Posted on June 04, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

Deacon Jones was twice the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and recorded 20 or more sacks in four seasons.

The NFL lost an all-time great with the death this week of Hall of Fame defensive end David “Deacon” Jones at the age of 74.

While he will be remembered as a revolutionary defender who invented the term “sack” and the now-outlawed “head slap”, Jones was more than just another great player.

At a time when African American players were just gaining wide-spread acceptance, Jones beat the odds to become one of the best players of his generation.

Born in Eatonville, Florida (near Orlando), Jones attended Hungerford High School and then South Carolina State. After just one season, Jones lost his scholarship after being involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He then played one season at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State) before being drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams.

Though unheralded, Jones soon established himself as a rising star and became part of one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history. During the 1960s, the “Fearsome Foursome” developed into a key component of the turnaround of the Rams from a perennial loser to a consistent playoff contender.

When Jones joined the Rams in 1961, Lamar Lundy was already on the squad as a defensive tackle. The year after Jones, Merlin Olsen was drafted by the Rams and became one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history.  The line was complete when Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier was traded to the Rams from the Giants in 1963.

Over the next three seasons, the defensive front became one of the best in football, but the Rams were still unable to develop into a winning team. Read the rest of this entry →

Merlin Olsen: A Giant On and Off The Field 1

Posted on March 12, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Merlin Olsen earned 14 Pro Bowl trips during his 15-year NFL career.

Merlin Olsen earned 14 Pro Bowl trips during his 15-year NFL career.

The sports world lost a gentle giant on Thursday with the death at age 69 of NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen.

Though Olsen made his name as one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history, he is known to a generation for his post football work as a broadcaster and pitchman as well as for his role on one of the leading television programs of the 1970s and 1980s.

A three-time All-American and 1961 Outland Trophy winner at Utah State, Olsen was the first round pick in the 1962 AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos (second overall) and in the 1962 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams (third overall).

He chose to play for the Rams and the result was one of the greatest careers in NFL history.

Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Sid Luckman: Chicago Bears Legend
      September 28, 2019 | 7:09 pm
      Sid Luckman

      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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