As we resume with day three of the 2012 NFL Draft, it’s worth looking back on the humble beginnings of the event, to get some perspective on just how far things have come.
This awesome video of ESPN’s 1981 draft coverage does just that, showing us a loosely organized get together inside a hotel ballroom, struggling with technical difficulties … as opposed to the multi-million dollar Radio City Music Hall spectacle it is today.
Watch as Pete Rozelle kicks things off with the selection of George Rogers and Lawrence Taylor, while a young Dr. Z (SI’s Paul Zimmerman) provides the pre-Kiper-era draft analysis:
Watch Part 2 after the jump:
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrated his 60th birthday this week, but this photo from Belichick family archives shows the dark overlord of NFL coaches during gentler times, as a six-year-old child:
Basic math tells us the picture was taken in approximately 1958, and in it we find young William, pre-hoodie, sitting and smiling in the front of the stands at what was likely the U.S. Naval Acadamy, where his father was an assistant football coach.
If you look closely in his eyes, behind that innocent grin, you can tell little Bill is already putting together defensive schemes in his head.
Here’s a fun little trip down memory lane! Back in 1989, the Buddy Ryan-led Philadelphia Eagles played their rival Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, in a nationally televised game that would forever come to be known as the “Bounty Bowl“.
In it, Ryan was accused by Dallas head coach Jimmy Johnson of placing a $200 bounty on kicker Luis Zendejas, and a $500 bounty on quarterback Troy Aikman. On the Cowboys’ only kickoff of the game, which Philadelphia won 27-0, Eagles linebacker Jesse Small sprinted straight at Zendejas (who had previously played for Ryan and the Eagles) in an obvious attempt to take him out. Zendejas dove to avoid the hit, but took a knee to the head resulting in a concussion, and setting off a firestorm of controversy.
Despite Johnson’s attempts to challenge Ryan to a fight in an alley, it was all fun and games in the media as Johnson made fun of Ryan’s “big, fat rear end”, who in turn deflected the controversy by making light of his own weight. Ryan also claimed that Zendejas was the one trying to injure Smalls, and wondered aloud “Why would we want to knock out that kicker? He wasn’t making any kicks at the time. We wanted him out there.”
On Monday, Mike Golic – who played for the Eagles in both games - said on ESPN that “there were bounties in that game”. But at the time, commissioner Paul Tagliabue turned the other cheek and exonerated Ryan of any wrongdoing - a claim that Ryan still clings to this day - and pretty much everyone got a big kick out the idea of bounties in football. Two weeks later, the league even promoted the re-match for ratings as “Bounty Bowl II”, which was marketed by CBS with wanted signs and became memorable for the snow/ice balls lobbed onto the field (and at announcers) by the Philadelphia fans.
BOUNTY BOWL VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
The run that Eli Manning and the New York Giants put together this post-season was nothing short of remarkable, and after earning his second Super Bowl MVP, Manning has officially entered the pantheon of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks. For Giants fans, Manning’s success is vindication for the now-legendary 2004 draft day trade that brought Eli to New York instead of guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers … it’s like we’ve watched him grow up before our very eyes and finally become the franchise quarterback we always hoped he could be.
But even the most pro-Eli fans in the world would admit to periods of doubt while watching Manning struggle through his early growing pains. The most memorable example was after his fourth NFL start as a rookie against the fearsome Baltimore Ravens, when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed turned young Eli into a quivering mess on the field, going 4 of 18 for 27 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions: a 0.0 passer rating. Many people thought it would be the end of little brother, but he ended up bouncing back the following week in a showdown against Big Ben, earning is teammates respect, and leading the Giants on what would become the first of many 4th quarter comebacks in the final game of the season against Dallas. There was something about this kid, after all.
Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi – the man who pulled the trigger on that fateful draft day trade – saw something special in Eli all the way back in 2002, when he was just a junior at Ole Miss. That November, Accorsi went to Oxford, Missisippi to watch Manning take on Jason Campbell and the heavily favored Auburn Tigers … and what he saw on that day changed Giants franchise history forever.
From Accorsi’s summary:
Throws the ball, takes the hit, gets right back up… Has courage and poise. In my opinion, most of all, he has that quality you can’t define. Call it magic. As [former Baltimore Colts defensive back] Bobby Boyd told me once about Unitas, “Two things set him apart: his left testicle and his right testicle.”…
Read Accorsi’s entire scouting report from the game below, as re-printed from Tom Callahan’s book The GM: The Inside Story of a Dream Job and the Nightmares That Go With It.
With the benefit of hindsight, and after watching Eli pull out comeback after comeback for his team as a pro, Accorsi’s assessment of Manning from almost ten years ago is insanely accurate and prescient. The traits he identified during one college game – courage, poise, toughness and that indefinable “magic” – are exactly what have allowed Eli to succeed in the NFL, almost down to the play (like the streaking pass down the left sideline, dropped perfectly over the shoulder of his receiver … sound familiar?).
It’s a report that will go down in Giants lore as a treasured historical document, to be marveled at by generations of football fans to come. And it makes Accorsi look like a freakin’ genius.
READ THE FULL SCOUTING REPORT AFTER THE JUMP
Wow. I’ve been a Giants fan for as long as I can remember, but I don’t ever recall seeing this video before yesterday … and it’s absolutely, awesomely & hilariously awful.
Back in the ’80s – fresh on the heels of the Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle” sensation – getting sports teams to sing terrible songs and make even worse music videos became the cool thing to do. And during their own run toward Super Bowl XXI in 1986, some members of the New York Giants apparently couldn’t resist the seductive allure of the music biz either.
This video for the creatively titled “We’re the New York Giants” was shot in the old Giants Stadium on a budget of approximately $42, featuring a random collection of just eight Giants players with stars in their eyes, dancing (awkwardly) and lip synching in street clothes to a super-sweet electro/pop synth beat. And holding a deflated football.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
We pulled this video out of the archives to help get ourselves mentally prepared for today’s NFC Championship clash between the Giants and the 49ers.
Compiled in 2008 following their last Super Bowl run, this is by far the most comprehensive (and emotionally stirring) Giants highlights package we’ve ever seen. Featuring the highs and lows from New York’s storied franchise history – and with several classic moments from their rivalry with the Niners included – it is a must-watch for any fan of Big Blue.
Simply put, this is why I’m a fan of the New York Football Giants:
[Music – “This Is The Sea” by the Waterboys]
Sorry, but any objectivity we had been feigning until now goes right out the window today … GO GIANTS!!!
On Sunday, the 49ers and Giants will meet in the playoffs for an NFL record-tying EIGHTH time … with all of those match-ups coming since 1981. Along the way, the two NFC powerhouses have won a combined 8 Lombardi Trophies, and have given us a few of the more memorable games in playoff history.
In looking back at the rivalry, some of the more indelible playoff memories include Jim Burt blasting Joe Montana in New York’s 49-3 Divisional drubbing in 1986, Roger Craig inexplicably fumbling late in the 1990 NFC Championship game to set up Matt Bahr’s game-winner, and Trey Junkin (whose name alone has become a curse word in Giants fandom) botching the game-winning field goal snap in 2002′s Wild Card game to complete the second-biggest collapse in playoff history.
So before these proud franchises take the field to provide the latest chapter in their long-running saga, we thought it fitting to look back at two of their previous meetings to get ourselves in the proper frame of mind. Specifically, we bring you the highlights from the 2002 NFC Wild Card game and the 1990 NFC Championship.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
In preparation for tomorrow’s game featuring the same two teams, and just because it’s awesome, we bring you this classic 1990 defensive struggle between the 10-1 New York Giants and 10-1 San Francisco 49ers.
In it, we get a brilliant MNF broadcast with Michaels, Gifford and Dierdorf, featuring (among other greats) Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. And although the game didn’t see a lot of touchdowns, you’re watching one of the great offenses of its time squaring off against one of the best defenses in what would be a preview of that year’s NFC Championship game. It just works on so many levels.
So settle in and enjoy the full game … via YouTube user DaveMeggett, in all 13 glorious parts:
One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 NFL season thus far has been the emergence of the Cincinnati Bengals, who are off to a 5-2 start and riding a four game win streak, due largely to the play of rookie sensations AJ. Green and Andy Dalton. Together, the wide receiver taken with the #4 overall pick and the second-round quarterback (respectively) are off to the best start of any rookie WR-QB duo in recent memory, giving Bengals fans hope for the future like they haven’t felt in ages.
The New York Times‘ NFL Blog, The Fifth Down, has an excellent piece today on the historical significance of the Dalton-to-Green connection. Not since Jim Plunkett and Randy Vataha connected for 51 passes for 872 yards and 9 touchdowns as Patriots in 1971 have a rookie pair taken the league by storm in this fashion. The closest thing since was the Redskins’ Joe Theismann to Gary Clark (who caught 72 passes for 926 yards and 5 TDs as a rookie in 1985), but it’s become a rarer phenomenon in recent years.
Already through seven games this season, Green has caught 33 passes for 516 yards and 5 TDs. And they have nine more games to notch 5 more scores and become the first rookie QB-WR tandem to connect for 10 TDs in NFL history. Wow.
Fortunately for us, NFL Films had both players mic’d up during their Week 6 win over the Indianapolis Colts, for the always-awesome SoundFX program. Watching and listening to these guys play, it’s clear that Green still has some mental issues on the field, which are to be expected of a rookie, and he more than makes up for with sheer physical talent. But Dalton comes off like an old pro, directing traffic and displaying the leadership of a seasoned vet in the huddle, on the sidelines and with the coaches. And together, the two are developing a chemistry that should be exciting to watch for a long, long time.
Hell, it already is pretty exciting to watch, and we’re just getting started.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
Inspired by this recent New York Times piece, which examines the disappearance of neck rolls from the game of football, we decided to compile a list of the greatest neck rolls in NFL history.
The neck roll apparatus – which theoretically protects against injuries by helping to stabilize the neck – was a standard part of the uniform for anyone playing youth or high school football in the 80s or 90s. And although sports science seems to have proven neck rolls to be relatively useless as an injury prevention tool, they will always hold a warm place in our football memories.
From the Times piece:
It goes by names like cowboy collar and butterfly restrictor, can look like a cut-up life preserver, a miniature washboard or a tube of cookie dough and, depending on whom you ask, is incredibly effective or about as necessary as an appendix.
Much like Spandex did not, in fact, make everybody who wore it look thinner, neck rolls became another disappearing fad because they were probably more style than substance, said Stephen J. Straub, a professor of athletic training and sports medicine at Quinnipiac University.
Straub was involved in a 2003 study that examined three different types of neck rolls and ultimately concluded that “they’ve never been shown to be effective,” he said, adding: “In a lab, they seem to be able to control the head, at least a little bit. But no one has been able to show that on a football field.”
If nothing else, they at least helped make you look more intimidating on the field (well, except on Grogan, that is), and we’ll continue to hold out hope for a comeback as we pay tribute to the once-ubiquitous neck roll with the following glorious images.
TOP 10 NECK ROLLS IN NFL HISTORY
(If you think of any other players who donned a neck roll during their career and we may have omitted from our list, please let us know in the comments)
1. Steve Grogan – New England Patriots