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Sports Then and Now



NFL Network’s A Football Life Has Jumped the Shark 0

Posted on September 30, 2018 by Dean Hybl
NFL Network's show A Football Life debuted in 2011.

NFL Network’s show A Football Life debuted in 2011.

In case you are not familiar with the term “Jumping the Shark”, it refers to the great 1970s TV Show Happy Days. Towards the end of its run on ABC, they had an episode when “The Fonz” somehow ended up on water skis and actually jumped a shark (or at least a mechanical shark). To fans, it signaled the moment when they knew the show was out of realistic plots and was on its way towards the end.

Given that the first three episodes of season eight of A Football Life have included a pair of shows about quarterbacks with a combined total of one conference championship appearance during their careers, I think it is clear that this once great show has passed its “Jump the Shark” moment.

When A Football Life first came on the air in 2011, it provided a fresh and innovative approach for telling about the football journeys for some of the great figures in recent NFL history. Most of those highlighted were living at the time they were featured, though that has not always been the case.

After starting with a two-part episode about New England Coach Bill Belichick, they followed up with a fresh look at a pair of former teammates whose lives ended early, Reggie White & Jerome Brown. Other tales from the opening season focused on the cinema worthy stories of Kurt Warner, Walter Payton, Ed Sabol, Mike Ditka, Tom Landry and Al Davis.

Though the second season began with a nod to the “flavor of the moment” by featuring Tim Tebow, the remainder of the season was excellent with every episode telling a unique, behind the curtain, story about an NFL Legend.

As a fan of NFL history, if there has been anything significant to criticize about the choices of former players to feature, it would be that they have almost totally ignored players from the pre-Super Bowl era and in reality, have focused disproportionately on players from the 1980s to today.

The term "Jumping the Shark" refers to an episode of Happy Days where "The Fonz" jumped a shark.

The term “Jumping the Shark” refers to an episode of Happy Days where “The Fonz” jumped a shark.

Not counting shows on former players who became coaches or broadcasters, through the first seven seasons there have only been four shows featuring players whose primary years in the league occurred prior to 1970 (Jim Brown, Joe Namath, the Los Angeles Rams Fearsome Foursome and Chicago Bears greats Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus).

To me that is really a shame. I understand maybe not going back to the beginning of NFL history to feature former greats who have been gone for generations, but given that NFL Films originated in the 1960s, I cannot understand why they have basically ignored that great era of the NFL and AFL.

Off the top of my head, I can name 10-20 players who were active in the 1960s and either are still alive or were alive when the series started that would be great to feature. Players like Bart Starr and Willie Davis from the great Packer teams, the first Dallas Cowboy draft pick Bob Lilly, Sam Huff, Alex Karras, Y.A. Tittle, Sonny Jurgensen, Len Dawson, John Brodie, Lenny Moore, Hugh McElhenny, Fran Tarkenton and the recently deceased Tommy McDonald are just a few of the many players from that era that had amazing NFL journeys and would have been great to feature in the series.

Though the bias to the post-merger era has always been there, in the early years there was at least a balance with some shows featuring players from the 1970s and early 1980s.

However, in recent years, the show seems to have become more of a vehicle for current broadcasters and recently inducted Hall of Famers.

Read the rest of this entry →

5 Predictions for the 2018 NFL Season 1

Posted on September 08, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge season in 2018.

Expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge season in 2018.

It is finally that time again, can you say “Are You Ready for some football?”

The 2018 NFL season should be an interesting one as the Philadelphia Eagles are the defending champions, the New England Patriots may finally be coming back to earth and the Cleveland Browns seem likely not to go 0-16 again.

For anyone looking to make a killing at 10 Bet Football below are five predictions for the 2018 season.

Buy Ezekiel Elliott and Sell Le’Veon Bell

Last year Le’Veon Bell was one of the best players in the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott suffered through a rough sophomore year that included a six game suspension.

After a full training camp, watch for Elliott to be focused on returning to the elite running back status he displayed during his first NFL campaign in 2016.

Conversely, Bell sat out training camp for the second straight year and after returning before the first game last year, he is not playing in the 2018 opener and could be out for a while.

Given that the prime performance years for running backs is historically short-lived, Bell is determined to get a large guaranteed payday while still at his highest level.

Last year he touched the ball more than 400 times, which is usually one of the major reasons that running backs don’t last. Knowing that the Steelers are not going to use him wisely once he joins the team, Bell and his representatives have decided that they need to take control by sitting for what appears to be multiple games.

So, my prediction for 2018 is that Elliott will be an All-Pro while Bell will not have a special season, but will likely position himself for a pretty good payday in 2019.

Watch Out For the Browns

I am tempted to predict that the Cleveland Browns will win more games than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, but that might be just a little too bold.

What does seem likely is that the 2018 Cleveland Browns will win more games than has been won in Cleveland over the last two seasons. Granted, they just need two wins to exceed that total, but I do believe the Browns have elevated their talent level and will be competitive this season.

Heck, even though they were the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 last year, head coach Hue Jackson had them playing hard almost every week. They just lacked enough talent to make enough great plays to win games. Read the rest of this entry →

2018 NFL Offensive Rookie – Players You Must Bet On 0

Posted on August 28, 2018 by Joseph Falchetti

NFL rookie

2018 NFL Offensive Rookie – Players You Must Bet On

SportsBetting.ag Odds to Win The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

  • Saquon Barkley +175
  • Baker Mayfield +550
  • Sam Darnold +600
  • Josh Rosen +900
  • Josh Allen +1200
  • Lamar Jackson +1200

There is a much longer list, but for I am only going to cover the top six players. For the full list of odds, head over to SportsBetting.ag as There is a much longer list. I am only going to cover the top six players I consider worth betting on this season. If you are looking into getting to bet on NFL football we recommend this NFL Football Betting Guide as a great resource.

Saquon Barkley: +175

Barkley is no doubt an electrifying player. His first ever NFL touch was a 39-yard gainer. However, I don’t feel like he’s too great of a bet at not even +200. For one, he already has a hamstring injury. He’s expected to be back for Week 1, but that’s never something you want to see happen to a running back, even before the regular season starts.

Let’s also not forget that New York’s offensive line has been “rebuilt.” And, the early results, well, they don’t look so promising. Even the best backs need a strong offensive line in front of them. Let’s also not forget that Jonathan Stewart could steal some goal-line touches. Or, the Giants may opt to the throw more in the red zone. That might mean fewer touchdowns for Barkley. Let’s also not forget that this team is not supposed to be very good. That’s my case against Barkley and why I don’t think he’s worth a bet at +175. Read the rest of this entry →

Best 10 and Worst 3 NFL Stadiums 0

Posted on May 17, 2018 by Scott Huntington

Going to an NFL game is an adventure. It’s exciting to see a professional sports team play live in front of you. The only downside is you pay lots of money for the tickets and parking — and then you get gouged on food prices. But it’s all worth it because you enjoy the atmosphere, the energy and the stadium where the game is played.

What about the stadiums themselves, though? Some stadiums are brand new, and others have been open for decades. You may love or hate a certain stadium for reasons that are hard to describe. Some just have that certain atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else. Others are architectural masterpieces and full of high-tech inventions.

Some stadiums are clearly better than others, however. Here’s a look at 10 of the best and three of the worst you’ll find.

The Best

These are 10 of the best stadiums you’ll find:

Read the rest of this entry →

Football is Part of America’s Thanksgiving Tradition 0

Posted on November 22, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Football has been part of the Thanksgiving tradition for nearly a century.

Football has been part of the Thanksgiving tradition for nearly a century.

Ever since the first professional football league was formed in the early 1900s, football has been as much a part of Thanksgiving Day as pumpkin pie, turkey and dinner at Grandma’s.

Upon creation of the NFL in 1920, the league initially played multiple games on Thanksgiving Day.

In 1920 there were a total of six games played on Thanksgiving. Included during that first season were matchups between the Canton Bulldogs and Akron Pros, Daytona Triangles against the Detroit Heralds, and the Elyria Athletics against the Columbus Panhandles.

The first matchup between two current NFL franchises was in 1922 when the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Chicago Bears 6-0. The first regular Thanksgiving rivalry, the Cardinals and Bears met every year between 1922 and 1933.

The following year, the Cardinals played the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day while the Bears faced the Detroit Lions.

From 1934-1938 the Bears and Lions played annually on Turkey Day.In 1939 and 1940 the only Thanksgiving Day game was played between the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.

No Thanksgiving Day games were played during World War II, but since 1945 the Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day ever year.

From 1951 through 1963 the Lions and Packers were a regular Thanksgiving tradition.The Lions and Packers met on Thanksgiving Day every year between 1951 and 1963. In 1962 the Lions handed the Packers their only loss of the season.

The Packers and Lions met annually on Thanksgiving from 1951 through 1963. In 1962 the Lions ended the Packers hopes for an undefeated season with a 26-14 Thanksgiving Day victory.

However, after the Lions handed the Packers their only loss of the 1962 season in a shocking Thanksgiving massacre and then the following season played the defending champions to a 13-13 tie, Vince Lombardi and the Packers thought they should share the Thanksgiving experience with the rest of the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys made their first Thanksgiving Day appearance in 1966 when they defeated the Cleveland Browns 28-14. With the exception of the 1975 and 1977 seasons, the Cowboys have hosted a game on Thanksgiving ever since.

When the AFL began play in 1960 they also started playing games on Thanksgiving Day. From 1960 through 1969 the AFL had at least one game on Thanksgiving every year.

Following the NFL-AFL merger and realignment in 1970, the league settled on having two Thanksgiving Day games with Detroit and Dallas traditionally serving as the hosts.

In 2006 a third game was added originally televised by the NFL Network and now on NBC, but unlike the two other games of the day, the host site has been rotated between several teams.

Below are some specific games and memories from the Golden Era of Thanksgiving football that helped solidify football as an important part of the American holiday:

November 29, 1934 – In the first Thanksgiving matchup between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, the Bears won 19-16 to improve their season record to 12-0. They defeated the Lions again the following week in Chicago to finish the regular season undefeated.

November 22, 1951 – In what became a Thanksgiving Day tradition for more than a decade, the Detroit Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers 52-35. Jack Christiansen scored on punt returns of 71 and 89 yards and Bobby Layne tossed four touchdown passes.

November 27, 1952 – In their only year of existence, the Dallas Texans had already become wards of the NFL by Thanksgiving and were playing out the schedule wherever they could find a potential audience. On Thanksgiving Day, the winless Texans faced the Chicago Bears in Akron, Ohio. In front of a sparse crowd, the Texans claimed their only victory of the season with a 27-23 victory over the Chicago Bears. Read the rest of this entry →

4 Football Players You’ve Forgotten About and What They’re Up to Now 0

Posted on October 30, 2017 by Carol Trehearn

Football-1The names of the latest NFL superstars usually stay in the national spotlight for several years after retirement. These players become commentators on major news stations, launch their own restaurants or fashion lines and appear as guests at a variety of events and fundraisers. But what about the players who never achieve superstar-status?

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the players who fall out of the spotlight after retirement, keep reading to learn about four football players you’ve forgotten about, and what they’re doing since leaving the field:

Jake “the Snake” Plummer

You’ve probably heard of plenty of former NFL players who have gone on to launch restaurant chains, become actors or start a career as sports commentators. Less common are stories of football players who continue careers as professional athletes, but in different sports. But that’s exactly what Jake “the Snake” Plummer went on to do. His 10 year NFL career included runs with the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. But when he abruptly retired in 2007 after getting traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Plummer went on to launch a new career as a professional handball player. In his very first appearance as a professional handball player, Plummer and his brother/partner took second place in the U.S. Open of Handball.

Plummer now runs handball tournaments and occasionally steps back into the world of football as a sports commentator.

Joe Horn

If you were a Kansas City Chiefs fan in the late 1990s or a New Orleans Saints fan in the early 2000s (or an Atlanta Falcons fan in 2007), you may remember Joe Horn for his over-the-top touchdown celebrations. Now, if you live in the South, you may be more likely to recognize his brand name faster than his real name. That’s because Horn is founder of the barbecue sauce Bayou 87. His sauce claims to blend the flavors of New Orleans with cajun culture.

When he isn’t stirring up his signature taste, Horn is also known for partnering with other former players and coaches to host youth football camps across the country. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Billy Kilmer: Hard-Nosed Quarterback
      September 2, 2018 | 7:32 pm
      Kilmer

      Billy Kilmer

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month began his NFL career as an athletic running quarterback, but he endured a near fatal car accident to completely change his game during a career that spanned nearly two decades.

      Anyone who is familiar with former NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer probably remembers him as the portly, un-athletic, but very tough quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. However, during his first two NFL seasons, Kilmer was primarily used as a running quarterback and running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

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