Thinking Out Loud: Remembering NFL legend Frank Gifford

Thinking Out Loud: Remembering NFL legend Frank Gifford

The headline regarding Frank Gifford’s death shocked me. The family reported that he died suddenly from natural causes. I was privileged to meet and chat with him in January 2013, while working on The Game before Money. He just lit up talking about the old days. His youthful energy resurfaced remembering his playing days with Tom Landry, Andy Robustelli, and Harland Svare. His eyes gleamed with delight. His eyes really stood out. The televisions of the 1970s lacked the definition to convey the color. They were a light shade of blue I’ve never seen before or since. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t pay attention to the color of a man’s eyes. Only Gifford’s stood out that much that they were memorable. Iconic. Football changed dramatically from the time Gifford started playing in high school to the time he left Monday Night Football. Gifford told me that he expected to follow his father’s rugged footsteps into the […]

Classic NFL Games — 1962 NFL Championship — Second Half

This is part two in a two-part series, covering the second half of this classic contest. Part one, covering the first half, can be found here. The game summary is in present tense to hopefully give a feel for events unfolding in real time. The Packers lead 10-0 at halftime. The brutal weather conditions curtail the Giants prolific passing game. A potential 17-point lead looks insurmountable. Green Bay receives the second-half kickoff an opportunity to take that sizeable advantage. Tom Moore fields Don Chandler’s kick. Moore breaks down the sideline. He races all the way to the 50, but fumbles as he goes down. Ken Iman recovers for the Packers. Green Bay’s fortunate to recover all of their fumbles today. Jim Taylor is stuffed by Dick Modzelewski on first down. The Packers line up strong right on second, and Bart Starr completes a pass to Boyd Dowler at the Giant 41. On 3rd and 1, Tom Scott forces Taylor to fumble at the line of scrimmage. […]

Classic NFL Games — 1962 NFL Championship — First Half

In honor of the NFL playoffs and the recent passing of Allie Sherman, we examine an overlooked classic. This is part one of a two-part series. I’ll write the game’s action in present tense, hopefully giving a feel for the events unfolding live. The 1962 NFL Championship was a heavyweight showdown. The prizefighters were the Green Bay Packers, entering the game with a 13-1 record, and the 12-2 New York Giants who hadn’t lost since mid-October. Both head coaches – Allie Sherman and Vince Lombardi – had been assistants with the Giants under Jim Lee Howell. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season. Their last rendezvous was the 1961 NFL Championship at Lambeau Field, a 37-0 Packer victory. The Giants hungered to avenge the embarrassment. Fans also wanted revenge. A “Beat Green Bay! Beat Green Bay!” chant thundered from the stands, and one fan hoisted a “OK YA – Make Green Bay Pay” sign in the end zone seats at […]

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 […]

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