Legendary Insights — An Afternoon with Cotton Davidson

Legendary Insights — An Afternoon with Cotton Davidson

  Saturday December 6th was a great day for fans at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame’s Lone Star Tailgate preceding the Baylor/Kansas State game at nearby McLane Stadium. Besides hearing live music and downing tasty barbeque, fans were treated to an opportunity to meet Baylor and NFL legend Cotton Davidson. Cotton graciously greeted fans, including the rival Kansas State fans who sauntered in. He spun stories of his outstanding 12-year pro football career. Originally a first-round draft choice of the Baltimore Colts in 1954, Cotton lost his opportunity to be the Colts franchise quarterback before the 1955 season when the U.S. Army drafted him. Cotton claimed he didn’t do much in the service other than play football and baseball. While Cotton marshalled Uncle Sam’s football squads, the Colts signed Johnny Unitas. Before Cotton returned to the Colts, Unitas cemented himself as a NFL star. Can you imagine Andrew Luck or Johnny Manziel drafted into military duty while the Colts […]

Legendary Insights — An Evening with Doug English

An excited crowd of football fans congregated at BookPeople bookstore in Austin, Texas on November 13, 2014, celebrating the release of The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL, and relishing a chance to meet NFL All-Pro and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Doug English. English shared tremendous stories about his days at the University of Texas and his outstanding 10-year career with the Detroit Lions. Fans were given an opportunity to ask Doug questions, and a chance to purchase a copy of The Game before the Money autographed by English and author Jackson Michael (that’s me). COLLEGE CAREER English arrived at Texas in 1971, immediately after the Longhorns were voted national champions in back-to-back seasons. When asked what he learned from legendary Texas head coach Darrell Royal, English recalled a time that Royal pulled him aside to discuss Doug’s on-field personality. “Doug, you’re a nice guy,” Royal said. “You know what happens to […]

This Might Surprise You: What Was the World Like Last Time Your Team Won a Title? Part 2

This is part 2 in a series. Knowing how much I love history, my wife bought me a birthday card listing facts about the year I was born. I started wondering what was happening the last time certain teams won a championship. Let’s find out, and I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had researching. We started with the NFC East and NFC North Divisions. We cover the rest of the NFC here. Not too many championship rings in this bunch, San Francisco 49ers not withstanding. NFC SOUTH ATLANTA FLACONS – The Falcons franchise debuted in 1966, with first-overall draft pick Tommy Nobis from Texas leading the charge. The Falcons continue searching for their first championship nearly 50 years later. The team showed promise during the Steve Bartkowski and Alfred Jenkins years, but the Cowboys, Rams, and Vikings always proved better. Atlanta’s lone Super Bowl appearance was against the Broncos in Super Bowl 33 on January 31, […]

Legendary Insights — Carl Eller on Jim Marshall’s Wrong Way Run, 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago this week, on October 25, 1964, Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings pulled one of the NFL’s ultimate blunders. He recovered a fumble, rumbled downfield, and crossed the goal line – for a safety. Many remember the play a farce at Marshall’s expense. But how justified is the amusement? I discussed the play with Marshall’s Hall of Fame teammate, Carl Eller. I first, however, asked about a seldom known fact: Carl returned a fumble earlier that quarter for a touchdown. A surprised Eller said, “Most people remember the wrong way run by Jim Marshall during my rookie year, and a lot of people only remember that. What people don’t remember is that I returned a fumble for a touchdown right before that….John Brodie was the (49ers) quarterback. I think Jim (Marshall) hit him and the ball snapped out. I picked up the ball and ran for a 45-yard touchdown in Gale Sayers–like fashion. [Laughs.]” Eller then recalled the […]

THIS MIGHT SURPRISE YOU: WHAT WAS THE WORLD LIKE LAST TIME YOUR TEAM WON A TITLE?

This is the first in a four-part series. Knowing how much I love history, my wife bought me a birthday card listing facts about the year I was born. I started wondering what was happening the last time teams won a championship. Let’s find out, and I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had researching. We’ll start with the NFC East and NFC North Divisions. Some of the most decorated trophy rooms in football reside here, their championships might seem longer ago than one might think. As Bruce Springsteen says, “Glory Days – They’ll pass you by.”   NFC EAST DALLAS COWBOYS – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Company dominated, winning 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. For their last title, the Cowboys topped Carnell Lake (remember him?) and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 30.  That January of 1996. Bill Clinton’s first term in office. Hootie and the Blowfish had the number one […]

An Appreciation: Tom Landry

Phil Simms named his Top 5 Coaching Innovators during last week’s CBS Thursday Night Football broadcast. Being a Wisconsin native, I happily concurred with Vince Lombardi finishing number one. While I understand the difficulty of compiling such lists, the glaring omission of Tom Landry surprised me. To right that wrong in my little corner of the blogging universe, I humbly spotlight Coach Landry’s valuable contributions to the game. THE ROAD TO COACHING Landry attended the University of Texas. He played fullback and defensive back for the Longhorns. Like so many others playing college ball in the 1940s, World War II interrupted his NCAA career. He flew over two dozen difficult combat missions before returning home. Landry later stated that surviving the war built his confidence. He broke into professional football with the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference, playing one season with the team before the league folded. The New York Giants picked up Landry, employing him mostly […]

Discussing Concussions and Other Brain Injuries with NFL Players

The Game before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL introduced me to dozens of former NFL players. Many interviewed for the book, and I became acquainted with several others. Knowing that, people often ask me about concussions and the potential consequences of playing in the NFL. As stated in the book’s Afterword, the seriousness of some situations is quite real. Much of the book covers players’ golden moments, so I’m not claiming to be an expert. I have no medical experience, and I’m in no position to make claims or suggest solutions. My objective here is to discuss what I’ve personally seen and heard, and to inform readers about a couple of websites retired players frequent for information. This post isn’t meant to induce controversy. I discussed head injuries with several players. Buddy Lex, the man who set the NCAA single-season touchdown pass record in 1949, spoke about his college teammate Lou Creekmur in The Game before […]

Best I Remember — Gamers

What is a gamer? A guy who plays hard, every single down. A guy who gets back up when others would stay down. They are players you respect even though they play for the team you hate. Some are superstars. Some simply play several levels above their combine scores once the game starts. Earlier we discussed the 10 Best Running Backs I remember, and I explained how this category is completely subjective. These posts are in good fun, and based solely on my fading memory – not statistics. Perhaps I’ll forget the most obvious candidate, like when Cris Carter forgot to name Calvin Johnson in his top 5 current receivers on the Mike and Mike Show. I’ll take that risk, however, and hopefully we’ll all enjoy a few good football memories together. 10. Steve Tasker: The man who made the Pro Bowl 7 times as a special teams player. I don’t remember any player having such an impact on the other team’s starting […]

BACK TO TOP