A Brief History of: The Pro Football Hall of Fame

A Brief History of: The Pro Football Hall of Fame

The NFL originally awarded the Pro Football Hall of Fame site to Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Like the birthdates of blues legends, dates vary from the late 1940s to early 50s depending on the source; I personally lean toward the late 40s. Nobody, however, differs on the fact that Latrobe’s civic leaders sat on the idea. In the early 50s, Latrobe sportswriter Vince Quatrini wrote that the Hall of Fame idea barely progressed past the talking stage before dying out. Perhaps they’d read Grantland Rice’s column proclaiming a football hall of fame being too complicated. SOMETIMES YA GOTTA GO FOR IT Canton, Ohio, however, literally bought into the idea after an article ran in the local paper entitled, “Pro Football Needs a Hall of Fame and Logical Site is Here.” The story, published in 1959, stirred the owner of the Timken Company to pledge $250,000. Over $100,000 more was raised within a two-year period. Canton’s organizational efforts thrust them ahead of Latrobe […]

An Appreciation — Paul Hornung

(Painting by Robert Hurst) Stories of Paul Hornung’s lifestyle often overshadow those of his football career. Many question how he won the Heisman Trophy on a 2-8 Notre Dame team. One blogger even wrote an exhausting article questioning Hornung’s Hall of Fame credentials. The “Golden Boy” might not live up to the standards of bloggers who never saw him play, but Vince Lombardi and Hornung’s teammates declared him essential. COLLEGIATE CAREER Hornung grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Bear Bryant made a strong pitch for Paul to attend Kentucky, but Hornung’s Catholic upbringing gave Notre Dame the edge. Legendary coach Frank Leahy left after Hornung’s freshman year and Hornung never played for the coach who recruited him. The Irish finished with the worst record in school history Hornung’s senior year. Many games must have seemed like it was 11 on 1. “I played every down in college. I led Notre Dame in rushing, passing, punt returns, and kickoff returns. I kicked off and […]

Classic NFL Games — The Hail Mary Game — Second Half

I earlier covered the first half of the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff, a.k.a. the “Hail Mary Game.” This post covers the second half. I’ll write in present tense to give a sense of the game unfolding.  THIRD QUARTER Both defenses dominated the first half, ending 7-0 in Minnesota’s favor. The second half starts with Fran Tarkenton hitting running back Ed Marinaro for 40 yards, to the Dallas 35. This, however, isn’t Fran’s best game. He overthrows an open John Gilliam as the drive stalls. Fred Cox misses a 45-yard field goal by the size of the Gulf of Mexico — short, and very wide right. The Vikings topped every defensive category in 1975, holding 4 opponents to under 200 yards. Lucky bounces can crack such a defense. The Cowboys get one as Doug Sutherland hits Roger Staubach mid-throw. Carl Eller tips the pass, but the Cowboys make the catch at midfield. A late hit from Wally Hilgenberg adds 15 yards. […]

Classic NFL Games — The Hail Mary Game — First Half

Tom Landry had a knack for finding himself in some of the most memorable games in NFL history. The Ice Bowl. Super Bowls 10 and 13. He even was an assistant with the Giants in “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” the 1958 NFL Championship. The most controversial, however, was the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff. The reigning NFC champion Minnesota Vikings hosted wildcard contender Dallas in a game made famous by a 50-yard touchdown that Viking fans still protest. But the game was more than just one play. It was an exceptionally entertaining contest from start to finish. I will break up my review of this game in two posts, one for each half. The writing will be in present tense to provide a sense of how the game unfolded. FIRST QUARTER The Cowboys find success running the ball on the opening drive. The drive, however, stalls at midfield and the Vikings start at their own 20 after a touchback. The […]

An Appreciation: Al Wistert

Many football websites discuss deserving players left out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Al Wistert’s name often pops up in these conversations. Personally, I love the Hall and am not here to question their choices. I will, however, appreciate the career of a man named All-NFL for 8 seasons on both offense and defense. BORN TO PLAY  One might say Al was born to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was born on December 28, 1920, the exact same day as future teammate and Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren. Tragedy also coincidentally paired him with another future Hall of Fame teammate. Al’s father, a Chicago policeman, was shot and killed when Al was 6 years old. Pete Pihos’ father was also murdered while Pete was growing up. COLLEGIATE CARREER Al played his college ball at Michigan, but football wasn’t his reason for attending.  In fact, although Al played baseball and basketball in high school, he hadn’t played […]

This Might Surprise You: Steve Largent

Several players held the NFL’s all-time reception mark after 1970. Don Maynard, Charley Taylor, Charlie Joiner and Art Monk are among the names who claimed the title before Jerry Rice. Steve Largent is another receiver who held that distinction. OLD SCHOOL THINKING Largent played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks. He told Seahawks.com he appreciated his accomplishments on the gridiron, “But the thing I’m most proud of from my career in Seattle was that I played my entire career in Seattle….It gave me a special connection with the city and the people and the team that you just don’t find very often with professional athletes today.” IT ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED Largent made his way to the Seahawks by happenstance. The Houston Oilers drafted Largent in the fourth round of the 1976 NFL Draft. He didn’t impress the Oilers, and found himself on a bus headed home to Oklahoma after four preseason games. He thought his football career was over. Jerry Rhome, a […]

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