May 30, 2011

Past Venue: Busch Stadium

St. Louis, MO
aka Sportsman’s Park



Year opened: 1909
Capacity: 30,500, up from 17,600 at opening

Names:
Sportsman’s Park, 1909-53
Busch Stadium, 1953-66

Pro football tenants:
St. Louis All-Stars (NFL), 1923
St. Louis Gunners (NFL), 1934
St. Louis Cardinals (NFL), 1960-65

Postseason games hosted:
None

Other tenants of note:
St. Louis Browns (MLB – AL), 1909-53
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB – NL), 1920-66

Notes: Replaced earlier wooden ballpark, also called Sportsman’s Park, that stood from 1902-08. Owned by St. Louis Browns until bought by Cardinals and renamed in 1953. At the time, Cardinals wanted to name the ballpark Budweiser Stadium, but MLB Commissioner Ford Frick disallowed it, at which point owner August A. “Gussie” Busch named it Busch Stadium. Was used for football by St. Louis University. Also used occasionally for soccer (most notably as one of two sites utilized by the St. Louis Soccer League, 1935-36).

Fate: Structure demolished in 1966, although the baseball diamond remained for use by the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club.

May 29, 2011

1983: Generals Defeat Federals as Offenses Pile Up Yards


It had been a difficult first season in the United States Football League for the two teams that met at Washington’s RFK Stadium on May 29, 1983. The host Washington Federals, under Head Coach Ray Jauch, had gone 1-11 through the first twelve weeks, and suffered through bad weather, low turnouts, and injuries to key players, such as QB Mike Hohensee, RB Craig James, and WR Joey Walters.

The visiting New Jersey Generals had caused the biggest splash in the preseason by signing Heisman Trophy-winning RB Herschel Walker out of Georgia, a controversial move at the time since he still had a year of college eligibility left. After a slow start, Walker proved his worth, but the rest of the team, under Head Coach Chuck Fairbanks, was a big disappointment. Veteran QB Bobby Scott was mediocre and had been traded to the Chicago Blitz the week before (the Blitz had lost their more successful veteran quarterback, Greg Landry, to a broken ankle). Earlier, they obtained QB Jeff Knapple from the Denver Gold, and he would now handle the starting job, but the team had a 3-9 record and was well out of the running.

It was a typically rainy Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium, and only 11,264 fans attended (there were 12,437 no-shows). The Generals had the first possession, and on the first play from scrimmage, Walker ran 83 yards for a touchdown (his 14th of the season).

Washington got on the board twice in the first quarter as Sandro Vitiello kicked field goals of 42 and 45 yards, narrowing New Jersey’s margin to 7-6 after one period. However, in the second quarter Knapple extended the Generals’ lead with a 27-yard touchdown pass to WR Mike Friede.

The two teams traded field goals for the remainder of the period. The new placekicker for the Generals, Dave Betz, kicked a 28-yard field goal and Vitiello booted one that made it 17-9 at halftime. Betz was appearing in his first game after replacing Dave Jacobs, who had missed a key extra point attempt the previous week and was released.

In Washington’s first possession of the third quarter, ex-Giants RB Billy Taylor scored a 32-yard TD on a sweep that cut New Jersey’s lead to 17-16. The Federals went ahead when Hohensee threw to James for an 11-yard touchdown with 5:22 remaining in the period. Betz was successful on a 45-yard field goal attempt before the quarter ended and the score stood at 23-20.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Hohensee tossed a 19-yard TD pass to WR Mike Harris, but the ensuing extra point attempt was missed, although they still led by 29-23. New Jersey came back and with 3:40 left in regulation, Knapple threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to TE Sam Bowers to draw even. However, Betz failed on his extra point attempt as well, maintaining the tie at 29-29.

With overtime looming, New Jersey got the ball back and drove 33 yards in seven plays in just under a minute to set up a long field goal attempt. Betz, making up for the missed PAT, was successful from 50 yards out as time expired and the Generals came away with a 32-29 win.

Altogether, the two teams gained 945 yards, with 496 accumulated by the Federals and 449 accounted for by New Jersey. Of the Generals’ total, 211 came on the ground while Washington had 317 net passing yards. The Federals also led in first downs (29 to 20) while New Jersey had a slight edge in time of possession (30:43 to 29:17).

The main cog in the Generals’ running game was, of course, Herschel Walker, who set a new USFL single-game record with 194 yards on 23 carries that included the long, game-opening touchdown dash. Jeff Knapple completed 17 of 31 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Mike Friede was the top receiver with four catches for 65 yards and a TD.


As for Washington, the offensive stars that had missed time with injuries were back and in good form. Mike Hohensee was successful on 23 of 43 throws for 326 yards and two touchdowns. He gave up no interceptions. Joey Walters had 12 pass receptions for 193 yards. And while Billy Taylor led the rushing attack with 73 yards on 13 attempts, Craig James was right behind with 70 yards on 14 carries.

New Jersey went 2-3 the rest of the way and finished the season at 6-12 and third in the Atlantic Division. The loss to the Generals was the ninth in a row for Washington, but the Federals played hard, with many of their defeats coming in close contests, and finished the season on a high note by winning three of the last four games. Still, the final record was a dismal 4-14, putting them two games behind New Jersey in the standings.

Herschel Walker was the league’s top rusher, with 1812 yards on 412 carries; he also scored 18 touchdowns (17 rushing, one on a reception). However, Dave Betz lasted just three games, missing two of his six extra point attempts, and gave way to John Roveto.

In nine games, rookie Mike Hohensee threw for 1297 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Craig James, who missed four contests and was also in his first year, led the Federals in rushing with 823 yards on 202 attempts. Joey Walters, who had played six seasons in the Canadian Football League prior to coming to the USFL, missed two games but caught 63 passes for 959 yards and six touchdowns.

May 27, 2011

MVP Profile: Fran Tarkenton, 1975

Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings



Age: 35
15th season in pro football, 10th with Vikings
College: Georgia
Height: 6’0” Weight: 190

Prelude:
Chosen by the expansion Vikings in the third round of the 1961 NFL draft, Tarkenton took over as starting quarterback almost immediately as a rookie and made up for lack of size and arm strength with a flashy scrambling ability and outstanding leadership qualities. Tarkenton was named to the Pro Bowl in 1964 and ’65, but friction with Head Coach Norm Van Brocklin led to his ultimately being traded to the New York Giants in 1967. He helped the Giants to overachieve while being selected to four more Pro Bowls and was traded back to the Vikings in 1972. The club won NFC Championships in 1973 and ’74, although it fell short each time in the Super Bowl, and Tarkenton was a first-team All-NFC selection of UPI and The Sporting News in ’72, a first-team All-NFL choice by NEA in 1973, and second-team All-NFC of UPI in ‘74. He was also selected to a seventh Pro Bowl in 1974.

1975 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
(Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20)

Passing
Attempts – 425 [1]
Most attempts, game – 39 at New Orleans 11/16
Completions – 273 [1]
Most completions, game – 27 at Washington 11/30
Yards – 2994 [2, 1st in NFC]
Most yards, game – 357 at Washington 11/30
Completion percentage – 64.2 [2, 1st in NFC]
Yards per attempt – 7.0 [17]
TD passes – 25 [1, tied with Joe Ferguson]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Chicago 10/5, at Green Bay 11/2, at New Orleans 11/16, vs. Green Bay 12/7
Interceptions – 13 [16, tied with Bob Griese]
Most interceptions, game – 2 on five occasions
Passer rating – 91.8 [2, 1st in NFC]
300-yard passing games – 2
200-yard passing games – 9

Rushing
Attempts – 16
Most attempts, game - 2 on five occasions
Yards – 108
Most yards, game – 30 yards (on 2 carries) at Washington 11/30
Yards per attempt – 6.8
TDs – 2

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Divisional playoff vs. Dallas)
Pass attempts – 26
Pass completions – 12
Passing yardage – 135
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 1

Rushing attempts – 3
Rushing yards – 32
Average gain rushing – 10.7
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, NEA, Bert Bell Award
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
NFC Player of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-NFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Vikings went 12-2 to finish first in NFC Central with best record in conference. Lost NFC Divisional playoff to Dallas Cowboys (17-14).

Aftermath:
Tarkenton had one last Pro Bowl season in 1976 and the Vikings won the NFC title again, but lost in the Super Bowl. The durable scrambler lost five games to injury in ’77, but in 1978 he led the NFL in attempts (572), completions (345), yards (3468), and, less fortunately, in interceptions (32). He retired after that year as the NFL career leader in multiple passing categories including yards (47,003) and TD passes (342). Tarkenton also was the career rushing leader for quarterbacks (3674) at the time. His #10 was retired by the Vikings and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1986.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]
[Updated 11/28/14]

May 25, 2011

Past Venue: Griffith Stadium

Washington, DC



Year opened: 1911
Capacity: Varied from 32,000 to 27,550 in final year

Names:
National Park, 1911-20
Griffith Stadium, 1920-65

Pro football tenants:
Washington Senators (APFA), 1921
Washington Pros/Presidents (DFL)*, 1936-37
Washington Redskins (NFL), 1937-60

*Dixie Football League

Postseason games hosted:
NFL Championship, Bears 73 Redskins 0, Dec. 8, 1940
NFL Championship, Redskins 14 Bears 6, Dec. 13, 1942

Other tenants of note:
Washington Senators (MLB – AL), 1911-60
Washington Pilots (baseball Negro leagues), 1932
Washington Elite Giants (baseball Negro leagues), 1936-37
Washington Black Senators (baseball Negro leagues), 1938
Washington Senators (MLB – AL), 1961 (second franchise)
Georgetown Univ., 1925-50
Univ. of Maryland, 1948

Notes: Replaced an earlier wooden ballpark on the same site that had been built in 1891. Named in 1920 for Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Senators baseball team that owned the stadium. Occasionally used as home venue for George Washington Univ. football and Homestead Grays of baseball Negro leagues. Was also used for some of the scenes in the movie version of “Damn Yankees” (1958).

Fate: Demolished in 1965, site is now occupied by Howard University Hospital.



[Updated 2/16/15]

May 24, 2011

MVP Profile: Jim Brown, 1957

Fullback, Cleveland Browns


Age: 21
1st season in pro football
College: Syracuse
Height: 6’2” Weight: 220

Prelude:
Following an outstanding career at Syracuse, in which he distinguished himself as an all-around athlete (lacrosse, basketball, track & field) as well as in football, Brown was chosen in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Browns. With his blend of speed, power, and agility, he moved quickly into the starting lineup as a rookie.

1957 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 202 [2]
Most attempts, game - 31 (for 237 yds.) vs. LA Rams
Yards – 942 [1]
Most yards, game – 237 yards (on 31 carries) vs. LA Rams
Average gain – 4.7 [6]
TDs – 9 [1]
200-yard rushing games – 1
100-yard rushing games – 2

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 16
Yards – 55
Average gain – 3.4
TDs – 1

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 6
Yards – 136
Average per return – 22.7
TDs – 0
Longest return – 29 yards

Scoring
TDs – 10 [2]
Points – 60 [8, tied with Gordie Soltau]

Postseason: 1 G (NFL Championship at Detroit)
Rushing attempts – 20
Rushing yards – 69
Average gain rushing – 3.5
Rushing TDs – 1

Kickoff Returns – 4
Yards – 106
Average per return – 26.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 50 yards

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, Sporting News
NFL Rookie of the Year: UPI, Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: AP, NEA, UPI, NY Daily News, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Browns went 9-2-1 to finish first in the Eastern Conference. Lost NFL Championship game to Detroit Lions (59-14).

Aftermath:
Brown’s rushing title as a rookie in 1957 was the first of eight in nine seasons. Along the way he set numerous records as well as a new standard for running backs to be measured against. He twice set the single-season rushing record and retired as the all-time leader in rushing (12,312 yards) and touchdowns (126). Brown averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 104.3 yards per game over the course of his career. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in all nine seasons, was a first-team All-Pro eight times, and received MVP recognition on three more occasions. Brown’s #32 was retired by the Browns and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1971.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

May 22, 2011

Past Venue: Liberty Bowl

Memphis, TN



Year opened: 1965
Capacity: 62,380

Names:
Memphis Memorial Stadium, 1965-76
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, 1976 to date

Pro football tenants:
Memphis Southmen (WFL), 1974-75
Memphis Showboats (USFL), 1984-85
Memphis Mad Dogs (CFL), 1995
Tennessee Oilers (NFL), 1997
Memphis Maniax (XFL), 2001

Postseason games hosted:
WFL Semifinal playoff, Blazers 18 Southmen 15, Nov. 29, 1974
USFL Quarterfinal playoff, Showboats 48 Gold 7, June 30, 1985
USFL Semifinal playoff, Invaders 28 Showboats 19, July 6, 1985

Other tenants of note:
Univ. of Memphis (college football), 1965 to date
Memphis Rogues (NASL), 1978-80

Notes: Hosts annual Liberty Bowl football game, 1965 to date. Hosts annual Southern Heritage Classic football game between Jackson State and Tennessee State, 1990 to date. Located at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, playing surface was named Rex Dockery Field in 1983 in honor of Univ. of Memphis football coach who was killed in a plane crash. Stadium has also hosted home games for Univ. of Tennessee, Univ. of Mississippi, and Mississippi State Univ. Field area was not large enough to accommodate larger regulation CFL football field, resulting in the Mad Dogs playing by CFL rules on a US-sized field. Stadium was originally built lopsided, with the southwest side taller than the facing northeast side, but an expansion that added 12,000 seats in 1987 resulted in a balanced look. Hosted an exhibition baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers during the 1975 season, with the right field fence only 174 feet down the line.

Fate: Still in use

May 21, 2011

1983: Third-String QB and Defense Lead Bandits to Win Over Invaders


The Tampa Bay Bandits had gotten off to a good start in the United States Football League’s inaugural season and were on top of the Central Division with an 8-3 record after eleven weeks. Coached by Steve Spurrier, the Bandits had an explosive offense and kept on winning even after veteran QB John Reaves was lost with a broken wrist. Backup Jimmy Jordan performed well in relief, but he also went down with an injury.

On May 21, 1983 the Bandits hosted the Oakland Invaders at Tampa Stadium, and they were starting their third-string quarterback, Mike Kelley, who had made his first appearance in a winning cause the previous week. A first-year player out of Georgia Tech, Kelley had originally been drafted by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 1982, was cut in the preseason, and had been cut by both the Birmingham Stallions and Invaders of the USFL without seeing any action prior to signing with the quarterback-desperate Bandits.

Oakland, under Head Coach John Ralston, also boasted a good offense and had the league’s top-rated passer, former minor league star Fred Besana, at quarterback. The Invaders had a lesser record, at 5-6, but that still was enough to contend in the mediocre Pacific Division where they were tied for first with the Los Angeles Express. They had lost to Tampa Bay at home just 13 days earlier in a close contest.

There were 43,389 fans in attendance for the Saturday night game. In the first possession, Mike Kelley completed five of six passes for 71 yards as Tampa Bay went 80 yards in eight plays. Kelley threw to star WR Eric Truvillion, running a slant, for a 21-yard TD. A key play along the way had been a 22-yard completion to RB Gary Anderson, a highly-touted rookie who signed with the club a week earlier and had an impressive debut in the previous game.

Oakland responded with a 43-yard field goal by Kevin Shea, and the score was 7-3 after one period of play. The Bandits had an apparent three-yard TD run by Anderson in the second quarter called back because of illegal procedure and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Zenon Andrusyshyn, making the score 10-3.

The Bandits’ swarming defense was effective in throttling the Oakland attack and before the second quarter was over, Tampa Bay mounted a second scoring drive. Anderson again played a key role as he grabbed a short pass from Kelley on a third-and-12 play from the Bandits’ own six yard line and gained 26 yards. WR Willie Gillespie scored on a 16-yard pass play from Kelley with 41 seconds remaining in the half to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 17-3.

There was a scary moment in the third quarter when veteran TE Raymond Chester, well known to Oakland fans from his years with the Raiders, was injured and had to be taken from the field on a stretcher. Fortunately, x-rays were negative and the star tight end was diagnosed with a severe neck sprain. He returned to the sideline later wearing a cervical collar.

Andrusyshyn kicked two field goals in the third quarter, from 26 and 38 yards, to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 23-3 before Besana finally got the Invaders on the board in the final period when he scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak, although the extra point attempt failed. With seven minutes left to play, Oakland got a break when Anderson fumbled and NT George Atiyeh recovered for the Invaders at the Tampa Bay 14. However, Oakland’s coaching staff was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for running onto the field to protest a call on an ensuing sideline pass, moving the ball back to the 26, and the Bandits defense held to end the threat.

RB Greg Boone scored the final points for Tampa Bay on a 12-yard run with 36 seconds left in the game. The PAT attempt was no good, but it hardly mattered as the Bandits won easily by a score of 29-9.

Tampa Bay outgained the Invaders (419 yards to 284) and had more first downs (24 to 15). Moreover, the defense held Oakland to just 25 rushing yards on 17 carries and sacked Besana a league-record 10 times. NT Ken Times led the way with three of those sacks, while DE Walter Carter and NT Fred Nordgren had two apiece.

Mike Kelley completed 21 of 40 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and none intercepted. Gary Anderson ran for 66 yards on 16 attempts and caught three passes for 55 more. WR Danny Buggs caught four passes for 72 yards while Greg Boone also had four receptions, for 41 yards, to go along with his 62 yards on 19 rushing attempts that included one TD.


For Oakland, despite being under heavy pressure for much of the game, Fred Besana was successful on 27 of 47 throws for 328 yards, although he was intercepted once and had no touchdown passes. WR Gordon Banks caught 9 of those passes for 128 yards. RB Arthur Whittington led what there was of a running attack, gaining just 12 yards on 9 carries.

The Bandits stayed on top of their division with the win although the loss knocked Oakland out of the tie with Los Angeles in theirs. However, Tampa Bay was badly beaten by Michigan the next week and lost four of its last six games to not only lose the division, but fail to make the postseason. They finished third in the Central Division with a record of 11-7. Conversely, Oakland did make it to the postseason, winning the Pacific Division at 9-9, and lost to the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.

Mike Kelley ended up completing 48.8 percent of his 166 passes for 1003 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He was taken by the Memphis Showboats in the league’s expansion draft for 1984. Gary Anderson finished off his fine rookie year with 516 yards rushing on 97 carries (5.3 avg.) and four touchdowns and gained another 347 yards on 29 pass receptions. Both Fred Nordgren and Ken Times reached double figures in sacks in ’83 (15 and 11, respectively), and Nordgren was an All-League selection.

[Revised 6/10/12]

May 19, 2011

1971: Alworth Moves from Chargers to Cowboys in Three-Team Trade


On May 19, 1971 a major three-team NFL trade was announced, involving the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, and San Diego Chargers – and centering around two wide receivers named Lance. The Rams sent TE Billy Truax and WR Wendell Tucker to Dallas for WR Lance Rentzel. The Cowboys then dealt DT Ron East, TE Pettis Norman, and OT Tony Liscio to San Diego for WR Lance Alworth.

The future Hall of Famer Alworth (pictured above) was the biggest name involved. At the time he ranked seventh in all-time pro pass receptions (most having come in the AFL) with 493 for 9584 yards and 81 TDs. Coming into the league in 1962 (he was originally drafted by the Raiders but San Diego traded for his draft rights), he was a consensus All-AFL first team selection for six straight seasons (1963-68) and was selected for seven consecutive AFL All-Star Games. He led the league in pass receptions three times and had seven straight thousand-yard receiving totals, also leading the AFL in that category on three occasions. In the competition between the younger league and the NFL prior to the merger of the two in 1970, the player known as Bambi for his grace as well as speed was considered one of the elite receivers in all of pro football, regardless of league.

In ’70, Alworth caught just 35 passes for 608 yards and, at age 30 (he turned 31 prior to the 1971 season), appeared to be on the downside of his great career. He also had off-field financial issues and had sued the Chargers for breach of contract and the NFL for antitrust, briefly retiring during the summer of 1970. Alworth and the Chargers settled their issues and the star wide receiver had signed a contract extension.

The Cowboys, NFC Champions in 1970, were looking to stockpile wide receivers in the offseason (they had already traded for WR Gloster Richardson from Kansas City). They were in contract negotiations with split end Bob Hayes, their speedy deep threat who had played out his option and was actively shopping himself around the NFL, and had decided to rid themselves of Rentzel, who was talented but had become a public relations problem for the team.

The 28-year-old Rentzel had been with the Cowboys for four years and starred at flanker, catching 183 passes for 3521 yards (19.2 avg.) and 31 touchdowns. He accumulated over 900 yards in each of his first three seasons with Dallas, with a high of 1009 in 1968, and led the NFL in yards per reception (22.3) and TD catches (12) in ’69. However, he had off-field issues of a different nature, having pled guilty to indecently exposing himself to a young girl during the 1970 season. Rentzel didn’t play in the last five games of the regular season as well as the ensuing Super Bowl drive in the playoffs.

Billy Truax, also 28, had been a starter for the Rams for the past four seasons but underwent knee and elbow surgery in the offseason. An able receiver as well as blocker, he was expected to compete with veteran TE Mike Ditka for the starting job. Pettis Norman, who had been with the Cowboys since 1962, alternated with Ditka and had been used mostly as a blocker in ’70.

Wendell Tucker, 27 years old, had been with the Rams for three years and caught 38 passes for 629 yards (16.6 avg.) and seven TDs in ’69, but dropped off to just 12 receptions in 1970.

Of the players Dallas gave up to the Chargers for Alworth, in addition to Norman, Tony Liscio was the most accomplished, having spent seven years with the Cowboys and occasionally starting at offensive tackle. Ron East had been strictly a backup on the defensive line since joining the club in 1967.

“Alworth's record speaks for itself,” said.Dallas Coach Tom Landry. “We were very reluctant to trade men the caliber of Norman, Liscio and East, but when the chance for Alworth came we couldn't pass it up.”

Referring to the trade, Chargers Head Coach Sid Gillman said, “It was made for only one reason - to help the Chargers win. We obtained three excellent players in positions in which we need help. Our club will be stronger for the trade.”

Alworth, paired with Hayes (who ultimately re-signed with the Cowboys) as one of the starting wide receivers, caught 34 passes for 487 yards in 1971, for a 14.3-yard average and two TDs (Hayes, by comparison, had 35 receptions for 840 yards, a 24.0 average gain, and eight scores). The Cowboys reached the top, beating Miami in the Super Bowl with Alworth scoring the game’s first touchdown. It was something of a last hurrah – he caught just 15 passes for 195 yards in ’72 and retired. In 1978, he became the first AFL star to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Truax took over the role vacated by Pettis Norman and played well in alternation with Ditka in ‘71, although the knee injury continued to cause him problems. He appeared in just eight games over the course of the 1972 and ’73 seasons, his last two in the NFL, catching four passes.

Wendell Tucker failed to make the Cowboys and was waived in the preseason. While the Broncos picked him up, he never again appeared in a regular season NFL contest.

As for Lance Rentzel, he played well for the 8-5-1 Rams in ‘71, providing a much-needed deep threat and taking pressure off of the other veteran wide receiver, Jack Snow. Rentzel led the team with 38 pass receptions for 534 yards (Snow gained 666 yards on his 37 catches) and scored five TDs. The team did less well in 1972, and the same could be said for Rentzel, who contributed 27 catches for 365 yards. He again ran into off-field problems, this time a marijuana possession charge that caused him to be suspended for the ’73 season. The talented but troubled receiver played one last year for the Rams in 1974 before his NFL career came to an end.


In San Diego, Pettis Norman caught a career-high 27 passes in 1971, the first of three seasons as the starting tight end to finish off his career. Ron East, undersized at 236 pounds but a tough competitor, lasted three years with the Chargers before jumping to The Hawaiians of the World Football League in 1974. When he returned to the NFL in ’75, it was with the Cleveland Browns.

Tony Liscio’s fate was perhaps the most interesting (Liscio pictured #72 above). Suffering from a back injury, he was traded by San Diego to Miami in a late ’71 preseason deal for center Carl Mauck, but chose to retire instead of report to the Dolphins. The Chargers retained his rights and eventually waived him, at which point he was picked up once again by the Cowboys. With tackles Ralph Neely and Don Talbert injured, they needed an experienced lineman and Liscio, who had moved back to the Dallas area, was inserted immediately into the starting lineup. He went on to finish out the season in good form and ended his pro career with a Super Bowl victory (and as a teammate of the player he had been traded for, Alworth).

May 18, 2011

MVP Profile: Jim Taylor, 1962

Fullback, Green Bay Packers


Age: 27 (Sept. 20)
5th season in pro football & with Packers
College: LSU
Height: 6’0” Weight: 215

Prelude:
Chosen by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 1958 NFL draft, Taylor saw scant action in his rookie season. With the coming of Vince Lombardi as head coach in ’59, he moved into the starting lineup, although burns suffered in a kitchen grease fire caused him to miss action. He broke out in 1960, gaining 1101 yards on a league-leading 230 carries, and rushed for 1307 yards and a NFL-leading 15 rushing TDs in ’61. A physically-punishing runner, Taylor provided the power for Green Bay’s offense and was selected to the Pro Bowl following the ’60 and ’61 seasons.

1962 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 272 [1]
Most attempts, game - 25 (for 124 yds.) at Chicago 11/4, (for 141 yds.) at Philadelphia 11/11
Yards – 1474 [1]
Most yards, game – 164 yards (on 17 carries) at Minnesota 10/14
Average gain – 5.4 [2]
TDs – 19 [1]
100-yard rushing games - 7

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 22
Most receptions, game – 4 (for 40 yds.) vs. St. Louis 9/23
Yards – 106
Most yards, game - 40 (on 4 catches) vs. St. Louis 9/23
Average gain – 4.8
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 19 [1]
Points – 114 [1]

The 19 touchdowns set a then-NFL single-season record.

Postseason: 1 G (NFL Championship at NY Giants)
Rushing attempts – 31
Rushing yards – 85
Average gain rushing – 2.7
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 3
Pass receiving yards - 20
Average yards per reception – 6.7
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, NEA
1st team All-NFL: AP, NEA, UPI
1st team All-Western Conference: Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Packers went 13-1 to win Western Conference while leading league in rushing offense (2460 yards), scoring (415 points), and TDs (53). Won NFL Championship over New York Giants (16-7).

Aftermath:
Taylor had two more thousand-yard seasons, in 1963 and ’64, and was named to the Pro Bowl after each, to give him five straight. He began to show signs of wear in 1965, running for 734 yards and a 3.5-yard average, and following a 705-yard season in ’66, Taylor played out his option and signed with the expansion New Orleans Saints. He led the team in rushing, but with just 390 yards, and retired prior to the 1968 season with 8597 career yards (second highest in NFL history at the time). Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1976.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

May 17, 2011

Past Venue: Tampa Stadium

Tampa, FL
aka Houlihan’s Stadium



Year opened: 1967
Capacity: 74,301, up from 45,000 at opening

Names:
Tampa Stadium, 1967-95
Houlihan’s Stadium, 1996-98

Pro football tenants:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), 1976-97
Tampa Bay Bandits (USFL), 1983-85

Postseason games hosted:
NFC Divisional playoff, Buccaneers 24 Eagles 17, Dec. 29, 1979
NFC Championship, Rams 9 Buccaneers 0, Jan. 6, 1980
Super Bowl XVIII, Raiders 38 Redskins 9, Jan. 22, 1984
USFL Championship, Stars 23 Wranglers 3, July 15, 1984
Super Bowl XXV, Giants 20 Bills 19, Jan. 27, 1991
NFC Wild Card playoff, Buccaneers 20 Lions 10, Dec. 28, 1997

Other tenants of note:
Univ. of Tampa (college football), 1967-74
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL), 1975-84
Tampa Bay Mutiny (MLS), 1996-98
Univ. of South Florida (college football), 1997

Notes: Hosted AFC/NFC Pro Bowl, Jan. 23, 1978. Hosted Can-Am Bowl, 1977-79. Hosted Hall of Fame/Outback Bowl, 1986-98. Hosted one home game of AFL Miami Dolphins in 1969. Hosted several NFL preseason games prior to the creation of the Buccaneers, beginning with Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons in Aug. 1968. A major expansion project in 1975 added 27,000 seats. Referred to as the Big Sombrero due to its distinctive shape. Renamed Houlihan’s Stadium after Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Buccaneers as well as the Houlihan’s restaurant chain, also purchased the stadium’s naming rights.

Fate: Demolished in 1999, the site is now a parking lot for Raymond James Stadium.

May 15, 2011

MVP Profile: John Brodie, 1970

Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers



Age: 35
14th season in pro football & with 49ers
College: Stanford
Height: 6’1” Weight: 203

Prelude:
Chosen by the 49ers in the 1st round of the 1957 NFL draft, Brodie backed up Y.A. Tittle for four seasons (although seeing enough action for the injured Tittle in ’58 to lead the league in completion percentage at 59.9) before inheriting the full-time starting job in 1961. With all of the necessary tools but plagued by inconsistency, he was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1965 after leading the NFL in pass attempts (391), completions (242), completion percentage (61.9), yards (3112), and TD passes (30). Brodie also led the league in pass attempts (404), completions (234), completion percentage (57.9), and yards (3020) in ’68, but in between were years of mediocrity, both for Brodie and the team.

1970 Season Summary
Appeared & started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 378 [4]
Most attempts, game – 36 vs. New Orleans 10/18, vs. LA Rams 11/29
Completions – 223 [1]
Most completions, game – 21 at Chicago 11/8
Yards – 2941 [1]
Most yards, game – 317 at Chicago 11/8
Completion percentage – 59.0 [2]
Yards per attempt – 7.8 [3]
TD passes – 24 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Cleveland 9/27, at Chicago 11/8, at Houston 11/15, at New Orleans 12/13, at Oakland 12/20
Interceptions – 10
Most interceptions, game – 3 vs. New Orleans 10/18, at Detroit 11/22
Passer rating – 93.8 [1]
300-yard passing games – 1
200-yard passing games – 7

Rushing
Attempts – 9
Most attempts, game - 2 (for 7 yds.) vs. Cleveland 9/27, (for 11 yds.) at LA Rams 10/11
Yards – 29
Most yards, game – 11 yards (on 2 carries) at LA Rams 10/11
Yards per attempt – 3.2
TDs – 2

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Postseason: 2 G
Pass attempts – 72
Most pass attempts, game – 40 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
Pass completions – 35
Most pass completions, game – 19 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
Passing yardage – 463
Most passing yards, game – 262 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
TD passes – 2
Most TD passes, game – 1 at Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoff, vs. Dallas, NFC Championship
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 2 vs. Dallas, NFC Championship

Rushing attempts – 2
Most rushing attempts, game – 2 at Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – 4
Most rushing yards, game – 4 at Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoff
Average gain rushing – 2.0
Rushing TDs – 1

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, NEA
NFC Offensive Player of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-NFC: AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

49ers went 10-3-1 to win the NFC West while leading the NFL in passing offense (2923 yards), scoring (352 points), and touchdowns (41, tied with Detroit). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Minnesota Vikings (17-14). Lost NFC Championship to Dallas Cowboys (17-10).

Aftermath:
Brodie had a lesser year in 1971, throwing more interceptions (24) than TD passes (18), but the 49ers again won the NFC West with a 9-5 record and again advanced to the NFC Championship game, losing once more to Dallas. Brodie went down with a severely sprained ankle in ‘72 and gave way to Steve Spurrier, but rallied the team into the playoffs for the third straight year, although the 49ers once again fell to the Cowboys (this time in the Divisional round). He retired after the 1973 season, ranking third lifetime in the NFL in both pass attempts (4491) and completions (2469) while having thrown for 31,548 yards with 214 TDs and 224 interceptions. Brodie’s #12 was retired by the 49ers.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

May 14, 2011

1968: Steelers Deal Bill Nelsen to Browns


On May 14, 1968 the Pittsburgh Steelers traded QB Bill Nelsen and safety Jim Bradshaw to the Cleveland Browns for QB Dick Shiner, DT Frank Parker, and an unspecified draft choice. The deal officially brought to an end Nelsen’s injury-riddled career in Pittsburgh, and at the time was seen as an effort to bolster the defensive line.

The 27-year-old Nelsen came to Pittsburgh in 1963 as a tenth round draft pick out of USC, where he had split time at quarterback with Pete Beathard during a 1962 season in which the Trojans were national champions. While he wasn’t big at 6’0” and 195 pounds, and didn’t possess an especially strong arm, he proved to be a decent passer with a good attitude and outstanding leadership qualities.

After backing up veteran QB Ed Brown in his first two seasons, Nelsen took over as starting quarterback in ’65, but was playing on a bad knee. He missed time and was challenged for the starting job by another young (and less talented) quarterback, Tommy Wade. After off-season surgery, he came back in 1966 and went down with an injury to the other knee. In 1967, Nelsen lost his starting job to Kent Nix as he missed eight games with further knee problems.

In trading Nelsen for Dick Shiner, the Steelers were obtaining a quarterback who had come into the NFL a year later but had seen far less action. A seventh-round draft choice out of Maryland by the Redskins in 1964, Shiner had been strictly a backup behind Sonny Jurgensen in Washington for three years and then Frank Ryan in Cleveland for one, and broke his leg in practice the previous year.

Speculation initially centered around Parker as the key to the trade. The 6’5”, 270-pound defensive tackle missed all of 1965 due to a major knee injury suffered in ‘64 that required surgery. A promising player prior to the injury, he had played sparingly in the two seasons since.

Jim Bradshaw saw little action in ’67, playing both safety positions, after losing his starting job to former Pitt star Paul Martha. He had intercepted a total of nine passes in 1965 and ’66. In 1967, he also returned 16 punts for a 6.1-yard average.

“Parker will give us the interior pass rushing we needed so badly last season,” said Steelers Head Coach Bill Austin. “As far as quarterbacks are concerned, if we opened our NFL schedule tomorrow I'd go with Kent Nix.” Austin added that “I still think Nelsen is a good football player who has been very unfortunate because of injuries. If he didn't beat out Nix this summer it would be very discouraging for him. A shift in scenery should help.”

The change in scenery proved more beneficial to Nelsen’s career than was anticipated when the deal was culminated. 32-year-old Frank Ryan had played well at quarterback for the Browns, including leading them to a championship in 1964, but injuries suffered during the ’67 season took their toll. When the team started off poorly in 1968, Nelsen took over as starting quarterback and significantly reinvigorated the passing game. The Browns won eight of their last nine contests and advanced to the NFL title game before losing to the Colts. Nelsen ranked sixth among the league’s passers, throwing for 2366 yards and 19 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

Nelsen was even better in 1969, earning selection to the Pro Bowl as he threw for 2743 yards and 23 TDs. The Browns again advanced to the NFL Championship game before succumbing to the Minnesota Vikings. With the merger, Cleveland moved to the AFC and Nelsen stayed on as the starting quarterback for two more seasons before giving way to highly-touted Mike Phipps in 1972, his final year. Playing with two bad knees that had him wearing aluminum braces during games, and thus lacking mobility, he nevertheless did well in Cleveland. Over the course of five seasons, four as the starter, Nelsen threw for 9725 yards with 71 touchdowns and, most significantly, the Browns went 34-16-1 in the regular season with him under center and 2-3 in the playoffs.

Dick Shiner ended up supplanting Nix as the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh, but the team played poorly. In two seasons with the Steelers, he proved to be inconsistent and the club’s record in his starts was a dismal 3-16-1. Having drafted, first, QB Terry Hanratty in 1969 and then, with the first overall choice in ’70, Terry Bradshaw, Shiner was traded to the Giants, where he saw little action behind veteran star Fran Tarkenton. Moving on to Atlanta in 1971, he was still a backup, but had the distinction of starting the opening game of the ’73 season and earning a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in a 62-7 shellacking of the New Orleans Saints. It was the highlight of his career, and he lost the starting job to Bob Lee shortly thereafter, finishing up with the Patriots in ’74.

Frank Parker was just a backup defensive lineman in Pittsburgh and moved on to the Giants for one last year in 1969. Jim Bradshaw was waived during the preseason and never again played in the NFL.

The conditional draft choice ended up being used by the Steelers to take RB Warren Bankston of Tulane in the second round in 1969. He was a backup for four seasons in Pittsburgh before moving on to Oakland in ’73.

All told, the trade for Bill Nelsen proved to be a good one for the Browns. The Steelers would ultimately put together four championships in the decade of the 1970s, but the 1968 deal with Cleveland was not a part in that process (although the poor play in ’68 set the stage for the hiring of Chuck Noll as head coach and the accompanying rebuilding job).

May 12, 2011

1984: Kelly Throws 5 TD Passes as Gamblers Thrash Maulers


After getting off to a 6-3 start, the Houston Gamblers, one of six new teams to take the field in the United States Football League’s second season, were in a three-way tie atop the Central Division. Head Coach Jack Pardee provided overall direction while offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis instituted a “run-and-shoot” offense. With prize rookie QB Jim Kelly (pictured above) directing the pass-oriented attack, the Gamblers were an exciting and high-scoring club.

However, the Gamblers then lost two consecutive close contests to fall a game behind the defending-champion Michigan Panthers (who had administered the first of the defeats). On May 12, 1984 they went on the road to face another first-year team, the Pittsburgh Maulers, at Three Rivers Stadium.

Pittsburgh was far less successful than the Gamblers. They had lost five straight games to come into the contest at 2-9, and Head Coach Joe Pendry had already been fired and replaced by Ellis Rainsberger, who was elevated from assistant head coach. Pittsburgh, too, had a prize rookie in Heisman Trophy-winning RB Mike Rozier out of Nebraska, but little else. Former NFL backup QB Glenn Carano was inconsistent and the defense had far too many weaknesses.

There were 24,880 in attendance for the Saturday night game that was something of a homecoming for Kelly – he had grown up in East Brady, a town north of Pittsburgh, before going on to star at the Univ. of Miami. The rookie quarterback was suffering from a sore elbow, but it didn’t hinder his performance.

The Maulers fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions and Houston converted those turnovers into a 10-0 lead. Following a 25-yard field goal by Toni Fritsch, a fumble by Carano set up the first touchdown of the game less than two minutes later as Kelly threw to WR Richard Johnson on a play covering 15 yards.


The Gamblers took control of the game in the second quarter. Following another Fritsch field goal of 22 yards just under three minutes into the period, Kelly connected again with Johnson for a 13-yard TD and 20-0 lead. Pittsburgh finally got on the board as Carano threw to TE Mark Raugh for a 13-yard touchdown. But Kelly responded with a first-down bomb to WR Ricky Sanders that covered 68 yards for his third TD pass of the game, and less than three minutes later, with just seconds remaining in the first half, Kelly fired a fourth scoring pass to RB Todd Fowler from 21 yards out. Houston took a solid 34-7 lead into halftime.

Fritsch extended the margin to 37-7 at just under six minutes into the third quarter with a 42-yard field goal. The Maulers scored two touchdowns later in the period, both on runs by RB William Miller. The first covered 12 yards and the extra point attempt was missed. The second was from a yard out and, with the successful PAT, narrowed Houston’s lead to a slightly-more-respectable 37-20.

Kelly threw one more TD pass in the fourth quarter, his fifth of the game and third to Johnson, covering 31 yards. Pittsburgh’s backup QB Tom Rozantz connected for a 70-yard touchdown to WR Jackie Flowers – the attempt for a two-point conversion failed. Kelly yielded to backup QB Todd Dillon and Fritsch kicked his fourth field goal of the game, from 29 yards, to provide the final points. The Gamblers won by a comfortable score of 47-26.

While the time of possession was practically even (30:41 to 29:19 in favor of the Maulers) as well as yardage by rushing (Houston held the edge at 138 to 136), the Gamblers blew Pittsburgh away with 450 yards through the air (the Maulers had 147). They also had a significant lead in first downs (27 to 16) although they were also penalized 15 times, at a loss of 132 yards (Pittsburgh was flagged on six occasions).

Jim Kelly’s completion percentage was ordinary, as he was successful on 15 of 29 throws, but they were good for 367 yards and he tied the USFL single-game record for TD passes with five (Walter Lewis of Memphis also threw five the night before). None were intercepted. While Richard Johnson scored three touchdowns on his 4 catches for 70 yards, Ricky Sanders had the gaudier statistics with 8 receptions for 227 yards and the one long TD. The Gamblers could run the ball, too, and Todd Fowler gained 130 yards on 20 carries.

For the Maulers, Glenn Carano completed only 4 of 14 passes for 48 yards with one intercepted; Tom Rozantz was successful on 5 of 7 throws for 144 yards, including the one long TD and no interceptions. The recipient of that long scoring pass, Jackie Flowers, had two catches for 83 yards. William Miller ran for 93 yards on 20 attempts and two touchdowns while Mike Rozier ended up with 8 rushes for 28 yards.

It was the sixth straight loss and tenth in twelve contests for the Maulers, who ended up tied with Washington at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with a 3-15 record. The franchise folded in the offseason.

Houston went on to surpass Michigan and win the Central Division at 13-5, running up a total of 618 points (an average of 34.3 points per game) and 79 touchdowns along the way. However, the Gamblers were upset in their First Round playoff game by the Arizona Wranglers.


Jim Kelly, who surpassed Bobby Hebert’s 1983 season record of 27 TD passes with his five against Pittsburgh, ended up throwing for 5219 yards and 44 touchdowns, although he also led the league with 26 interceptions. Richard Johnson (pictured at right) topped the USFL with 115 catches for 1455 yards (12.7 avg.) and 15 TDs. Ricky Sanders was runner-up as he pulled in 101 passes for 1378 yards (13.6 avg.) and 11 scores.

Kelly had a second five-TD passing performance in ’85, making him one of two quarterbacks in the three-season history of the USFL to reach that total in a game twice (the other was Birmingham’s Cliff Stoudt). Michigan’s Hebert, who originally set the record in 1983, Chuck Fusina of Philadelphia, and Lewis were the others who achieved the mark.

May 11, 2011

Past Venue: Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, CA



Year opened: 1923
Capacity: 93,607, up from 75,144 at opening but down from high of 105,000 at time of 1932 Olympics

Names:
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 1923 to date

Pro football tenants:
Los Angeles Dons (AAFC), 1946-49
Los Angeles Rams (NFL), 1946-79
Los Angeles Chargers (AFL), 1960
Los Angeles Raiders (NFL), 1982-94
Los Angeles Express (USFL), 1983-85
Los Angeles Xtreme (XFL), 2001

Postseason games hosted:
NFL Championship, Eagles 14 Rams 0, Dec. 18, 1949
NFL National Conf. playoff, Rams 24 Bears 14, Dec. 17, 1950
NFL Championship, Rams 24 Browns 17, Dec. 23, 1951
NFL Championship, Browns 38 Rams 14, Dec. 26, 1955
Super Bowl I, Packers 35 Chiefs 10, Jan. 15, 1967
Super Bowl VII, Dolphins 14 Redskins 7, Jan. 14, 1973
NFC Divisional playoff, Rams 19 Redskins 10, Dec. 22, 1974
NFC Divisional playoff, Rams 35 Cardinals 23, Dec. 27, 1975
NFC Championship, Cowboys 37 Rams 7, Jan. 4, 1976
NFC Divisional playoff, Vikings 14 Rams 7, Dec. 26, 1977
NFC Divisional playoff, Rams 34 Vikings 10, Dec. 31, 1978
NFC Championship, Cowboys 28 Rams 0, Jan. 7, 1979
AFC First Round playoff, Raiders 27 Browns 10, Jan. 8, 1983
AFC Divisional playoff, Jets 17 Raiders 14, Jan. 15, 1983
AFC Divisional playoff, Raiders 38 Steelers 10, Jan. 1, 1984
AFC Championship, Raiders 30 Seahawks 14, Jan. 8, 1984
USFL First Round playoff, Express 27 Panthers 21, June 30, 1984
AFC Divisional playoff, Patriots 27 Raiders 20, Jan. 5, 1986
AFC Divisional playoff, Raiders 20 Bengals 10, Jan. 13, 1991
AFC Wild Card playoff, Raiders 42 Broncos 24, Jan. 9, 1994
XFL Semifinal playoff, Xtreme 33 Enforcers 16, April 15, 2001
XFL Championship, Xtreme 38 Demons 6, April 21, 2001

Other tenants of note:
Univ. of Southern California (college football), 1923 to date
UCLA (college football), 1928-81
Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB – NL), 1958-61
Los Angeles Wolves (soccer), 1967
Los Angeles Aztecs (NASL), 1974-81

Notes: Hosted annual NFL Pro Bowl, 1951-72, and 1979. Hosted Summer Olympics, 1932 & 1984. The Olympic Cauldron/Torch is still lit during the fourth quarter of USC football games and on special occasions. Hosted Mercy Bowl, 1961 & ’71. Hosted one home game of the Los Angeles Dragons of the short-lived Spring Football League (SFL) in 2000. Was originally constructed and named as a memorial to World War I veterans (re-dedicated to veterans of all wars in 1968). First football game was a college contest between USC and Pomona College, Oct. 6, 1923. Stadium is owned by the State of California but leased to and managed by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission. Running track removed as part of major renovation in 1993 in order to create additional seating closer to the football field. Renovations, use of temporary end zone seating, and occasional closing off of sections have caused fluctuations in stadium capacity over the years. Highest pro football game attendance was 102,368 for an NFL contest between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers in 1957.

Fate: Still in use.

May 10, 2011

MVP Profile: Lawrence Taylor, 1986

Linebacker, New York Giants



Age: 27
6th season in pro football & with Giants
College: North Carolina
Height: 6’3” Weight: 243

Prelude:
Chosen in the first round by the Giants in 1981, Taylor had an immediate impact as a rookie. Not only was he the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and a consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, but he was selected as NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the AP. With his attacking style of play, he almost immediately set new standards for outside linebackers and was a consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in each of his first five seasons and NFL Defensive Player of the Year again in 1982.

1986 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 20.5 [1]
Most sacks, game – 4 vs. Philadelphia 10/12
Multi-sack games - 6
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0

Postseason: 3 G
Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 34
TD – 1

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, Bert Bell Trophy, Sporting News
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFW, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Giants went 14-2 to win NFC East and led the NFL in defense against the run (1284 yards / 80.3 yards per game) and were second in fewest points surrendered (236). Won NFC Divisional playoff over San Francisco 49ers (49-3), NFC Championship over Washington Redskins (17-0), and Super Bowl over Denver Broncos (39-20).

Aftermath:
Taylor continued to be the leader of the Giants defense, achieving consensus first-team All Pro honors twice more and being selected to four more Pro Bowls (for a total of 10 consecutive, going back to his rookie year). He retired following the 1993 season, with 132.5 career sacks, and his #56 was retired by the Giants. Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1999.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]

May 8, 2011

Past Venue: Kingdome

Seattle, WA



Year opened: 1976
Capacity: 66,000

Names:
King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium, 1976-2000

Pro football tenants:
Seattle Seahawks (NFL), 1976-99

Postseason games hosted:
AFC Wild Card playoff, Seahawks 31 Broncos 7, Dec. 24, 1983
AFC Wild Card playoff, Seahawks 13 Raiders 7, Dec. 22, 1984
AFC Wild Card playoff, Dolphins 20 Seahawks 17, Jan. 9, 2000

Other tenants of note:
Seattle Sounders (NASL), 1976-83
Seattle Mariners (MLB – AL), 1977-99
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA), 1978-85

Notes: Hosted NFC/AFC Pro Bowl, Jan. 17, 1977. Hosted NCAA Final Four tournament, 1984,1989, 1995. First event hosted in the stadium was a NASL game between the New York Cosmos vs. Seattle Sounders. Ceiling tiles fell onto the field prior to a Mariners baseball game, causing the venue to be closed for an extended period in 1994 and forcing the Seahawks to play their first three home games of the regular season at the Univ. of Washington’s Husky Stadium. Publicly constructed and owned by King County. Stadium was built of concrete with fixed dome and AstroTurf field.

Fate: Demolished in 2000, Qwest Field was built on the site.

May 7, 2011

MVP Profile: Drew Brees, 2009

Quarterback, New Orleans Saints



Age: 30
9th season in pro football, 4th with Saints
College: Purdue
Height: 6’0” Weight: 209

Prelude:
Chosen by the San Diego Chargers in the 2nd round of the 2001 draft, Brees spent a year as backup to veteran Doug Flutie before taking over as starting quarterback in ’02. A good first year as starter was followed by a season in which he had difficulties, and the Chargers swung the deal that brought rookie Philip Rivers to San Diego in 2004. Brees bounced back that year with a Pro Bowl season in which his passer rating was 104.8. Brees badly injured his shoulder in the last game of the ’05 season, the final year of his contract, and with the team committing to Rivers, he signed with the New Orleans Saints. He was a consensus first-team All-Pro and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’06, leading the NFL with 4418 passing yards and guiding the Saints, with a high-powered offense, to the NFC Championship game. Brees started poorly and the team didn’t do as well in 2007, but he recovered to lead the league in pass attempts (652) and completions (440) while throwing for another 4423 yards. He had another Pro Bowl year in ’08 in which he led the NFL in passing yards (5069), TD passes (34), pass attempts (635) and completions (413).

2009 Season Summary
Appeared and started in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 514 [10]
Most attempts, game – 49 at Washington 12/6
Completions – 363 [4, tied with Brett Favre]
Most completions, game – 35 at Washington 12/6
Yards – 4388 [6]
Most yards, game – 419 at Washington 12/6
Completion percentage – 70.6 [1]
Yards per attempt – 8.5 [3, 1st in NFC]
TD passes – 34 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 6 vs. Detroit 9/13
Interceptions – 11
Most interceptions, game – 3 at Miami 10/25
Passer rating – 109.6 [1]
400-yard passing games – 1
300-yard passing games – 7
200-yard passing games – 12

Rushing
Attempts – 22
Most attempts, game - 6 (for 8 yds.) at Buffalo 9/27
Yards – 33
Most yards, game – 8 yards (on 6 carries) at Buffalo 9/27, (on 2 carries) vs. Dallas 12/19
Yards per attempt – 1.5
TDs – 2

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 1
Yards – -4
Average gain – -4.0
TDs - 0

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points - 12

Postseason: 3 G
Pass attempts – 102
Most attempts, game - 39 vs. Indianapolis, Super Bowl
Pass completions – 72
Most completions, game - 32 vs. Indianapolis, Super Bowl
Passing yardage – 732
Most yards, game - 288 vs. Indianapolis, Super Bowl
TD passes – 8
Most TD passes, game - 3 vs. Arizona, NFC Divisional playoff; vs. Minnesota, NFC Championship
Interceptions – 0

Rushing attempts – 5
Most rushing attempts, game – 3 (for -3 yds.) vs. Arizona, NFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – -4
Most rushing yards, game - 0 vs. Minnesota, NFC Championship
Average gain rushing – -0.8
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Player of the Year: Bert Bell Award
1st team All-NFL: Sporting News
2nd team All-NFL: AP
Pro Bowl

Saints went 13-3, winning their first 13 games, to top the NFC South while leading the NFL in total offense (6461 yards), points scored (510), and touchdowns (64). Won Divisional playoff over Arizona Cardinals (45-14), NFC Championship over Minnesota Vikings (31-28), and Super Bowl over Indianapolis Colts (31-17).

Aftermath:
Brees went to the Pro Bowl for the third straight year, and fifth overall, in 2010 after throwing for 4620 yards and 33 touchdowns and leading the NFL in completion percentage (68.1). However, he also threw a career-high 22 interceptions and, while the team qualified for the postseason as a wild card with an 11-5 record, the Saints were upset in the first round of the playoffs by Seattle.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]
[Updated 11/28/14]

May 6, 2011

1984: Stars Dominate in Showdown with Stallions


The United States Football League game on May 6, 1984 at Birmingham’s Legion Field was a showdown between two 9-1 teams, the Philadelphia Stars and Birmingham Stallions. Playing at home, and having won nine straight contests after losing in their opening game, the Stallions were slight favorites.

Under the guidance of Head Coach Rollie Dotsch, Birmingham was much improved from the team that went 9-9 in ’83. The most significant reasons were the addition of two veterans with NFL experience, QB Cliff Stoudt, formerly of the Steelers, and ex-Bills RB Joe Cribbs. They had the league’s top rushing offense and defensively were best against the run.

The Stars, also coached for the second year by Jim Mora, had made it all the way to the USFL title game in 1983 and, if anything, were an even better club in ’84. The offense, directed by QB Chuck Fusina and powered by RB Kelvin Bryant, was conservative but effective. The “Doghouse Defense” was outstanding against both the run and pass and gave up few points. They had outscored their opponents in the first half by a combined 99-3 in the previous four games, which proved to be more of an omen than seemed possible entering the game.

There were 49,500 fans in attendance at Legion Field for what was expected to be a close contest. Indeed, the Stallions defense stifled the powerful Philadelphia running game initially as the Stars netted just one yard on their first four running plays. However, the visitors proved capable of adjustment – and of moving effectively through the air when necessary.

There was only one score in the first quarter as Philadelphia FB David Riley ran for a seven-yard touchdown. The Stars took control of the game in the second quarter, putting up 23 more points before Birmingham could get on the board. The Stars capitalized on fumbles by Cribbs and CB Von Mansfield (returning a kickoff) that were turned into two of the three field goals kicked by David Trout during the period (two of 29 and one of 25 yards). There was also a pass from Fusina to WR Herbert Harris that initially bounced off the receiver’s hands, hit the defender, CB Dennis Woodberry, and then came back to Harris who juggled the ball but held on to complete the 51-yard touchdown play.

Fusina threw a second TD pass of 12 yards to WR Scott Fitzkee with a minute remaining in the half. The Stallions finally scored on the last play before halftime as Danny Miller kicked a 47-yard field goal, but Philadelphia held a 30-3 lead.

The second half only brought more of the same. Trout kicked a 26-yard field goal for the only points in the third quarter. The Stallions finally got another score in the fourth quarter when backup QB Bob Lane threw to WR Joey Jones for a 44-yard touchdown and then passed to WR Jim Smith for a successful two-point conversion.

However, Trout had already kicked his fifth field goal of the game, from 26 yards, and the Stars capped their domination of the contest with a 39-yard scoring run by RB Bryan Thomas. The final tally was 43-11, and Philadelphia made a clear statement as to which team could lay claim to being the USFL’s best.

The statistics were in line with the score. The Stars outgained the Stallions convincingly both on the ground (270 yards to 90) and through the air (219 to 145). They rolled up 26 first downs to Birmingham’s 10 and, against the team that had been the league’s best thus far in time of possession, held onto the ball for just over 38 minutes to slightly under 22 for the Stallions – fully 16 minutes more.

Kelvin Bryant led the rushing attack, as usual, with 84 yards on 18 carries. Bryan Thomas had 69 yards on seven attempts and David Riley ran the ball six times for 62 yards and a TD. Chuck Fusina completed 15 of 26 passes for 227 yards with the two touchdowns and none intercepted. WR Willie Collier caught four passes for 66 yards and Bryant four for 42, although Herbert Harris led in receiving yards with 74 on his three receptions, along with the one score. David Trout’s five field goals tied the USFL record and his 19 overall points were a new league single-game high by placekicking alone (Trout pictured at bottom).

For the Stallions, Cliff Stoudt (6 of 18 for 62 yards) and Bob Lane (4 of 10 for 99) combined to complete just 10 of 28 passes for 161 yards with a TD and an interception. Joe Cribbs gained 57 yards on 12 carries and caught four passes for 54 more. Joey Jones gained 65 yards on his two catches, including the one touchdown.

The two teams met again in the postseason as the Stars lost only one more game the rest of the way to finish atop the Atlantic Division with a 16-2 record and Birmingham ended up on top of the Southern Division at 14-4. The Stallions handily defeated the Tampa Bay Bandits in the first round of the playoffs while Philadelphia easily dispatched of the division-rival New Jersey Generals. The result of the rematch in the Eastern Conference title game was much the same as it had been in the regular season as the Stars won, 20-10. They went on to successfully complete the title run that fell short the year before, defeating Arizona for the USFL Championship.

May 5, 2011

1985: Bulls Score Two TDs in 4th Quarter to Beat Generals


The second-year Jacksonville Bulls were 5-5, and had won their last three United States Football League contests, as they hosted the New Jersey Generals on May 5, 1985. Coached by Lindy Infante, they had benefited from the play of QB Ed Luther, formerly of the NFL Chargers, who had joined the team early in the season and took over for the injured Brian Sipe. They also had second-year RB Mike Rozier (pictured at right), a former Heisman Trophy winner out of Nebraska who played for the Pittsburgh Maulers in ’84, a franchise that folded after one season. The defense had improved since the previous year, benefiting from the presence of rookie DE Keith Millard to go along with second-year LB Vaughan Johnson.

The Generals, coming into the contest at 7-3 and tied for the lead in the USFL’s Eastern Conference, were coached by Walt Michaels and had two ex-Heisman Trophy winners of their own – star RB Herschel Walker and rookie QB Doug Flutie – to go along with an array of veteran talent.

Typically drawing well, there were 60,100 in attendance at the Gator Bowl. The fans saw the Generals control the game early, scoring the first two times they had the ball. Four minutes into the contest, Roger Ruzek kicked a 49-yard field goal. Just three minutes later, following a bad punt by the Bulls, Flutie threw to TE Sam Bowers for a 30-yard touchdown. The possession lasted two plays and New Jersey was ahead by 10-0.

Jacksonville got back into the game by putting together a 72-yard drive over nine plays that ended when Rozier ran 23 yards up the middle with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. New Jersey held a three-point lead after one period.

The teams traded field goals in the second quarter. Jacksonville’s Brian Franco (pictured below) kicked two, of 23 and 38 yards, and Ruzek booted a 46-yarder with 2:09 left in the first half, knotting the score at 13-13 at halftime.


The Bulls got a break in the third quarter on a fake field goal attempt by the Generals that went awry. Holder Rick Partridge attempted a pass that was intercepted by DB Joe Johnson and returned 16 yards to the New Jersey 49. Franco capped the possession with a 36-yard field goal and the Bulls were ahead by 16-13.

New Jersey opened the fourth quarter in the midst of an 11-play, 77-yard drive with Walker taking off on runs of 18 and 13 yards along the way. FB Maurice Carthon rushed for a 10-yard touchdown, and the Generals were back in front by 20-16 with 10:45 to go.

New Jersey’s lead didn’t last long, however. On the ensuing kickoff, Jacksonville TE Norris Brown, who had been waived by the Generals in the preseason, gathered in the ball at his 18 yard line and ran down the right sideline 82 yards for a touchdown. It was not only the biggest play of the game, giving the Bulls a 23-20 lead, but was the only kickoff return for a TD in franchise history.

Any hopes that the Generals had of coming back were crushed by a 72-yard Jacksonville possession that ran more than six minutes off the clock and ended with Rozier scoring a second touchdown, going around end from a yard out to cushion the lead with 2:17 remaining in the contest and providing the final score of 30-20.

The Bulls had more first downs (21 to 19), and while New Jersey far outrushed Jacksonville (209 yards to 98), the Bulls had more passing yards (195 to 119).

Ed Luther completed 20 of 31 passes for 200 yards with none intercepted. Mike Rozier ran for 87 yards on 22 carries, two of them for scores, and caught three passes for 41 more. WR Perry Kemp and TE Mark Keel each caught four passes, with Kemp gaining 45 yards to Keel’s 33.

For New Jersey, Herschel Walker had a typically strong showing, running for 169 yards on 29 attempts, his fifth consecutive hundred-yard performance. Doug Flutie completed 9 of 17 passes for 148 yards and a TD with one intercepted. Sam Bowers caught two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. WR Walter Broughton was right behind with 42 yards on his two receptions.

“Norris Brown's run could not have come at a better time,” said Bulls coach Lindy Infante afterward. “It was a great spark.”

“New Jersey waived me so I wanted to do whatever I could to help the Bulls,” said Brown. “I just popped the opening and all I had was field in front of me. I couldn't believe there was all that ground out there with nobody in front of me. I was so wide open, I thought I was going to pull a muscle or something.”

Ultimately, the Generals remained ahead of the Bulls in the final standings. New Jersey finished at 11-7, in second place in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Baltimore Stars in the Quarterfinal round of the playoffs. Jacksonville had a 9-9 record, placing them sixth in the same conference.

Herschel Walker went on to lead the USFL with a phenomenal 2411 rushing yards. Mike Rozier placed second with 1361. Ed Luther ended up ninth among the league’s passers, throwing for 2792 yards and completing an even 60 percent of his passes, while tossing 15 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. Brian Franco was named All-USFL placekicker by the league, succeeding on 24 of 29 field goal attempts and scoring 117 points.

May 4, 2011

Past Venue: Kezar Stadium

San Francisco, CA



Year opened: 1925
Capacity: 59,942

Names:
Kezar Stadium, 1925-89

Pro football tenants:
San Francisco 49ers (AAFC/NFL), 1946-70
Oakland Raiders (AFL), 1960

Postseason games hosted:
AAFC First Round playoff, 49ers 17 Yankees 7, Dec. 4, 1949
NFL Western Conference playoff, Lions 31 49ers 27, Dec. 22, 1957
NFC Championship, Cowboys 17 49ers 10, Jan. 3, 1971

Other tenants of note:
None

Notes: Hosted annual city high school football championship (still played at reconstructed facility). Hosted annual East-West Shrine Game, 1925-42, 44-68. Dedication ceremony in 1925 featured a two-mile footrace between Finish runners Ville Ritola and Paavo Nurmi. Stadium also used for motorcycle and auto racing, rugby, baseball, and boxing.

Fate: Demolished in 1989 and reconstructed with significantly reduced capacity (9044).

May 3, 2011

1977: Cowboys Trade Up to Pick Tony Dorsett with 2nd Overall Draft Choice


Leading up to the first round of the NFL draft on May 3, 1977, the two ’76 expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks, held the first two overall picks. The Bucs, who suffered through an 0-14 inaugural season, made clear well ahead of time that they would take RB Ricky Bell of USC – the team that Head Coach John McKay had guided prior to crossing over to the NFL.

The logical choice for the next pick, which was property of the 2-12 Seahawks, was Heisman Trophy-winning RB Tony Dorsett from the University of Pittsburgh. However, the front office found itself awash in trade offers from teams that wanted the record-setting running back, and the fact that Dorsett made clear his aversion to playing for Seattle made those offers all the more enticing.

In the end, it was the Dallas Cowboys swinging the deal that allowed them to choose Dorsett second overall. The Seahawks were looking to stockpile draft choices, and Dallas had extra picks to trade. Seattle came away with a first round choice that had come to the Cowboys by way of San Diego in the deal for QB Clint Longley (14th overall) as well as three second-round draft choices.

With the picks from Dallas, the Seahawks took G Steve August from Tulsa in the first round and offensive lineman Tom Lynch of Boston College with the second pick in the second round. They also came away with LB Terry Beeson from Kansas with their next second-round choice, eleven slots down the line. Yet another of the second round choices was traded back to the Cowboys for WR Duke Fergerson, who had been on injured reserve in 1976. Seattle also obtained LB Pete Cronan from Boston College in a trade with the Rams that sent one of the second round picks to LA for C Geoff Reece and that club’s second round pick.

The Cowboys, who were widely credited with having pulled off the steal of the draft, were hardly bereft of talent, having won the NFC East in 1976 with an 11-3 record and gone to the postseason in ten of the previous 11 seasons. However, the running game had been beset by injuries in ’76; RB Doug Dennison was the club’s leading rusher with 542 yards.

“We were willing to sacrifice numbers (the draft choices) for one good football player,” explained Dallas President/GM Tex Schramm. “We did not disturb our current team, which also was one of our major objectives.”

The Cowboys may have sacrificed draft picks, but they still had enough to take WR Tony Hill from Stanford in the third round who, following a quiet rookie season, became a mainstay of the offense for the next nine years. They also took QB Glenn Carano of Nevada-Las Vegas, a backup for the next several seasons until moving on to the USFL. Tenth-round selection Steve DeBerg, a quarterback from San Jose State, failed to make the team but went on to a 17-year NFL career with six clubs.

Dallas got off to an 8-0 start and Dorsett was eased into the lineup, although he scored two touchdowns in the season’s second game and had a 14-carry, 141-yard performance against the Cardinals in Week 4. HB Preston Pearson, in tandem with FB Robert Newhouse, continued to start until midseason. Despite the relatively light use, the prize rookie made the most of his opportunities and still gained a thousand yards on the ground (1007 on 208 attempts), including 206 yards on 23 carries in a game against Philadelphia. The Cowboys again won the NFC East, with a 12-2 record, and went on to win the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos – Dorsett scored the game’s first touchdown and ran for 66 yards.

It was the start of a career in which the 5’11”, 192-pound Dorsett crossed the thousand-yard threshold in eight of his first nine seasons (the players’ strike that limited the schedule to nine games in 1982 was the only exception), was a consensus first-team All-Pro in ’81 and was selected to four Pro Bowls. Ending up his 12-season career with a year in Denver, he rushed for a total of 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns while also catching 398 passes for another 3554 yards and 13 more TDs. The Cowboys went to one more Super Bowl and four NFC Championship games during that period. Dorsett was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

As for the players that Seattle obtained as a result of dealing the second overall draft pick, Steve August was injured in a motorcycle accident before the 1977 season that limited his playing time, but went on to appear in 102 games for the Seahawks, 91 of them as the starting right tackle, until 1984. Tom Lynch made it into the starting lineup as a rookie and stayed for four seasons before departing for Buffalo, where he played another four years. He was a second-team All-AFC selection by UPI in ’78.

Terry Beeson became the starting middle linebacker, was an All-Rookie selection in ’77, and stayed with the Seahawks for five years. Pete Cronan was mostly used on special teams in his 3 ½ years in Seattle before moving on to Washington during the 1981 season. He played for the Redskins through ’85. Duke Fergerson caught 19 passes for 374 yards (19.7 avg.) and two touchdowns in 1977, but only 16 more over the course of the remaining three years of his NFL career. Geoff Reece, the young veteran obtained from the Rams, accomplished the least, appearing in just three games with Seattle in ’77.

The Seahawks improved to 5-9 in ’77 and posted their first winning record (9-7) in 1978. However, Tampa Bay beat them to the postseason, going all the way to the NFC Championship game in 1979 thanks to an outstanding defense and Ricky Bell’s 1263 rushing yards.

May 2, 2011

MVP Profile: Joe Theismann, 1982

Quarterback, Washington Redskins


Age: 33 (Sept. 9)
12th season in pro football, 9th in NFL & with Redskins
College: Notre Dame
Height: 6’0” Weight: 195

Prelude:
Runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1970, Theismann was a 4th-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in ’71 but signed with Toronto of the CFL instead. After three years in Canada, he joined the Redskins (who had traded for his draft rights) in 1974 but was stuck behind veterans Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgensen. Jurgensen retired following the ’74 season, and Kilmer in ’77, at which point the cocky quarterback got his chance to start full-time. He passed for over 2500 yards in each season from 1978 thru ’81, with a high of 3568 in 1981. Mobile and a fiery leader, he was well-established as the starting quarterback after four years.

1982 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 9 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 252 [12]
Most attempts, game – 39 at Philadelphia 9/12
Completions – 161 [8, tied with Scott Brunner]
Most completions, game – 28 at Philadelphia 9/12
Yards – 2033 [9]
Most yards, game – 382 at Philadelphia 9/12
Completion percentage – 63.9 [2, 1st in NFC]
Yards per attempt – 8.1 [4]
TD passes – 13 [8]
Most TD passes, game – 3 at Philadelphia 9/12, vs. St. Louis 1/2/83
Interceptions – 9 [16, tied with Ken Anderson, Vince Ferragamo & Scott Brunner]
Most interceptions, game – 4 vs. NY Giants 12/19
Passer rating – 91.3 [3, 1st in NFC]
300-yard passing games – 1
200-yard passing games – 5

Rushing
Attempts – 31
Most attempts, game - 7 (for 1 yd.) vs. Philadelphia 11/28
Yards – 150
Most yards, game – 58 yards (on 5 carries) at New Orleans 12/26
Yards per attempt – 4.8
TDs – 0

Postseason: 4 G
Pass attempts – 85
Most attempts, game - 23 vs. Minnesota, NFC Second Round playoff, vs. Miami, Super Bowl
Pass completions – 58
Most completions, game - 17 vs. Minnesota, NFC Second Round playoff
Passing yardage – 716
Most yards, game - 213 vs. Minnesota, NFC Second Round playoff
TD passes – 8
Most TD passes, game - 3 vs. Detroit, NFC First Round playoff
Interceptions – 3
Most interceptions, game - 2 vs. Miami, Super Bowl

Rushing attempts – 9
Most rushing attempts, game - 3 vs. Minnesota, NFC Second Round playoff, vs. Miami, Super Bowl
Rushing yards – 27
Most rushing yards, game - 20 vs. Miami, Super Bowl
Average gain rushing – 3.0
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Player of the Year: Bert Bell Award
2nd team All-NFL: UPI
1st team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Redskins went 8-1 in strike-shortened season and were top seed in the NFC playoff tournament that replaced the usual postseason format. Defeated the Detroit Lions in the First Round playoff (31-7), Minnesota Vikings in the Second Round playoff (21-7), Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship (31-17), and Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl (27-17).

Aftermath:
Following up the NFL title season, Theismann had a consensus MVP season in 1983 as the Redskins repeated as NFC champions, setting records for scoring along the way. Theismann had career highs in passing yards (3714) and TD passes (29), but the Redskins were upset by the Los Angeles Raiders in the Super Bowl. Theismann continued to start until suffering a career-ending broken leg in a Monday Night game against the Giants during the 1985 season. Overall, he threw for a career pro total of 31,299 yards (6093 in CFL, 25,206 in NFL) and 200 touchdowns (40 in CFL, 160 in NFL).

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]
[Updated 11/28/14]