June 30, 2010

1984: Express Defeat Panthers in 3rd Overtime Period

The United States Football League first round playoff matchup on June 30, 1984 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles featured two teams that completed the regular season with 10-8 records. The host Express, champions of the Pacific Division, were up against the Michigan Panthers, the defending league champions who had finished second in the Central Division and qualified for the postseason as a wild card entry.

The Panthers, under Head Coach Jim Stanley, had looked bound to win the title again as they broke out to a 6-0 start. However, the loss of key players to injury - in particular WR Anthony Carter, SS David Greenwood, and G Thom Dornbrook - caused the club to sputter. Michigan proceeded to lose four consecutive games, and seven of eight, before winning three of the last four contests to make it into the playoffs. QB Bobby Hebert, who had played so well as a rookie in ’83 in leading the team to the title, was still effective but was forced to play through injuries and clearly missed the presence of Carter as his primary receiver after the sixth game.

Los Angeles had started slowly at 2-5 under Head Coach John Hadl and had difficulty putting points on the board. However, the insertion of rookie Steve Young (pictured above) as the starting quarterback began to pay off in the second half of the season, and the team went 8-3 the rest of the way to win the league’s weakest division.

The Express had experienced difficulty in drawing fans, and even though it was a playoff game there were just 7964 in attendance at the huge Coliseum. LA scored first, keeping the ball on the ground for seven of ten plays in an opening drive that concluded with a five-yard touchdown run by RB Kevin Nelson, the club’s leading rusher during the season.

That was it until midway through the second quarter when the Express extended the lead to 10-0 thanks to a 32-yard field goal by Tony Zendejas. Michigan got on the board late in the period on a three-yard TD run by RB Cleo Miller and then scored quickly again after intercepting a Young pass that was followed by a 22-yard touchdown throw from Hebert to RB Ken Lacy. The Panthers took a 14-10 lead into halftime.

Zendejas narrowed the margin to 14-13 late in the third quarter with a 34-yard field goal. However, Hebert threw a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Mike Cobb in the fourth quarter to stake the Panthers to an eight-point lead.

With 8:57 left in regulation, LA took possession at its 20 yard line. On first down, Young looked set to pass but took off on a seven-yard run. He didn’t slide at the end of the play, attempting to pick up more yardage, and was hit hard by Michigan LB Kyle Borland. Appearing dazed by the hit, the rookie quarterback ignored a request by Coach Hadl to leave the game and trotted back to the huddle – an act that seemed to inspire the offense.

RB Mel Gray carried for six yards and a first down on the next play, and a screen pass to WR JoJo Townsell picked up nine more. The drive stalled on the Panthers 47, but on a fourth-and-one play Young ran for four yards before taking yet another hard hit, this time from FS Ron Osborne. He followed up with a 22-yard pass to TE Darren Long and then, on a third down play at the Michigan 12, took off on another run that ended just short of the goal line. From there, Nelson scored with just 52 seconds remaining. The Express went for the two-point conversion and Young ran it in to tie the contest at 21-21.

The game went into overtime, and for two periods neither team could break the deadlock. Michigan’s normally reliable placekicker, Novo Bojovic, who had been successful on 22 of 29 field goal attempts during the season, missed twice during OT – the first a near-miss from 37 yards out while the second, from 36 yards, was badly shanked. Hebert had been knocked out of the game after being blind-sided while sacked by DT Eddie Weaver and was replaced by backup Whit Taylor.

The Express offense couldn’t move during the first 30 minutes of overtime, but finally in the third OT period Young hit Townsell on two slant passes that totaled 47 yards and Gray ended the contest with a 24-yard burst for a touchdown. It was a painful end to the marathon game for Gray, who was hit hard as he reached the goal line and suffered a broken arm that had him lying on the field in pain rather than celebrating.

At 93 minutes and 33 seconds (the winning score came at 3:33 into the third overtime period), it had been the longest pro football game ever played, breaking the 82:40 mark of the 1971 NFL Divisional playoff between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. As John Hadl summed up afterward, “I’ve never been through anything like that in my life.”

Steve Young completed 23 of 44 passes for 295 yards with two interceptions, ran for 44 yards on 7 carries, and received praise for his gritty performance, particularly in the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. Mel Gray (pictured at right), who would go on to an outstanding NFL career as a kick returner, rushed for 124 yards on 31 carries including the game-winning TD. JoJo Townsell led the LA receivers with five catches for 96 yards; TE David Hersey also caught five passes, for 68 yards.

In defeat, Bobby Hebert completed 13 of 27 pass attempts for 201 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. RB John Williams gained 113 yards on 23 carries while Ken Lacy added 60 yards on five rushes. Lacy was co-leader in pass receiving with four catches for 57 yards and WR Derek Holloway had four receptions for a team-leading 67 yards.

Both teams topped 200 rushing yards, with Michigan outgaining the Express 236 to 217. The Express had the net passing yardage advantage at 285 to 245 and also led in time of possession, 51:59 to 41:34. The Panthers suffered four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) to LA’s three (two interceptions, one fumble). But the kicking game proved crucial, as Tony Zendejas was successful in both of his field goal attempts for the Express while Novo Bojovic missed all three of his attempted three-pointers for Michigan, including the two failures in overtime (Bojovic is pictured at bottom after one of the missed attempts).

The Express lost the Western Conference title game to the Arizona Wranglers the following week, 35-23. The marathon game proved to be the finale for the Michigan Panthers, although it wasn’t known at the time – the franchise was merged with the Oakland Invaders in 1985 and abandoned the Michigan home base and identity altogether.

June 27, 2010

List of the Day: Best Passing Yardage Seasons, USFL


Jim Kelly

TOP 10
1- Jim Kelly, 1984 Houston Gamblers
5219 yards, 370-587, 63.0 %, 44 TD, 26 INT

2- Jim Kelly, 1985 Houston Gamblers
4623 yards, 360-567, 63.5 %, 39 TD, 19 INT

3- John Reaves, 1985 Tampa Bay Bandits
4193 yards, 314-561, 56.0 %, 25 TD, 29 INT

4- John Reaves, 1984 Tampa Bay Bandits
4092 yards, 313-544, 57.5 %, 28 TD, 16 INT

5- Fred Besana, 1983 Oakland Invaders
3980 yards, 345-550, 62.7 %, 21 TD, 16 INT

6- Chuck Fusina, 1984 Philadelphia Stars
3837 yards, 302-465, 64.9 %, 31 TD, 9 INT

7- Bobby Hebert, 1985 Oakland Invaders
3811 yards, 244-456, 53.5 %, 30 TD, 19 INT

8- John Walton, 1983 Boston Breakers
3772 yards, 330-589, 56.0 %, 20 TD, 18 INT

9- Bobby Hebert, 1984 Michigan Panthers
3758 yards, 272-500, 54.4 %, 24 TD, 22 INT

10-Doug Williams, 1985 Arizona Outlaws
3673 yards, 271-509, 53.2 %, 21 TD, 17 INT

John Reaves

Fred Besana

Chuck Fusina

Arizona Wranglers: Greg Landry, 1984*
3534 yards, 283-449, 63.0 %, 26 TD, 15 INT

Birmingham Stallions: Cliff Stoudt, 1985
3358 yards, 266-444, 59.9 %, 34 TD, 19 INT

San Antonio Gunslingers: Rick Neuheisel, 1985**
3068 yards, 239-421, 56.8 %, 18 TD, 25 INT

Jacksonville Bulls: Ed Luther, 1985**
2792 yards, 240-400, 60.0 %, 15 TD, 21 INT

Washington/Orlando: Mike Hohensee, 1984
2766 yards, 231-401, 57.6 %, 17 TD, 20 INT

Denver Gold: Bob Gagliano, 1985
2695 yards, 205-358, 57.3 %, 13 TD, 17 INT

Chicago Blitz: Vince Evans, 1984*
2624 yards, 200-411, 48.7 %, 14 TD, 22 INT

New Jersey Generals: Brian Sipe, 1984
2540 yards, 192-324, 59.3 %, 17 TD, 15 INT

Pittsburgh Maulers: Glenn Carano, 1984***
2368 yards, 190-354, 53.7 %, 13 TD, 19 INT

Los Angeles Express: Steve Young, 1984
2361 yards, 179-310, 57.7 %, 10 TD, 9 INT

Memphis Showboats: Mike Kelley, 1985**
2186 yards, 165-260, 63.5 %, 9 TD, 14 INT

* Team played in 1983-84 only
** Team played in 1984-85 only
*** Team played in 1984 only

Bobby Hebert

John Walton

Doug Williams

June 26, 2010

1983: Bobby Hebert Tosses 5 TD Passes as Panthers Beat Blitz

After a slow start in the United States Football League’s first season, the Michigan Panthers caught fire. They were 1-4 by the fifth week, but proceeded to win six straight games and 9 of 11 prior to their June 26, 1983 showdown against the Chicago Blitz at Soldier Field.

The Panthers offense had prospered behind the play of two rookies, QB Bobby Hebert and WR Anthony Carter, and this game would be no different. Meanwhile the Blitz, coached by George Allen and heavy preseason favorites to dominate the USFL, were 11-5 and just a game ahead of Michigan in the Central Division. They had obtained veteran QB Bobby Scott from the New Jersey Generals after Greg Landry, the club’s original starter, went down with a broken ankle; after Landry’s replacement, Tim Koegel, also suffered an injury, Scott moved into the starting lineup the previous week in a 29-14 win over Birmingham.

On a 99-degree day before 25,041 fans, the Panthers took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a pass from Hebert to RB Ken Lacy that covered 39 yards. It was 14-0 in the second quarter after Hebert threw his second TD pass of the day, for 35 yards to Carter. The Blitz got on the board with a 34-yard field goal by Frank Corral, but Hebert threw a 42-yard TD pass to WR Derek Holloway and Michigan took a 21-3 lead into halftime.

Hebert hit Holloway for another touchdown, of 15 yards, in the third quarter. While the extra point failed, the lead of 27-3 seemed secure. Still, Chicago rallied for 16 straight points in the fourth quarter. RB Kevin Long ran for a four-yard TD, although the attempted two-point conversion afterward failed. But Corral kicked a 40-yard field goal and Scott threw a nine-yard scoring pass to WR Trumaine Johnson to pull within reach of the Panthers at 27-19. However, Hebert’s fifth touchdown pass of the day, covering 32 yards to Carter, sealed the 34-19 win for Michigan.

Bobby Hebert completed 13 of 20 passes for 265 yards and an interception. His five touchdown passes set a USFL record that was tied six times over the next two seasons but never exceeded. Anthony Carter had his best game as a pro to date, catching 8 passes for 143 yards including the two TDs. Ken Lacy led the club in rushing with 77 yards on 21 carries in addition to his lone pass reception, the 39-yard TD.

Bobby Scott did not do badly for the Blitz, completing 22 of 39 passes for 345 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Trumaine Johnson, the eventual league-leader in pass receiving, had 8 receptions for 138 yards and the one TD. However, the normally proficient running game was held to 98 yards, with Kevin Long accumulating 33 yards on 10 carries and Tim Spencer adding 29 yards, also on 10 attempts.

The Panthers sacked Scott six times (suffering just one of their own), with LB John Corker accounting for two on his way to a USFL-leading 28. Corker also had an interception.

The win put the Panthers in a three-way tie atop the Central Division with the Blitz and Tampa Bay Bandits. Ultimately, after the final week action, Michigan and Chicago ended up with 12-6 records; the Panthers won the division title on tiebreakers while the Blitz made it to the postseason as the wild card entry. Tampa Bay placed third with an 11-7 mark. Chicago lost to the Philadelphia Stars in the first round of the postseason. Michigan ultimately won the league championship, defeating the Stars, 24-22.

Bobby Hebert led the league in overall passing rank as well as touchdowns (27) and yards per attempt (7.9). His 3568 yards through the air ranked third. Anthony Carter placed well behind Trumaine Johnson in pass receptions, but had an outstanding first year with 60 catches for 1181 yards and 9 touchdowns. John Corker not only was an All-League selection, but the Defensive Player of the Year.

June 22, 2010

2002: Berlin Defeats Rhein for 2nd Consecutive NFL Europe Title

The Berlin Thunder, defending champions of NFL Europe, finished in second place with a 6-4 record in 2002. It was good enough to send them to World Bowl X against the Rhein Fire on June 22 at the Rheinstadion in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Fire had compiled a 7-3 record and had swept the season series against Berlin.

The Thunder was coached by Peter Vaas, who was in his third year with the club. QB Todd Husak led the league in passing yardage (2386) but also in interceptions (14). WR Dane Looker (pictured above), on loan from the NFL’s Rams, was the top receiver with 54 catches. RB Anthony White ranked fifth in rushing (525 yards) and third in pass receiving (38 catches). Center Ben Hamilton was an All-League performer on the offensive line, while LB Jude Waddy received recognition on defense.

Rhein was led by second-year Head Coach Pete Kuharchek and featured the third leading rusher in NFL Europe, Jamal Robertson (792 yards), who was also an All-NFL Europe selection. Other All-League players included G Al Jackson, OT Patrick Venzke, DT Brandon Miller, CB Earthwind Moreland, safety Deke Cooper, and linebackers Tim Johnson and Maugaula Tuitele.

The game, attended by 53,109 fans in what was the last event held at the 77-year-old Rheinstadion, got off to a bad start for the Fire as QB Tee Martin was intercepted by S Ontei Williams near midfield on the second play from scrimmage. The turnover resulted in a 47-yard field goal by Berlin’s Danny Boyd.

Rhein went three-and-out on its next possession and the Thunder responded with a 41-yard touchdown pass play from Husak to Looker for a 10-0 lead. Again, Martin was intercepted, this time by LB Keith Adams, who returned the pickoff to the Rhein 10 yard line. Berlin was unable to get into the end zone with three incomplete passes, and settled for a 27-yard field goal by Axel Kruse to extend the lead to 13-0.

The Fire’s offense came alive in the second quarter as Martin completed a 31-yard pass to WR Jimmy Robinson. However, the drive stalled at the Thunder 41 and a faked punt on fourth-and-eleven, in which TE/QB Darnell Dinkins took off with the snap, came up a yard short. Later in the period Rhein again tried a fake punt, this time with punter Dirk Johnson running the ball. Again, they came up short, and in this instance Berlin capitalized with a 15-yard Husak TD pass to Looker in the corner of the end zone.

Martin drove Rhein down the field near the end of the half, completing five passes for 39 yards to move into field goal range at the Berlin 18. However, the 35-yard attempt by Jason Witczak was blocked and the score stood at 20-0 at halftime.

Rhein got an early break in the third quarter when CB Earthwind Moreland intercepted a pass by Husak near midfield, but the Fire was unable to capitalize, going three-and-out and punting. On the next possession, however, Rhein’s offense was able to move the ball as Martin hit Robinson on passes of 9 and 26 yards, setting up their first score of the game on a six-yard touchdown run by RB Tony Taylor.

Berlin responded with a 45-yard field goal for a 23-7 lead, but the Fire again came back strong as the game moved into the fourth quarter. Martin completed eight passes (four of them to Robinson) on a 65-yard scoring drive that was capped by a two-yard TD throw to WR Scott Cloman. The try for a two point conversion failed.

The Thunder scored once more on a drive that featured a 16-yard pass from Husak to Looker and a 15-yard penalty on Rhein’s Brandon Miller for a late hit. Boyd kicked his third field goal of the game from 38 yards to extend the margin to 26-13.

Jamal Robertson returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to give the Fire good field position, but a drive that took them deep into Berlin territory came to an end when a nine-yard run by Martin on fourth down came up a yard short. Still, Rhein got the ball back and scored on a one-yard run by Martin with 20 seconds left to play.

Deke Cooper recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Fire at the Thunder 40 yard line, but there was no miracle finish. Martin was sacked by Berlin DT Cleveland Pinckney and then threw one last desperation pass that fell incomplete. By a score of 26-20, the Thunder became the only team to win consecutive NFL Europe titles.

Dane Looker caught 11 passes for 111 yards and two TDs and was the game’s MVP. He went on to play seven seasons with the Rams, catching 112 passes. Todd Husak (pictured above left), who had led Stanford to the Rose Bowl, and Tee Martin (pictured at right), whose two years as starting quarterback at Tennessee (following Peyton Manning) included a national championship season in 1998, never saw more than limited backup duty in the NFL (Martin also played in the CFL).

June 20, 2010

List of the Day: Best Rushing Seasons, USFL


Herschel Walker

TOP 10
1- Herschel Walker, 1985 New Jersey Generals
2411 yards, 438 att., 5.5 avg., 21 TD

2- Herschel Walker, 1983 New Jersey Generals
1812 yards, 412 att., 4.4 avg., 17 TD

3- Joe Cribbs, 1984 Birmingham Stallions
1467 yards, 297 att., 4.9 avg., 8 TD

4- Kelvin Bryant, 1983 Philadelphia Stars
1442 yards, 318 att., 4.5 avg., 16 TD

5- Kelvin Bryant, 1984 Philadelphia Stars
1406 yards, 297 att., 4.7 avg., 13 TD

6- Mike Rozier, 1985 Jacksonville Bulls
1361 yards, 320 att., 4.3 avg., 12 TD

7- Herschel Walker, 1984 New Jersey Generals
1339 yards, 293 att., 4.6 avg., 16 TD

8- Buford Jordan, 1984 New Orleans Breakers
1276 yards, 214 att., 6.0 avg., 8 TD

9- Bill Johnson, 1985 Denver Gold
1261 yards, 212 att., 5.9 avg., 15 TD

10-Tim Spencer, 1984 Arizona Wranglers
1212 yards, 227 att., 5.3 avg., 17 TD

Joe Cribbs

Kelvin Bryant

Mike Rozier

Tampa Bay Bandits: Gary Anderson, 1985
1207 yards, 276 att., 4.4 avg., 16 TD

Michigan Panthers: Ken Lacy, 1983*
1180 yards, 232 att., 5.1 avg., 6 TD

Chicago Blitz: Tim Spencer, 1983*
1157 yards, 300 att., 3.9 avg., 6 TD

Washington/Orlando: Curtis Bledsoe, 1984
1080 yards, 246 att., 4.4 avg., 7 TD

Oakland Invaders: Arthur Whittington, 1983
1043 yards, 282 att., 3.7 avg., 6 TD

Okla./Arizona Outlaws: Reggie Brown, 1985**
1031 yards, 229 att., 4.5 avg., 12 TD

Houston Gamblers: Todd Fowler, 1984**
1003 yards, 170 att., 5.9 avg., 11 TD

Los Angeles Express: Kevin Nelson, 1984
828 yards, 216 att., 3.8 avg., 7 TD

Pittsburgh Maulers: Mike Rozier, 1984***
792 yards, 223 att., 3.6 avg., 3 TD

Memphis Showboats: Tim Spencer, 1985**
789 yards, 198 att., 4.0 avg., 3 TD

San Antonio Gunslingers: George Works, 1985**
542 yards, 93 att., 4.9 avg., 1 TD

* Team played in 1983-84 only
** Team played in 1984-85 only
*** Team played in 1984 only

Buford Jordan

Bill Johnson

Tim Spencer

June 19, 2010

1943: NFL Approves Merger of Eagles & Steelers for ’43 Season

By 1943, with World War II raging, American professional sports were suffering an acute manpower shortage. Major league baseball, with the active encouragement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, continued play while most of the best players went into the military. The NFL also stayed in operation, but by February 1943 a total of 330 players were serving in the armed forces. Teams made do with players who had medical deferments, and several retired players, such as Bronko Nagurski of the Bears, returned to action.

The NFL briefly considered canceling the 1943 season, due not only to the lack of players but wartime travel restrictions. However, the owners voted to continue although the Cleveland Rams received permission to suspend operations for one year. On June 19 they also gave approval to the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers to merge for the ’43 season. At the same league meeting, roster sizes were slashed from 33 to 25 (they would eventually rise to 28).

Officially, the name of the combined team was the Phil-Pitt Eagles-Steelers, or Phil-Pitt Combine, but it didn’t take long for them to be dubbed the “Steagles”. The club wore Eagles uniforms but split home games between Shibe Park in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. They also split the head coaching duties between Earle “Greasy” Neale of the Eagles and Walt Kiesling of the Steelers. Players were required to work 40 hours a week in defense plants, with practices held in the evenings.

The outlook didn’t appear promising, even with the pooling of two rosters. The Eagles had never had a winning season and finished with a 2-9 record in 1942. Pittsburgh hadn’t done much better, achieving the first season over .500 in franchise history in ’42 with a 7-4 tally (both franchises had joined the NFL in 1933). As star tackle Al Wistert put it, “It sounds like we had a big advantage, putting two teams together as one. But all it meant was we had twice as many lousy players.”

The situation wasn’t helped by the friction that existed between the co-coaches, Neale and Kiesling. The two had distinctly different personalities as well as coaching philosophies. As Wistert said later, “Greasy Neale was very self-confident, very sure of himself. Wherever he went, he was the boss. Greasy was so domineering that Kiesling had to take a back seat.”

Surprisingly, the team did well on the field. They won their first two games, including a 28-14 upset of the Giants that was accomplished despite fumbling a record 10 times during the course of the contest. Going into the last game of the season, the “Steagles” had a chance to end up in a three-way tie atop the Eastern Division with the Giants and Redskins. However, they lost to Green Bay and ended up at 5-4-1 (the Redskins and Giants tied for first at 6-3-1, necessitating a playoff that was won by Washington).

34-year-old end Bill Hewitt, destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and retired since 1939, joined the club. He had been the last NFL player to play without a helmet during the ‘30s, but the league forced him to wear one during his comeback season, much to his annoyance.

Hewitt was far from the biggest contributer to the club’s performance, however. HB Jack Hinkle (pictured at left) rushed for 571 yards on 116 carries (4.9 average) to finish second among NFL rushers, just a yard behind Bill Paschal of the Giants. The “Steagles” overall led the league in rushing (1730 yards and 18 TDs) and also had the best run defense.

QB Roy Zimmerman led the offense, backed up by Allie Sherman, a future head coach of the Giants. End Tony Bova led the team with 17 pass receptions for 419 yards, averaging a league-leading 24.6 yards-per-catch. Rookies Wistert, who had been declared unfit for military service due to a bone disease, and guard Frank “Bucko” Kilroy both showed promise on the line.

The merger arrangement ended at the conclusion of the season. The Steelers combined with the Chicago Cardinals in 1944 and suffered through a miserable 0-10 campaign (they were derisively referred to as the “Carpets”). Philadelphia continued its steady progress under Neale, going 7-1-2 in 1944 and ultimately achieving back-to-back NFL titles in 1948 and ’49. A number of the players who played for the “Steagles” in 1943 contributed to those championship clubs, including Wistert, Kilroy, tackle Vic Sears, HB Ernie Steele, and FB Ben Kish.

June 17, 2010

List of the Day: Best Pass Receiving Seasons, 1980s AFC

Todd Christensen

1- Todd Christensen, 1986 Los Angeles Raiders
95 rec., 1153 yards, 12.1 avg., 8 TD

2- Al Toon, 1988 New York Jets
93 rec., 1067 yards, 11.5 avg., 5 TD

3- Todd Christensen, 1983 Los Angeles Raiders
92 rec., 1247 yards, 13.6 avg., 12 TD

4(tied)- Kellen Winslow, 1980 San Diego Chargers
89 rec., 1290 yards, 14.5 avg., 9 TD

4(tied)- Ozzie Newsome, 1983 Cleveland Browns
89 rec., 970 yards, 10.9 avg., 6 TD

4(tied)- Ozzie Newsome, 1984 Cleveland Browns
89 rec., 1001 yards, 11.2 avg., 5 TD

7(tied)- Kellen Winslow, 1981 San Diego Chargers
88 rec., 1075 yards, 12.2 avg., 10 TD

7(tied)- Kellen Winslow, 1983 San Diego Chargers
88 rec., 1172 yards, 13.3 avg., 8 TD

7(tied)- Andre Reed, 1989 Buffalo Bills
88 rec., 1312 yards, 14.9 avg., 9 TD

10(tied)-Lionel James, 1985 San Diego Chargers*
86 rec., 1027 yards, 11.9 avg., 6 TD

10(tied)-Mark Clayton, 1988 Miami Dolphins
86 rec., 1129 yards, 13.1 avg., 14 TD

*Running Back

Al Toon

Kellen Winslow

New England Patriots: Stanley Morgan, 1986
84 rec., 1491 yards, 17.8 avg., 10 TD

Houston Oilers: Tim Smith, 1983
83 rec., 1176 yards, 14.2 avg., 6 TD

Pittsburgh Steelers: John Stallworth, 1984
80 rec., 1395 yards, 17.4 avg., 11 TD

Kansas City Chiefs: Carlos Carson, 1983
80 rec., 1351 yards, 16.9 avg., 7 TD

Seattle Seahawks: Steve Largent, 1985
79 rec., 1287 yards, 16.3 avg., 6 TD

Denver Broncos: Vance Johnson, 1989
76 rec., 1095 yards, 14.4 avg., 7 TD

Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Matt Bouza, 1986
71 rec., 830 yards, 11.7 avg., 5 TD

Cincinnati Bengals: Dan Ross, 1981
71 rec., 910 yards, 12.8 avg., 5 TD

Ozzie Newsome

Stanley Morgan

1- Stanley Morgan, 1986 New England Patriots
1491 yards, 84 rec., 17.8 avg., 10 TD

2- John Stallworth, 1984 Pittsburgh Steelers
1395 yards, 80 rec., 17.4 avg., 11 TD

3- Mark Clayton, 1984 Miami Dolphins
1389 yards, 73 rec., 19.0 avg., 18 TD

4- Carlos Carson, 1983 Kansas City Chiefs
1351 yards, 80 rec., 16.9 avg., 7 TD

5- John Jefferson, 1980 San Diego Chargers
1340 yards, 82 rec., 16.3 avg., 13 TD

6- Mark Duper, 1986 Miami Dolphins
1313 yards, 67 rec., 19.6 avg., 11 TD

7- Andre Reed, 1989 Buffalo Bills
1312 yards, 88 rec., 14.9 avg., 9 TD

8- Mark Duper, 1984 Miami Dolphins
1306 yards, 71 rec., 18.4 avg., 8 TD

9- Kellen Winslow, 1980 San Diego Chargers
1290 yards, 89 rec., 14.5 avg., 9 TD

10-Steve Largent, 1985 Seattle Seahawks
1287 yards, 79 rec., 16.3 avg., 6 TD

John Stallworth

Mark Clayton

Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Brown, 1988
1273 yards, 53 rec., 24.0 avg., 9 TD

Oakland/LA Raiders: Todd Christensen, 1983
1247 yards, 92 rec., 13.6 avg., 12 TD

Denver Broncos: Steve Watson, 1981
1244 yards, 60 rec., 20.7 avg., 13 TD

Cleveland Browns: Webster Slaughter, 1989
1236 yards, 65 rec., 19.0 avg., 6 TD

New York Jets: Al Toon, 1986
1176 yards, 85 rec., 13.8 avg., 8 TD

Houston Oilers: Tim Smith, 1983
1176 yards, 83 rec., 14.2 avg., 6 TD

Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Bill Brooks, 1986
1131 yards, 65 rec., 17.4 avg., 8 TD

Andre Reed

Mark Duper

June 16, 2010

List of the Day: Best Pass Receiving Seasons, 1980s NFC

Art Monk

1- Art Monk, 1984 Washington Redskins
106 rec., 1372 yards, 12.9 avg., 7 TD

2- Roger Craig, 1985 San Francisco 49ers*
92 rec., 1016 yards, 11.0 avg., 6 TD

3(tied)- Art Monk, 1985 Washington Redskins
91 rec., 1226 yards, 13.5 avg., 2 TD

3(tied)- J.T. Smith, 1987 St. Louis Cardinals
91 rec., 1117 yards, 12.3 avg., 8 TD

5- Sterling Sharpe, 1989 Green Bay Packers
90 rec., 1423 yards, 15.8 avg., 12 TD

6(tied)- Jerry Rice, 1986 San Francisco 49ers
86 rec., 1570 yards, 18.3 avg., 15 TD

6(tied)- Henry Ellard, 1988 Los Angeles Rams
86 rec., 1414 yards, 16.4 avg., 10 TD

6(tied)- Mark Carrier, 1989 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
86 rec., 1422 yards, 16.5 avg., 9 TD

6(tied)- Art Monk, 1989 Washington Redskins
86 rec., 1186 yards, 13.8 avg., 8 TD

10(tied)-Dwight Clark, 1981 San Francisco 49ers
85 rec., 1105 yards, 13.0 avg., 4 TD

10(tied)-James Wilder, 1984 Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
85 rec., 685 yards, 8.1 avg., 0 TD

10(tied)-Eric Martin, 1988 New Orleans Saints
85 rec., 1083 yards, 12.7 avg., 7 TD

*Running Back

J.T. Smith

Sterling Sharpe

Minnesota Vikings: Ted Brown, 1981*
83 rec., 694 yards, 8.4 avg., 2 TD

Philadelphia Eagles: Keith Jackson, 1988
81 rec., 869 yards, 10.7 avg., 6 TD

Atlanta Falcons: William Andrews, 1981*
81 rec., 735 yards, 9.1 avg., 2 TD

New York Giants: Earnest Gray, 1983
78 rec., 1139 yards, 14.6 avg., 5 TD

Detroit Lions: James Jones, 1984*
77 rec., 662 yards, 8.6 avg., 5 TD

Dallas Cowboys: Herschel Walker, 1986*
76 rec., 837 yards, 11.0 avg., 2 TD

Chicago Bears: Walter Payton, 1983*
53 rec., 607 yards, 11.5 avg., 2 TD

*Running Back

Jerry Rice

Roy Green

1- Jerry Rice, 1986 San Francisco 49ers
1570 yards, 86 rec., 18.3 avg., 15 TD

2- Roy Green, 1984 St. Louis Cardinals
1555 yards, 78 rec., 19.9 avg., 12 TD

3- Jerry Rice, 1989 San Francisco 49ers
1483 yards, 82 rec., 18.1 avg., 17 TD

4- Sterling Sharpe, 1989 Green Bay Packers
1423 yards, 90 rec., 15.8 avg., 12 TD

5- Mark Carrier, 1989 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1422 yards, 86 rec., 16.5 avg., 9 TD

6- Henry Ellard, 1988 Los Angeles Rams
1414 yards, 86 rec., 16.4 avg., 10 TD

7- Mike Quick, 1983 Philadelphia Eagles
1409 yards, 69 rec., 20.4 avg., 13 TD

8- Henry Ellard, 1989 Los Angeles Rams
1382 yards, 70 rec., 19.7 avg., 8 TD

9- Art Monk, 1984 Washington Redskins
1372 yards, 106 rec., 12.9 avg., 7 TD

10-James Lofton, 1984 Green Bay Packers
1361 yards, 62 rec., 22.0 avg., 7 TD

Henry Ellard

Mark Carrier

Atlanta Falcons: Alfred Jenkins, 1981
1358 yards, 70 rec., 19.4 avg., 13 TD

Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Carter, 1988
1225 yards, 72 rec., 17.0 avg., 6 TD

New York Giants: Earnest Gray, 1983
1139 yards, 78 rec., 14.6 avg., 5 TD

Dallas Cowboys: Tony Hill, 1985
1113 yards, 74 rec., 15.0 avg., 7 TD

Detroit Lions: Richard Johnson, 1989
1091 yards, 70 rec., 15.6 avg., 8 TD

New Orleans Saints: Eric Martin, 1989
1090 yards, 68 rec., 16.0 avg., 8 TD

Chicago Bears: Willie Gault, 1983
836 yards, 40 rec., 20.9 avg., 8 TD

Mike Quick

Dwight Clark

June 14, 2010

1998: Rhein Defeats Frankfurt to Win NFL Europe Title in World Bowl VI

The 1998 NFL Europe season concluded with the two German teams, the Rhein Fire and the Frankfurt Galaxy, meeting for the developmental league’s championship in World Bowl VI on June 14 before 47,846 fans at Frankfurt’s Waldstadion.

Both teams had ended up with 7-3 records in the re-named circuit (prior to ’98 it had been known as the World League of American Football). The Fire, based in Dusseldorf and coached by Galen Hall, had the league’s leading rusher in RB Derrick Clark (739 yards) and WR Marcus Robinson topped NFL Europe with 811 receiving yards on 39 catches. QB Mike Quinn had the best passer rating (87.3) while throwing for 1997 yards with 13 TDs and just three interceptions. On defense they had the co-leader in sacks in DT Ed Philion.

Under first year Head Coach Dick Curl, Frankfurt had solid performances from QB Damon Huard, who passed for 1857 yards with 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and All-League WR Mario Bailey (38 receptions, 544 yards) and TE Vince Marrow (32 catches for 345 yards). LB Hillary Butler and safety Chris Hall were feature players on the defense.

The teams had split their meetings during the regular season, with Rhein dominating the first contest, 31-14, and Frankfurt taking the season finale in overtime, 20-17. However, both clubs were without their starting quarterbacks due to injury – the Fire would have to make due with Jim Arellanes, who had thrown just one pass during the season, in place of Quinn while the Galaxy had the slightly more experienced Chris Dittoe (64 pass attempts) going for Huard.

The game, which was mostly played in heavy rain, started off in spectacular fashion as Arellanes completed a 40-yard pass to Robinson on a flea-flicker play. The drive culminated in a 29-yard field goal by Manfred Burgsmuller. Later in the first quarter the Fire increased their lead to 10-0 as WR Dialleo Burks caught a 15-yard TD pass from Arellanes.

Frankfurt fought back on the ensuing possession with a drive that led to a three-yard touchdown run by RB Jermaine Chainey, cutting the Rhein lead to 10-7. But Arellanes again connected with Burks for a 20-yard TD and 17-7 halftime lead.

On the first possession of the third quarter, Frankfurt again trimmed the Fire’s margin with a 41-yard Ralf Kleinmann field goal. But three plays later Arellanes threw his third scoring pass of the day, this one for 74 yards to Robinson, and the game was essentially over. The defense shut down Frankfurt’s offense the rest of the way, and 10 fourth quarter points made the final score a convincing 34-10.

Jim Arellanes (pictured at top) was the game’s MVP, completing 12 of 18 passes for 263 yards with three touchdowns against no interceptions. Marcus Robinson (pictured below) caught just two passes, but they were big completions as he compiled 114 yards and a TD. TE Hayward Clay led the team with three catches, for 63 yards, while Dialleo Burks scored on his two catches of the game, which totaled 35 yards. RB Jon Vaughn was the leading rusher with 89 yards on 11 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter (Derrick Clark contributed 69 yards on 17 rushes).

In defeat, Chris Dittoe was successful on 15 of 27 pass attempts for 111 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. Jermaine Chaney was Frankfurt’s leading receiver with 6 catches for 35 yards (Mario Bailey was held to just 2 catches for 31 yards and Vince Marrow caught 3 passes for 27 yards) and was also the club’s best rusher with 84 yards on 19 attempts with the one TD.

On a day when conditions were not favorable to the aerial attack, Rhein outgained the Galaxy by 421 yards to 198. With Vaughn and Clark leading the way, the Fire outrushed Frankfurt 158 to 112. They also did substantially better in net passing yards (263 to 86) as they suffered no sacks while dumping Dittoe three times.

Jim Arellanes played for Rhein in 1999 and 2001, but never made it to the NFL (Mike Quinn, who was a backup with Pittsburgh in 1997, did, but threw a total of three NFL passes). Marcus Robinson went on to a nine-season NFL career with the Bears, Ravens, and Vikings in which he caught 325 passes.

Frankfurt became the first team to make it to the World Bowl three times (they split their previous two appearances) while Rhein won for the first time. Galen Hall, who had twice led teams to the WLAF/NFL Europe title game (Orlando in 1992, the Fire in ’97), came away a winner for the first time (he led Rhein to another championship in 2000).

June 12, 2010

List of the Day: Best Passing Yardage Seasons, 1980s AFC

Dan Marino

TOP 10
1- Dan Marino, 1984 Miami Dolphins
5084 yards, 362-564, 64.2 %, 48 TD, 17 INT

2- Dan Fouts, 1981 San Diego Chargers
4802 yards, 360-609, 59.1 %, 33 TD, 17 INT

3- Dan Marino, 1986 Miami Dolphins
4746 yards, 378-623, 60.7 %, 44 TD, 23 INT

4- Dan Fouts, 1980 San Diego Chargers
4715 yards, 348-589, 59.1 %, 30 TD, 24 INT

5- Dan Marino, 1988 Miami Dolphins
4434 yards, 354-606, 58.4 %, 28 TD, 23 INT

6- Bill Kenney, 1983 Kansas City Chiefs
4348 yards, 346-603, 57.4 %, 24 TD, 18 INT

7- Dan Marino, 1985 Miami Dolphins
4137 yards, 336-567, 59.3 %, 30 TD, 21 INT

8- Brian Sipe, 1980 Cleveland Browns
4132 yards, 337-554, 60.8 %, 30 TD, 14 INT

9- Dan Marino, 1989 Miami Dolphins
3997 yards, 308-550, 56.0 %, 24 TD, 22 INT

10-Boomer Esiason, 1986 Cincinnati Bengals
3959 yards, 273-469, 58.2 %, 24 TD, 17 INT

Dan Fouts

Bill Kenney

Brian Sipe

Denver Broncos: John Elway, 1985
3891 yards, 327-605, 54.0 %, 22 TD, 23 INT

New York Jets: Ken O’Brien, 1985
3888 yards, 297-488, 60.9 %, 25 TD, 8 INT

Seattle Seahawks: Dave Krieg, 1984
3671 yards, 276-480, 57.5 %, 32 TD, 24 INT

Buffalo Bills: Joe Ferguson, 1981
3652 yards, 252-498, 50.6 %, 24 TD, 20 INT

Houston Oilers: Warren Moon, 1989
3631 yards, 280-464, 60.3 %, 23 TD, 14 INT

Pittsburgh Steelers: Terry Bradshaw, 1980
3339 yards, 218-424, 51.4 %, 24 TD, 22 INT

New England Patriots: Tony Eason, 1986
3328 yards, 276-448, 61.6 %, 19 TD, 10 INT

Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Bert Jones, 1980
3134 yards, 248-446, 55.6 %, 23 TD, 21 INT

Oakland/LA Raiders: Jim Plunkett, 1983
2935 yards, 230-379, 60.7 %, 20 TD, 18 INT

Boomer Esiason

John Elway

Ken O'Brien

Dave Krieg