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Sports Then and Now



Remembering Legendary Coach Don Shula 0

Posted on May 14, 2020 by Dean Hybl

The sports world lost one of the most accomplished coaches in modern history with the recent passing of longtime NFL coach Don Shula at the age of 90.

While Shula is recognized as the NFL’s career leader with 328 regular season coaching victories and 347 total including the playoffs, he was also a great tactician and innovator.

A former player under legendary coaches Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank, Shula spent seven seasons as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins. He finished his career with 21 career interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

After retiring following the 1957 season, Shula spent two years as a college assistant coach, first at the University of Virginia and then at the University of Kentucky.

In 1960 he joined the staff of NFL head coach George Wilson with the Detroit Lions. He was Defensive Backs Coach in 1960 and then served as the Defensive Coordinator in 1961-62. In 1962 the Lions posted an 11-3 record, which was the best record in team history.

Following three seasons in Detroit, the 33-year old Shula returned to Baltimore to replace Ewbank as head coach of the Colts. At the time, Shula was the youngest coach in NFL history and younger or a similar age to many of his players, several of whom were his former teammates.

After posting an 8-6 record in 1963, Shula led the Colts to a 12-2 record and the NFL Championship Game in 1964. The Colts lost the title game to the Cleveland Browns 27-0, the first of a number of disappointing losses by Shula coached teams in championship games.

In 1968 the Colts posted an NFL best 13-1 record and defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24-14 and the Cleveland Browns 34-0 to win the NFL Championship. Heavily favored in Super Bowl III, the Colts lost to the Weeb Ewbank coached New York Jets 16-7.

Shula spent one more season with the Colts, but a disappointing 8-5-1 record in 1969 as well as continued tension with ownership following the loss to the Jets the previous season led to his exit from Baltimore.

It didn’t take Shula long to find a new home as he, ironically, replaced his former boss George Wilson as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Wilson had been the first coach of the AFL expansion team in 1966 and won only 15 games in four seasons.

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Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup 0

Posted on November 16, 2019 by Dean Hybl
Earl Morrall

In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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Paul Warfield: The Perfect Receiver 2

Posted on December 10, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Warfield-DolphinsThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was perfection personified as a wide receiver during his NFL career.

Known for his fluid movement, grace and jumping ability during his 13 year NFL career, Paul Warfield was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and key performer for the Miami Dolphins during their 17-0 campaign in 1972.

Because the role of the wide receiver has changed so much and today’s star receivers get the ball thrown to them so many more times than in the pre-1978 era, Warfield is often overlooked when discussing all-time greats.

But, think about this. Warfield averaged 20.1 yards per catch for his career (427 receptions, 8,565 yards) and 19.9% of his receptions went for touchdowns (85). By comparison, Julio Jones has averaged 15.5 yards per catch for his career and a touchdown in 6.9% of his receptions (46 TDs in 669 catches). Antonio Brown averages 13.4 ypc and a TD in 8.7% (70 of 804) of his receptions. Terrell Owens averaged 14.8 ypc and a TD in 14.2% of his receptions. Even Jerry Rice, considered the greatest receiver of all-time, averaged only 14.8 ypc and a TD in 12.7% of his catches. Read the rest of this entry →

Maybe Some Records Aren’t Meant to be Broken 4

Posted on June 02, 2014 by Martin Banks

We all know the saying, “records are meant to be broken.” However, that may not be the case for some of the greatest records set in the world of sports. No matter if it is in baseball, football, hockey, basketball or any other sport, some achievements propel individuals or teams into legends. And while time will continue and records are never safe, certain incredible records have a chance to never be broken. Here are some of the feats throughout the sports world that may stand as all the others continue to fall.

511 Wins- Cy Young

cy

It’s amazing to think about a pitcher winning over 500 baseball games as a pitcher, yet that’s exactly what Young was able to accomplish. It is certainly a different game now with pitchers taking more time off in between starts, making Young’s record seem untouchable. 300 wins may never be reached again by any pitcher, so Young’s 511 mark is surely one of the greatest records in sports. Read the rest of this entry →

Broncos Outlast Cowboys, Patriots and Seahawks Fall From Perfection: Week 5 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 08, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As we took off into the second quarter of the season (for most teams), the fascinating phenomena kept rolling in. Included in this week’s list is something that hasn’t happened to the New England offense in seven years, a first for any quarterback since the merger, the continuation of home dominance for one NFC North team, a record-tying day for one tight end and an offensive outburst in Dallas. Here are your Week 5 NFL headlines.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

The Browns scored their first rushing touchdown of the season (and it wasn’t Trent Richardson) in their fifth game and stayed perfect when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer as they beat the Bills, 37-24, on Thursday night. They did, however, lose Hoyer for the season with a partially torn ACL suffered early in the game. Cleveland punt returner, Travis Benjamin, tied a franchise record with 166 punt return yards in the win for the first-place Browns. Their 37 points were the most they have scored in a game since putting up 41 back in 2009. Since Week 3, they are averaging 28.3 points per game after averaging eight points per game in the first two weeks.

The Patriots fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and the Bengals improved to 6-22 against the AFC East since 1998 as New England managed only six points in the 13-6 loss. The six points were the fewest for the high-powered New England offense since being shut out on Dec. 10, 2006, 21-0, in Week 14 against Miami. The Bengals’ 5-22 record had been the third-worst against one division in that span. Andy Dalton’s first-quarter interception in the red zone was the first red-zone pick of his career. Tom Brady fell two short of the all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass as he failed to record one in game No. 53. The Pats had won 63 straight games when allowing 13 points or less with their last such loss coming in 2001. Read the rest of this entry →

Panthers Embarrass Giants, Body Parts Lost: Week 3 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As September continues to move toward October, this NFL season is providing us with some truths that stand the test of time and some that have and will continue to shock us all. And then, there are the teams or players who break the norm – finally. Week 3 saw the end of an almost-century-long losing streak, the worst loss ever for one head coach, a potential Cinderella story getting to 3-0, a first for the 49ers since 1958, and the Jaguars, well, being the Jaguars. Here are your Week 3 NFL headlines.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

The Eagles lost their eighth straight game at home and the Chiefs, led by former Eagles coach, Andy Reid, improved to 3-0 with a 26-16 win to open the week on Thursday night. It is just the second time Philly has ever lost eight in a row at home and first time since 1936-37. Lesean McCoy managed his third-highest rushing total in the loss, but only second-highest of the season with 158 yards and Michael Vick posted a career-high 61-yard run. The Chiefs joined the 2002 Panthers as the last team to start a season 3-0 after winning two or fewer games the year before. Alex Smith became the first Kansas City signal caller to win his first three starts with the team since Joe Montana in 1993.

Calvin Johnson tied Torry Holt as the fourth-fastest player to accumulate 8,000 career receiving yards as he did so in his 95th career game and Detroit beat the Redskins, 27-20. The win was the first ever for the Lions in the city of Washington (1-21) as they had not beaten the Redskins on the road since they were in Boston in 1935. The Skins fell to 0-3, but Robert Griffin III’s 975 yards through three games are the second-most all-time by a quarterback who started out 0-3. Matthew Stafford became just the second quarterback since 2001 to throw for 200-plus yards in the first half of each of his first three games of a season. 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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