August 24, 2016

Highlighted Year: Charlie Brown, 1983

Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins


Age: 25 (Oct. 29)
3rd season in pro football (2nd active) & with Redskins
College: South Carolina State
Height: 5’10” Weight: 179

Prelude:
An outstanding receiver on a run-oriented college team, Brown was chosen by the Redskins in the eighth round of the 1981 NFL draft but spent his first year on injured reserve due to a knee injury suffered in the third preseason game. He made an impact in the 1982 season opening game by scoring on a 78-yard touchdown catch, the first of eight TDs in the strike-shortened campaign that saw him pull in 32 receptions for 690 yards (21.6 avg.). Brown caught another 17 passes for 242 yards and two TDs in the postseason as the Redskins won the NFL Championship and he received second-team All-NFL recognition from the NEA and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He became part of a group of capable receivers known as “the Fun Bunch” that were a component of the NFL’s most potent offense.

1983 Season Summary
Appeared in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 78 [6, tied with Earnest Gray & Roy Green, 1st in NFC]           
Most receptions, game – 11 (for 180 yds.) vs. LA Raiders 10/2
Yards – 1225 [6]
Most yards, game – 180 (on 11 catches) vs. LA Raiders 10/2
Average gain – 15.7
TDs – 8 [7, tied with five others]
100-yard receiving games – 4

Rushing
Attempts – 4
Yards – 53
Average gain – 13.3
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 8
Points – 48

Postseason: 3 G
Pass receptions – 14
Most pass receptions, game – 6 vs. LA Rams, NFC Divisional playoff
Pass receiving yards – 401
Most pass receiving yards, game – 171 vs. LA Rams, NFC Divisional playoff
Average yards per reception – 28.6
Pass Receiving TDs – 1
100-yard receiving games – 2

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Redskins went 14-2 and finished first in the NFC East while leading the NFL in scoring (541 points) and touchdowns (63). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Los Angeles Rams (51-7) and NFC Championship over San Francisco 49ers (24-21). Lost Super Bowl to Los Angeles Raiders (38-9).

Aftermath:
Brown suffered through an injury-plagued season in 1984, catching just 18 passes for 200 yards (11.1 avg.), and was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Following a mediocre 24-catch season in ’85, Brown rebounded in 1986 with 63 pass receptions for 918 yards (14.6 avg.) and four touchdowns. It was his last hurrah as he caught just five more passes in 1986 and his NFL career came to an end with his release by the Colts in 1988. Brown played arena football in 1990 with the a Washington Commandos and caught 11 passes for 129 yards and two TDs. Overall in the NFL, Brown had 220 receptions for 3548 yards (16.1 avg.) and 25 touchdowns, with 128 of those catches for 2115 yards and 19 TDs coming with Washington. He added another 31 catches for 643 yards (20.7 avg.) and three TDs in eight postseason games. Brown received second-team All-NFL honors once, second-team All-NFC recognition twice, and was chosen to two Pro Bowls.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

August 22, 2016

Highlighted Year: Earl Campbell, 1981

Running Back, Houston Oilers


Age: 26
4th season in pro football & with Oilers
College: Texas
Height: 5’11” Weight: 237

Prelude:
Following an outstanding college career that was capped by rushing for 1744 yards and winning the Heisman Trophy, Campbell was the first overall pick by the Oilers in the 1978 NFL draft (Houston traded with Tampa Bay for the top choice). He moved directly into the starting lineup with outstanding results, leading the league in rushing (1450 yards), gaining consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, as well as Rookie of the Year and MVP recognition (Pro Football Writers, NEA). Campbell followed up in 1979 by again topping the NFL in rushing (1697 yards) and touchdowns (19) to again receive consensus MVP, first-team All-Pro, and Pro Bowl honors. It was more of the same in ’80 as the power-running Campbell rushed for a career-high 1934 yards that included a record four 200-yard performances.

1981 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 361 [2]
Most attempts, game – 39 (for 186 yds.) vs. Seattle 10/11
Yards – 1376 [5, tied with Ottis Anderson, 1st in AFC]
Most yards, game – 186 yards (on 39 carries) vs. Seattle 10/11
Average gain – 3.8
TDs – 10 [7, tied with William Andrews, Ron Springs & Billy Jackson]
100-yard rushing games – 3

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 36
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 25 yds.) vs. Atlanta 11/29
Yards – 156
Most yards, game – 40 (on 4 catches) vs. Oakland 11/8
Average gain – 4.3
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 10 [12, tied with five others]
Points – 60

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-AFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Oilers went 7-9 to finish third in the AFC Central.

Aftermath:
Campbell ran for 538 yards in the strike-shortened 1982 season, in which the team crashed to 1-8, and after one more 1000-yard rushing season in 1983 (1301 yards), his heavy workload and physically-punishing running style caused his performance to drop significantly. Campbell was traded to New Orleans during the ’84 season and he finished his career in 1985, rushing for 643 yards and a 4.1-yard average for the Saints. He retired with 9407 rushing yards, which ranked seventh in NFL history at the time, on 2187 carries and 81 touchdowns. Campbell received at least some MVP recognition and was a consensus first-team All-NFL selection three times and was named to four Pro Bowls. His #34 was retired by the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1991.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

August 20, 2016

Highlighted Year: Brian Griese, 2004

Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Age: 29
7th season in pro football, 1st with Buccaneers
College: Michigan
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 214

Prelude:
Griese, the son of Hall of Fame QB Bob Griese, was a successful walk-on in college who passed for 3663 yards and 27 touchdowns and capped his career at Michigan with a Rose Bowl victory. He was chosen by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 1998 NFL draft and spent his rookie year backing up QB John Elway. With Elway retired, Griese took over the starting job in 1999 and, hampered by injuries (a recurring theme), threw for 3032 yards and 14 TDs, with as many interceptions. While again plagued by injuries, he showed improvement in 2000, passing for 2688 yards and 19 touchdowns, with just four interceptions, and led the NFL with a 102.9 passer rating. He was chosen to the Pro Bowl but also needed shoulder surgery for the second straight year. Griese struggled with consistency in 2001 and his interception total rose to 19. A smart and accurate, if not strong-armed, passer at his best, his leadership skills and confidence came under question, particularly in clutch situations, and after another disappointing year in 2002 he was let go and moved on to the Miami Dolphins in ’03, where he started five games and was unimpressive. Griese joined the Buccaneers in 2004 as the third-string quarterback but, when QB Chris Simms went down with an injury, he took over the starting job and performed well.

2004 Season Summary
Appeared in 11 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 336
Most attempts, game – 50 at San Diego 12/12
Completions – 233
Most completions, game – 36 at San Diego 12/12
Yards – 2632
Most yards, game – 392 at San Diego 12/12
Completion percentage – 69.3 [1]
Yards per attempt – 7.8 [8]
TD passes – 20 [14, tied with Drew Bledsoe]
Most TD passes, game – 3 at San Diego 12/12, vs. Carolina 12/26
Interceptions – 12 [15, tied with Joey Harrington & Michael Vick]
Most interceptions, game – 3 at San Diego 12/12
Passer rating – 97.5 [6]
300-yard passing games – 3
200-yard passing games – 6

Rushing
Attempts – 30
Most attempts, game – 5 (for -2 yds.) at New Orleans 10/10
Yards – 17
Most yards, game – 9 yards (on 2 carries) at Carolina 11/28
Average gain – 0.6
TDs – 0

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 1
Yards – -4
TDs – 0

Buccaneers went 5-11 to finish fourth in the NFC South.

Aftermath:
Griese started six games in 2005, five of which the Bucs won, but a knee injury cut his season short and he was let go afterward. He moved on to the Bears as a backup in 2006 and saw considerable action in ’07 in place of starting QB Rex Grossman until he again was injured. Griese was traded back to Tampa Bay in 2008 and started five games in what was his last season. Overall, he passed for 19,440 yards and 119 touchdowns, with 4841 yards and 32 TDs coming with the Bucs. Griese was chosen to one Pro Bowl in a career that was marked by injuries and inconsistency.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

August 18, 2016

Highlighted Year: Matt Hasselbeck, 2005

Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks


Age: 30 (Sept. 25)
8th season in pro football (7th active), 5th with Seahawks
College: Boston College
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 223

Prelude:
The son of Don Hasselbeck, who played tight end in the NFL, Hasselbeck passed for 4548 yards and 22 touchdowns in college and was chosen by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL draft. He spent that year on the practice squad and then saw scant action behind QB Brett Favre in 1999 and 2000. Hasselbeck was traded to the Seahawks in 2001 and was mentored by veteran QB Trent Dilfer while also training under Head Coach Mike Holmgren, formerly of the Packers. With good size and arm strength, if not mobility, he developed into a Pro Bowl quarterback in 2003 when he threw for 3841 yards and 26 TDs and the team improved to 10-6 and reached the postseason. Hasselbeck followed up with a somewhat lesser year in 2004, passing for 3382 yards and 22 touchdowns while playing through injuries, but performed well down the stretch after an inconsistent start and earned a contract extension.

2005 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 449 [14]
Most attempts, game – 42 vs. Dallas 10/23
Completions – 294 [9, tied with Eli Manning]
Most completions, game – 27 at St. Louis 10/9
Yards – 3459 [10]
Most yards, game – 316 at St. Louis 10/9
Completion percentage – 65.5 [6]
Yards per attempt – 7.7 [4]
TD passes – 24 [4, tied with Jake Delhomme, Drew Brees & Eli Manning, 1st in NFC]
Most TD passes, game – 4 vs. San Francisco 12/11
Interceptions – 9
Most interceptions, game – 2 at Jacksonville 9/11, vs. Dallas 10/23, vs. St. Louis 11/13
Passer rating – 98.2 [4, 1st in NFC]
300-yard passing games – 1
200-yard passing games – 11

Rushing
Attempts – 36
Most attempts, game – 6 (for 7 yds.) at San Francisco 11/20
Yards – 124
Most yards, game – 40 yards (on 4 carries) vs. Houston 10/16
Average gain – 3.4
TDs – 1

Scoring
TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 3 G
Pass attempts – 103
Most pass attempts, game – 49 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
Pass completions – 62
Most pass completions, game – 26 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
Passing yardage – 707
Most passing yards, game – 273 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
TD passes – 4
Most TD passes, game – 2 vs. Carolina, NFC Championship
Interceptions – 1

Rushing attempts – 15
Most rushing attempts, game – 6 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – 83
Most rushing yards, game – 35 vs. Pittsburgh, Super Bowl
Average gain rushing – 5.5
Rushing TDs – 1

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFC: Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Seahawks went 13-3 to finish first in the NFC West while leading the NFL in touchdowns (57) and scoring (452 points) and the conference in total yards (5915). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Washington Redskins (20-10) & NFC Championship over Carolina Panthers (34-14). Lost Super Bowl to Pittsburgh Steelers (21-10).

Aftermath:
Hasselbeck suffered through a rough year in 2006, missing four games due to a knee injury. He bounced back in ’07 in achieving career highs with 562 pass attempts, 352 completions, 3966 yards, and 28 touchdowns and returned to the Pro Bowl. However, he appeared in only seven games in 2008 due to injury and endured lesser years in 2009 and ’10 before moving on to the Tennessee Titans and briefly resurrecting his career as he passed for 3571 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2011. Hasselbeck moved into a backup role in 2012 but started five games when second-year QB Jake Locker was injured. Released following the season, he signed with the Indianapolis Colts to provide a veteran backup to QB Andrew Luck and saw little action during the next two years until 2015, when Luck was injured and Hasselbeck started eight games, throwing for 1690 yards and 9 TDs in what proved to be his last season at age 40. Overall, Hasselbeck completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 36,638 yards and 212 touchdowns while giving up 153 interceptions. Of those totals, a team-record 29,434 yards along with 174 TDs and 128 interceptions came with the Seahawks. He added another 2741 yards and 18 touchdowns, with 9 interceptions, in 11 playoff games, all with Seattle. Hasselbeck was a first-team All-NFC selection once and was chosen to three Pro Bowls. His brother Tim also played quarterback in the NFL.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

August 16, 2016

1976: Cards Beat Chargers in Preseason Game in Tokyo


It was a National Football League first on August 16, 1976 when the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Cardinals met for a preseason game in Tokyo, Japan. While NFL contests had been played in Canada, never before had one occurred outside of North America.

The game was referred to as the Mainichi Star Bowl since it was jointly sponsored by the Mainichi Newspaper Company and the Sports Nippon Newspaper Company as part of the United States Bicentennial celebration.

There were 38,000 fans in attendance in a misty rain at the Korakuen Stadium, normally used for baseball. The crowd was mostly Japanese with some Americans for the Monday night contest and the atmosphere was festive. Fans were enthusiastic and occasionally engaged in chants during the contest, such as “Chargers, Chargers, Banzai! Banzai!” and “Cardinals, attack the ball!”

Many citizens of the city of Suwa in central Japan, which had engaged in several cultural exchanges with St. Louis, were at the game, led by Mayor Setsuji Iwamoto. Four firemen played Japanese army assault marches on their bugles while another citizen of the city banged on a drum.

“They are such nice people, and they respond very quickly to our action,” said Lori West, a University of Missouri student and cheerleader for the Cardinals.

As for the participants on the field, it was the third preseason game for each club. The Cardinals, coached by Don Coryell for the fourth year, were coming off of consecutive NFC East titles and had been 11-3 in 1975. San Diego was a less successful club under the direction of Head Coach Tommy Prothro and posted a 2-12 record the previous year, its sixth straight losing season. In a rebuilding mode, the Chargers hired Bill Walsh away from Cincinnati to be offensive coordinator and especially to provide guidance for young QB Dan Fouts.

Neither team generated much of a ground attack in the early going. In the first quarter, Jim Bakken kicked a 30-yard field goal for the Cards and, in the second quarter, St. Louis again moved into scoring position thanks to a nine-yard carry by HB Jerry Latin and a run by HB Wayne Morris that picked up five for a first down at the San Diego 15. From there, QB Bill Donckers threw a touchdown pass to WR Pat Tilley and Bakken converted to put the Cards up by 10-0. San Diego finally got on the board with four seconds left in the first half as Sergio Albert booted a 30-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, a bad punt by a heavily-rushed Terry Joyce of the Cards, kicking from his own end zone, gave the Chargers possession at the St. Louis 28. Dan Fouts tossed a four-yard completion to WR Charlie Joiner before throwing a 23-yard TD pass to WR Dwight McDonald and Albert added the extra point that tied the contest at 10-10.

The Cardinals came right back as Jim Hart went long to WR Ike Harris in a play that covered 52 yards for a touchdown. Bakken closed out the scoring with a 10-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and St. Louis won by a final tally of 20-10.

The game was pass-heavy, with the Cards running 41 times for 105 yards and San Diego gaining just 34 yards on 19 attempts. St. Louis had 20 first downs to 12 for the Chargers.

Bill Donckers and Jim Hart both threw 14 passes apiece for the Cardinals, with Donckers, the backup, completing 10 for 94 yards and a touchdown and Hart 9 for 111 yards and a TD. Neither was intercepted. Wayne Morris gained 49 yards on 14 carries and Pat Tilley caught 4 passes for 54 yards.

For the Chargers, Dan Fouts completed just 4 of 10 passes for 70 yards while backup Jesse Freitas was successful on 9 of 20 for 85 yards and was intercepted once. FB Jim Harrison had 28 yards on 6 carries to pace the club in rushing. Dwight McDonald caught two passes for 44 yards and a TD.

In the regular season, St. Louis put together a 10-4 record but just missed the playoffs this time, ending up third in the NFC East. The Chargers improved to 6-8 and third in the AFC West.

As a side note, Bill Walsh stayed for a year with the Chargers before departing for Stanford, and Dan Fouts, who showed much improvement under Walsh’s guidance, would go on to Hall of Fame success after Don Coryell left the Cards and came to San Diego to replace Tommy Prothro.

As for the NFL playing outside of North America, the next overseas preseason game occurred in London, UK in 1983, and London would become a regular host to preseason and, eventually, regular season contests. The NFL would also return to Tokyo, but not until 1989, and for preseason games only.

August 15, 2016

Highlighted Year: Mike Cofer, 1988

Placekicker, San Francisco 49ers


Age: 24
2nd season in pro football, 1st with 49ers
College: North Carolina State
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 190

Prelude:
In college, Cofer connected on 50 of 68 field goal attempts (73.5 %), topping the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1984 (18) and ’86 (13), and 97 of 108 PATs (89.8 %) for a total of 247 points. Undrafted in 1987, he signed with the Cleveland Browns and barely lost out to Jeff Jaeger in the preseason. He was a replacement player with New Orleans during the season and then signed with the 49ers in 1988 and won the placekicking job in the preseason, impressing with his leg strength.

1988 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kicking
Field goals – 27 [3, tied with Nick Lowery, 1st in NFC]
Most field goals, game – 3 at Phoenix 11/6, vs. New Orleans 12/11, vs. LA Rams 12/18
Field goal attempts – 38 [1]
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 at NY Giants 9/11, at Seattle 9/25, at Atlanta 12/4
Field goal percentage – 71.1 [17]
PATs – 40 [7, tied with Chip Lohmiller]
PAT attempts – 41 [7, tied with Chip Lohmiller]
Longest field goal – 52 yards vs. Washington 11/21

Scoring
Field Goals – 27
PATs – 40
Points – 121 [2, 1st in NFC]

Postseason: 3 G
Field goals – 2
Most field goals, game – 2 vs. Cincinnati, Super Bowl
Field goal attempts – 5
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 vs. Cincinnati, Super Bowl
PATs – 10
Most PATs, game – 4 vs. Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoff; at Chicago, NFC Championship
PAT attempts – 11
Longest field goal – 41 yards vs. Cincinnati, Super Bowl

49ers went 10-6 to finish first in the NFC West while leading the conference in rushing yards (2523) and total yards (5900). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Minnesota Vikings (34-9), NFC Championship over Chicago Bears (28-3) & Super Bowl over Cincinnati Bengals (20-16).  

Aftermath:
Cofer followed up by connecting on 29 of 36 field goal attempts (80.6 %), with just one miss inside of 40 yards, and adding 49 PATs to lead the NFL with 136 points in 1989. He received first-team All-NFL recognition from the Associated Press and Newspaper Enterprise Association. Cofer spent a total of six years with the 49ers, with declining reliability, until being let go after the 1993 season. He joined the Colts in ’95 and, while he had a 52-yard game-winning field goal against the Jets, Cofer still lacked consistency and was released, ending his career. Overall, he was successful on 133 of 201 field goal attempts (66.2 %), with 128 of 191 coming with the 49ers. Cofer also booted 303 extra points and scored a total of 702 points (296 PATs and 673 points with San Francisco). He received first-team All-NFL honors once.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

August 13, 2016

1954: Lions Dominate College All-Stars


The 21st College All-Star Game on August 13, 1954 featured a return appearance by the Detroit Lions, NFL Champions for the second consecutive year, who had won the previous installment in the annual series by a score of 24-10.

There was one twist in that, for the first time in ten years, the game utilized the single-platoon college rule with limited substitution, which was expected to benefit the collegians. With players going both ways, Head Coach Buddy Parker chose to sit QB Bobby Layne in favor of backup QB Tom Dublinski  (pictured above) and, for the most part, used second stringers at most positions, primarily utilizing a split-T offense.

The All-Stars were coached by Maryland’s Jim Tatum and the roster contained future pro stars that included QB Zeke Bratkowski from Georgia, HB Jerry Norton of SMU, Florida FB Rick Casares, and, from Maryland, tackle Stan Jones and HB Dick Nolan.

There were 93,470 fans in attendance on a pleasant Friday night at Soldier Field. The tone for the game was set on the first play from scrimmage following the opening kickoff when HB Johnny Lattner, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Notre Dame, fumbled and DT Thurman McGraw recovered for Detroit at the All-Star 27. The Lions came away with the game’s first points when Jim Martin kicked a 46-yard field goal.

Once again the Lions took advantage of a turnover when safety Jack Christiansen intercepted a Lattner pass to give the pro champs the ball at midfield. FB Lew Carpenter took off on a 20-yard run and this time Detroit reached the end zone on a four-yard carry by HB Doak Walker. Walker also booted the extra point to make it 10-0.

Before the opening period was completed the Lions drove 73 yards in 10 plays that included another big carry by Carpenter, this time of 21 yards down the sideline, and it was Carpenter running for a two-yard touchdown to finish the series off. Jug Girard kicked the point after.

Detroit took a 17-0 lead into the second quarter and the onslaught calmed down for a time. Late in the period, the All-Stars finally threatened when Carpenter fumbled and Texas DE Carleton Massey recovered, but after reaching the Detroit 10 they came up empty and the halftime score remained unchanged.

On the first play of the third quarter, the All-Stars got a break when Tom Dublinski fumbled as he was hit fading back to pass and MG Jerry Hilgenberg of Iowa recovered at the Detroit four. Two plays later, Lattner ran around right end for a touchdown. The try for extra point by Notre Dame’s Menil Mavraides was blocked, but the collegians were finally on the board.



The Lions put together a 68-yard possession later in the period. Dublinski completed passes to end Dorne Dibble of 20 and 17 yards and Carpenter (pictured at right) plowed over from the one for a TD and, with Martin’s kick, the pro champs were ahead by 24-6.

Detroit had the contest well in hand as it headed into the fourth quarter and scored once more when DE Jim Doran grabbed the ball on an attempted handoff by QB Jim Ninowski of Michigan State to Notre Dame FB Neil Worden and rumbled 34 yards for a touchdown. The Lions came away with an easy 31-6 win.

Detroit dominated in total yards (361 to 144) and first downs (20 to 11) and the All-Stars turned the ball over five times, to three suffered by the Lions. Both teams completed 11 passes, but Detroit went to the air ten fewer times (16 to 26) than the All-Stars, who utilized a total of five quarterbacks. Tom Dublinski was an efficient 10 of 15 for 103 yards in passing for Detroit.

Detroit’s win put the pro champions ahead by 13 to 6 in the series, with two ties, and was the fourth straight for the professionals. The Lions went on to reach the NFL Championship game for the third straight year in 1954, compiling a 9-2-1 record in topping the Western Conference, but this time lost badly to the Cleveland Browns.

Tom Dublinski returned to his backup role but did start four games during the season and passed for 1073 yards and eight touchdowns, while giving up seven interceptions, in his most productive year with the Lions. He jumped to Canada in 1955 and had a big statistical year with Toronto, throwing for 3561 yards and 30 TDs, although with 34 interceptions. Dublinski shifted back and forth between the US and Canada in a career that concluded in 1962.