Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Sorry Michael Vick, You Are Not A Pioneer 14

Posted on June 22, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Randall Cunningham showed that quarterbacks could be weapons both throwing and running with the football.

Randall Cunningham showed that quarterbacks could be weapons both throwing and running with the football.

It always amuses me when contemporary athletes act like there is no sports history before they bestowed their presence on their particular game.

The most recent athlete to proclaim his own place in sports history is New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick.

Even though he didn’t come into the league until 2001, the 82nd year of the NFL, Vick is certain that he “revolutionized” the game and “was the guy who started” the era of athletic, mobile quarterbacks.

Evidently Vick had never heard of Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, Randall Cunningham or Steve Young, all of whom used both their legs and their arm to forge great NFL careers long before Vick ever took a professional snap.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. Vick is a gifted talent and has been a dynamic running quarterback for more than a decade, but to suggest that he started the trend of athletic quarterbacks just isn’t correct.

Whether the motive of his recent assertions stem from a true lack of historical knowledge or if they are more related to his desire to create his own legacy as his career is winding down, Vick needs to realize that that though he holds the NFL record for rushing yards in a quarterback, he is just one of many quarterbacks in NFL history to use both his arm and legs to achieve success.

Interestingly enough, while Vick has been a solid NFL quarterback, he really isn’t near the top of the list among quarterbacks who combined running and passing to create a dual threat.

First off, it must be understood that just because a quarterback racks up a lot of rushing yards doesn’t mean he is a great dual threat. Read the rest of this entry →

Philadelphia Eagles 1988-1992: On the Edge of Greatness 7

Posted on September 30, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Reggie White (#92), Jerome Brown (#99) and Mike Pitts (#74) were part of the dominating defense of the Eagles during the late 1980s.

A new NFL Network special looks back at a time 20 years ago when the Philadelphia Eagles also had a team that many believed had the talent to win a Super Bowl. However, while three of their division rivals were able to win titles in the early 1990s, the Eagles were left to contemplate what could have been.

The documentary focuses on two of the defensive stars from the Eagles teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jerome Brown and Reggie White. Both players were key components of one of the dominant defenses of the era and both players passed away far too early (as did fellow Eagles from that era Todd Bell and Andre Waters).

Between 1988 and 1992, the Eagles posted a 52-28 regular season record and joined the San Francisco 49ers as the only teams in the NFL to post double digit victory totals in all five seasons. However, while the 49ers claimed two Super Bowl titles during that stretch and the other three were won by the Eagles’ NFC East rivals the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys, the Eagles were left waiting for a next year that never came.

Under the guidance of head coach Buddy Ryan, defense was the calling card of the Eagles during that era. Utilizing the 4-6 defense that had helped the Chicago Bears win a Super Bowl, Ryan turned the Eagles into an intimidating, ball-hawking defense that regularly created big plays on the defensive end of the game.

While the unit had many talented players, the unquestioned leader of the defense was defensive end Reggie White. The “Minister of Defense” was a defensive juggernaut and regularly punished any quarterback or running back that dared get in his way.

During his eight seasons with the Eagles between 1985 and 1992, White registered 124 sacks in 121 games, including an amazing 21 sacks in just 12 games during the strike-shortened 1987 campaign. He also forced 18 fumbles and recovered 12.

When Philadelphia made defensive tackle Jerome Brown their first pick (ninth overall) in the 1987 draft, it provided White with a rush partner that forced opposing offenses to worry about the rush from both the inside and outside.

By 1988, their third season under Ryan, the Eagles had gelled as a team and were ready to make a run at the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: Philadelphia Eagles Knock Out Phil Simms and the Giants 6

Posted on November 17, 2010 by A.J. Foss

The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants renewed their bitter rivalry in a pivotal game for the NFC East title in week 12 of the 1988 NFL season.

The Giants entered the game with a 7-4 record and tied for first place in the division, thanks to quarterback Phil Simms and their stellar defense, lead by All-Pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Eagles entered the game one back of the Giants, with a 6-5 record.

Like the Giants, the Eagles had a great defense; the “Gang Green” defense constructed by head coach Buddy Ryan and featured a lineup that included defensive tackle Jerome Brown, linebacker Seth Joyner, rookie cornerback Eric Allen, and sack master Reggie White at defensive end.

But the biggest star on the Eagles was quarterback Randall Cunningham, perhaps the most exciting player thanks to his rocket arm and scrambling ability.

The Eagles met the Giants earlier in the 1988 season on a Monday night in Philadelphia when Cunningham pulled off a play for the ages.

On a play at the Giants’ five-yard-line, Cunningham scrambled right where he was met by Giants linebacker Carl Banks who hit him on the legs, appearing to be knocking Cunningham to the ground. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: Eagles Comeback Shocks Redskins 2

Posted on October 23, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Each week, Sports Then and Now picks one NFL matchup and looks through the history books to find an intriguing past meeting between the two teams. We recap the game and hopefully help reintroduce (or introduce for you younger readers) you to some of the greats (and in some cases not so greats) from the history of professional football.

Since their first meeting during the 1934 season when the Redskins still called Boston home, the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins have played some exciting and memorable games. As NFC East rivals, they play twice annually in games that often have playoff implications.

Until the late 1980s, it surprisingly was not common for both the Redskins and Eagles to be contenders at the same time.

When the Redskins were contending in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Eagles were among the weaker teams in the league. By the time the Eagles became a contender in the late 1940s, the Redskins had already started a stretch in which they recorded only three winning seasons in 22 years.

Despite the struggles of the Redskins, they did give the Eagles a serious run during the 1947 season opener. In a game for the ages, Sammy Baugh connected on five touchdown passes and Eddie Saenz had a 94-yard kickoff return for the Redskins. However, Tommy Thompson threw three touchdown passes and Steve Van Buren scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and a one-yard run as the Eagles held on for a 45-42 victory.

While the Redskins became winners in the 1970s, the Eagles were in the middle of a stretch of 11 seasons without a winning record.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s, with Joe Gibbs guiding the Redskins and Buddy Ryan guiding the Eagles that both teams were at the top of their game at the same time.

Our Classic Rewind for this week looks at a memorable matchup from the second week of the 1989 season when the Eagles shocked the RFK crowd with a dramatic fourth quarter comeback.

This game has particularly special memories for me as I was serving as an intern in the Public Relations Department of the Eagles at the time and had the pleasure of observing the game from the press box.
Read the rest of this entry →

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