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

March 22, 2017

Highlighted Year: Ray Crockett, 1991

Cornerback, Detroit Lions




Age: 24
3rd season in pro football & with Lions
College: Baylor
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 181

Prelude:
Crockett played at cornerback and free safety in college and was chosen by the Broncos in the fourth round of the 1989 NFL draft. Despite lacking ideal speed he moved into the starting lineup during the 1990 season and improved over the course of the year. An excellent athlete who could be reckless, he had a breakout season for the much-improved Lions in ’91. 



1991 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Interceptions – 6 [2, tied with five others, 1st in NFC]
Most interceptions, game – 1 on six occasions
Int. return yards – 141 [3]
Most int. return yards, game – 96 (on 1 int.) vs. Dallas 10/27
Int. TDs – 1 [2, tied with many others]
Sacks – 1
Fumble recoveries – 0
Forced fumbles – 1
Tackles – 86

Scoring
TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 2 G
Interceptions – 0
TDs – 0

Lions went 12-4 to finish first in the NFC Central. Won NFC Divisional playoff over Dallas Cowboys (38-6). Lost NFC Championship to Washington Redskins (41-10).

Aftermath:
Crockett, playing with an injured ankle in 1992 followed up with four interceptions and 52 tackles. He spent one more season with Detroit before departing for Denver as a free agent in 1994. Crockett spent seven years with the Broncos and started at LCB in the 1997 and ’98 seasons when Denver won NFL titles.He finished up with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001 and ’02. Overall, Crockett intercepted 36 passes, 16 of them as a member of the Lions.He also was credited with 15.5 sacks.

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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 20, 2017

Highlighted Year: Elvis Dumervil, 2009

Linebacker, Denver Broncos





Age: 25
4th season in pro football & with Broncos
College: Louisville
Height: 5’11” Weight: 260

Prelude:
Dumervil was credited with 151 tackles in 44 college games as well as 32 sacks and was selected as Big East Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 when he recorded 20 sacks. He was chosen by the Broncos in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft with the anticipation that while lacking ideal height that  his speed would make him an effective situational pass rusher. Dumervil had 8.5 sacks in that role as a rookie. He moved into the starting lineup  in 2007  and accumulated 12.5 sacks and had four takeaways while encountering problems against the run. His sack total dropped to five in 2008 with 49 tackles.Dumervil was shifted to right outside linebacker with outstanding results in 2009.



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

Sacks – 17 [1]
Most sacks, game – 4 vs. Cleveland 9/20
Multi-sack games – 6
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 1
Forced fumbles – 4
Tackles – 42
Assists – 7

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

Broncos went 8-8 to finish second in the AFC West.

Aftermath:
Dumervil missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn pectoral muscle. He returned to defensive end in 2011 and regained Pro Bowl recognition with 9.5 sacks.He spent two more Pro Bowl years with Denver before signing with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 and returning to outside linebacker. He recorded 9.5 sacks in ’13 and 17 in 2014, when he was a consensus first-team All-NFL as well as Pro Bowl choice.Following lesser seasons in 2015 and ’16 Dumervil was released by the Ravens. Overall through 2016 he has been credited with 99 sacks and some 225 tackles with 63.5 sacks coming while with the Broncos. He has received first-team All-NFL honors twice and been selected to five 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

March 15, 2017

Highlighted Year: Bob Hayes, 1965

Split End, Dallas Cowboys





Age: 23 (Dec. 20)
1st season in pro football
College: Florida A & M
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 190

Prelude:
A world class sprinter, Hayes first achieved fame for setting a world record of 9.1 seconds in the 100-yard dash. He also set an Olympic record in winning the 100-meter dash in the 1964 Tokyo Games. He also won gold by anchoring the successful US effort in the 4X 100-meter relay. The recipient of a football scholarship to attend Florida A & M was chosen as a future pick by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL draft  (the Denver Broncos picked him in the 14th round of the corresponding AFL draft). While he was a raw talent who needed to develop technique to complement his great speed, “Bullet Bob” moved into the starting lineup as a rookie.


1965 Season Summary
Appeared in 13 of 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 46 [13]          
Most receptions, game – 8 (for 177 yds.) vs. Philadelphia 10/10
Yards – 1003 [4]
Most yards, game – 177 (on 8 catches) vs. Philadelphia 10/10
Average gain – 21.8 [3]
TDs – 12 [1, tied with Dave Parks]
100-yard receiving games – 4

Rushing
Attempts – 4
Yards – -8
Average gain – -2.0
TDs – 1

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 17
Yards – 450 [16]
Most yards, game – 128 (on 4 ret.) vs. San Francisco 11/7
Average per return – 26.5 [6]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 66 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 12 [15]
Yards – 153 [8]
Most yards, game – 47 (on 1 ret.) vs. Philadelphia 10/10
Average per return – 12.8
TDs – 0
Longest return – 47 yards

All-purpose yards – 1598 [4]

Scoring
TDs – 13 [3]
Points – 78 [11]

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFL: UPI
1st team All-Eastern Conference: Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Cowboys went 7-7 second in the NFL Eastern Conference (tied with the New York Giants.  

Aftermath:
Hayes followed up by catching 64 passes for 1232 yards (19.3 avg.) and a league-leading 13 TDs in 1966 and was again selected to the Pro Bowl as well as receiving first-team All-NFL recognition from the Pro FootballWriters, NEA and the Associated Press. He went on to spend ten seasons eith the Cowboys. In addition to being a productive receiver that opposing defenses had to account for, “Bullet Bob was also a fine kick returner who led the league with a 20.8 punt return average in 1968.Overall with Dallas Hayes had 365 pass receptions for 7295 yards (20.0 avg.) and 71 touchdowns. In addition he returned 104 punts for an 11.1-yard average and three TDs and 23 kickoffs with a 25.3-yard average.He caught another 31 passes for 492 yards (15.9 avg.) in 15 playoff games that included two touchdowns. Hayes was traded to San Francisco in 1975 but was released after catching just six passes for119 yards,thus ending his career. He received first or second team All-NFL honors after four seasons and was selected to three Pro Bowls. Hayes was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2009.


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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 7, 2017

Highlighted Year: Lou Groza, 1946

Tackle/Placekicker, Cleveland Browns



Age: 22
1st season in pro football
College: Ohio State
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 215

Prelude:
Groza saw little college action before going into the military during World War II, but Paul Brown signed him for the Browns of the new AAFC for 1946. In his first season, he was used primarily as a placekicker who backed up on the offensive line.
1946 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Kicking
Field goals – 13 [1]
Most field goals, game – 3 vs. Miami 9/6
Field goal attempts – 29 [1]
Field goal percentage – 44.8
PATs – 45 [1]
PAT attempts – 47 [1]
Longest field goal – 51 yards vs. Chicago 11/17

Scoring
Field Goals – 13
PATs – 45
Points – 84 [1]

Postseason: 1 G (AAFC Championship vs. New York)
Field goals – 0
Field goal attempts – 3
PATs – 2
PAT attempts – 2

Punts – 2
Yards – 80
Average – 40.0

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

Browns went 12-2 to finish first in the AAFC Western Divisionwhile leading the league in total yards (4244), touchdowns (55), and scoring (423 points). Won AAFC Championship over New York Yankees (14-9).

Aftermath:
Groza became a starting tackle during the1947 season and excelled there, if not as visibly as he did with his kicking. With Cleveland joining the NFL in 1950, he led the league in field goals (13) and field goal percentage (68.4), kicked the game-winning field goal in the NFL title game, and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first of six straight seasons. He again led the league in field goals in 1952 (19) and ’53 (23) and was successful on 88.5 % of his attempts in the latter year. Groza receivedleague MVP recognition from TheSporting News in 1954when he led the NFL with16 field goals out of 24 attempts for a league-leading 66.7 percentage and along with 37 extra points ranked third in scoring  with 85 points. The best placekicker of his era, “The Toe” also continued to be an outstanding tackle. He was again a consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in 1955, led the NFL in field goals in 1957 (15) and was named to the Pro Bowl in ’57, ’58, and ’59 for a total of 9 in all. 1959 marked his last season as a tackle and he retired for a year in 1960 due to a back injury. He returned as strictly a placekicking specialist in 1961 and led the league in field goal pct. that year (69.6) and again in 1963 (65.2). He finally retired for good following the 1967 season at age 43 and after a total of 21 years (four in the AAFC, 17 in the NFL). At the time, he was the NFL career leader in games played (216), scoring (1349 points), field goals (234), and extra points (641). Adding in his AAFC totals, he played in 268 games, scored 1608 points, and kicked 264 field goals and 810 extra points. The Browns retired his #76 (which he wore for the last 15 years of his long career) and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1974.

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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 2, 2017

Highlighted Year: Boomer Esiason, 1987

Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals



Age:  26
4th season in pro football & with Bengals
College: Maryland
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 220

Prelude:
Taken by the Bengals in the second round of the 1984 NFL draft, the left-handed Esiason replaced Ken Anderson as the starting quarterback in ’85. An accurate passer with a strong arm and good mobility, he led the league in TD percentage (6.3) in 1985 with 27 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’86 after passing for 3959 yards and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt as the Bengals improved to 10-6.

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

Passing
Attempts – 440 [3]
Most pass attempts, game – 53 vs. Pittsburgh 11/22
Completions – 240 [6]
Most pass completions, game – 30 vs. Pittsburgh 11/22
Yards – 3321 [2, 1st in AFC]
Most passing yards, game – 409 vs. Pittsburgh 11/22
Completion percentage – 54.5
Yards per attempt – 7.5 [10]
TD passes – 16 [11]
Most TD passes, game – 2 on six occasions
Interceptions – 19 [2, tied with Mark Malone]
Most interceptions, game – 3 vs. Pittsburgh 11/22
Passer rating – 73.1
400-yard passing games – 1
300-yard passing games – 5
200-yard passing games – 9

Rushing
Attempts – 52
Most attempts, game – 10 (for 5 yds.) vs. San Francisco 9/20, (for 77 yds.) at Atlanta 11/15
Yards – 241
Most yards, game – 77 yards (on 10 carries) at Atlanta 11/15
Yards per attempt – 4.6
TDs – 0

Punting
Punts – 2
Yards – 68
Average – 34.0
Punts blocked – 0

Bengals went 4-11 in the strike-shortened season (three games were played with replacement players) to finish fourth in the AFC Central.

Aftermath:
Esiason followed up with an MVP season in 1988as he led the league in passing with a 97.4 rating and Cincinnati won the AFC title. He had another Pro Bowl season in 1989, with nearly identical numbers to ’88, although the team’s record dropped to 8-8. After three disappointing seasons in 1990, ’91, and ’92, he was traded to the New York Jets and was selected to a fourth Pro Bowl in 1993, although his performance dropped off in the second half of the year. The next two years with the Jets, a team in flux, were mediocre and Esiason moved on to the Arizona Cardinals, where he threw for 522 yards in one game but otherwise had an inconsequential season. He returned to Cincinnati for one last, good year in a part-time role in 1997 (five starts, but a 106.9 passer rating with 13 TDs and just 2 INTs) before retiring to the broadcast booth. Overall, Esiason passed for 37,920 yards with 247 TDs against 184 interceptions.

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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

December 9, 2016

Highlighted Year: Beattie Feathers, 1934

Halfback/Defensive Back, Chicago Bears



Age: 25
1st season in pro football
College: Tennessee
Height: 5’10” Weight: 185

Prelude:
In college, Feathers starred as a halfback and punter, rushing for 1888 yards and scoring 32 touchdowns, and was a consensus first-team All-American selection in 1933. Both fast and elusive, he signed with the Bears in 1934 and had a sensational rookie season, benefiting from an outstanding supporting cast that notably included FB Bronko Nagurski, whose blocking often helped to spring Feathers on long gains.

1934 Season Summary
Appeared in 11 of 13 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 119 [9]
Yards – 1004 [1]
Yards per attempt – 8.4 [1]
TDs – 8 [1, tied with Dutch Clark]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 6
Yards – 174 [6]
Yards per catch – 29.0
TDs – 1 [14, tied with many others]

Passing
Attempts – 12
Completions – 4
Yards – 41
TD passes – 2 [6, tied with nine others]
Interceptions – 2

All-Purpose yards – 1178 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 9 [1]    
PATs – 1
Points – 55 [5]

Missed postseason game due to injury

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: League, UPI, Chicago Daily News, Collyers Eye, Green Bay Press-Gazette

Bears went 13-0 to finish first in the NFL Western Division while leading the league in total yards (3802), rushing yards (2847), touchdowns (37), and scoring (286 points). Lost NFL Championship to New York Giants (30-13).

Aftermath:
Feathers, who suffered a shoulder injury that affected the remainder of his career, never came close to duplicating the success of his rookie year. In his three remaining seasons with the Bears, he gained a total of 842 rushing yards. His best single season during that period came in 1936, when he totaled 350 yards on 97 carries (3.6 avg.) and scored two touchdowns. Feathers spent two years with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938 and ’39, running for 115 yards in a part-time role, and ended his career with Green Bay in 1940. Overall, Feathers rushed for 1980 yards on 378 attempts (5.2 avg.) and caught 15 passes for 243 yards, scoring a total of 17 touchdowns. He holds the distinction of being the NFL’s first thousand-yard rusher and his 1934 yardage total remained the league record until 1947. Feathers went on to become a college football head coach at Appalachian State and North Carolina State and was also a baseball coach at the collegiate level.

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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