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Sports Then and Now



5 Athletes Who Made Amazing Comebacks After Debilitating Injuries 0

Posted on February 22, 2020 by Brooke Chaplan

Injuries are almost inevitable in professional sports. However, some of these injuries can be harder to recover from than others. Several athletes have made some fascinating comebacks after pushing through some difficult injuries.

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson

This NFL superstar tore the MCL and ACL in his knee around 2011. As a running back, such injuries could prove catastrophic to Peterson’s career. It wouldn’t be out of the question for fans to wonder if he would ever take to the field again. Fortunately, Peterson didn’t just play the game again. He was also part of the lineup for the Vikings less than a year after suffering what could have been a career-ending problem. This short recovery period comes combined with some great plays from Peterson.

John Orozco

Most people hold Olympic contestants to the highest standard in sports. It is fair to say that gymnast John Orozco is tough and dedicated. However, few fans may know just how driven this athlete is on the mat. Orozco tore his ACL once and his Achilles twice in the span of just five years. Either one of these incidents could have spelled the end for him. However, Orozco won the championship title for the US the same year he tore his ACL.

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NFL at 100: Top 100 Players of All-Time – 25-1 1

Posted on February 02, 2020 by Dean Hybl

As part of our celebration of the NFL at 100, Sports Then and Now is finishing our list of the top 100 players in NFL history with picks 25-1.

One of the cool parts of the NFL celebrating 100 years is remembering the great moments and players that have helped shape the history of the game.

The NFL Network has been sharing their selections for the top moments, game-changers, teams and characters. They also picked their All-Time top 100 team, though they did not rank the players 1-100.

In a sport that has seen great change and evolution over 100 years, creating any comprehensive all-time list is going to be subjective and open to interpretation.

That is likely even more pronounced when trying to choose the top 100 players of the NFL’s first 100 years.

Some will certainly rely heavily on statistics as a guide, but my opinion is that while individual season statistics and the number of seasons leading the league in a statistical category can help identify greatness, career and all-time statistics are not as helpful and can be misleading when trying to pick an all-time team.

Whether it is related to the number of games played each season, move from playing both ways to position specialization or rule changes that impact offensive production, there has been enough change over the history of the game that I believe reduce the importance of career statistics.

 That is why for the Sports Then and Now list of the Top 100 Players in NFL history we chose to give greater emphasis to other factors. The things we looked at when choosing our top 100 included All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, number of times leading their league in statistical categories, how they compared to other players from within their era and peak performance. Team success was given greater weight in ordering quarterbacks, but played only a minor role in selecting players from other positions.

The result is a Sports Then and Now Top 100 list that includes many of the players selected by NFL Network, but does have quite a few differences. For our list, we made sure not to forget those players from the 1920s-1950s whose career statistics are well below players from future decades, but who were clearly all-time greats.

The distribution of players by era for the ST&N Top 100 is very interesting: 1920s-1930s: 8; 1940s-1950s: 13; 1960s: 24; 1970s: 15; 1980s: 12; 1990s: 12; 2000s: 8; 2010s: 7. However, 14 of our top 20 played a majority of their career after 1980.

You can read our players 100-76, 75-51 and 50-26 in previous articles.

25. Bulldog Turner – Chicago Bears – 4 Pro Bowls; 7 time 1st Team All-Pro: A two-way star for the Chicago Bears, Clyde “Bulldog” Turner helped lead the Bears to four NFL Championships. As a rookie in 1940, he played center on offense and had an interception return for a touchdown as the Bears defeated the Washington Redskins 73-0.  Playing primarily center on offense and linebacker on defense, he was an eight-time first team All-Pro.

24. Mike Webster – Pittsburgh Steelers – 9 Pro Bowls; 5 time 1st Team All-Pro: Considered by many to be the greatest offensive center in NFL history, Mike Webster helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles. He played in 245 career games, including 150 consecutive starts from 1976-86.

Merlin Olsen

23. Merlin Olsen – Los Angeles Rams – 14 Pro Bowls; 5 time 1st Team All-Pro: One of five players in NFL history to have been selected to 14 Pro Bowls, Merlin Olsen teamed with Deacon Jones to anchor the Los Angeles Rams Fearsome Foursome defensive line during the 1960s. As a defensive tackle, Olsen was a stalwart against the run. A durable player, Olsen missed only two games in his 15 year career. He was the NFL rookie of the year in 1962 while earning the first of 14 straight trips to the Pro Bowl.

22. Chuck Bednarik – Philadelphia Eagles – 8 Pro Bowls; 6 time 1st Team All-Pro: One of the last of the two-way players, Chuck Bednarik earned All-Pro honors as an offensive center and defensive linebacker during his career. Nicknamed “Concrete Charlie”, Bednarik was known for his ferocious hits. In the 1960 Championship Game he tackled Green Bay running back Jim Taylor at the 9-yard line on the final play of the game to ensure a 17-13 Philadelphia victory.

21. Bronko Nagurski – Chicago Bears – 0 Pro Bowls; 4 time 1st Team All-Pro: At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Nagurski was one of the largest running backs in the NFL in the 1930s and larger than many linemen of the era. He threw a touchdown pass to Red Grange to help the Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the first-ever NFL Playoff Game. Nagurski was a first or second team All-Pro in each of his first seven NFL seasons. He retired following the 1937 season, but returned to the team in 1943 and played tackle and fullback to help the Bears win the NFL Championship.

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A Look at the Best NFL Teams of the Decade 0

Posted on January 22, 2020 by John Harris

2020 is here and a lot has been made of the upcoming Super Bowl, the pending draft and the greatest players of the past decade but what about the franchises that have kept us entertained throughout the past 10 years? Now, we look at the best sides of the 2010s.

NUMBER 5 – DENVER BRONCOS 

It’s quite easy to forget about the Broncos because they’ve been someway off the pace in the last few years. The first half of the decade though was a different story. 2010 saw a poor campaign with 12 losses but when expectations were low Denver took off; five seasons followed where they finished in first place in their division, which was aided with the arrival of Comeback Player of the Year Peyton Manning in 2012. 

The post season was a sore subject for many years though with defeat in NFL Super Bowl 48 a hard pill to swallow but you can’t keep a good Bronco down and their decade reached it’s peak in 2015 as they finally lifted the Super Bowl with a victory over the Carolina Panthers.

NUMBER 4 – BALTIMORE RAVENS 

John Harbaugh has done a tremendous job with the Ravens over the last 12 years but, despite a more than competitive decade, they could have achieved so much more. Four division triumphs, a conference win and narrow Super Bowl glory – where Joe Flacco was named MVP – were the highlights and a win rate of .613 ensures the franchise keeps improving decade on decade. If they can continue the progression into the 2020’s then we’ll have a team on our hands and given they’ve switched style from a defense first approach to a now eye catching offense who knows what lays in wait.

NUMBER 3 – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 

The Seahawks spent the entire decade challenging at the top of their division with all but one of the campaigns ending with the minimum of a second-place finish. Their post season displays were respectable too and although back to back Super Bowl wins eluded them after defeat to the Patriots in 2014 there is simply no ignoring their success the year before where they destroyed the Broncos 43-8, which was the biggest Super Bowl win of the decade.

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New England Patriots’ Dynasty is NFL’s Greatest 0

Posted on September 16, 2019 by Hammad Basharat

The New England Patriots dynasty is the most successful in NFL history, eclipsing the past feats of the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Since 2000, the franchise have won six Super Bowls, appearing in nine in total in the period.

New England have dominated the AFC East, winning their division 15 out of the 18 seasons following the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The duo have been the source of their imperious hold over the rest of the league, morphing from plucky underdogs in Super Bowl XXXVI to comparisons of the evil empire from the Star Wars movie series. Their reputation and their excellence has seen them backed as a leading contender for Super Bowl LIV, although the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites in the Betfair betting tips for the 2019 season. New England are perhaps the safest bet for the title given that they have appeared in the AFC Championship game every year since 2011.

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NFL 2019: Who Will Triumph in the NFL’s 100th Season? 0

Posted on September 02, 2019 by Dean Hybl

As the National Football League prepares for its 100th season, the top NFL betting sites are making predictions for which team will lift the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl LIV.

At 42-years old, Tom Brady is still one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Given that they have appeared in each of the last three Super Bowls (winning two), you can never go wrong putting your money on the New England Patriots.

Conventional wisdom tells us that at some point the amazing reign of the Patriots will end, but every time it looks like the magic run is over, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick pull another rabbit out of the hat. In a league where parody and volatility from year-to-year is the norm, New England has posted double digits victories for 16 straight years and won 10 straight division titles.

Even though Brady is 41-years old and will be without one of his favorite targets in recently retiree Rob Gronkowski, there is little reason to doubt that the Patriots offense will again be among the best in the NFL. Last year they scored the fourth most points in the league and ranked in the top 10 in both passing and rushing yards.

Solid defense is typically a key to the success of the Patriots. Last year they were seventh in the league in points allowed, but ranked 22nd in passing yards allowed. In a conference that boasts some great quarterbacks, the Patriots have to improve their pass defense this season.

Most prognosticators are jumping on the band wagon of the team guided by one of those young quarterbacks, the Kansas City Chiefs. Pat Mahomes nearly led the Chiefs past the Patriots in the AFC title game last season and appear to be positioned to make another run in 2019.

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Super Bowl LI: Brady Leads Patriots March Through Atlanta 0

Posted on February 05, 2017 by Dean Hybl

Tom Brady joins Charles Haley as the only players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls.

Tom Brady joins Charles Haley as the only players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls.

For the first 45 minutes of Super Bowl LI, it looked like the young gun Atlanta Falcons weren’t just going to win their first Super Bowl, but were going to embarrass the New England Patriots in a way that hadn’t happened since they lost Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the Patriots dynasty.

Trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, the Patriots dug deep and showed their greatness on both offense and defense on their way to scoring 31 straight points to win 34-28 in the first Super Bowl ever decided in overtime.

With the victory, quarterback Tom Brady joins Bart Starr as the only quarterback to win five NFL Championships and the only one with five Super Bowl victories (he joins Charles Haley as the only players with five Super Bowl titles). Head coach Bill Belichick now joins Vince Lombardi and George Halas as coaches with five NFL Championships and is the only one with five Super Bowl wins as a head coach.

Much like when the Green Bay Packers needed a final memorable drive to overcome a deficit to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the Ice Bowl to claim their fifth NFL title, the Patriots needed some late miracles to claim their fifth title.

However, while Starr needed just one late drive to win, Brady and the Patriots had to score on their final five possessions to claim their championship.

Though he struggled early, Brady proved in the second half that he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He finished the game completing 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns.

After the Falcons scored early in the third quarter to take a 28-3 lead, Brady led the Patriots on scoring drives of 75 yards, 72 yards (field goal), 25 yards and 91 yards to send the game to overtime. They then marched 75 yards in eight plays to win the game. Brady passed for all 91 yards in the tying job and 63 yards in the final winning drive. 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.

      Read more »

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