Falato BBV: How many above-average players do the New York Giants have?
Clemons SI.com: Breaking Down the Top Giants UDFAs and Their Chances of Making the Roster
Suddaby AFI: Australian Sam Coad helping guide New York Giants through COVID-19 pandemic
“Having just completed preparation of an “at home” workout plan for the Giants’ roster, Coad said his main focus was ensuring the athletes were able to do everything needed to be ready for their first day of camp in late July, ahead of the NFL’s planned regular season kicking off in September.
“It really now comes down to the individuals and trying to communicate and work with them to say ‘is there something going on here, are you struggling with something, what do you need in your situation?’
“When you’re dealing with high-performing athletes worth millions to a club, and they’re saying they can’t do X, you’ve gotta have a plan to get them on track. The psychological side of things is more complex than what you get from a textbook.”
The challenge was further complicated by the different lifestyles of each member of the Giants playing group. While some of the team’s multi-million dollar superstars had elaborate gyms in their homes, rookie players were starting from scratch.
Coad said even for a lifelong sports fan like himself, it took some time for him to adjust to the scale of American sport.
“The very first game I went to in Michigan was 110,000 people, so you’re talking an AFL grand final every weekend. Instead of having 30 or 40,000 at a game, you’ve got 100,000 for a college game. It’s not even pro level, they’re not even paying the athletes.”
It’s not just the size of the crowds that’s different either.
“In Australia, a lot of coaches don’t yell and scream at athletes, they coach them and they tell them what to do, and how to do it, and everyone listens and follows suit. Over here you’ve got coaches that are more intense with their communication with athletes, it’s very in your face. The players don’t take it the wrong way, the coaches don’t take it the wrong way, everybody’s coming from a place where they want you to get better.”
Coad is hoping the United States’ efforts to combat COVID-19 will allow him to get his “boots on the ground” and properly start work soon.
“I’m looking forward to contributing what I can contribute. I’m very eager to get to work and help the way I think I can help. There’s stuff that I can contribute that I really think is going to help what we do.”
However he’s not expecting an easy road, and understands the sporting environment he returns to will be very different from the one he barely got started in, back in November.
“Every industry coming out of this is going to struggle because you can’t take the world, give it two months off, then expect to go back to how it was.”
Duggan The Athletic: Giants mailbag: Nate Solder’s future, a possible Markus Golden reunion and more
The Athletic: NY Football Podcast: Tim McMaster and Dan Duggan break down the charges against Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker (0:42). They discuss what this means for his future in New York (9:15) as well as potential discipline from the league (14:06). Plus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo encourages New York professional teams to reopen. They weigh in on the announcement (20:14) (Audio)
Big Blue Banter Podcast: Dan Schneier and Nick Falato dive deep -- I mean really deep into the Xs and Os of what the expectation for first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's defense should be. They take a look at trends from his defense as it pertains to when he blitzes, how often he blitzes, and the different blitzes he uses. They break down the different kinds of coverages the Giants are expected to use. They also dive into the different kinds of personnel and everything else that will go into making the Giants' defense in 2020 and hopefully beyond. This is probably the deepest dive Big Blue Banter pod yet as it pertains to the Xs and Os -- nitty gritty of the great game of football (Audio)
Raanan ESPN NY: Giants' Jason Garrett brings Cowboys' playbook to Daniel Jones & Co.
Rosenblatt NJ.com: Why Giants should ‘feel fine’ with Jason Garrett coaching Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley
Schwartz NYP: Giants looking for Daniel Jones to make a big leap in Year 2
Duggan The Athletic: An inside look at Daniel Jones’ workouts during a unique offseason
Dan Duggan The Athletic: Quite a story from Bennie Fowler’s podcast. After Daniel Jones had a rough game against the Vikings in Week 5, he met up with Fowler that night to work on some of the throws he missed (says a lot about Fowler, too, since he had been cut earlier that week)
Dan Duggan The Athletic: This is exactly where I’m at. If Jones doesn’t become a franchise QB it’ll be because he doesn’t improve the pocket presence/ball security. But his intangibles are off the charts. Combined with his physical ability, competent starter is the floor for me
Vincent Rapisardi: Daniel Jones averaged 6.2 yards per carry last season.
Among QBs with 25+ carries, he ranked second.
Trailing only Lamar Jackson in that category.
Schwartz NYP: Giants’ Saquon Barkley still has something left to prove
Giants.com: Giants Insider: Saquon Barkley's takeways from virtual offseason
Saquon Barkley gives his takeways - including the positives - from the Giants' virtual offseason program (Video)
Brocato Metro News WV: David Sills eager to impress in second season with the N.Y. Giants
“MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Offseason programs throughout the National Football League are effectively stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some teams are scheduled to reopen team facilities for players to train in the coming days but coaches are not yet allowed to work directly with players.
For former WVU wide receiver David Sills, his chance to impress the new coaching staff with the New York Giants will have to wait.
“We are supposed to be mid-OTA’s (organized team activities) right now,” Sills said. “Obviously that can’t happen especially in the North Jersey/New York area where our facility is. It is kind of like the hot spot right now. It is new for all of us so we are just kind of adapting as we are going. Nobody really has answers for when we will be back.”
Sills wrapped up his three-year career at WVU in 2018 as the team’s offensive MVP. His 35 career receiving touchdowns are second-best in program history. Sills went undrafted and signed a free agent deal with the Buffalo Bills. He was released after training camp and was immediately signed by the Giants and assigned to their practice squad.
“Everyday in practice I was going against the first defense and going against good corners and good safeties and good linebackers on a consistent basis. I was taking every single rep. So I was getting my body ready to take a lot of reps.
“I had to give these guys the best look that I could give. Me and a couple of the guys on practice squad, we looked at it like we were going to go out there and show everybody what we were made of. I think that propelled me into putting myself in a good spot for this year.”
The added complexity of the playbook at the professional level did not come as a surprise for Sills. The biggest adjustment for him were added elements in the route tree.
“The routes in the NFL are a little bit different and a little bit more precise. I’m not going to say it was something I wasn’t good at. But it was something I could definitely refine and be a lot better at. The more reps you get, the better you are going to be at anything.”
Sills spent the first fifteen weeks of the season on the Giants’ practice squad. He was signed to the 53-man roster for the final two weeks of the season but wasn’t active in any games. Sills says production certainly outweighs potential when players are being evaluated in the NFL.
“They look at you based on what your production is. How it is different than college is that it is not like he is coming in as a freshman, we’ll redshirt him and give him some time and in three or four years he will be a good player for us. Once you get there, they expect you to produce right away.”
Eleven receivers are currently listed on the Giants offseason roster so the competition for reps in training camp and the preseason figures to be intense. Joe Judge is entering his first season as head coach and former Cowboys frontman Jason Garrett is the offensive coordinator.
“We have all new coaches. So we are learning the new playbook virtually. It has been different because you are not there. You are not sitting in a meeting room listening to the install. There is a disconnection not having a person sitting in front of you and teaching you. It is on you to put the time in to study it.”
Until players are allowed back in team facilities, Sills is taking his training cues from coaches both past and present.
“They have given us workouts. We have been in touch with our strength coach and I have actually been in touch with Coach Mike Joseph at West Virginia about what his guys are doing now. I have taken a peek at what he has for them because I think Mike Joseph is one of the best in the business. I have always had a close relationship with him.”
Valentine BBV: Giants 2020 roster breakdown: Could WR Alex Bachman crack the Giants’ 2020 roster?
Schwartz NYP: Dave Gettleman did his part in revamping Giants’ offensive line
Giants.com: Inside the Film Room: David Diehl dissects Andrew Thomas' game film
David Diehl takes a look at Andrew Thomas' college game tape (Video)
Salomone Giants.com: UConn coach: Best is yet to come for Matt Peart
Thompson SI.com: How Matt Peart's Family Directly Impacted His Path to Football
Rock Newsday: Joe Judge thought about Dalvin Tomlinson on special teams . . . nearly 10 years ago
Valentine BBV: Don’t bet against Giants’ DE Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Salomone Giants.com: Carter Coughlin receives prestigious Big Ten award
RV SNY: DeAndre Baker's the victim of a 'shakedown,' says Giant cornerback's attorney
Schwartz NYP: DeAndre Baker was playing ‘Madden’ when hell broke loose: lawyer
Schwartz NYP: Sam Beal could be Giant who replaces DeAndre Baker
Valentine BBV: Opportunity might be knocking for Giants’ cornerback Sam Beal
Valentine BBV: Corey Ballentine could benefit from DeAndre Baker’s legal troubles
King FMIA: ‘Just Figure It Out, Bro’—How The NFL’s Most Challenged Team Is Handling Distance Learning Reality
“For those Giants fans questioning the naming of Jason Garrett as the team’s offensive coordinator, thinking he didn’t do enough with the offensive weaponry he had:
• Dallas was sixth in the NFL in scoring last year, first in total yards.
• Since the Ezekiel Elliott/Dak Prescott draft in 2016, Dallas is 40-24 in the last four regular seasons, and the Cowboys’ average finish in those four years was 10th in total yards, 12th in points scored. You might think that’s not good enough, which is fair, but it is, on average, top third of the league.
• Prescott and Russell Wilson have each played all 64 regular-season games since 2016. Comparing Prescott’s 64 starts to Wilson’s 64 starts since 2016, Prescott has 19 more passing yards and is 1.5 percent more accurate.
• Prescott was picked 109 slots after Paxton Lynch in 2016, and 84 slots after Christian Hackenberg.
Why’d I use that last note? Because coaching is involved in NFL player productivity. And 133 days after Prescott was picked 135th overall by Dallas, he started at quarterback for the Cowboys. The Cowboys went 13-3 in 2016, and Prescott has quarterbacked every Dallas game since. So I would feel fine with Jason Garrett being my offensive coordinator and coaching my young franchise quarterback and young franchise running back.”
“2019 was a bad year for highly drafted cornerbacks, and not just Deandre Baker of the Giants. There were eight cornerbacks picked in the first two rounds, and all eight were picked in a 25-choice span. All eight got drafted between 30th overall (Baker) and 54th (Lonnie Johnson, Houston), and none were among PFF’s top 50 cornerbacks in their rookie years. Sean Murphy-Bunting was the top-rated corner, 56th among the 128 corners rated by PFF. Johnson was the last—128th among 128.
Could be an outlier season, but lots of low-performing talent (Greedy Williams, Cleveland, was PFF’s 107th corner last year) need to improve their games as sophomores.”
“4. I think, regarding the armed-robbery charges in south Florida against Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker: If the charges prove true, he should not play in the NFL again. (An alleged accomplice, Seattle cornerback Quinton Dunbar, was not armed, a witness said, but if it is proven he was involved, it’s hard to think the Seahawks will keep him either.) The charges against both players included very big ifs, obviously. But I wonder if the Giants might not give Baker the benefit of waiting till trial, if there is one, after police said Baker allegedly directed an accomplice to shoot someone at a Miami party last Wednesday.
5. I think the Baker story is not good for Giants GM Dave Gettleman. With a desperate cornerback need upon taking over as GM late in 2017, Gettleman used a third-round Supplemental Draft pick in 2018 on Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal, a first-round pick on Baker (moving up seven spots by dealing fourth and fifth-round picks to get him), and a three-year, $43-million contract this year on Carolina free-agent cornerback James Bradberry (average PFF cornerback ranking among NFL cornerbacks in his four seasons: 76). Beal’s barely played, Baker was a discipline and motivational problem last year as a rookie, and Bradberry will have to play better than he has to justify $31 million guaranteed. To acquire Baker and Beal, Gettleman invested second, third, fourth and fifth-round picks, as it turns out. This is a crucial year for the Giants, who’ve had the worst record in football over the last three years, and for Gettleman, for spending so much in draft capital and real money to fix a major problem.”
Breer MMQB: How the Bears’ New Quarterback Room is Handling the Virtual Offseason
Chicago added Nick Foles and several new coaches to a quarterback room that will be under the microscope in 2020. Here's how they are preparing for a rebound. Plus, the virtual annual meeting, an offensive linemen workout, Aaron Rodgers’s honesty and the soft opening of the NFL’s return
“Baker’s case, in particular, is interesting. Part of that is because he was a first-round pick, as Oliver was, so the stakes are a little higher for his team. But the other is that this is yet another guy who carried red flags into the pre-draft process, fell on draft day as a result, and wound up in a bad spot for non-football reasons. To be fair, there wasn’t any criminal stuff in Baker’s background leading into the 2019 draft. Mostly, it was work ethic concerns. As I’d heard it, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff would be all over him in practice for effort stuff. And he rubbed a lot of NFL teams the wrong way by showing up late to meetings in the pre-draft process. He was seen as very “South Florida”—a little slow-to-trust, and sometimes standoffish. Does that mean anyone could see this coming? No way. And that shouldn’t land on the Giants’ plate. But a lot of times, a team’s feel for a guy can mark how he’s evaluated, and a lot of teams didn’t have a great feeling on Baker.”
“The other 23 are in varying positions right now. The Bills, Jets, Giants, Lions, Chargers, Ravens, Seahawks and Washington are all under rules that prevent them from opening, and don’t anticipate that change until after Memorial Day.”
Volin Boston Globe: Sunday Football Notes: NFL Notes:
*Unlike his pal Bill Belichick, Sean Payton remains an open book
*James Harrison really stepped in it this time
*Patriots’ rookies are cheap, and why UDFA guarantees aren’t what they seem
*Scouting potential neutral sites for the NFL
*Which QB rooms could get awkward this year?
Barnwell ESPN: Ranking 2020 NFL offseasons from worst to first: Barnwell on the Ravens, Chiefs, Eagles, more (25-32)
Barnwell ESPN: Ranking 2020 NFL offseasons from worst to first: Barnwell on the Ravens, Chiefs, Eagles, more (17-24)
Linsey PFF: Projecting all 32 NFL starting lineups ahead of the 2020 season
“NEW YORK GIANTS
QB: Daniel Jones
RB: Saquon Barkley
WR: Sterling Shepard
WR: Darius Slayton
Slot: Golden Tate
TE: Evan Engram
LT: Andrew Thomas
LG: Will Hernandez
C: Nick Gates
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Nate Solder
DI: Leonard Williams
DI: Dalvin Tomlinson
DI: Dexter Lawrence
EDGE: Kyler Fackrell
EDGE: Oshane Ximines
LB: Blake Martinez
CB: James Bradberry
CB: DeAndre Baker
CB/S: Julian Love
S: Jabrill Peppers
S: Xavier McKinney
Battle to watch: Nick Gates vs. Spencer Pulley vs. Shane Lemieux at center
Gates spent time at both right guard and right tackle during the 2019 season, ending the year with a very respectable 77.0 overall grade. That has generated some buzz around his name as a potential starter — a young player whom the Giants want to involve — despite no real experience at the center position. Considering his main competition is Pulley (who has yet to grade above 57.0 in four NFL seasons) and Lemieux (a fifth-round rookie who didn’t play center in college), it’s not unrealistic to think Gates wins the job outright.
Name to watch: Sam Beal
I included DeAndre Baker on this starting lineup, but chances are that he is heading towards a significant suspension. That leaves the door open at the outside cornerback spot opposite free agent acquisition James Bradberry, and Beal has to be the leader in the clubhouse to take advantage after three starts outside late last season. Those starts weren’t exactly impressive — Beal allowed 14 of 20 targets into his coverage to be completed without recording a pass breakup or interception — but he is two years removed from earning an 88.1 coverage grade at Western Michigan in his final collegiate season.”
Matt Bowen ESPN: Top QBR vs. Zone Coverage in 2019...
1. Patrick Mahomes — 88.7
2. Russell Wilson — 84.5
3. Matthew Stafford — 77.6
4. Lamar Jackson — 74.7
5. Drew Brees — 72.5
Matt Bowen ESPN: Top QBR vs. Man Coverage in 2019...
1. Lamar Jackson — 91.0
2. Deshaun Watson — 79.9
3. Derek Carr — 78.8
4. Drew Brees — 78.6
5. Matthew Stafford — 78.5
Matt Bowen ESPN: More QB numbers from ‘19...
QBR vs. the blitz (5 or more rushers)
1. Derek Carr — 95.9
2. Lamar Jackson — 92.4
3. Patrick Mahomes — 90.5
4. Matthew Stafford — 87.4
5. Kirk Cousins — 86.1
Carr also ranked No.1 in Comp% (71.6) & YPA (11.11) vs. the blitz.
Ruiz For the Win USA Today: Ranking the rookie QBs of 2019: Kyler is for real, but who's next on the list?
3. Daniel Jones, Giants
“I was higher on Jones (more than most) before the 2019 NFL draft, so I was not surprised when he looked competent during his rookie season, completing 61.9% of his passes and throwing 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
As was the case during his time at Duke, Jones looked the part of a seasoned vet when operating in the quick passing game. He clearly has a strong grasp on how to time his drops and when to go from one read to the next. 0.11 when on throws that came before the 2.5-second threshold. That number dropped to -0.28 after 2.5 seconds.
For whatever reason, the Giants coaching staff didn’t do more to make things easier on their rookie quarterback. His play-action rate (18%) was one of the lowest in the league and despite him playing his best out of empty formations, where he finished around league average in both EPA and success rate, it was an under-utilized strategy.
Long-term outlook: All in all, Jones’ rookie season had to be considered a success. If the new Giants coaching staff can play to his strengths a bit more, Jones may cut down on the disaster plays, and that’s really the only thing holding him back from being a league-average starter.
ESPN: NFL testing new protective facemasks with surgical or N95 material
McManaman AZ Central: Playing rugby helped prepare Cardinals rookie Leki Futo to do the dirty work in the NFL
Ledbetter AJC: Falcons to reopen their facilities on Tuesday
Cunningham AJC: Falcons use virtual ‘point of attack’ plan for player development
Bailey Syracuse.com: Sterling Hofrichter got his NFL Draft wish. Now the former Syracuse punter is focused on what’s next
Doon Baltimore Sun: The 25 best undrafted free agents in Ravens history: From league’s best kicker to a couple of All-Pros
Shaffer Baltimore Sun: The Ravens have a crowded running back room. Here’s how an ex-NFL star thinks it will work out
Hensley ESPN Baltimore: Bike, tuna and will: How Marshal Yanda lost 60 pounds in three months
Barnett Buffalo News: Bills RB Zack Moss puts NFL defenses on notice
Newton ESPN Charlotte: Analytics predict bright future for Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn
Wiederer Chicago Tribune: Zoom meetings, ‘coffee shops’ and a QB competition on hold: How Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy is learning to embrace contingencies
Minich CincyJungle: Film Room: Bengals UDFAs show promise
Every college free agent the Bengals signed brings a unique skillset
Beigle Cincy Jungle: Ken Anderson has Super Bowl hopes for Joe Burrow
Sheeran CincyJungle: Jonah Williams ready to face both kinds of pressure in protecting Joe Burrow
Cabot Cleveland Plain Dealer: Browns and other NFL teams can partially reopen facilities Tuesday; league hopeful players return in June
Owning Dallas Morning News: Film room: Cowboys position battles to follow when football resumes, including a possible shakeup at cornerback
Gehlken Dallas Morning News: The Cowboys’ addition of CeeDee Lamb benefits Dak Prescott, but it might help Ezekiel Elliott even more
Klis 8News Denver: Broncos positional look: Quarterbacks
Heilman Denver Post: Broncos film study: How Albert Okwuegbunam could be matchup nightmare at tight end
O’Halloran Denver Post: Led by Mike Munchak, Broncos offensive tackle Hunter Watts feels he can make transition from FCS to NFL
Mike High Report: Why did Lloyd Cushenberry fall to the Broncos at 83?
Newman Denver Post: Broncos new No. 1 cornerback A.J. Bouye hasn’t lost the chip he had as an undrafted college free agent
Klis 9News Denver: Broncos' positional outlook: Safeties
Mike Klis 9News Denver: Top-paid safety duos ('20 cash):
1. DEN (Simmons $11.4M; Jackson $11M). Total: $22.4M
2. MIN (Harris $11.4M; Smith $8.8M) Total: 20.2M
3. WAS (Collins 16M; Davis 3.5M) Total: 19.5M
4. BAL (Thomas 10M; Clark 7.5M) Total: 17.5M
5. NE (McCourty 14M; Chung 3.4M) Total: 17.4M
Birkett Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions bracing for games with no fans: 'It would be an adjustment for everybody'
Demovsky ESPN GB: Aaron Rodgers says his desire to stay with Packers for entire career 'may not be a reality'
McClain Houston Chronicle: Texans’ center Nick Martin likes team’s consistency
Canepa UTSD: Will Chargers' fans in San Diego follow Philip Rivers to Indy?
QB Data Mine: Patrick Mahomes turned it up in the fourth quarter last year. He was 58.8% accurate before the fourth quarter, 15th-best in the league, and 67.9% accurate in the fourth quarter, 3rd-best in the league.
Teope KC Star: Veteran Chiefs linebacker believes run defense will only get better in 2020 and beyond
Guitierrez ESPN LV: UNLV star, Oakland native Javin White hoping to make impact with Raiders
Da Silva Ramswire USA Today: The Rams overcomplicated what should've been a simple rebranding
Klein LA Times: Van Jefferson’s NFL pedigree is considered a huge plus by the Rams
Nguyen Denver Post: LA Rams re-sign former CSU-Pueblo defensive end Morgan Fox, release Tanzel Smart
Anthony Harris: Ready for another journey...Just so it’s no question what my expectations are and what type of energy I’m bringing for 2020
Chris Tomasson Twincities.com: Vikings safety Anthony Harris is doing the reporting here himself. It had been trending since late March that Harris would return either on the franchise tag or a long-term deal. The sides continue to work on a long-term deal
Reiss ESPN Boston: Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the Patriots and NFL (approximate-value metric on skill-position personnel; Joe Thuney's kind gesture; Julian Edelman's leadership; here comes Vince Wilfork; what drew one top undrafted free agent to Patriots etc.)
Guregian Boston Herald: An early Patriots 53-man roster projection
Sherman The Ringer: The NFL’s Search for the Next Taysom Hill Is Fundamentally Flawed
Johnson Nola.com: Ty Montgomery signs with Saints after down year with Jets; TE Mitchell Loewen waived
Johnson Nola.com: Patrick Omameh is happy to find some continuity by re-signing with the Saints
Bowen Phil Inquirer: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issues facilities ‘reopening’ memo, but it won’t mean much for Eagles
Kempski Phillyvoice: A look at the Eagles' players over 30, and their succession plan for each
Kempski Phillyvoice: Eagles still talking to Jason Peters; also have 'a ton of confidence' in Andre Dillard
Batko Pittsburgh Post Gazette: NFL roots 'coming full circle' for new Steelers lineman Stefen Wisniewski
Pryor ESPN Pittsburgh: Steelers hope former walk-on Alex Highsmith is their latest small-school gem
Dubow AP: 49ers hopeful of training camp return to Santa Clara
https://apnews.com/40b490ff021f370c889332e5dba94f22?utm_medium=AP_NFL& utm_source=Twitter& utm_campaign=SocialFlow
Branch SF Chronicle: Untold stories: Reporting Reuben Foster’s arrest — and avoiding one, too
Branch SF Chronicle: Better blind side? 49ers’ Joe Staley was brilliant, but ‘he ain’t Trent Williams’
Stroud TB Times: Brace for the impact of an iconic NFL quarterback like Tom Brady
Stroud TB Times: Tom Brady, Bucs players take the field at Tampa’s Berkeley Prep: exclusive photos
Gallagher Nashville Post: Titans preseason may include multiple joint practices
Dan Duggan of the Athletic recently wrote that the Giants in Week 2 of the preseason could be the top possibility for a joint practice. Titans general manager Jon Robinson and new Giants head coach Joe Judge have a previous relationship going back to their time in New England and a joint practice could be in the works.
“Giants play at Tennessee in the second preseason game,” Duggan wrote. “Think it's a strong possibility that they have joint practices (assuming camp proceeds as planned)”
Finlay NBC Sports Washington: Dwayne Haskins has cut body fat, weight in offseason workouts
Carpenter Washington Post: Redskins rookie tackle Saahdiq Charles is ready to move on from his suspension at LSU
Raissman NYDN: Here is what ESPN should do with the ‘Monday Night Football’ booth this season
PFF College: Highest-graded returning Power 5 interior OL:
1. G Josh Rivas, Kansas State
2. C John Michael Schmitz, Minn
3. G Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
4. C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
5. C Doug Kramer, Illinois
6. G Kendrick Green, Illinois
7. G Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
8. G Trey Smith, Tennessee
Maiorana Rochester Democrat: Ben Williams, who played 10 seasons for the Bills, passed away Monday
“Williams joined the Bills as a third-round draft choice in 1976 – the first African American player ever drafted from the University of Mississippi. He became the Bills’ starting left defensive end in 1977, and he never relinquished the position.
He played his entire career in Buffalo, a total of 150 games which ranked third all-time in team history when he retired prior to the start of the 1986 season.
The 251-pounder led Buffalo’s defensive linemen in tackles five of his last six seasons, and he made one appearance in the Pro Bowl, in 1982, though was oddly denied another trip to Hawaii in 1983 when he made 10 sacks.”
Goldstein NYT: Gene Rossides, 92, Dies; Led Columbia to Historic Upset of Army
“Rossides was an outstanding passer and runner at Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush Brooklyn, a decade after Luckman played there.
At a season-ending banquet for Rossides’s 1944 high school team, he was summoned to take a phone call.
“It was from Sid Luckman,” Rossides recalled long afterward. “He said, ‘You go play for Lou Little at Columbia.’ And that was it.”
Rossides started at halfback for Columbia’s 1945 team and scored five touchdowns against Cornell, then switched to quarterback as a junior after being tutored by Luckman in spring practices. Rossides and Kusserow became known as the Goal Dust Twins, and both were selected to Columbia’s 24-member all-20th century squad.
Rossides orchestrated another golden moment on Oct. 25, 1947, when the Lions, 2-2 on the season, played Army, which was unbeaten and unscored upon in four games, though its Heisman Trophy running backs Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard and its outstanding quarterback Arnold Tucker had graduated.
The Cadets took a 20-7 lead before a crowd of some 35,000 jamming Columbia’s old Baker Field. But Rossides twice connected with his end Bill Swiacki, who made two brilliant catches: on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and then another on a pass that put the ball on the Army 3. The outstanding running back Lou Kusserow then ran the ball in to make it a 20-20 game.
Army had missed one of its three extra-point attempts, but Columbia’s Ventan Yablonski converted for a third straight time, and the Lions emerged with a stunning victory.
For the all the excitement around Columbia’s upset over Army in 1947, Rossides would have wait for game films to see his decisive fourth-quarter touchdown throw to Swiacki.
“It was a down-and-out pass,” he once recalled. “They had a player in front of Bill and one behind him. I was moving out of the pocket and got away from Army’s Joe Steffy, and I threw the ball over the safety’s head toward Bill as I got hit by Steffy. I didn’t see the rest of the play. All I heard was a roar.”
Rossides, a junior at the time, tied a single-game Columbia record set by Luckman and Paul Governali by completing 18 passes against Army. After closing out his Columbia career, he played in the East-West Shrine All-Star game.
Rossides was selected by the Giants in the 10th round of the 1949 N.F.L. draft, but accepted a scholarship to Columbia Law School instead and graduated in 1952.
He went into private law practice, became active in Republican politics and spent two and a half years as an assistant to the undersecretary of the Treasury in the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Mr. Rossides later held important roles in the election campaigns of Senators Jacob K. Javits and Kenneth B. Keating, both Republicans of New York.
After heading Richard M. Nixon’s New York presidential campaign office in 1968, Mr. Rossides served as an assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Nixon administration from 1969 to 1973, overseeing the Customs Service, the Secret Service and other agencies and enforcing rules on trade and tariffs.
The year (1949) Gene Rossides was drafted by the NYG in the 10th round 251 players were selected in 25 rounds of drafting:
Some of the more famous selections:
01-001 PHI Chuck Bednarik Penn HOF
01-003 NYY Doak Walker SMU HOF
04-037 LAR Norm Van Brocklin Oregon HOF
12-116 PIT Jim Finks HOF ( HOF As a GM)
12-119 CHI George Blanda HOF
NYG Selections: (With notes gathered from various sources)
001-004 Paul Page SMU
Teammate of Doak Walker and Kyle Rote he flashed enough in the backfield to be selected by the Giants:
“The New York Giants selected Page with the fourth overall pick in the 1949 NFL draft. However, Page opted to play with the Baltimore Colts in the All-America Football Conference. He played just one season and was a non-factor.”
002-014 Al De Rogatis Duke
NYT: “Born in Newark, DeRogatis attended Central High School. He later went to Duke University, where he excelled at football in his sophomore and senior years. A knee injury sidelined him for most of his junior year.
DeRogatis was drafted by the Giants in 1949 and he played defensive tackle under Coach Steve Owen through 1952. He made the Pro Bowl in 1951 and 1952.
The knee injury recurred, though, and brought his professional career to an end at age 25.”
Troup PFJ: THERE'S A RHUBARB OUT THERE: The New York Giants—1950
“Al DeRogatis is much improved over '49 and is selected for the Pro Bowl. He is strong at the point of attack on the right side next to Poole. Jon Baker is listed as a middle guard; which of course he plays when New York is in the 5-2. The Giants also align in the 4-3 and Baker becomes the left defensive tackle. Though effective at both, he is better when aligned tight on the center's nose. Charles Milner plays the right defensive tackle when New York is in the 4-3, as DeRogatis becomes the right defensive end. John Mastrangelo plays some defensive tackle, and middle guard also.”
09-17-1950 : NY Giants 18, PITTSBURGH 7 Tom Landry and Al DeRogatis returned fumbles for Giant TDs, as New York could only manage 197 yards offensively, 167 on the ground. Both teams recorded safeties
Turney PFJ: New York Giants All Career-Year Team
“Arnie Weinmeister, 1952, and Al Blozis, 1943, are our defensive tackles. In their respective years (along with Katcavage in 1963) these two tackles would have been in contention for a defensive player of the year awards, had there been one. We've seen film on both and they were dominant. We wish we could see more, but in what is available, both were often simply a physical mismatch for the guards and offensive tackles at the time. Both were listed as tackles, but both were in 6-man lines and played what may be called a defensive end in this era, but both had defensive ends, with hands on the ground outside them and both had defensive guards to the inside. So, though they were over tackles, we will call them defensive tackles, which there were listed as.
The Second-teamers are Jim Burt, 1984 (82 tackles, 7 sacks-a high number for a nose tackle), and Rosey Grier, 1956 (All-Pro).
The honorable mentions are Al DeRogatis, 1951, Erik Howard, 1990, Keith Hamilton, 2000 (57 tackles, 10 sacks), John Mendenhall, 1974 (Second-team All-Pro, 7 sacks), John LoVetere, 1963, Ray Krouse, 1954, Robert Harris, 1997 (58 tackles, 10 sacks), and Dick Modzelewski, 1957.”
Troup PFJ: Frank Gifford and the 1952 New York Giants
“Rookies Ray Beck and George Kennard have strong seasons at the guard position as they both demonstrate the ability to pull, trap, and position-block bigger men. When rookie Dick Yelvington is on the field at right tackle the Giants have a creditable o-line, but injuries keep him out of 5 games, and he is replaced by veteran Al DeRogatis (also his last last year). DeRogatis also fills in on defense, yet his best days are behind him.”
003-024 Bill Olson Columbia
1947 Win over Army
AP (10-24-1987) NEW YORK (AP) - Four decades later, Col. Earl (Red) Blaik still insists that one of the touchdowns in Columbia’s stunning 21-20 upset of Army that snapped his team’s 32-game unbeaten streak should have been disallowed.
″There’s no question in my mind,″ the former Army coach, now 90, said crisply when asked if Bill Swiacki, Columbia’s All-America end, had trapped the ball in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
The score was the first of two fourth-period touchdowns that brought Columbia back from a 20-7 deficit and gave Army it’s first defeat in four years.
Lou Kusserow, a hard-running back who scored twice for Columbia on that sun-splashed afternoon Oct. 25, 1947, says Swiacki had tears in his eyes after the catch.
″I’m not sure if he also thought he had trapped it or was crying tears of joy because he caught the ball,″ said Kusserow, 60, a former producer for NBC Sports, from his home in Palm Desert, Calif.
Gene Rossides, the scrappy Lion quarterback who threw the pass and now works for a Washington law firm, has no doubts about the catch.
″Our film confirmed it to us,″ Rossides said, arguing the case with the conviction of a well-briefed attorney.
Army went into the game undefeated and unscored on in the first four games of the 1947 campaign. Columbia was 2-2.
Blaik said in a recent telephone interview from his Colorado home that his Black Knights had underrated Columbia and were ″not ready to meet as good a team as they were.″
Sensing this on the eve of the game, Blaik told his assistant coaches, ″We’re going to get licked if we don’t change our attitude very greatly.″
Ventan Yablonski, the Lion fullback who kicked the game-winning extra point and is now an insurance executive in Illinois, believes that Army was looking ahead to its game against Notre Dame and ″wasn’t paying much attention to Columbia.″
Joe Karas, Columbia’s left guard and now a physician in Rhode Island, remembers the confidence of the Army team.
″They were very cocky,″ Karas said. ″They thought they were going to run over us. They were very mouthy, making wise cracks on the line - things like, ‘We’re going to get you on this play’ - and making funny noises.″
Yet, even as Army was dominating the first half, Karas and other members of the keyed-up Lions became increasingly convinced that ″we were the better team.″
That wasn’t the feeling in the wooden stands of Baker Field as Army marched 55 yards to score on its first possession. The game seemed to be taking its inevitable course.
Army went ahead 14-0 in the second quarter following a 61-yard drive. But, then, Rossides, a protege of the great Sid Luckman, began to click with his passing attack, which advanced Columbia 53 yards. At the six, Kusserow sliced through the right side to score.
In the thrilling closing minutes of the half, Columbia defender George Kisiday pounced on a fumble by Cadet quarterback Arnold Galiffa at Army’s four yard line. Kusserow bucked to the one, only to have the referee bring the ball back, ruling that it had not been blown back into play.
After three more unsuccessful tries at the goal, Yablonski missed on a field goal from the 13.
Army took over on their own 20, and following a penalty, the Cadet’s fleet Rip Rowan slanted off tackle and scampered down the sidelines for an 84-yard score, leaving a tumbling litter of would-be tacklers in his wake.
It didn’t seem to matter at the time that Army’s Jack Mackmull missed the extra point.
At the half, the Cadets had a comfortable 20-7 lead.
Instead of being dispirited by the lost scoring chance and the Rowan romp, the Lions were seething at halftime.
″Everybody was mad ... that the bums had scored that third touchdown,″ said Rossides.
″The coaches didn’t say a word,″ Rossides related. ″We were all yelling at each other, ‘We can do it 3/8’ Then we went out and pushed them around the third quarter without scoring.″
″A lot of what we did in the first half and practically everything we did in the second half clicked offensively,″ said Rossides, whose 18 completions combined with two successful Kusserow aerials to break the school mark of 18 set by Luckman a decade earlier. Nine of Rossides passes were caught by Swiacki, whom Red Smith described as a ″gyrating genius.″
“Columbia’s right halfback, Billy Olson, got that ″everything’s coming up roses″ feeling when he went to block a big Army end towards the outside. But the end cut back to prevent a hole from developing off tackle. ″So,″ Olson recalled, ″I pushed him in the direction he was going and the whole line collapsed,″ enabling Kusserow to score one of his two touchdowns.”
Swiacki seemed to levitate, his body nearly horizontal to the ground, when he made the spectacular endzone catch early in the fourth quarter.
Less than four minutes later, Swiacki set up the game-tying touchdown.
″Down and out to the flagpole,″ Rossides told Swiacki in the huddle. As the end was making his cut, Rossides loafted a 26-yard ″floater″ that he said turned out to be ″the best pass of the game.″
Rossides went down under a hard-charging lineman and couldn’t see Swiacki’s diving catch on the three. But he heard the roar from the Lion cheering section. Two plays later, Kusserow crashed through from the two.
The outcome of the game now rested on the broad shoulders of Yablonski. At 25, the Air Corps vet was one of the oldest players on the field.
To him the Cadets were ″another bunch of rookies″ and his kicking chore ″just a routine extra point.″
Rossides, the ball holder, said he was ″not thinking, ’This is the game breaker.‴ The big Western Union clock at the end of the field told him there were more than seven minutes left - time enough for Army to regain the lead.
″The ball came, I put it down and, boom, Yabo put it right through the uprights,″ Rossides remembered.
Columbia led 21-20 and managed to hold the one-point edge, finishing the game deep inside Army territory.”
NYT (11-11-1948) Bill Olson, Columbia's dependable wingback, has been selected captain for this Saturday's game with Navy, Coach Lou Little announced yesterday. The Garden City, L.I., senior will lead the Lions before Columbia's third capacity crowd of the year.
Olson DNP in the NFL
004-035 Bill Kay Iowa
Main article: 1946 Iowa Hawkeyes football team
Kay is listed as team MVP. Kay helped clear the way for Bob Smith, the team's first 500-yard rusher since Ozzie Simmons in 1936.
Main article: 1948 Iowa Hawkeyes football team
He was selected second-team All-American and first team All-Big Nine by the Associated Press. He led the conference in minutes played. In his final game, he blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for an Iowa touchdown in a win over Boston University. Kay also played in all-star football games.
Kay entered the 1949 season injured. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Kay was one of seven tackles signed to the team in 1949. Kay signed a one-year contract reportedly worth $6,750. He entered the draft injured and unfortunately, never played a professional game.
005-046 J.D. Cheek Oklahoma State
“He graduated from high school in Stillwater, where he was an All-State football player, & received a B.S. degree at OSU, where he was picked in the late 40's as one of the top 33 football players in the nation by the American Football Coaches Assoc. and recognized as such by the Saturday Evening Post. He did graduate work at OU.
He served as City Manager at both Cleveland and Ada; managed the complete relocation of the town of Mannford, because of the construction of Keystone Reservoir; and served on the Town Governing Board for 6 years after its relocation.”
006-055 Abe Gibron Purdue
“Round Abe Gibron was an outstanding guard with Cleveland's championship teams of the 1950s. At 5'11" and 250 pounds, he was unusually large and fast for a guard at the time, and is often cited as one of the three or four best at his position during the decade. Though gruff on the field, he was a strong family man, taking pride in his wife and three children.
Abe was born September 22, 1925, in Michigan City, IN. After beginning at Valparaiso, he lettered two years at Purdue University. He was the first draft choice of the Buffalo Bills of the All-America Football Conference in a secret draft held on July 8, 1948 -- before his final season at Purdue. The AAFC hoped to get the jump on the rival National Football League in signing college seniors. In the 1949 NFL draft, he was selected on the sixth round by the New York Giants, but he signed with Buffalo and became an immediate starter with the Bills. But, when the AAFC merged with the NFL after the 1949 season, the players from defunct AAFC clubs like Buffalo were thrown into a general pool to be drafted by the remaining NFL teams. The Cleveland Browns had joined the NFL as part of the merger, and Cleveland Coach Paul Brown remembered Gibron "had the fastest and quickest charge I ever saw. He was very spirited and played at 250 pounds." He grabbed Gibron.
The roly-poly Gibron became one of the Browns' "messenger guards," linemen who alternated in taking each play called by the coach into the quarterback. Eventually, he was deemed too valuable to play part time and he stayed in the lineup while the "other" guards ran messages. He was selected for the Pro Bowl four times from 1952 through 1955 and was named All-NFL by the United Press in 1955. In the meantime, Cleveland played in six straight championship games, winning three. In the middle of the 1956 season, he was traded to Philadelphia, and in 1958, he joined the Chicago Bears, retiring after the 1959 season.
Gibron became an assistant coach with the Washington Redskins in 1960. In 1965, he returned to the Bears as an assistant. He served as head coach of the Bears from 1972-74, compiling an 11- 30-1 record. In 1975, he was head coach of the Chicago Wind of the World Football League, and from 1976- 84, he assisted John McKay at Tampa Bay.”
007-066 Frank LoVuolo St. Bonaventure
“"Billeted in the luxury Villa Pr’m on Clervaux's rue Brooch was Sergeant Frank A. LoVuolo, with Battery 'B' of the 107th Field Artillery, who would later play professional football with the New york Giants. He remembered being on guard duty when the artillery barrage began. 'I could hear shell fragments striking the pavement and nearby buildings and was forced to race for protection of the villa,' he recalled. 'Crawling and running, I finally reached the front door.' He slammed it shut behind behind him. 'No one at the time knew what all the German activity really meant. We were completely out of communication with everyone, and stayed put until late morning. At that point in time we heard the clanging and creaking sound of armor coming down the Wiltz road and thought the worst.' The tanks were friendly Shermans and their commander entered LoVoulo's villa and told his group the Germans had broken through their lines in several places. 'He advised us to get out of Clervaux as quickly and as best we could to avoid encirclement. Those were the last semblance of orders I would receive until I rejoined my unit at Christmas. Without hesitation and without packing of our belongings, everyone escaped onto the hillside behind,' becoming part of the ever-growing stream of Americans moving west. 'There was mass confusion and I was a part of it,' admitted LoVoulo.
"Typical of many GI's cast adrift in those first few days Sargeant Frank LoVuolo had begun to make his what cross country in search of his unit. As he recalled, 'This began an eternity of foraging for food, sleeping in barns, sprinting across open fields, and hiding in deep woods. I decided that as long as I was on my own and under no direct orders, I would strive for three objectives, (1), stay alive (2), avoid capture, and (3), find my artillery unit...in that order I succeeded in all three.' "
pp.306-308 Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45 by Peter Caddick-Adams
LoVuolo would also have a part in one of the biggest comebacks in Giants history...on October 30, 1949 the Chicago Cards led the Giants 28-7 at the half, but in the third quarter Jack Salscheider returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a score. A minute later LoVuolo scooped up a Charlie Trippi fumble for another touchdown and the Giants would then build a 34-31 lead on two Gene Roberts plunges into the line for touchdowns. The Cards weren't finished and pulled ahead 38-31 until a Charlie Conerly 68 yard pass to Roberts set up a one yard Joe Scott run for the winning touchdown with four minutes left...
008-075 Jack Salscheider St. Thomas
“Jack Salscheider graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a BA in 1950. As a student, Salscheider was named to the Little All-America and Catholic All-America teams at halfback (1948). He was a three-time All-State member (1946-1948) and was a key member of the Cigar Bowl football team, throwing the tying touchdown pass in the second half. In eight 1948 regular season games, Salscheider had 919 rushing yards and scorded 12 touchdowns. He also handled kicking duties and made 19 extra points and averaged 43.8 yards per punt. He helped the Tommies attain a 13-1 MIAC record during his last three seasons. After graduating, Salscheider played in the NFL with the New York Giants. He had a kick return for a touchdown, but his career was ended by injuries.”
Exhibition season 1949:
Mil JS: “By this time, the Giants had worked the ball to the Packer 42 and a moment later to the Packer 12 on a pass from Chuck Conerly to Jack Salscheider.”
Mil JS: 11-14-1949
TACITURN STEVE, GIANT COACH SAYS MUD STIFLED GROUND GAME
NOV 14 (Green Bay) - “Admittedly it's of little consolation today, but Steve Owen, portly, taciturn head coach of the New York Giants, conceded "the Packers are a much better ball club than the one we played in Milwaukee a year ago," in the lobby of the Hotel Northland at dusk Sunday afternoon. His statement, of course, could not be categorized as startling, for the Packers sustained a 49-3 trouncing - the worst defeat in Green Bay history - at the hands of Gotham's No. 1 pro football representative in 1948. "We figured we had a good chance to win," the veteran top strategist of the Giants admitted in an answer to a question. "It was the kind of a game we expected. We figured they (the Packers) were going to run, and they did, but we didn't figure they were going to pass as much as they did."..."OUR BOYS ARE LIGHT": Owen, concerned about "making" the 5:25 Milwaukee Road Chippewa, was sidetracked at this juncture by one of his ex-students, Ward Cuff, now head coach at Central Catholic. "Congratulations, coach," Cuff offered, and they were accepted with a gracious smile by his former mentor, who later chatted with Ward at considerable length. Turning back to the game, the rotund Owen continued, "We didn't run much ourselves because it was pretty muddy out there and our boys are light." He obviously referred to his top ground-gaining trio, fullback Gene Roberts, who didn't appear to be mired after his pass receptions, Ray Coates and Jack Salscheider, former St. Thomas star.”
009-086 Joe Sobelski Michigan
University of Michigan:
“He attended Grand Rapids Catholic High School where starred as a lineman. After graduation, he joined the United States Navy and served for eighteen months during World War II. He came to Ann Arbor in time to play football for Michigan in August 1945.
Joe Soboleski arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 1945. Freshman were eligible to play in 1945 and Joe played enough for Fritz Crisler to earn a varsity letter. The Wolverines finished with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses in his first year on the Michigan team. Not a great season, by Michigan standards, but something to build on.
Soboleski was back in 1946 and continued to play some good football Michigan. He didn’t start any games, but Joe played enough on the defensive line to earn his second letter. The Wolverines ended the season with 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Unfortunately, the Wolverines went 5-1-1 in the conference and finished second for the third consecutive season. Another good season, just not good enough for Michigan.
A Part-Time Starter and Two-Time National Champion in 1947 and 1948
Michigan had talented players at every position in 1947 and Joe Soboleski was one of them! He started three games on the defensive line for Michigan and played a lot of good football. The Wolverines scored 394 points and only allowed 53 which is why they finished the season with a perfect record of 10 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties. Michigan also won the Big Nine Conference Championship, the Rose Bowl Championship and the National championship in 1947. The 1947 season was a great season by anyone’s standards and Joe Soboleski was an important part of it!
Joe Soboleski’s senior year was almost as good as his junior year. New Head Coach Bennie Ooosterbaan led the Wolverines to another perfect record and another national championship. However, Michigan did not win the Rose Bowl that season because Big Ten rules prevented back-to-back trips to Pasadena. Soboleski started seven games on the Michigan defensive line. He must have played very well. Michigan’s defense only allowed 44 points all season!
A Solid Player on Some Great Wolverine Teams
Soboleski was good enough to play four years of varsity football at Michigan. He earned four varsity letters. Even better, the teams he played on posted a record of 32 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie which worked out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-five percent (.855). The Wolverines were even better during that period in the Big Nine Conference. Michigan posted an incredible record of 22 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (.900) during that amazing run. They won two straight conference titles (1947 & 1948) and finished second in 1945 and 1946.
Joe Soboleski left Ann Arbor as a two-time national champion. He played four years of professional football before starting his “real” career.”
“Soboleski was selected in the ninth round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, but he signed instead with the Chicago Hornets of the All-America Football Conference. Soboleski played four years of professional football for five teams: Chicago Hornets (1949), Washington Redskins (1949), Detroit Lions (1950), the New York Yanks (1951), and the Dallas Texans (1952). He was released by the Texans after 24-6 loss in the 1952 season opener.”
010-095 Gene Rossides Columbia
As mentioned above:
011-106 Dick Hensley Kentucky
“Dick Hensley was born Sept. 8, 1927, in Williamson and was a great local athlete during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
He was an offensive end who played three seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears.
Hensley was drafted by the Giants in the 11th round of the 1949 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Kentucky and attended Williamson High School in Williamson. He helped lead the Wolfpack to a state championship in 1944. Naturally he was one of the first inductees of the WHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Hensley, who was an honorable mention on the All-American team, died on March 7, 2015.”
012-115 George Sundheim Northwestern
“He was a linebacker on Northwestern's 1949 Rose Bowl champion. The Wildcats beat California 20-14.
After graduation, he married in 1951. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Sundheim was drafted by the Bears, the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, his wife said, but he chose to continue his studies at John Marshall Law School, where he obtained his law degree.
Mr. Sundheim always maintained a law practice in downtown Chicago and another in the western suburbs.”
013-126 Bill Austin Oregon State
Oregon HOF: “Born in 1928, Austin grew up in San Pedro, Calif., and reached Oregon State as a 16-year-old. He played offensive lineman for the Beavers for four seasons (1945-48), eventually filling out to 6-foot-1, 225 pounds.
In 1946, the Beavers were 7-1-1, losing only to UCLA. They tied Stanford. As a senior, he was voted to the All-Pacific Coast Conference team and played in the 1949 East-West Shrine Game. During his years in Corvallis, the Beavers were a combined 21-14-5.
The New York Giants drafted Austin, who earned a degree in biology, in 1949. He played seven seasons for the Giants, missing the 1951 and 1952 seasons while serving in the military during the Korean War. Upon his return, Austin excelled and played in the Pro Bowl in 1954. His playing career ended in 1957, but he immediately became an assistant coach.
In New York, Austin played under Vince Lombardi, who was an assistant, and was one of 17 players from the 1950s Giants to become coaches in the league. Austin became the offensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers when Lombardi took over the team in 1959. In Austin’s six years in Green Bay, the Packers reached the NFL Championship game three times and won twice. He coached the offensive line for the Los Angeles Rams in 1965 before being named head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1966, where his teams went a combined 11-28-3 in three seasons. Upon his dismissal, Austin rejoined Lombardi, this time with the Washington Redskins in 1969. Upon Lombardi’s death the following year, Austin coached the team for one season.
Austin coached the offensive line with the New York Giants from 1979-82 before retiring from coaching.
In four years as a head coach, Austin finished 17-36-3.
Following his career, he moved with his wife to La Mesa, Calif., and became a business owner.
Austin was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1982 and into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.”
014-135 Norb Adams Purdue
“He went on to further star all four years in football at Purdue, interrupted by a military stint in Hawaii for a year and made several all-everything teams. Norb earned the nickname "the Sixty Minute Man" for his achievements on the Football field, as he played every down for Purdue as a Freshman and only had that record interrupted the next three years by various injuries. He also earned three letters on Purdue's baseball team as both a pitcher and outfielder and went on to win the Big Ten Conference Medal for Best Student Athlete in 1950. He told all the NFL teams that as a scholar athlete he was going to stay in school to obtain his Master's Degree in Pharmacology, which he did, but the NY Giants drafted him anyway. He was later enshrined a Distinguished Member in both the State of Indiana Football Hall of Fame and in the City of Hammond Sports Hall of Fame. After college, dad was offered a job by Mr. Walgreen Jr. himself, but elected to go the route of a smaller chain, later becoming co-owner of the successful Highland Pharmacy & Gift Shop.”
015-146 Ralph Pickelsimer Otterbein
“A six-time letterman, Ralph Picklesimer made his mark across three sports and impacted the athletic program with a variety of impressive talents. Standing 6’5” and weighing 260 pounds, those who watched him play claimed that “Pick” could have excelled at any sport he wanted.
Hailing from Middletown, Ohio, Picklesimer was a two-year letterman for the football program as a standout lineman. He played center on the heralded 1946 team, which posted a 7-1 record and earned Otterbein’s first and only Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) championship in the sport. Picklesimer was supposed to play fullback that year, but the team had nobody to fill the center position and he volunteered to move up front.
Picklesimer was a unanimous first team All-OAC center that year as he helped pave the way for All-OAC running back Paul Davis and the Cardinal offense, which averaged 34.6 points per game and ultimately outscored opponents 277-29. Included in the season was an 18-13 triumph over a Denison team coached by Woody Hayes, who later said the 1946 Otterbein squad was the best small-college team he had ever seen.
Otterbein’s only loss in 1946 came in the form of a 13-7 defeat at West Virginia, but Picklesimer earned respect and recognition from many involved. The Mountaineers chose him as the center for their “All-Opponent Eleven” team at season’s end that highlighted the best player they played against at each position.
He certainly impacted other varsity programs on campus as a three-sport athlete, lettering three times in track and field and snagging another on the basketball court. Among the most memorable performances in T& F came during the season finale of 1948 when Otterbein recorded an 82-45 dual-meet victory at cross-town rival Capital. Picklesimer won the shot put and discus that day.
Picklesimer, who also served time as a marine, graduated from Otterbein in 1950 with a degree in Education and was drafted by the New York Giants. He later earned a master’s degree from East Carolina University and then his PhD from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.”
He was a military veteran of the Korean War.
016-155 Jerry Morrical Indiana
“Shortly after attending Indiana University, he enlisted into the U.S. Navy. The Navy sent him to their Great Lakes location to play football for the Navy team. After his discharge he returned to Indiana University to finish his education and play football. During this time he spent one season playing football for Florida State University where he was named "Coaches All American". He received his degree in Education from Indiana University. He played with the Detroit Lions for a short time and Canadian football league. He also taught one year at Gannon University in Pennsylvania before embarking on a successful career as a manufacturer's representative for several companies that sold products to General Motors and Chrysler foundries.”
017-166 Wally Teninga Michigan
“Teninga enrolled at the University of Michigan where he played football for the Michigan Wolverines football teams from 1945 and 1947 to 1949. He was a member of the 1945 team that first employed the two-platoon system of football in a game against Army in Yankee Stadium. At age 17, Teninga started seven games at left halfback for the 1945 Wolverines, and was the Wolverines' leading ground gainer.
Teninga missed the 1946 season while serving in the U.S. Army. He returned to Ann Arbor in 1947 and was a member of the university's undefeated national championship teams of 1947 and 1948. In 1947, Teninga was the team's punter, defensive right halfback, and second string offensive halfback behind Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott.
In 1948, he shared the right halfback position with Leo Koceski and also handled punting duties, averaging 41.5 yards per punt.
Sports writer John Mayhew called Teninga "one of Michigan's finest all-around football players," and referred to him as "a great 'insurance' member of the squad, often filling in the backfield at critical times without taking anything from the squad effort." After Teninga graduated in 1950, Mayhew posed the question of who would become the "Teninga" of the 1950 squad.
Teninga was drafted in the 17th round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He elected instead to return to Michigan to play his fourth season of college football for the Michigan Wolverines. In the 1949 college football season, Teninga scored the game-winning touchdown in a 14–7 win over Minnesota and threw a touchdown pass to Leo Koceski for Michigan's only score in a 7–7 tie with Ohio State. He was also a major contributor in Michigan's 14–0 win over Illinois in 1949, forcing and recovering an Illinois fumble, launching a 69-yard punt, and making key tackles on defense. After the 1949 season, Teninga played on the East All-Star team at the East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco. Teninga intercepted a pass thrown by the Western All-Stars' quarterback to help lead the East team to a 28–6 victory.
Teninga graduated in 1950 with a degree in economics and returned to Chicago to work in his father's real estate business, Teninga Real Estate Co. Teninga worked for his father's company for five-and-a-half years before accepting a position in the mid-1950s with S.S. Kresge Co. With the Kresge company, Teninga was originally assigned to work in Detroit. He later spent seven years in Los Angeles, during which time he became the company's western region manager. Subsequently, he returned to the Detroit area while he was serving Director of Corporate Growth he enrolled as a candidate for an MBA degree in a 2-year evening program conducted by Michigan State University from which he graduated in 1971. He was promoted in April 1972 to vice chairman and chief financial and development officer of S.S. Kresge Co. and Kmart.”
018-175 Dick Nutt North Texas
Mil JS: Giants Packers exhibition 1949
.”On third down, Goodnight nailed a pass from Jacobs on the goal line but dropped it as he was tackled by Dick Nutt.”
Did not make the team.
019-186 Ken McCall Georgia
“He continued on to the University of Georgia on a football scholarship. He was a Business Major. College was interrupted for two years while he served his country in the Army in the Philippines during WWII.
After football at Georgia, Ken began working for his father at their cattle ranch in Titusville. After two years, his father passed away and Ken then took over running the citrus and real estate operations of the family business.”
020-195 Pat O’Sullivan Alabama
“In 1947, Pat began his studies at the University of Alabama. While he was there, he earned high honors both in the classroom and especially on the football field. During Pat's collegiate football career, he earned four varsity football letters as a defensive linebacker and was awarded All Southeastern Conference in 1950. He decided to stay close to the game so he served as an assistant coach at the University and then as a referee in the Southeastern Conference. Pat later worked as a football recruiter for Paul "Bear" Bryant.”
021-206 A.D. Cate North Texas
DNP in the NFL
022-215 Tom Fetzer Wake Forest
Tailback/Quarterback at Wake Forest; DNP in NFL.
023-226 Clete Fischer Nebraska
Fischer family embedded in NU football history
“The Fischer boys -- Ken, Pat, Rex and Cletus -- all played football at the University of Nebraska.
Clete was a letter winner form 1945 to 1948. Ken won letters in 1948 and 1949.
Rex lettered for the Huskers in 1955 and Pat in 1958 through 1960. Rex was the only one of the brothers who did not go on to some sort of career in football. He went into the medical field and is now retired and living in Manhattan, Kansas, after more than a 30-year career as a gynecologist.
Ken and Cletus both played six-man football at St. Edward. Rex played at Oakland High School while Pat played prep football at Omaha Westside.
That was a different era of college football. Ken played running back, defensive back and quarterback for the Huskers.
“You had to play offense and defense,” Ken said. “If you started at quarterback, which I did a couple of times, you had to stay in and play defense. That was a long time ago.”
Cletus played one year in the NFL with the New York Giants, but Pat was by far the most successful of the brothers on the field.
Pat was co-captain of the 1960 team and still holds the Nebraska school record average punt return in a career at 18.33 yards. He was picked in the 17th round of the 1961 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
He went on to play 17 years in the NFL for the Cardinals and the Washington Redskins where he was a two-time All-Pro selection and a three-time Pro Bowler.
Osborne knew Cletus Fischer quite well. Cletus, who passed away at age 75 in 2000, had a long career as a coach for the Huskers.
Cletus was an assistant from 1960 through 1985. He started under coach Bill Jennings, then got held over when Bob Devaney took over in 1962.
Devaney stepped down after the 1972 season, but Cletus continued as an assistant under Osborne.
Cletus coached 12 first-team All-Amercians on the offensive line in 17 years as the position coach.
“Clete and I started out coaching here together on the freshman team,” Osborne said. “He was moved up to the offensive line position along with Carl Selmer. He really helped our offensive lines a lot. I had a lot of respect for Clete. He was a guy who really believed in Nebraska players.
“He always thought kids from Nebraska could play and he had a great love for the state. He was a great friend of mine.”
07-24-1949 Exhibition Giants vs Green Bay (Syracuse)
MIL JS: FISCHER GOES DISTANCE
“Carrying the ball for the first time in a pro game, Cletus Fischer wheeled off his own left tackle, hit the sidelines and went the distance for the Giants’ only TD. Conerly kicked the extra point with only three and a half minutes to go. After a mild threat, the Packers got off the floor for that payoff touchdown.”
024-235 Don McAuliffe Notre Dame
“McAuliffe had enrolled at ND as a freshman in 1945, coming from Leo High School on the south side of Chicago. As a freshman he didn't play with the regular varsity; he headed to the Naval Academy; and when he left there in 1948, the local story was that he thought he might return to ND but was also pondering schools like MSU, Kansas, Penn State, and even Alabama. ND reportedly told him he'd have to sit out a year before he'd be considered qualified to start; McAuliffe ixnayed that, and went to MSU, and college football stardom.
After four years in the Navy, McAuliffe, who initially had a scholarship to Notre Dame, went to Michigan State, which put together the best three-year stretch in program history from 1950-52.
Coached by Clarence "Biggie" Munn, the Spartans posted a 26-1 record during than span, wining 24 straight games following a loss to Maryland in the third game of the 1950 season.
Michigan State extended its winning streak to a school-record 28 games during the 1953 season.
One of McAuliffe's teammates at Michigan State was Willie Thrower, the first African-American to play quarterback professionally.
Duffy Daugherty, who took over the Michigan State program in 1954 and became the winningest coach in school history, was an assistant for the Spartans during McAuliffe's years in East Lansing.
According to sports-reference.com, McAuliffe rushed for 531 yards and seven touchdowns on 98 carries in 1952 (In that era, teams did not posess the high-powered offenses that are so prevelent today).
He joined the US Navy before coming to East Lansing, was selected by the New York Giants in the 1950 NFL draft. He never played a down after turning down the Giants, hoping for a chance to play for his hometown team. But Chicago Bears owner George Halas offered him a contract that was just too little.
Bears' owner George Halas, known for his frugal (cheap) ways, offered McAuliffe a $,6000 contract, which is less than what Tom Brady makes every time he steps into the huddle.
"That's lunch money for these guys now," McAuliffe said of today's top stars.
But that wasn't the worst part of it. According to McAuliffe, Halas made his players pay for their own clothing.
"(Halas) had a sporting goods store downtown Chicago, so all of his players had to buy their sweatshirts, jockstraps and sweat socks, the whole deal," he said.
"So, I said, 'The hell with this noise, I'm not going.'"
Instead, McAuliffe went to Grand Rapids, Mich., where he became something of a local celebrity and made the princely sum of $10,000 as the host of a 30-minute sports television show that aired five days a week during the early days of the medium.
His first guest was supposed to be Meadowlark Lemon, but the Harlem Globetrotters' star never showed.
"He was sitting in a tub drinking wine and smoking Kool cigarettes," McAuliffe said, referring to what Lemon's publicist told him.
After seven years in Grand Rapids, the station was sold to a group in Minneapolis, but McAuliffe didn't want to go to re-locate to Minnesota.
He decided to come to New York, where he met his wife, and went to work as a sale manager with the Brunswick bowling and billiards company for several years.
On Sept, 10, 1976, McAuliffe, who was living in New York by then, headed to LaGuardia Airport after dropping off his wife at the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
About 90 minutes into TWA Flight 355, which was carrying 86 passengers to Chicago, McAuliffe remembers the captain coming on the loudspeaker to announce he no longer was in control of the plane as it cruised over Elmira, N.Y.
The hijackers, who demanded that an appeal for Croatia's independence from Yugoslavia be be printed in four United States newspapers, diverted the plane to Montreal for re-fueling.
Their manifesto was published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.
"My kids were waiting for me at the airport in Chicago and they kept saying the flight was delayed," McCauliffe recalled. "They never said it was hijacked."
While the hijackers claimed they had five bombs on board, there were none on the plane. There was, however, a bomb at Grand Central Station in New York City.
New York City police officer Brian Murray was killed when the bomb exploded as he was trying to defuse it.
In Montreal, McAuliffe remembers being ordered off the plane as it re-fueled and told he would be shot if he tried to run.
After the passengers were ordered back on, the hijackers flew the plane to New Foundland, where 35 passengers were discharged, then on to Iceland after British officials refused to allow it to land in London.
The plane landed again at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, where the hijackers finally surrendered and revealed the bombs on board were fake.
"They blocked off trucks in front, so they couldn't take off and they finally gave up," McAualiffe said. "(The hijackers) got life in prison."
Twenty years later, McAuliffe returned to his alma mater to attend the spring game and still has a letter from then-Spartans' coach Nick Saban thanking him for his attendance.
He passed away at the age of 90 in 2018.”
025-246 Gene Degyansky Baldwin Wallace
Baldwin Wallace HOF: “The highlight of Eugene Degyansky's athletic career was in 1949 when he was named B-W's Outstanding Athlete and revived the Cleveland Touchdown Club's Football Player of the Year Award. "Sonny" captained the basketball team and received All-Big Four, two years.
All-Ohio, and All-Big Four football awards earned him a chance with the New York Giants, but he later asked for his release to go into coaching.
Gene embarked upon a successful coaching career at West High School and always retained his philosophy in a time of offensive battles that "defense makes a good team." In eight years he led West High to three West Senate titles and in 1952 they won the championship.
In 1957, he became head coach at Lakewood High and his successes continued as the Rangers won four District Championships. After being selected Cuyahoga County Coach of the Year in 1963, Gene retired from coaching.”
Biggs Chicago Tribune: Michael McCaskey, former Chicago Bears chairman, dies at 76
Clarke Washington Post: I never played for Coach Pepper Rodgers, as a slew of football greats did. But he touched my life all the same. And his death last week, at 88, saddened me deeply.
My remembrance of a huge-hearted, singular soul
Football Outsiders: Dynasty Rankings: Defining a Dynasty
FO Dynasty Rankings Part II: 41-50 is now up! Covers:
Dynasty Rankings, Part I: The Bottom Six
Best Newsday: Giants' playoff loss to 49ers in 2003 was the craziest
Smetana SI.com: Behind-the-Scenes Moments from Peyton Manning's 2012 Free Agency
Peter King shares the inside story of how Peyton Manning landed with the Denver Broncos in 2012. (Audio)
Borges SI.com: State Your Case: Does Lou Rymkus deserve another shot at the Hall of Fame?
Mays Kingsport Times News: Tom Beasley went from coalfields to pinnacle of NFL
Giants Birthdays 5-19
Leon Bright RB/KR FA-British Columbia Lions CFL 1981 NYG 1981-1983 5-19-1955
Space Coast Daily 2012: Merritt Island’s Leon Bright Among Best Prep Football Players In Florida History
“A 1974 graduate of Merritt Island High School, he rushed for 4,036 yards and 77 touchdowns in his three-year career with the Mustangs.
During the 1972 season when Merritt Island won the Class 4A State Championship, Bright scored 24 touchdowns and racked up 146 points.
In three seasons, Bright averaged 11 yards a carry as the Mustangs recorded a 30-3 record.
He was named to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s All-Century Team as one of the 33 greatest high school football players in the history of Florida, was named All-State three years and earned, National All-America honors two times.
“Leon just had great speed and quickness,’’ Odom said.
“He worked awfully hard, and he was a great leader.’’
“Neon” Leon was as hard-nosed as they come – just ask any longtime fan of Merritt Island High football. Bright didn’t believe in fair catches – and it didn’t matter if it was high school, college, the Canadian Football League or the National Football League.
In 1974, Florida State recruited and signed the entire backfield from Merritt Island including Bright’s teammates quarterback Jimmy Black, and fellow running back Waldo Williams.
Bright accepted a football scholarship to Florida State and made an immediate impact as he ran for 105 yards and a score to lead the Seminoles over rival Miami 21-14.
Bright finished the season with 310 yards rushing on 61 carries, and he returned 22 kickoffs for an average of 22.7 yards. One of those kicks went for a 100 yard touchdown – a feat he would later duplicate as the Canadian Football League’s premier kick returner.
As a sophomore during the 1975 season, Bright lead FSU in rushing with 713 yards on 162 carries, and he returned four kickoffs for 140 yards for an impressive 35-yard average.
50th ANNIVERSARY DREAM TEAM
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Bright was inactive for the 1976 season at Florida State.
That spring, he signed with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Bright’s subsequent outstanding season earned him the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie, and he was also named a CFL All-Star.
From 1977-1980, Bright played running back, wide receiver, defensive back and kickoff returner for the Lions.
In 2004, he was named to the Lions’ 50th Anniversary Dream Team.
Bright suited up next in the NFL, first for the New York Giants (1981–1983), and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1984-1985).
A workhorse for the Giants in ’81, he rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries; caught 28 passes for 291 yards; returned 52 punts for 410 yards for a 7.9 yard average; and returned 41 kickoffs for a 19.2 yard average.
In 1982 with the Giants, Bright led the NFL in punt returns with an average of 8.8 yards a return. He fielded 37 punts for 325 yards. He also returned four kicks for 72 yards.
During the 1983 season, his last with the Giants, Bright returned 17 punts for 117 yards and average of 6.9 yards a return. On kickoffs, he had 21 returns for 475 yards for a 22.6 yard average.
Bright joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the final two years of his NFL career.
In 1984, he returned 23 punts for an average 7.5 yards a kick, and on kickoff returns he averaged of 18.9 yards. In his last season, Bright returned 12 punts for an average of 10.3 yards a return. He added 11 kickoff returns for an average of 19.4 yards.
LEON BRIGHT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
In 2006, he was the head coach for the Daytona Beach Thunder, an arena football team. He also has been the running back coach for the Top Gun Camp.
An assistant coach at Deltona Trinity Christian this past season, Bright has also has been an assistant coach for DeLand High School, Atlantic High School and Lighthouse Christian Academy.
In his free time, Bright runs the Leon Bright Charitable Foundation which assists families and under-privileged children.”
“Leon "The Neon" Bright was a speedy and exciting receiver with the BC Lions from 1977 to 1980. Bright broke in with the Lions in 1977 with 45 catches for 816 yards while also excelling on punt and kickoff returns. Bright ran back one punt 108 yards for a TD and one kickoff 100 yards for a TD. Bright upped his receptions to 52 in 1978. In 1979, his receptions dipped to 36, but he had two punt returns for touchdowns, with one going 101 yards. He also had a pass reception for 106 yards. In 1980, Bright was switched mainly to defense and his speed and big play ability continued as he had 3 interceptions including one for 59 yards and a TD to go with a 93 yard punt return for a TD.”
NYT: BRIGHT TO ALTER FAIR-CATCH POLICY
“Bright's first four years in professional football were played in the Canadian League, where there is no fair catch. However, the punting team must stay at least 5 yards from the returner until he touches the ball, so he is not subject to the beating Bright has often taken here.
Bright knows what a fair catch is. Giants' coaches have talked to him about calling for it when it is appropriate. But he is a journeyman who must fight for a job every year, and he is so intent on making a good play that even when he decides to make a fair catch he talks himself out of it. A Protective Jacket
In 1981, Anthony Dickerson of the Dallas Cowboys flattened him when he declined to make a fair catch. Bright missed no games, but he started wearing a protective jacket over his sternum.
Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, Leonard Thompson of the Lions flattened Bright and sent him to a Detroit hospital overnight for nine hours of tests and X-rays. Bright missed the next game. Thompson hit Bright before he had a chance to make the catch and was penalized 15 yards. Other players have incurred similar penalties, though last Sunday Bright clearly had a chance to catch the ball before the two Redskins hit him.
Bright is not one of those undersized kick returners who seem about to break in half every time they are hit. At 5 feet 9 inches and 190 pounds, he is solid and strong, but his no-fair- catch policy has been detrimental to his health.
After last year's incident against the Lions, he said:
''I did a lot of soul searching in the hospital. I was thinking about Leon. My father called me and said, 'You're just like me. You've got the same blood. You're crazy.' But I don't plan to stay crazy. I will probably fair catch some now.''
But this season has provided more frustrations. Bright missed four games with tendinitis in an Achilles heel. That made him more eager to play and more eager to make something happen on a kick return. So far, his main accomplishment has been survival.
''When I saw the films of the hit by the Redskins,'' he said, ''I stood up and got cold. I've learned my lesson, and I'm not just talking this time. I've got to play more team ball. I've gotten up after those hits at least four times. That's enough.
''The one last year at Detroit was the worst. You lose your memory, and you don't know what's going on. You can't think of anything. You lay in a hospital, and every hour someone is jerking your arm taking your blood pressure or doing something to you. It isn't worth it. But this one was bad enough. This is it. I've got to think of myself, too. If I keep going like this, my career will be shortened.''
Teammates have encouraged Bright to fair catch the next time he fields a punt and get it over with.
''I've thought about that,'' he said. ''But the next punt I get might be 10 yards ahead of the guys chasing it, and I'm not going to fair catch that. But the next fair-catch situation, then I'll do it.
''I almost did it on the one I got hurt on last week. I guess I should have, but at the last second I told myself, 'Let's go for it.' So I did, and I paid for it.
''All teams say, 'Let's hang it up there because we know he won't fair catch.' I'm not worried about getting killed. I know someone might slip through our blocks. But if I fair catch, I'll take a lot of pressure off our blockers. And maybe I'll live a little longer.''
Odis McKinney SS D2-Texas Tech 1978 NYG 1978-1979 5-19-1957
Last-Minute Giant Fumble Lets Eagles Win, 19-17 (11-20-1978)
“The Eagles moved deep into Giant territory in the final two minutes, but New York apparently had sealed the victory when rookie cornerback Odis McKinney intercepted a Ron Jaworski pass that bounced off Hogan's hands at the Giants 1...”
You know the rest of the story...
Ted Bucklin FB/G FA-1931 NYG 1931 Born 5-19-1903 Died 10-19-1945
Dan Daly Football Outsiders: It was just a brief item in the newspaper on November 3, 1931 -- two paragraphs, no more. But it would have such an impact decades later on ... well, the movie careers of Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler, for one thing.
The warden at Sing Sing prison, the Associated Press reported, was starting a football program and was looking for volunteer coaches. The New York Giants "immediately responded," the story said. "They announced that six players, Ray Flaherty, Glenn Campbell, Bill Owen, Butch Gibson, Dale Burnett and Ted Bucklin, would be 'incarcerated' long enough to give the Sing Sing boys a few pointers."
A few weeks earlier, Giants owner Tim Mara had donated enough old uniforms and equipment to get the program started. That's right, the road to The Longest Yard -- the 1974 Reynolds original and the 2005 Sandler remake -- began in 1931 with an NFL team's generosity. (We pause now for a moment of reverential silence.)
The next year, the Giants signed a Sing Sing "graduate," 220-pound fullback Jumbo Morano, and sent him to the Paterson Nighthawks of the Eastern Football League for further development. Morano never played in the NFL, though. (In fact, he kind of fell off the map after that season.) But another Sing Sing alumnus, Alabama Pitts, got into three games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1935.
This was pretty revolutionary stuff in the 1930s. Prisons in that period were just emerging from the Dark Ages, the era of corporal punishment, No Talking Allowed and -- the ultimate symbol -- striped uniforms. Sing Sing, just north of New York City along the banks of the Hudson River, was a particularly gruesome place, almost beyond description. Not only was it filled with 2,400 of the hardest cases but overcrowding made it necessary to house a third of them in the Old Cellblock, a dank, dreary dungeon built by the prisoners in the 1820s ... and condemned on more than one occasion.
The cells in the Old Cellblock were 3 feet, 3 inches wide, 6 feet, 7 inches high and 7 feet long -- "no bigger than a dead man's grave," in the words of one occupant. They had no windows and no plumbing (only "night buckets" that inmates would empty each morning into an open sewer).
A prison doctor described the environment thusly: "The walls are thick stone, which makes these cells look as if they have been hollowed out of solid rock. A prisoner confined to one of them for the first time invariably suffers an impression of crushing weight, closing in from all sides. Originally, the only light came from a series of small windows in the outer wall across the galleries from the cells, but some years ago this wretched condition was improved by cutting several large windows in the outer wall."
Mercifully, wardens in the 1930s were moving away from the concept of all punishment all the time and toward the idea of rehabilitation. One of the many ways Lewis Lawes, Sing Sing's enlightened leader, tried to bring this about was by forming athletic teams that would play games against outside clubs. Through healthy competition, he figured, the prisoner "learns the necessity of rules, or laws, and cooperation with his fellows. He learns to subordinate his own desires to the good of the whole team, and learns, too, that he must play the game to win. He develops a sense of proportion and values and finds that there is no royal road, or loafer's route, by which a big score can be made."
So in early November 1931, two days after a 14-0 win over the Portsmouth Spartans, half a dozen Giants went up to Sing Sing and showed the convicts how to get in a three-point stance -- the first of several such clinics. In between, inmates with football experience ran the practices and coached as best they could. On November 15, Warden Lawes' warriors -- the Black Sheep, they called themselves -- played their first game against outside competition, taking on the local unit of the state naval militia.
Naturally, it was a home game. Where else would Sing Sing play? It also, predictably, attracted a lot of attention. Newsreel cameras were set up in the guard towers to film the historic event, and newspapers covered it like it was an Important Grid Tilt. There was so much interest, fans had to be turned away. (The stands could accommodate 2,500, but 2,000 of the seats were reserved for prisoners.)
"I never thought I'd live to see anything like this," one older convict told a reporter. "There's youngsters here who maybe don't understand what prison meant to the old-timers. But I have been here a long time, and I know. The days before the warden came here, every day was like the last. Nothing to think about. Exercise periods didn't mean much. The men didn't know what to do with themselves. They had to keep moving, so they'd just walk and talk. And the things they talked about wasn't good for them, or for the prison either.
"Football -- I don't know anything about the game, but most of them do. But it's the idea - see? -- playin' a fine game that the whole country talks about, and that young men like."
Clad in the Giants' red helmets and blue-and-red jerseys, the Black Sheep em-baa-rrassed the militia 33-0. This was such big news that the even the Los Angeles Times, 3,000 miles away, carried a story on the game. It only got bigger after that. The following season, the aptly named John Law, who had played at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, was brought in coach the team.
"Not only is my name John Law," he told the New York Times, "but the warden's name is Lawes and the football team is made up of lawbreakers. In addition to that, I'm Democratic candidate for Assemblyman from Yonkers and hope to become a lawmaker. It's really a peculiar situation."
That said, Law claimed to be "astonished" at how coachable the players were. And talk about tough! One of his men had lost three fingers in a shop accident, but the coach hoped to have him available by midseason. "Three fingers don't mean much to a good player," he said. "I knew a lad who played with Southern California who had no hand at all, only a stump, but what damage he did was plenty."
Sing Sing's games were nothing like the inmates vs. guards bloodfests you see in the movies. Indeed, they were probably as cleanly contested as any in the country. The prisoners knew they had to be on their best behavior; otherwise teams wouldn't want to play them. (Visiting clubs, meanwhile, minded their manners lest they incur the wrath of 2,000 convicts.)
In many respects they were just like any other football games -- except for the 20-foot walls and guards with machine guns. "Almost the only differences between this and a major intercollegiate game," the New York Evening Journal observed, "were a marked absence of slugging on the field and drunkenness in the stands."
(The general air of civility disappointed Westbrook Pegler, the celebrated sports columnist. After the Black Sheep lost to the Port Jervis Police Department in 1932, Pegler wrote: "There was something almost repugnant about the kind solicitude of the Sing Sing boys for the officers as they helped them to their feet and dusted them off after the [plays].")
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Which isn't to say a game at Sing Sing wasn't a little unusual. Against the militia in 1931, the second quarter was shortened to 12 minutes, the third to 10 and the fourth to seven, according to the United Press, "in order to end the game at 4:30 o'clock, when the 'lockup whistle' blew." And because the games were played in a prison, fans were frisked as they entered and had to pass through several security checkpoints before reaching the field. (Their exit was almost as painstaking, so worried was the warden that one of the convicts would escape.)
Once inside, though, fans could buy hot dogs at the inmate-run refreshment stand, laugh at the home team's zany mascot (a pony painted with black-and-white prisoner's stripes to resemble a zebra), root along with the Sing Sing cheerleaders and be entertained by the ever-clever musical selections of the prison band -- such as the Bing Crosby song, "Just One More Chance."
Julius Freedman, the Marv Albert of Sing Sing, did the play-by-play of the games on the prison radio station. His listeners were largely those laid up in the hospital -- or awaiting their fate on death row. A.J. Liebling, then a young reporter for the New York World-Telegram, offered this approximation of Freedman's style:
"Here comes Jim Egan, a great fellow. He replaces Moe Bernstein. No, wait a minute, he replaces Winkie Winkle. No, friends, sorry, I've got it wrong; he replaces -- well, anyway, he is a great fellow."
Sportswriters had as much fun writing about the games as the fans did watching them. The Times' correspondent pointed out that the prisoners seemed particularly inspired in the opening quarter of one contest because "the prison gate lay in the direction of the goal they won on the [coin] toss." Another story, in a not-so-veiled reference to Sing Sing's hot seat, began: "The Big House eleven electrified its cheering section of 2,300 inmates by ... defeating the visitors, the Poughkeepsie All-Stars, 18 to 6."
Headline writers got their jollies, too, coming up with gems like "Sing Sing Chisels Righteous Path to 20 to 0 Victory" and "Cop Team Fails to Shear Wool of Black Sheep." The "Galloping Cons of Sing Sing" were far from a joke, though. They won many more games than they lost against the likes of the Danbury Trojans, the Newark Cyclones and the New Rochelle Bulldogs. (Of course, as the prison's athletic director noted, the team had more than just the home-field advantage. It also had "a self-sustaining nucleus"; some players never "graduated.")
Soon enough, prison football had spread to Missouri State Penitentiary, to Stateville Correctional Center outside Chicago, to San Quentin in California -- to just about everywhere, it seemed. But not everyone was happy about this. Some, such as Cook County (Illinois) Superior Court Judge Marcus Kavanagh, questioned the propriety of such activities.
"Jails were never meant for pity and learning but for punishment and justice," he said in an op-ed piece for the Times. "All things which encourage mental and moral improvement are proper, but is moral improvement attained when a burglar rolls a college boy around in the mud at a football game?"
The eye-for-an-eye crowd ultimately prevailed over the Sermon on the Mount contingent. In 1936, New York's corrections commissioner, Edward P. Mulrooney, issued an order forbidding the charging of admission to prison events. This effectively killed Sing Sing football because the team depended on the dollar it received from each paying customer to buy equipment and cover the travel expenses of visiting clubs. (During the 1933 season, the Black Sheep reportedly cleared a profit of $4,527.)...”
Allen Jacobs FB TR-GB 1966 NYG 1966-1967 NYG IR 1968 Born 5-19-1941 Died 4-22-2014
1967 Giants Previews:
"A product of the Vince Lombardi school of football, Allen Jacobs bears the unmistakable stamp of the Green Bay maestro and carries more than a striking resemblance to the fullback he understudied, Jim Taylor. Built along the same lines as Taylor at 6-1 and 215 pounds, Jacobs is a grit-and-grunt runner and a devastating blocker.
He joined the Giants from Green Bay during the 1966 season and got his chance to play after injuries cut down the first-liners. Then he began to look like one himself, as he piled up better than 90 yards against the Browns; he wound up the year gaining 273 yards on 77 carries for a 3.5 average and one touchdown.
A 25-year-old in his third NFL season, Allen played college ball at Utah."
-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1967
"Allen was obtained from the Packers before the season and saw limited action until injuries gave him his chance. He became the Giants' tough yardage runner, picking up 273 yards on 77 carries, and scored a touchdown.
He is a strong blocker."
-1967 Philadelphia Cards, No. 112