May 22, 2017

Highlighted Year: Irving Fryar, 1996

Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles


Age: 34 (Sept. 28)
13th season in pro football, 1st with Eagles
College: Nebraska
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 200

Prelude:
Fryar caught 67 passes for1196 yards (17.9 avg.) and 11 touchdowns in college, including 40 for 780 yards (19.5 avg.) and 8 TDs as a senior in 1983, when he was a consensus first-team All-American. He was chosen by the New England Patriots with the first overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft. In an injury-plagued rookie season Fryar caught only 11 passes and was used primarily to return punts, averaging 9.6 yards on 36 returns. In nine years with New England that were marked by numerous off-field issues through 1992 he accumulated 363 pass receptions for 5726 yards (15.8 avg.) and 38 TDs and returned 206 punts for a 10.0 average and another three scores. Fryar was a Pro Bowl selection in 1985. Moving on to the Miami Dolphins in 1993, Fryar was productive, garnering Pro Bowl honors twice more in 1993 and ’94. Over the course of three seasons he caught 199 passes for 3190 yards (16.0 avg.) and 20 touchdowns. Fryar signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 1996.

1996 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 88 [9] 
Most receptions, game – 9 (for 120 yds.) at Dallas 11/3
Yards – 1195 [7]
Most yards, game – 143 (on 7 catches) vs. Miami 10/20
Average gain – 13.6
TDs – 11 [4, 1st in NFC]
100-yard receiving games – 4

Rushing
Attempts – 1
Yards – -4
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 11 [9, tied with four others]
Points – 66

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Wild Card playoff at San Francisco)
Pass receptions – 5
Pass receiving yards – 62
Average yards per reception – 12.4
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
Pro Bowl

Eagles went 9-7 to finish second in the NFC East and qualify for a Wild Card playoff slot while leading the NFC in total yards (5627). Lost NFC Wild Card playoff to San Francisco 49ers (14-0).

Aftermath:
Fryar followed up in 1997 by catching 86 passes for 1316 yards (15.3 avg.) and 6 touchdowns and again receiving Pro Bowl recognition. With the Eagles dropping to 3-13 in 1998, his production slipped to 48 pass receptions for 556 yards (11.6 avg.) and just two TDs and Fryar announced his intention to retire. However,he reconsidered and joined the Washington Redskins for two last seasons in 1999 and 2000. Overall Fryar finished with 851 catches for 12,785 yards (15.0 avg.) and 84 TDs, with 222 receptions for 3067 yards coming with the Eagles. Fryar received second-team all-conference honors twice and was selected to five Pro Bowls.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

May 15, 2017

Highlighted Year: Billy Cannon, 1967

Tight End, Oakland Raiders


Age: 30
8th season in pro football, 4th with Oilers
College: LSU
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 215

Prelude:
Cannon was a star all-purpose halfback in college who rushed for 1867 yards while averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry, caught 31 passes for 522 yards, and scored 21 touchdowns. He was a two-time consensus first-team All-American and winner of the 1959 Heisman Trophy, following a season in which he also returned a punt 89 yards to key a LSU win against Mississippi. Cannon was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams as the first overall pick of the 1960 NFL draft, but signed with both the Rams and Oilers of the new AFL. A judge’s decision awarded him to the Oilers and he had a fair rookie season, rushing for a team-leading 644 yards and scoring a touchdown in the AFL Championship game on an 88-yard pass play. He was a second-team All-AFL selection by the league. Cannon followed up in 1961 by leading the AFL in rushing (948 yards) and all-pupose yardage (2043) and he capped the year by scoring the only touchdown in Houston’s league title game win over the Chargers. Cannon suffered a back injury that limited his effectiveness in 1962, holding him to 474 rushing yards although he still caught 32 passes for 451 yards and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. He saw little action in an injury-plagued 1963 season and was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he was tried at fullback with some success before being shifted to tight end in 1965. Cannon caught only 21 passes combined in his first two seasons at the new position.

1967 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 32
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 99 yds.) vs. Miami 11/19
Yards – 629 [13]
Most yards, game – 114 (on 4 catches) vs. Boston 9/17
Average gain – 19.7 [3]
TDs – 10 [3, tied with Don Maynard & Willie Frazier]
100-yard receiving games – 1

Scoring
TDs – 10 [4, tied with Don Maynard, Willie Frazier & Mike Garrett]
Points – 60 [12, tied with Willie Frazier & Mike Garrett]

Postseason: 2 G
Pass receptions – 4
Most pass receptions, game – 2 vs. Houston, AFL Championship; vs. Green Bay, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards – 56
Most pass receiving yards, game – 31 vs. Houston, AFL Championship
Average yards per reception – 14.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-AFL: AP, UPI
2nd team All-AFL: NY Daily News, Sporting News

Raiders went 13-1 to finish first in the AFL Western Division while leading the league in scoring (466 points) and TDs (68). Won AFL Championship over Houston Oilers (40-7). Lost Super Bowl to Green Bay Packers (33-14).

Aftermath:
Cannon spent two more years with the Raiders and was an AFL All-Star in 1969. He spent one last year with Kansas City as a backup in 1970. Altogether, he rushed for 2455 yards on 602 carries (4.1 avg.) with 17 TDs and caught 236 passes for 3656 yards (15.5 avg.) and 47 touchdowns. Cannon was a consensus first-team All-AFL selection after one season, received some first- or second-team recognition after three other seasons, and was chosen to two AFL All-Star Games. His son Billy Jr. played linebacker for the Cowboys for one year.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

May 11, 2017

Highlighted Year: Johnny Hector, 1987

Running Back, New York Jets


Age: 27 (Nov. 26)
5th season in pro football & with Jets
College: Texas A & M
Height: 5’11” Weight: 200

Prelude:
At Texas A & M Hector rushed for 2587 yards and 20 touchdowns and gained another 516 yards on 67 pass receptions. He was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 1983 NFL draft. Hector primarily returned kickoffs during an injury-marred rookie season and saw more action in the backfield in tandem with RB Freeman McNeil in ’84, rushing for 531 yards and catching 20 passes for 182 more yards. He gained another 572 yards on the ground in 1985. In 1986, he ran for 605 yards and showed off his ability near the goal line by scoring 8 TDs.

1987 Season Summary
Appeared in 11 of 15 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 111
Most attempts, game – 22 (for 104 yds.) at New England 12/13
Yards – 435
Most yards, game – 104 yards (on 22 carries) at New England 12/13
Average gain – 3.9
TDs – 11 [1, tied with Charles White]
100-yard rushing games – 1

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 32
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 34 yds.) at NY Giants 12/27
Yards – 249
Most yards, game – 51 (on 4 catches) at Buffalo 9/13
Average gain – 7.8
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 11 [2, tied with Mike Quick & Charles White, 1st in AFC]
Points – 66

Jets went 6-9 in the strike-shortened season (three games were played with replacement players) to finish fifth in the AFC East.

Aftermath:
Hector spent another five seasons with the Jets performing as a capable backup and occasional starter. He rushed for 561 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1987 and gained a career-high 702 rushing yards in 1989.His overall rushing total was 4280 yards on 1051 attempts (4.1 avg.) with 41 TDs.He also caught 188 passes for 1661 additional yards and another three touchdowns.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

May 5, 2017

Highlighted Year: Ed Danowski, 1935

Tailback/Defensive Back, New York Giants


Age:  24 (Sept. 30)
2nd season in pro football & with Giants
College: Fordham
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 198

Prelude:
Following a fine college career at Fordham, Danowski signed with the Giants in 1934.After an injury to starting tailback Harry Newman during his rookie season, Danowski led the Giants to the NFL Championship with a stunning win over the Bears in the so-called “Sneaker Game". A precision passer and effective runner and punter who also played well on defense, he continued to direct New York’s single-wing offense in 1935.



1935 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 113 [1]
Completions – 57 [1]
Yards – 794 [1]
Completion percentage – 50.4 [-no qualifiers]
Yards per attempt – 7.0 [-no qualifiers]
TD passes – 10 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 2 at Pittsburgh 9/22, at Boston 10/6, at Brooklyn 11/28
Interceptions – 9 [8]
Passer rating – 69.7 [1]

Rushing
Attempts – 130 [4]
Yards – 335 [8]
Yards per attempt – 2.6
TDs – 2 [11, tied with five others]

Scoring
TDs – 2 [20, tied with sixteen others]
Points – 12

Postseason: 1 G (NFL Championship at Detroit)
Pass attempts – 7
Pass completions – 4
Passing yardage – 88
TD passes – 1
Interceptions – 1

Rushing attempts – 7
Rushing yards – 14
Average gain rushing – 2.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Kickoff returns – 1
Kickoff return yards – 30
Kickoff return TDs – 0

Punt returns – 2
Punt return yards – 21
Average per return – 10.5
Punt return TDs – 0

Punts – 2
Punting yards – 122
Punting average – 61.0
Longest punt – 76 yards

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: League, UPI, Chicago Daily News, Collyers Eye, Green Bay Press-Gazette

Giants went 9-3 to finish first in th NFL Eastern Division. Lost NFL Championship to Detroit Lions (26-7).

Aftermath:
Danowski spent another five seasons with the Giants. He led the NFL in passing one more time and led New York to another league title in 1938. Danowski left the Giants in 1940 and played for the Jersey City Giants of the minor league American Football Association, leading the circuit in passing as he threw for 732 yards and 7 TDs. He saw limited action in a return to the NFL Giants in 1941, his last pro season. Overall in the NFL Danowski passed for 3817 yards  and 37 touchdowns. He received consensus first-team All-NFL honors twice. Danowski served in the Navy during World War II. He returned to become Fordham’s head coach from 1946-54.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 26, 2017

Highlighted Year: Mel Gray, 1987

Running Back/Kick Returner, New Orleans Saints


Age: 26
4th season in pro football, 2nd in NFL & with Saints
College: Purdue
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 166

Prelude:
As a Purdue running back Gray rushed for 1765 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for another 437 yards and a TD. Chosen by the Chicago Blitz in the seventh round of the 1984 USFL draft, Gray alternated with Kevin Nelson and Kevin Mack and ran for 625 yards on 133 attempts as a rookie (4.7 avg.),added 27 pass receptions for another 288 yards (10.7 avg.), and returned 20 kickoffs for a 16.6-yard average.   Gray scored the winning TD in the third overtime period in a playoff game against the Michigan Panthers and sufferered a broken arm on the play. He followed up with 526 rushing yards in 1985 along with 20 catches for 101 yards and an 18.5 average on 11 kickoff returns. With the demise of the USFL, where he compiled1151 yards on 258 carries (4.5 avg.), 389 yards on 47 pass receptions, and a 17.3-yard average on 31 kickoff returns, he moved on to the Saints, who chose him in the second round of the 1984 NFL supplemental draft.   Used almost exclusively as a kick returner, Gray averaged 27.9 yards on 31 kickoff returns in 1986 that included a touchdown.



1987 Season Summary
Appeared in 12 of 15 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 30 [6]
Yards – 636 [6]
Most yards, game – 108 (on 5 ret.) vs. Cleveland 9/13
Average per return – 21.2 [16]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 43 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 24 [11, tied with Scott Schwedes, Bobby Futrell & Kenny Johnson]
Yards – 352 [7]
Most yards, game – 130 (on 2 ret.) vs. Tampa Bay 12/6
Average per return – 14.7 [1]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 80 yards

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 6        
Yards – 30
Average gain – 5.0
TDs – 0

Rushing
Attempts – 8
Yards – 37
Average gain – 4.6
TDs – 1

Scoring
TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Wild Card playoff vs. Minnesota)
Kickoff returns – 1
Kickoff return yds. – 16
Kickoff return TDs – 0

Punt returns – 1
Punt return yds. – 0
Punt return TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: PFWA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: Pro Football Weekly

Saints went 12-3 to finish second in the NFC West in thestrike-shortened season (three games were played with replacement players) to finish second in the NFC West and qualified for the postseason as a wild card. Lost AFC Wild Card playoff to Minnesota Vikings (44-10).

Aftermath:
Gray spent one more season with New Orleans before signing with the Detroit Lions in 1989. He continued to excel as a kick returner leading the NFL with a 15.4-yard punt return average and 25.8-yard kickoff return average in1991 and a 28.4-yard kickoff return average in 1994. He moved on to the Houston Oilers in 1995 and split his last season in 1997 between the Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles.Overall in the NFL, Gray returned 421 kickoffs for an average of 24.3 yards with six touchdowns and 252 punts for a 10.9-yard average and another three TDs. He received consensus first-team All-NFL recognition three times, at least some All-NFL honors following five other seasons and was named to four Pro Bowls.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 21, 2017

Highlighted Year: Stephen Gostkowski, 2008

Placekicker, New England Patriots





Age: 24
3rd season in pro football & with Patriots
College: Memphis
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 210

Prelude:
Gostkowski scored 367 points in college, including 70 field goals. He was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft and was successful on 20 of 26 field goal attempts as a rookie as well as 43 of 44 PATs. Gostkowski followed up with 27 field goalsand a league-record 74 PATs without a miss on the way to scoring 137 points for the high-scoring Patriots in 2007.


2008 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kicking
Field goals – 36 [1]
Most field goals, game – 4 at NY Jets 9/14, vs. Arizona 12/21
Field goal attempts – 40 [1, tied with David Akers]
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 at NY Jets 9/14, vs. Arizona 12/21
Field goal percentage – 90.0 [7]
PATs – 40 [11, tied with Rob Bironas, Ryan Longwell & Dan Carpenter]
PAT attempts – 40 [11, tied with four others]
Longest field goal – 50 yards at Seattle 12/7

Scoring
Field Goals – 36
PATs – 40
Points – 148 [1]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Patriots went 11-5 to finish second in the AFC East.  

Aftermath:
Gostkowski kicked 26 field goals in 2009 and was successful on just 10 of 13 attempts in a 2010 season in which he was sidelined for eight games by a thigh injury. He connected on 28 of 33 field goal tries in 2011 and was a perfect five-for-five in the postseason. Gostkowski once again led the NFL in scoring in 2012’13, ’14, and ’15, and also in field goals in 2013 with38 out of 41 attempts. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013, ’14 , and ’15, the same year in which he received consensus first-team All-NFL honors.In 11 seasons thus far through 2016, all with New England, Gostkowski has made good on 303 of 348 field goal attempts (87.1%) and has added 548 PATs for a total of 1457 points. In the postseason he has added another 31 field goals out of 33 attempts and including 67 PATs has scored another 160 points. Gostkowski has received consensus first-team All-NFL recognition once and has received at least some first-team honors following three other seasons. He has also been selected to four Pro Bowls.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 17, 2017

Highlighted Year: Chris Doleman, 1989

Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings


Age: 28 (Oct. 16)
5th season in pro football & with Vikings
College: Pittsburgh
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 250

Prelude:
Doleman played as a linebacker and DE in college and was chosen by the Vikings in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. Initially utilized as an outside linebacker, he was shifted to defensive end in a 3-4 alignment, making the most of his strength and speed as a pass rusher. He registered 11 sacks in 1987, earning his first Pro Bowl berth. Foleman followed up with 8 sacks in ’88 and another Pro Bowl selection.



1989 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 21 [1]
Most sacks, game – 4 vs. Cincinnati 12/25
Multi-sack games – 7
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 5
Forced fumbles – 5
Tackles – 94

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Divisional playoff at San Francisco)
Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Vikings went 10-6 to finish first in the NFC Central while leading the NFL in sacks (71) and fewest passing yards allowed (2501). Lost NFC Divisional playoff to San Francisco 49ers (41-13).

Aftermath:
Doleman dropped to 11 sacks in 1990 and 7 in 1991. He bounced back to 14.5 sacks in 1992. Following a 12.5-sack year in ’93 he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Unhappy in Atlanta, Doleman recorded 16 sacks in two seasons before moving on to the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 1996. He improved to 11 sacks and four forced fumbles in ’96 and followed up with 12 sacks in 1997 and 15 in 1998. Doleman returned to the Vikings in 1999, recording 8 sacks in his last season at age 38.Overall he was credited with 150.5 sacks, 96.5 which occurred while with Minnesota. Doleman was a consensus first-team All-NFL choice twice and was chosen to eight Pro Bowls. Doleman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2012.


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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970