Schwartz NYP: Who the Giants could cut with daunting offseason underway
Rosenblatt NJ.com: NFL rumors: 9 potential cap casualties that make sense for Giants in free agency
Fennelly Giantswire USA Today: Peter Schrager: Giants' Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton could be next great duo
Leonard NYDN: Can Saquon Barkley rescue expensive NFL running backs in 2020?
Volin Boston Globe: Sunday Football Notes: Here is a rundown of where some big-name quarterbacks might land
“Tom Brady: Patriots. It sure seems as if Brady is determined to test free agency, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the buzz that he is done with the Patriots after 20 years, and looking for another challenge. But since the fall, my belief has been that Robert Kraft and Brady will get together at the last minute and make a deal happen, and I’m not going to waver from it.”
Somers AZ Central: Kliff Kingsbury looks back at his first year coaching Cardinals and ahead to the second
Eisenberg Ravens.com: Matthew Judon Is Worth the Investment
Sikkema The Draft Network: THE PRICE FOR BENGALS’ FIRST-OVERALL DRAFT PICK
Hobson Bengals.com: Colt Anderson Looking To Give Bengals' No. 1 Special Teams A Kick
Williams Cleveland Plain Dealer: This Week in the Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett returns, Baker Mayfield admits he didn’t have fun last year
Cabot Cleveland Plain Dealer: Will the Browns try to re-sign LB Joe Schobert now that Andrew Berry is GM? Hey, Mary Kay!
Patsko Cleveland Plain Dealer: 7 Browns contracts Andrew Berry might want off the books in 2020
Moore Dallas Morning News: Dak Prescott’s salary lags far behind his peers, yet the Cowboys are uncomfortable with his asking price
Moore Dallas Morning News: Does Dak Prescott need to play hardball like Ezekiel Elliott to get his money from the Cowboys?
Newman Denver Post: Broncos Insider: Denver has a few decisions to make on players with contract options
Monarrez Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions in 2020 free agency: [8 players who could be big hits
McClain Houston Chronicle: Texans better off with Laremy Tunsil instead of No. 26 pick
Reid Florida Times Union: Jaguars’ 10 biggest roster needs, decisions ahead of free agency and draft
Hyde Sun Sentinel: Ten Simple Steps to Lead the Dolphins From the Wilderness
Benton USA Today: Ex-Giant Brett Jones the focus of a new documentary
Hartman Minn Star Tribune: Mike Zimmer knows Vikings defense needs big improvement
Craig Minn Star Tribune: Andre Patterson's bond with Mike Zimmer extends to the next generation
Reiss ESPN Boston: Quick-hit thoughts/notes around the Patriots and NFL (Richard Seymour answers Leonard Williams' call to 'The Godfather'; Robert Kraft's E:60 remarks on Drew Bledsoe timely w/ Tom Brady situation; mystery of Bill Belichick's rings solved on InstaChat etc.)
“Patriots great Seymour connects with Williams: Maybe "The Godfather" can help.
That was the thought process behind the phone call that former Patriots defensive tackle and two-time Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist Richard Seymour recently received. He had earned the "Godfather" nickname toward the end of his playing career (2001-12) because of his willingness to help younger teammates, and this time, it was current New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams on the other end of the line.
"Can we meet up?" was the question.
Of course, said Seymour, who opened his Atlanta home to Williams last week as they pored over game film and later shared a workout.
"I've worked with guys in the past -- not so much on-the-field work, but just mentality, mindset," the 40-year-old Seymour explained in a phone interview. "Here's the thing: In my mind, anybody can be good if they have a certain amount of talent. But what I try to give guys is the mindset of what it takes to be great, and to be great consistently. To develop a mentality over the course of your career. I'd say Leonard has all the tools for what it takes to be great."
It hasn't clicked just yet, hence the visit with Seymour.
Patriots fans are familiar with the 6-foot-5, 302-pound Williams, having seen him twice a year since the Jets selected him with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2015 draft (the same draft slot as Seymour in 2001). But with the Jets under a new regime in 2019, and Williams not becoming the difference-maker they hoped as he approached unrestricted free agency, they traded him to the Giants in October for third- and fifth-round picks.
"I've been working with him, assessing what I think his strengths and weaknesses are, and what does he need to do to take that next step to be the perennial All-Pro player that he has the ability to be. He's 25 years old. He's young. Athletic. Can run like a deer," said Seymour, adding that his work with Williams is based on specific defensive-line drills.
"My heart has always been whatever I can do to lend a hand to the young group of talent in the league, I'm willing to do that."
Seymour, who plans to keep working with Williams throughout the coming months, also found another way to connect with him. As the highest draft pick of Bill Belichick's 20 years as Patriots coach, he knows all about the challenge of high expectations.
"I respect the hard work of guys that come in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh round, but it's different when you are the guy and have to perform at that level, basically with a target on your back the whole time and live up to that. And exceed expectations," he said.
"I've been telling him, it's really about competition. Competing. And hanging around and being around people who have the same mindset, being in that environment all the time. It helps in terms of what you're trying to accomplish."
The "Godfather" would know.”
Crabbs The Draft Network: 2020 FREE AGENT PROFILE: GUARD JOE THUNEY
Johnson Nola.com: 5 points of focus as the Saints shape their 2020 roster, depending on 1 big question
Kempski Phillyvoice: Should the Eagles exercise Derek Barnett's fifth-year option?
Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Mike Tomlin issues statement of support for Mason Rudolph amid racial slur allegations
Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Analysis: Steelers need to get younger and more talented on the offensive line
Stroud TB Times: Scenarios that could decide Jameis Winston’s future in Tampa Bay
Hanson Seattle Times: Dragons pull off second-half rally to beat Vipers for first XFL win in home opener
Hanson Seattle Times: XFL Dragons receiver Austin Proehl making a name with Seattle, where it all began for him
Russell Washington Post: DC Defenders remain unbeaten by shutting down the New York Guardians, 27-0
Levarse Times Leader: ‘It’s embarrassing:’ McGloin sounds off on offense’s struggles during XFL loss
Hill Houston Chronicle: XFL: Roughnecks want to get off to quicker start
Miller B/R: Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Bengals Set on Joe Burrow, so What's Next?
“4. Stock Up
As the NFL embraces the power running game again, one player who stands to benefit is Mississippi State's Tyre Phillips.
A tackle for the Bulldogs, Phillips has the power to play either the right side on a run-heavy team or own the interior. He would be a right tackle fit for the Baltimore Ravens or Tennessee Titans, for example, but other teams will love his physicality in the tight spaces of the interior line.
Phillips is a 6'5", 345-pound piledriver with a Round 3 grade on my updated big board.”
Pflum BBV: 2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
Former Giants News
Gold Arizona Daily Star: Bear Pascoe has traded getting hit by NFL stars to wrestling with an even bigger animal
Giants Birthdays 2-16
George Martin LDE D11-Oregon 1975 NYG 1975-1988 2-16-1953
“For What It's Worth: George Martin, the 33 year old defensive lineman of the New York Giants who made a one-handed interception of a pass by John Elway and ran 78 yards to a touchdown against Denver last Sunday, is a former backup basketball center at the University of Oregon.
In football, he started out as a tight end with the Ducks but didn't play enough to catch a pass.
"At that time, we had the premier tight end in the nation," Martin said.”
“Martin was drafted in 1975 as a defensive end by the New York Giants (jersey number 75). His first impression of the team was . . . underwhelming.
“I couldn’t have been more disappointed. The training camp was at a college facility, more like a junior college. No amenities whatsoever. Grossly overcrowded locker rooms, one universal machine – I couldn’t believe it. We had better facilities at Oregon. Guys came to training camp 40 pounds overweight. When I first got there, a player was smoking in the locker room,” Martin said.
Training camp was very different from the modern day.
“My rookie training camp was two months long, hitting every day, sometimes three-a-days. We had six preseason games – today they have four. We didn’t have water breaks. It was like a war of attrition,” Martin said.”
“WASHINGTON -- For a New York Giants' fan, George Martin's fumble return for a touchdown Sunday was the play of the game.
For Martin, it was old hat.
Martin picked up Joe Theismann's fumble and returned it eight yards for a touchdown to seal the Giants' 17-7 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Joe Danelo's 25-yard field goal had given the Giants a 10-7 lead with 10 minutes to play after a scoreless first half and off-setting third-quarter touchdowns.
'I always enjoy scoring a touchdown, but the excitement just isn't the same after the first one because I've had four, you know,' deadpanned Martin after the game. 'Actually, I thought I was going to drop the thing before I could get it wrapped up. Getting into the end zone was the easy part.'
Martin intercepted a Theismann pass in 1977 and ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown in 1977. The following year, he took a lateral after a blocked field goal and went 11 yards for a touchdown against Atlanta. Last year, lining up as a tight end, Martin caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in a 38-35 upset of the Dallas Cowboys.
Theismann is becoming Martin's favorite victim. In 1978, Martin sacked Theismann four times in a 17-6 victory over the Redskins.
'It's nothing personal against Theismann,' Martin assured his listeners. 'In fact, Phil Tabor deserves the credit for this one. He really hammered Joe and caused the fumble.'
Tabor got to Theismann untouched from his right defensive end position and jolted the football loose. Martin just picked up the pieces and turned them into a touchdown.
'I could see I was going to have a clear shot at Theismann, even before the ball was snapped,' said Tabor. 'We had more defensive people coming after Theismann than they had on that side to block. I just ran straight at him as hard as I could go.'
“TR: Let’s talk some football now. You are a Super Bowl Champion Do you remember your first official game? What was that experience like for you?
GM: I think it is almost like your first love, which I was fortunate enough to have married. (All laugh.) You remember your first game as if it was yesterday. It was up in New England. The funny thing about it is that I never had any expectations of becoming a football player. My first love in life was basketball. I always aspired to be a professional basketball player.
I can recall up in New England that Steve Grogan was the Patriots quarterback. Jack Gregory was the starting defensive end, who got hurt very early on in the game. The coach at the time Bill Arnsparger turned and yelled, ‘Martin, get out there.’
I said who is he talking to? (All laugh.) It was unbelievable. It was so surreal. As I ran onto the field the lights seemed so bright. The stage was unbelievable. The noise was deafening. I have to tell you this. I had no idea what I was doing. As luck would have it I stumbled into a quarterback sack on my first series. (All laugh.) The rest as they say is history.
AE: It seems that you should have been a tight end or a fullback in the NFL since you seemed to always find a way to score a touchdown. Even Bill Parcells believes you were in the greatest play he had ever seen. What was it about you and finding pay dirt as defensive end?
GM: I was a tight end in college. That was considered my natural position. The irony was that I was ranked second overall tight end in all of college football. The problem was that the guy who was ranked number one was also on our team. It was a guy by the name of Russ Francis. He had a stellar career in the NFL with the New England Patriots.
I always have considered myself as somewhat athletic being a college basketball player. I was an All-American basketball player in high school. I was a tight end in football. So when I would warm up for a game I would go over to Phil Simms and catch passes. It was what I loved to do.
TR: In your career which team did you love to line up against the most?
GM: I will reverse that. The team that I had the most disdain for was and still is the Dallas Cowboys. When you have this self-proclaimed America’s team it kind of sticks in the craw of everyone else. Unfortunately back in those days the Giants were the doormat of the industry. Dallas has a lot of swagger to them. They were really a good team. They were a great, great and successful team, but poor winners in many regards. That’s why we didn’t like the Dallas Cowboys all that much.”
“People must ask you about the Super Bowl against the Broncos all the time. Do you ever get tired of talking about it?
No, no, you never get tired of your accomplishments, particularly when they lead to excellence and you being crowned as world champions. No, I don’t think any of us have ever gotten tired of being quizzed or asked about it or being in a position to reminisce about what happened out in Pasadena. It’s something that I hope will last for the rest of our respective lives.
You sacked John Elway for a safety in that game. Have you ever spoken to Elway about that play or that game?
As a matter of fact, last year we were out at an event, and someone called me over to introduce me, just to say hello. And John was there, and [this person] was a friend of John Elway’s, and he starts ribbing John. He goes, “John, you know, the greatest pass I ever saw you complete was to this guy right here, George Martin,” which happened earlier in that year, that Super Bowl year, when we played the Denver Broncos at home, when I intercepted John for a 78-yard touchdown. So the guy was giving him a pretty hard time, and John laughed it off, he was good-natured about it, but it’s not something I would ever try to rib him on. Trust me, there are many, many instances that people can recall the New York Giants and George Martin being the butt end of a joke, but I took it in lighthearted fun.
Like you said, you’d played the Broncos earlier in that season. Does having faced a team earlier in the season help one team or the other? How does it affect the preparation?
It’s definitely an advantage — I think twofold. Number one, it gives coaches a definitive look at the opponent and they can make adjustments, particularly things may have hurt us in certain situations, and that’s the genius of Bill Belichick. I always said, if there’s any such thing as a football genius, in the defensive context, Bill Belichick is absolutely a football genius. He would make adjustments that just boggled our mind, because he just had this intuitive sense as to how to make either slight or major adjustments that wreak havoc on the offense. And I think it gave us a distinct advantage to have played Denver earlier that year and played them at home and, on top of that, beaten them, because psychologically I think you have a psychological edge over your opponent once you’ve already played them and beaten them. I think it did work to our advantage.
Going back to your career, you had a handful of touchdowns as a defensive player, and one as an offensive player. What do you remember about the offensive touchdown?
Well, it really hearkened me back to what my very favorite position was, and that was tight end. And unfortunately, I was drafted as a defensive end, but I made the best of it. But I was always considered the third tight end in the Giants’ offense, and I played that for many, many years. We practiced it all the time, but in that particular game against the Dallas Cowboys, it afforded me the opportunity to catch them off guard, because they thought that I was just a defensive lineman that was in strictly to block, and fortunately this was a pass play that we had in our repertoire. Phil Simms threw a perfect strike, and I called on my old tight end skills to catch it.
You walked from the George Washington Bridge to San Diego for charity a few years ago. That’s pretty ambitious, so how did the idea for that come about?
It was something that was part of my personal bucket list, probably since I was a very young child, of having that wanderlust of seeing America up close and personal. Growing up in the segregated South and really not being exposed to a lot of America because of my upbringing, I’d always wanted to see this great thing that we call the United States of America, and I didn’t want to see it from a window in the backseat of a car or from 37,000 feet in an airplane. I wanted to see it up close and personal. And after driving across country on multiple occasions did not satisfy my quest for it, I came up with the fact that I would walk across America and see it and fulfill my life ambition. And if were going to do that, I wanted to make sure that I had a worthy cause associated with it, and I could think of no better cause at the moment than recognizing people who are real heroes in the form of the first responders and rescue and recovery workers of 9/11.”
Buster Mitchell E/T NYG 1935-1936 Born 2-16-1906 3-04-1964
Dick Modzelewski LDT TR-DET 1955 NYG 1955-1963 Born 2-16-1931 Died 10-19-2018
“Richard Blair Modzelewski was born on February 16, 1931 in West Natrona, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, up the Allegheny River. Dick and his brother Ed Modzelewski played football, baseball and basketball together at Har-Brack High School, now named Highlands High School.
That school had previously produced Cliff Montgomery, quarterback of the Columbia team that produced a stunning upset of Stanford in the 1934 Rose Bowl, still the last bowl appearance for any Ivy League team. It would later produce Carlton "Cookie" Gilchrist, star running back for the 1964 and '65 AFL Champion Buffalo Bills.
Both Modzelewski brothers -- being older, Ed was "Big Mo," and Dick was "Little Mo" -- moved on to the University of Maryland, helping them win the 1951 Southern Conference Championship, and reach the Sugar Bowl, where they knocked off Number 1 Tennessee to win the National Championship.
Ed, a running back, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1952, and by the U.S. Army in 1953. After his discharge, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns, and helped them win the 1955 NFL Championship, and reach the 1957 NFL Championship Game. He later bought a restaurant, where another brother, Joe, was the chef, and Dick served host in the off-season. Ed built the restaurant into a successful chain in the Cleveland area, and lived until 2015.
Dick, a defensive tackle, had another year at Maryland, and made the most of it, helping them win another Southern Conference title, and winning the 1952 Outland Trophy as "the nation's outstanding interior lineman. He would later be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. (Despite making the All-America team in 1950 and '51, Ed has not yet been elected.)
He was drafted by the nearby Washington Redskins. This did not work out. The Redskins were then coached by Joe Kuharich, who would prove, first in D.C., then with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960s, to be one of the worst coaches in the history of the National Football League. (And the Redskins later had Daniel Snyder hiring head coaches, and the Eagles later had Rich Kotite, so that's saying something.)
Dick and Kuharich did not get along, and when Jack Hennemeier, who'd been an assistant coach at Maryland, became the head coach of the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, he offered Dick a spot in the starting lineup, and he jumped the NFL and signed with the Stamps. The 'Skins filed an injunction, the Stamps gave up, and the 'Skins traded Dick to the Steelers, reuniting him with Ed -- briefly, as it turned out.
He was only a Steeler for 1 season. Prior to the 1956 season, he was traded to the Detroit Lions. Just 3 days later, the Lions traded him to the New York Giants. So in a span of a year and a half, Dick Modzelewski had been signed to play for 5 different professional football teams in 2 different countries, actually taking the field for 3 of them (Washington, Pittsburgh and New York.)
Had he stayed in Detroit, he would have arrived in a quasi-dynasty, a team that won the NFL Championship in 1952 and '53, lost the NFL Championship Game in '54, and would win it again in '57. Instead, he arrived at the Giants with great timing, as they were just about to be revealed as having built a great team.
This was due less to their head coach, Jim Lee Howell, who had been a Giants end in the era of "single-platoon football," playing both offense and defense. He had appeared for them in 4 NFL Championship Games, winning in 1938, but losing in '39, '41 and '46. (They also appeared in '44, but he was in World War II at the time.) This limited success, this near-dynasty, was a foreshadowing of the team he was built.
Howell was smart enough to hire 2 brilliant assistants. They are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he is not, and has become a bit of a forgotten figure, despite being the only man to lead the Giants to an NFL Championship between Steve Owen in 1938 and Bill Parcells in 1990-91 (and they are both in the Hall of Fame.)
Howell's offensive coordinator was a Brooklynite who played as a guard on the late 1930s Fordham line that became known as the Seven Blocks of Granite, then coached a high school team in North Jersey, then went back to Fordham as an assistant, then assisted Red Blaik at Army, before being hired by the Giants in 1954. He built a fine offense around quarterback Charlie Conerly, including running backs Frank Gifford, Mel Triplett and Alex Webster, and end Kyle Rote (they didn't call the position "tight end" yet), with protection from one of the greatest offensive tackles ever, Roosevelt "Rosey" Brown. His name was Vince Lombardi.
Howell's defensive coordinator was a Texan, a 2-way back at the University of Texas. As the NFL switched from single-platoon to two-platoon ball in the early 1950s, he became the 1st great defensive back who wasn't also an offensive back. His name was Tom Landry.
Howell was hired in 1954, brought Lombardi in, and thought enough of Landry to make him the defensive coordinator even while he was still playing. In 1956, the year the football Giants left the baseball Giants behind at the Polo Grounds and moved to Yankee Stadium, Landry retired as a player, and could concentrate on building the best defense the NFL had yet seen: Tackles Dick "Little Mo" Modzelewski and Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier; ends Andy Robustelli and Walt Yowarski; linebackers Sam Huff, Bill Svoboda and Harland Svare; cornerbacks Dick Nolan and Ed Hughes; and safeties Emlen Tunnell and Jimmy Patton.
Robustelli, Huff and Tunnell are in the Hall of Fame. Cases can also be made for Modzelewski, Grier, Nolan and Patton. Grier would later star on the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" line with Hall-of-Famers Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen, and All-Pro Lamar Lundy. Svare was their defensive coordinator.
But that 1956 Giants defense was history-making: Not only did they perform well, but they made defense exciting for the first time. For the first time, fans would chant, "Dee-fense! Dee-fense! Dee-fense!" Huff would become the face of this unit, and would be featured in a groundbreaking CBS Reports documentary in 1960: The Violent World of Sam Huff. Narrated by Walter Cronkite, it showed Huff miked up during practice and a preseason game. It inspired Ed Sabol to create NFL Films 2 years later.
The Giants went 8-3-1, losing to the Chicago Cardinals 35-27 at Comiskey Park, the Redskins 33-7 at Griffith Stadium, and the Browns 24-7 at Yankee Stadium. This was good enough to win the NFL Eastern Division Championship, and as it was the East winner's turn to host the NFL Championship Game, it was set for December 30 at Yankee Stadium.
It was very cold, and the field was frozen. This should not have fazed the Bears: Even before moving to the lakefront Soldier Field, they were used to cold air, nasty wind and frozen grass at Wrigley Field. What did faze them was the Giants. They jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the 1st quarter, and never looked back, winning 47-7.
This started a run of the Giants winning 6 Eastern Division Championships in 8 seasons -- but it was the only NFL Championship they won. They fell short in 1957. In 1958, they tied the Browns for the Division title, beat them in a Playoff, and then lost the Championship Game to the Baltimore Colts at Yankee Stadium in an overtime contest that has been called "The Greatest Game Ever Played." In 1959, they won the East again, but lost the Championship Game to the Colts again, this time at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
Howell was then fired, and replaced with Allie Sherman. After the Eagles beat the Giants out for the Eastern Division title in 1960, the Giants retooled, replacing Conerly at quarterback with San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Y.A. Tittle, and won the next 3. But they lost the NFL Championship Game all 3 times, to the Packers in 1961 and '62 and the Bears in '63.
Dick finally got a 2nd Championship in 1964 -- because the Giants traded him to the Browns, who went on to beat the Colts at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. It was the last title for any Cleveland team until the 2016 Cavaliers. It was also the only season in which Dick was selected for the Pro Bowl. In 1965, he was joined by his brother Gene Modzelewski, and they got back to the Championship Game, but lost to the Packers at a snow-muddy Lambeau Field. Gene never got into a game, and was drafted, and never played a down in the NFL.
Dick Modzelewski was only the 2nd man to appear in 8 or more NFL Championship Games. The 1st, and the only one to make it 9, was his Browns teammate Lou Groza. The 3rd is Tom Brady.
Dick retired after that 1965 season, and stayed in the Browns' organization, first as a scout, then as defensive line coach, helping them reach the 1968 and 1969 NFL Championship Games, but losing the former to the Colts and the latter to the Minnesota Vikings.
In 1976, he was promoted to defensive coordinator under former Packer Forrest Gregg. In 1977, a nosedive led to Gregg's firing with 1 game to go, and Dick was named interim head coach. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks 20-19, and that was his only game as a head coach, anywhere.
He went back to the Giants as defensive line coach in 1978, then with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1979, and Gregg was hired as their head coach in 1980, winning the 1981 AFC Championship. In 1983, Gregg was named head coach of the Packers, and took Dick with him as defensive coordinator. This lasted 4 failed seasons before Gregg quit, and Dick coached 2 more seasons on Wayne Fontes' staff with the Detroit Lions.”
Mara claims that he does only the leg-work for the Giants in trades. "I ask the coaches what they need and it is my responsibility to know where it is available," he says. "We keep a pretty good book on all the players in the league. We get a good part of it from reports from our own players on their opponent in each game. We got Dick Modzelewski that way. He came to us in 1956 from Pittsburgh via Detroit in a four-player deal which also involved Dick Alban, Ray Krouse and Dick Stanfel. We wanted Modzelewski because our player reports rated him as the best defensive tackle we had faced that year. We found out later that Pittsburgh was willing to give him up because, when they looked at the movies, they figured the only good games he had played were against us."
“Just like loads of other ex-pro football players, Dick Modzelewski lives with physical pain today. That’s what 14 years as a left defensive tackle in the National Football League will do. But, unlike most other ex-players, Modzelewski has a name – yes, a name – for his injuries.
“I call them my ‘Jim Browns,’” he laughs.
Modzelewski was the great fullback’s teammate in 1964-65 with the Cleveland Browns but played against him for several years prior to that as a member of the New York Giants.
“I tell people, ‘I had a total knee replacement. That’s because of Jim Brown,’” Modzelewski says. “‘I have two bad shoulders. That’s Jim Brown. I had two back operations. That’s from Jim Brown.’”
“Little Mo,” whose older brother Ed was a Browns running back in the late 1950s, could win the “Understatement-of-the-Year Award” when he says, “It was better to play with [Brown] than against him.
“To this day, they can tell me all they want about all these backs they have now – [LaDainian] Tomlinson or anyone else – nobody compares to him. We were watching some game films one time, and Jim Brown is running the ball, and all you see is Giants, eight or nine of them, on top of this one person [Brown], moving. All of us were on him, grabbing him by the ankles, by the knees, anything we could possibly do.”
After wallowing in losing atmospheres in Washington in 1953-54 and his hometown of Pittsburgh in 1955, Modzelewski, as part of a three-way trade with Detroit, wound up in New York in 1956. The ex-University of Maryland star was a member of one of the greatest defenses of all time in “The Big Apple” that included Hall of Famers Sam Huff and Andy Robustelli, not to mention Rosey Grier and Jim Katcavage.
Modzelewski spent eight seasons with the Giants, and played in six NFL Championship Games, with the lone victory coming in his very first year against the Chicago Bears. Two years later in the title game, Modzelewski and his defensive teammates were the victims of John Unitas’ legendary drive in the first-ever sudden death overtime that gave the Baltimore Colts a 23-17 victory over the Giants in Yankee Stadium. The game is remembered by many as “The Greatest Game Ever.”
Modzelewski and the Giants actually had to beat the Browns in consecutive weeks just to earn a spot in that ’58 title game. First came the regular- season finale in Yankee Stadium in which a Giants win would force an Eastern Conference playoff between the two clubs the following week, again in New York. With time running out and the score 10-10 on the snow-covered field, Pat Summerall booted what was thought to be an impossible 49-yard field goal into the wind and through the driving snow to give the Giants a 13- 10 victory and a regular-season sweep of their rivals from the midwest.
“Pat had missed a field goal earlier in the game,” Modzelewski recalls. “This was an even longer one, and there was a blizzard coming down. When our coach, Jim Lee Howell, called for the field-goal team, we all said, ‘What the hell’s he talking about?’ And I swear to you, I can hear the thump from that kick to this day. Sports Illustrated had a two-page spread of the ball going in the snow with all the Browns and the Giants looking at the ball after [Summerall] kicked it. That was a hell of a picture.”
For Modzelewski and the Giants to advance to the NFL title game, they would have to defeat the Browns in the playoff game seven days later, meaning a victory over the Browns for the third time that season, not an easy task.
“I’ll never forget, Winston Cigarettes was running a commercial, saying it couldn’t be done,” Modzelewski remembers. “That was our theme, to beat the Browns three times in one year.”
Modzelewski and the Giants limited the great Jim Brown to just 18 yards rushing – and the Browns as a team to only 24 – as New York prevailed, 10-0.
After falling to the Bears in the 1963 NFL title game, the Giants cleaned house, including trading Modzelewski to the Browns. In Modzelewski’s very first year in Cleveland, the Browns won the NFL Championship by shocking the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, in the title contest. Modzelewski believes the key to the crown was head coach Blanton Collier.
“He was like a grandfather,” he says. “He didn’t yell that much, but you wanted to play for him real bad, you really did.”
Modzelewski and the Browns returned to the title game the next year but fell to the Packers in Green Bay. Modzelewski was replaced by young Walter Johnson in 1966, then called it quits. During the ’66 season, Modzelewski set a then- NFL record by playing in his 180th consecutive game.
After retiring, Modzelewski was a Browns scout for a short spell, then joined the coaching ranks.
He acted as defensive coordinator and/or defensive line coach for several teams, including the Browns, Giants, Bengals, Packers and Lions. He even got a chance to be a head coach – albeit for one game – when he replaced Forrest Gregg in the Browns’ 1977 season finale.
If there is one thing Modzelewski learned from his days as a defensive coach, it is that all – all – quarterbacks are only as good as their offensive lines. He cites an instance while he was the defensive coordinator in Green Bay as a perfect example.
“We’re playing Tampa Bay,” he recalls. “They’re quarterback is Steve Young. I start calling all the signals, I’m going to blitz the crap out of this guy. We sacked him, we chased him, we did everything ... he couldn’t do anything right.
“They trade him to San Francisco, he’s in the Hall of Fame.”
Since leaving the coaching ranks in 1989, the 76- year-old Modzelewski has enjoyed the simple life – that is, traveling, fishing and spending time with his wife of nearly 54 years, Dottie, their four children and seven grandchildren. Dick and Dottie reside in Willoughby.
Modzelewski pulls for the Browns to do well, of course, having once played for the team. He has an even bigger motive to cheer them on, though.
“I root for Romeo [Crennel] because, like me, he was a defensive coordinator at one time,” he says. “I’m rooting my butt off for him.”
Al Owen HB UDFA-Mercer 1939 NYG 1939-1942 Born 2-16-1913 Died 6-11-1992
The Record 11-30-1938
“Owen Vs. Maniaci. “Al Owen of Leonla in the 1939 plans Leonla in the 1939 plans of the New York Giants. Well, the blond was purchased by the Maramen from the Cincinnati Bengals but will get his initiation with the Jersey Giants as a starter on Sunday afternoon for he will be used against the Paterson Panthers, However Paterson is not asleep at the switch. While the Giants were angling for Owen, they went right ahead and signed Joe Maniaci of the Chicago Bears, late of the Brooklyn Dodgers. When it comes to a comparison of the two players, It's my duty to tell you that Owen Isn't in the same league with the Lodl speed merchant not yet, at least. Clncy's scribes are sweet on Owen, who played with Leonia, Horace Mann, and Mercer College. He comes close to being a one-man backfield. He's speedy, can kick, and is an expert passer. If Howie Yeager can go more than ten minutes without limping off the field, they'll have the beefy Paterson club crazy.”
Jules Siegel FB/LB UDFA-Northwestern 1948 NYG 1948 Born 2-16-1923 Died 8-20-2008
College Attended: Northwestern University Graduated: 1948
College Honors: Played football 3 years on a football scholarship - 1942, 1947, 1948; college career interrupted by 3 years service in US Air Corps during WW II; played in Blue-Gray Game in Montgomery, AL, 1948.
Professional Athletic Background: Played fullback for New York Giants 1948.
Coaching Experience: East Chicago Washington "B" team coach 1949-1957, then head football coach 1958-1973, with a 71-72-3 head coaching record; retired from coaching in 1973, but continued as athletic director at Washington 1967-1986