April 26, 2017

Highlighted Year: Mel Gray, 1987

Running Back/Kick Returner, New Orleans Saints


Age: 26
4th season in pro football, 2nd in NFL & with Saints
College: Purdue
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 166

Prelude:
As a Purdue running back Gray rushed for 1765 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for another 437 yards and a TD. Chosen by the Chicago Blitz in the seventh round of the 1984 USFL draft, Gray alternated with Kevin Nelson and Kevin Mack and ran for 625 yards on 133 attempts as a rookie (4.7 avg.),added 27 pass receptions for another 288 yards (10.7 avg.), and returned 20 kickoffs for a 16.6-yard average.   Gray scored the winning TD in the third overtime period in a playoff game against the Michigan Panthers and sufferered a broken arm on the play. He followed up with 526 rushing yards in 1985 along with 20 catches for 101 yards and an 18.5 average on 11 kickoff returns. With the demise of the USFL, where he compiled1151 yards on 258 carries (4.5 avg.), 389 yards on 47 pass receptions, and a 17.3-yard average on 31 kickoff returns, he moved on to the Saints, who chose him in the second round of the 1984 NFL supplemental draft.   Used almost exclusively as a kick returner, Gray averaged 27.9 yards on 31 kickoff returns in 1986 that included a touchdown.



1987 Season Summary
Appeared in 12 of 15 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 30 [6]
Yards – 636 [6]
Most yards, game – 108 (on 5 ret.) vs. Cleveland 9/13
Average per return – 21.2 [16]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 43 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 24 [11, tied with Scott Schwedes, Bobby Futrell & Kenny Johnson]
Yards – 352 [7]
Most yards, game – 130 (on 2 ret.) vs. Tampa Bay 12/6
Average per return – 14.7 [1]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 80 yards

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 6        
Yards – 30
Average gain – 5.0
TDs – 0

Rushing
Attempts – 8
Yards – 37
Average gain – 4.6
TDs – 1

Scoring
TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Wild Card playoff vs. Minnesota)
Kickoff returns – 1
Kickoff return yds. – 16
Kickoff return TDs – 0

Punt returns – 1
Punt return yds. – 0
Punt return TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: PFWA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: Pro Football Weekly

Saints went 12-3 to finish second in the NFC West in thestrike-shortened season (three games were played with replacement players) to finish second in the NFC West and qualified for the postseason as a wild card. Lost AFC Wild Card playoff to Minnesota Vikings (44-10).

Aftermath:
Gray spent one more season with New Orleans before signing with the Detroit Lions in 1989. He continued to excel as a kick returner leading the NFL with a 15.4-yard punt return average and 25.8-yard kickoff return average in1991 and a 28.4-yard kickoff return average in 1994. He moved on to the Houston Oilers in 1995 and split his last season in 1997 between the Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles.Overall in the NFL, Gray returned 421 kickoffs for an average of 24.3 yards with six touchdowns and 252 punts for a 10.9-yard average and another three TDs. He received consensus first-team All-NFL recognition three times, at least some All-NFL honors following five other seasons and was named to four 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

April 21, 2017

Highlighted Year: Stephen Gostkowski, 2008

Placekicker, New England Patriots





Age: 24
3rd season in pro football & with Patriots
College: Memphis
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 210

Prelude:
Gostkowski scored 367 points in college, including 70 field goals. He was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft and was successful on 20 of 26 field goal attempts as a rookie as well as 43 of 44 PATs. Gostkowski followed up with 27 field goalsand a league-record 74 PATs without a miss on the way to scoring 137 points for the high-scoring Patriots in 2007.


2008 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kicking
Field goals – 36 [1]
Most field goals, game – 4 at NY Jets 9/14, vs. Arizona 12/21
Field goal attempts – 40 [1, tied with David Akers]
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 at NY Jets 9/14, vs. Arizona 12/21
Field goal percentage – 90.0 [7]
PATs – 40 [11, tied with Rob Bironas, Ryan Longwell & Dan Carpenter]
PAT attempts – 40 [11, tied with four others]
Longest field goal – 50 yards at Seattle 12/7

Scoring
Field Goals – 36
PATs – 40
Points – 148 [1]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Patriots went 11-5 to finish second in the AFC East.  

Aftermath:
Gostkowski kicked 26 field goals in 2009 and was successful on just 10 of 13 attempts in a 2010 season in which he was sidelined for eight games by a thigh injury. He connected on 28 of 33 field goal tries in 2011 and was a perfect five-for-five in the postseason. Gostkowski once again led the NFL in scoring in 2012’13, ’14, and ’15, and also in field goals in 2013 with38 out of 41 attempts. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013, ’14 , and ’15, the same year in which he received consensus first-team All-NFL honors.In 11 seasons thus far through 2016, all with New England, Gostkowski has made good on 303 of 348 field goal attempts (87.1%) and has added 548 PATs for a total of 1457 points. In the postseason he has added another 31 field goals out of 33 attempts and including 67 PATs has scored another 160 points. Gostkowski has received consensus first-team All-NFL recognition once and has received at least some first-team honors following three other seasons. He has also been selected to four 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

April 17, 2017

Highlighted Year: Chris Doleman, 1989

Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings


Age: 28 (Oct. 16)
5th season in pro football & with Vikings
College: Pittsburgh
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 250

Prelude:
Doleman played as a linebacker and DE in college and was chosen by the Vikings in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. Initially utilized as an outside linebacker, he was shifted to defensive end in a 3-4 alignment, making the most of his strength and speed as a pass rusher. He registered 11 sacks in 1987, earning his first Pro Bowl berth. Foleman followed up with 8 sacks in ’88 and another Pro Bowl selection.



1989 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 21 [1]
Most sacks, game – 4 vs. Cincinnati 12/25
Multi-sack games – 7
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 5
Forced fumbles – 5
Tackles – 94

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Divisional playoff at San Francisco)
Sacks – 0
Interceptions – 0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Vikings went 10-6 to finish first in the NFC Central while leading the NFL in sacks (71) and fewest passing yards allowed (2501). Lost NFC Divisional playoff to San Francisco 49ers (41-13).

Aftermath:
Doleman dropped to 11 sacks in 1990 and 7 in 1991. He bounced back to 14.5 sacks in 1992. Following a 12.5-sack year in ’93 he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Unhappy in Atlanta, Doleman recorded 16 sacks in two seasons before moving on to the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 1996. He improved to 11 sacks and four forced fumbles in ’96 and followed up with 12 sacks in 1997 and 15 in 1998. Doleman returned to the Vikings in 1999, recording 8 sacks in his last season at age 38.Overall he was credited with 150.5 sacks, 96.5 which occurred while with Minnesota. Doleman was a consensus first-team All-NFL choice twice and was chosen to eight Pro Bowls. Doleman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2012.


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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

April 10, 2017

Highlighted Year: John Kidd, 1996

Punter, Miami Dolphins



Age: 35
13th season in pro football, 3rd with Dolphins (2nd complete)
College: Northwestern
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 214

Prelude:
Kidd averaged 41.8 yards on 262 punts in college with a high average of 45.3 as a junior in 1982. He was chosen by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 1984 NFL draft. As a rookie, Kidd averaged 42.0 yards on 88 punts. While averaging 41.5 yards on 92 punts  in 1985, his net average of 35.9 yards ranked second in the AFC and his 33 punts inside the 20 topped the NFL. Kidd’s performance dropped off in 1985 to a 40.4 average on 75 punts with a net average of 34.5. He ended up spending six years with the Bills in which he performed particularly well in bad weather. He left Buffalo after having averaged 40.5 yards on 446 punts. Kidd signed with San Diego in 1990. Following a solid first year with the Chargers in which he averaged 40.3 yards on 76 punts he struggled through an inconsistent 1991 season. Kidd missed two games with a back injury in ’92 and split 1994 with the Chargers and Dolphins. He had a fine season in 1995, averaging 42.7 yards on 57 punts.



1996 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Punting
Punts – 78 [9, tied with Sean Landeta & Todd Sauerbrun]
Most punts, game – 8 at Buffalo 10/13
Yards – 3611 [8]
Average – 46.3 [1]
Best average, game – 54.4 (on 5 punts) vs. Dallas 10/27
Punts blocked – 0
Longest punt – 63 yards

Rushing
Attempts – 1
Yards – 3
TDs – 0

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

Dolphins went 8-8 to finish fourth in the AFC East.

Aftermath:
Kidd spent an injury-plagued year with the Dolphins in 1997 and was cut during the 1998 preseason. He joined the Detroit Lions for two games and finished the year with the New York Jets. Overall, Kidd punted 957 times for an average of 41.5 yards with 201 punts for a 44.2-yard average occurring with Miami.1996 remained the only season in which he received honors for his performance.


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Highlighted Years features players who were 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

April 3, 2017

Highlighted Year: Mike Garrett, 1967

Halfback, Kansas City Chiefs


Age: 23
2nd season in pro football & with Chiefs
College: Southern California
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 200

Prelude:
A star halfback in college, Garrett rushed for 3221 yards including 1440 as a senior in 1965 when he was awarded the Heisman Trophy. He was chosen by the Chiefs in the 20th round of the 1966 AFL draft (the Los Angeles Rams selected him in the second round of the corresponding NFL draft).A collegiate baseball standout as well, Garrett also received a big offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates.The Chiefs won the bidding war. While there were doubts as to if Garrett had the size to succeed professionally, as a rookie he alternated with HB Bert Coan and with his speed and aggressiveness rushed for 801 yards as Kansas City went on to win the AFL title. He added 56 yards in the postseason, including the first Super Bowl.

1967 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 236 [2, tied with Hoyle Granger]
Most attempts, game – 26 (for 83 yds.) vs. San Diego 11/19
Yards – 1087 [3]
Most yards, game – 192 yards (on 23 carries) vs. NY Jets 11/5
Average gain – 4.6 [3]
TDs – 9 [2]
100-yard rushing games – 4

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 46 [8, tied with Eric Crabtree & Al Denson]
Most receptions, game – 6 (for 42 yds.) at Houston 9/9
Yards – 261
Most yards, game – 42 (on 6 catches) at Houston 9/9
Average gain – 5.7
TDs – 1

Passing
Attempts – 4
Completions – 1
Yards – 17
TD passes – 1 [13, tied with four others]
Interceptions – 0

Punt Returns
Returns – 4 [20, tied with Goldie Sellers & Jack Harper]
Yards – 22
Average per return – 5.5
TDs – 0
Longest return – 14 yards

All-Purpose yards – 1370 [6]

Scoring
TDs – 10 [4, tied with Don Maynard, Billy Cannon & Willie Frazier]
Points – 60 [12, tied with Billy Cannon & Willie Frazier]

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-AFL: AP, UPI, NEA, NY Daily News
1st team All-Western Division: Sporting News
AFL All-Star Game

Chiefs went 9-5 to finish second in the AFL Western Division.

Aftermath:
Slowed by injuries in 1968, Garrett’s rushing total dropped to 564 yards, although he also caught 33 passes for 359 yards (10.9 avg.). and totaled 6 TDs. He led the club with 732 rushing yards in 1969 and KC won the last AFL Championship and the Super Bowl. Garrett flirted with a switch to baseball and was dealt to the San Diego Chargers during the 1970 season. He remained with the Chargers through 1973 and ran for 1031 yards in 1972. Garrett compiled a total of 5481 yards on 1308 rushing attempts (4.2 avg.) with 3246 yards on 736 carries occurring while with the Chiefs. He also caught 238 passes for 2010 yards (8.4 avg.), 141 for 1231 yards while with KC. He scored a total of 49 TDs. Garrett received consensus first-team All-AFL recognition once, some second-team recognition after two other seasons, and was selected to two AFL All-Star games. He went on to earn a law degree and eventually served as athletic director at USC and California State-Fullerton.


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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

March 29, 2017

Highlighted Year: Dallas Clark, 2009

Tight End, Indianapolis Colts




Age: 30
7th season in pro football & with Colts
College: Iowa
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 252

Prelude:
Clark started out as a linebacker in college before shifting to tight end where he was a consensus first-team All-American in 2002 when he caught 43 passes for 742 yards (14.3 avg.). He was chosen by the Colts in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft (24th overall) and started ten games as a rookie where he typically lined up in a double-TE set along with veteran Marcus Pollard and ended up with 29 pass receptions for 340 yards (11.7 avg.) and a TD.. An excellent receiver after the catch Clark led the club by averaging 16.9 yards on his 25 catches for 423 yards in 2004. A solid fit in an excellent passing offense Clark added 37 receptions for 488 yards (13.2 avg.) and four TDs in 2005, 30 for 367 yards (12.2 avg.) in the 2006 season that concluded with a Super Bowl victory, 58 catches for 616 yards (10.6 avg.) and 11 touchdowns in ’07, and 77 receptions for 848 yards (11.0 avg.) and 6 TDs in 2008.



2009 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 100 [5, tied with Reggie Wayne]  
Most receptions, game – 14 (for 119 yds.) vs. Houston 11/8
Yards – 1106 [16]
Most yards, game – 183 (on 7 catches) at Miami 9/21
Average gain – 11.1
TDs – 10 [7, tied with Reggie Wayne & Brandon Marshall]
100-yard receiving games – 2

Rushing
Attempts – 2
Yards – 11
Average gain – 5.5
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 10 [19, tied with four others]
Points – 60

Postseason: 3 G
Pass receptions – 18
Most pass receptions, game – 7 vs. Baltimore, AFC Divisional playoff; vs. New Orleans, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards – 180
Most pass receiving yards, game – 86 vs. New Orleans, Super Bowl
Average yards per reception – 10.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 1

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
2nd team All-NFL: Pro Football Focus
Pro Bowl

Colts went 14-2 to finish first in the AFC  Northwhile leading the conference intouchdowns (53). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Baltimore Ravens (20-3), AFC Championship over New York Jets (30-17). Lost Super Bowl to New Orleans Saints (31-17).

Aftermath:
Clark followed up in 2010 with 37 catches for 347 yards (9.4 avg.) and three TDs in an injury plagued season when he was limited to six games. Following a 34-catch year in 2011, the Colts released Clark. He signed with Tampa Bay for 2012 and caught 47 passes for 435 yards (9.3 avg.) and four touchdowns.He moved on to the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, accumulating 31 receptions for 343 yards (11.1 avg.) and three TDs in his last year. For his career, Clark, caught 505 passes for 5665 yards (11.2 avg.) with 427 for 4887 yards occurring while with the Colts. He added another 64 receptions for 847 yards (13.2 avg.) and four TDs in the postseason, all with Indianapolis.


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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

March 25, 2017

Highlighted Year: Fred Cone, 1955

Fullback/Placekicker, Green Bay Packers


Age: 29
5th season in pro football & with Packers
College: Clemson
Height: 5’11” Weight: 200

Prelude:
Cone got a late start into college due to Army service during World War II. As the starting fullback, he led Clemson in rushing with 703 yards in 1948 and followed up with 845 yards in ’49. He was chosen by the Packers in the third round of the 1951 NFL draft. He handled kickoffs in college and took over placekicking duty with Green Bay. He connected on 5 of 7 field goal attempts as a rookie in 1951 and was 29 of 35 on PATs to go along with one rushing TD to end up with a total of50 points. As a rusher Cone gained 190 yards on 56 attempts (3.4 avg.) and he added another 315 yards on 28 pass receptions.He remained strictly a backup fullback  and gained 276 rushing yards in 1952 and 301 in ’53.As a kicker he was successful on just one attempt in 1952 while booting 32 PATs and in1953 hit on 5 of 16 field goal tries and added 27 extra points. His rushing total dropped to 18 yards on 15 carries in 1954 and he made good on 9 of 16 field goals as well as 27 extra points.


1955 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kicking
Field goals – 16 [1]
Most field goals, game – 3 vs. LA Rams 10/16
Field goal attempts – 24 [1, tied with Les Richter & Bert Rechichar]
Field goal percentage – 66.7 [2]
PATs – 30 [4, tied with Les Richter]
PAT attempts – 30 [6, tied with Gordie Soltau]
Longest field goal – 47 yards vs. Baltimore 10/8

Rushing
Attempts – 12
Yards – 25
Average gain – 2.1
TDs – 0

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 1        
Yards – 7
TDs – 0

Scoring
Field Goals – 16
PATs – 30
Points – 78 [4]

Packers went 6-6 to finish third in the NFL Western Conference.

Aftermath:
Cone spent one more year with the Packers in 1957 and connected on12 of 17 field goal attempts and all 26 of his PATs.He also rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Cone became a high school coach before signing with the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960.He kicked 6 field goals out of 13 attempts in his single season with Dallas as well as 21 PATs and was let go the following preseason. For his career with the Packers Cone ran for 1156 yards on 347 attempts (3.3 avg.) and caught 75 passes for another 852 yards. He made good on 53 of 89 field goal attempts and added 221 extra points which, along with 16 TDs, gave him a total of 455 points.  Cone was a 1974 inductee into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and also was inducted into the Clemson and South Carolina Athletic Halls of Fame.


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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