Friday, February 23, 2024

Mount Rushmore (+5) of 1960s/1970s coaches

These 9 coaches led 26 of the 40 NFL/NFC and AFL/AFC champions from 1960 to 1979. 

Altogether, their teams made 66 post-season appearances in those 20 seasons. (Paul Brown made an additional 8 post-season appearances in the 1950s.)

How would you rank them?

Friday, February 16, 2024

Miami Dolphins

A few weeks ago, I added a "League Champions" chart and a link to the Vintage Blogroll to my football card blog sidebars. This week I have added 2 more items: 
1. A list of cards I still need to complete the set. 
2. Under the RetroCards ad, there is a list of all the sets I have purchased from them. I highly recommend these cards to everyone. They come in sets of 9 to 25 cards (depending on the team and year), and average out to less than $2.00 per card. 
The Dolphins entered the AFL in 1966. For their first 4 seasons, they were coached by George Wilson (who had coached the Detroit Lions from 1957-64). During his tenure, they posted records of 3-11, 4-10, 5-8-1, and 3-10-1. In their first season, they were tied with the Oilers, but finished ahead of them on a tie-breaker. 
Their last-place finish in 1969 cost Wilson his job. Don Shula was hired, and the Dolphins’ record improved immediately, to 10-4 in his first season. Miami made the playoffs in each of Shula’s first 5 seasons, making 3 trips to the Super Bowl, and winning twice. The only player below still around for the Super Bowl years was Norm Evans. 
As the expansion team, the Dolphins had the first two picks in the 1966 AFL draft. Their first overall pick (fullback Jim Grabowski) signed with the Packers, but their 2nd overall pick (QB Rick Norton) started 11 of the 56 games over the team’s first 4 seasons. They also picked up WR Howard Twilley in the 12th round. 
Their 1967 draft was a bit more fruitful. QB Bob Griese was selected in the 1st round (4th overall), and Jim Riley, a starter at defensive end from 1968-71, was picked in the 2nd round. They also snared their 11-year punter/tight end Larry Seiple in the 7th round. Griese made the AFL All-Star team in his first 2 seasons, and put an end to the carousel of quarterbacks used in 1966. 
The Dolphins used 4 quarterbacks (George Wilson Jr, Dick Wood, Rick Norton, and John Stofa) in their first season. The veteran Wood (the Jets’ starter for 2 seasons, before the arrival of Joe Namath) and top draft pick Norton played the first few games, but soon Wilson (the coach’s son) took over, starting 7 games that year. 
In 1967, Wilson was traded, Wood was let go, and everyone else grabbed a seat on the bench as Griese started 10 games, beginning his 13-year hold on that job. 
Rick Norton was one of the Dolphins’ two 1st-round picks in 1966. He started as many as 5 games only once during his 4 years with the Dolphins. He also played for the Packers in 1970. 
George Wilson Jr – The Bills’ 12th round pick in 1965, he saw no action that year, and was traded to the Dolphins the following summer, joining his father who was the coach. Although starting 7 games in the Dolphins’ 1st season, after Miami drafted Bob Griese in 1967 Wilson was traded to the Broncos in the Earl Faison-for-Abner Haynes deal. The Broncos released him 2 weeks later. 
Joe Auer was drafted by the Chiefs in 1963, but did not play for them. After playing for the Bills from 1964-65, he joined the Dolphins in 1966. In the Dolphins’ very first game, Auer returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. He started every game at halfback in ’66, but shared the position with Abner Haynes in ’67. He finished his career in 1968 with the Falcons. 
Cookie Gilchrist played in Canada from 1954-61 as a fullback and kicker, while also playing on defense. He joined the Bills in 1962, and was the AFL’s first 1000-yard rusher, leading the league with 1096 yards in 1962, and was named Rookie of the Year. In his first 4 seasons, he led the AFL in rushing touchdowns and made the All-Star team each season. 
After spending 1965 as the Broncos’ starting fullback, Cookie played 8 games (5 starts) for the Dolphins in 1966. He returned to the Broncos in 1967, but missed all but 1 game. Selected by the Bengals in the 1968 expansion draft, he retired due to a knee injury. 
*Frank Jackson was drafted by the Dallas Texans in 1961. After 2 seasons on the bench, he was the Chiefs’ starting flanker from 1963-65, making the All-Star game in ’65. With 2nd-year man Otis Taylor ready to take over the flanker spot in 1966, Jackson was selected by the Dolphins in the expansion draft, and started 13 games during his 2 seasons with Miami. 
Dave Kocourek was the Chargers’ starting tight end from 1960-65, making the All-Star team 4 times. He started every game for the Dolphins in 1966, then was a backup for the Raiders from 1967-68. 
Billy Neighbors – The Patriots’ 6th-round pick in 1962, Neighbors started every game at right guard for 4 seasons. He was also the Dolphins’ starting right guard from 1966-68, and for part of 1969 until relinquishing that spot to Larry Little. 
Norm Evans was picked by the Oilers in the 1965 draft. After 1 season on their bench, he joined the Dolphins in 1966 and started all but 4 games at right tackle from 1966-75. Evans was named to the Pro Bowl in ’72 and ’74. He also played for the Seahawks from 1976-78, starting at right tackle for the first 2 seasons. 
*Ernie Park – Drafted by the Chargers in 1963, Park was a backup tackle and guard for 3 seasons. He was then the starting left guard for the Dolphins (’66), Broncos (’67), and Bengals (’68). 
Earl Faison was the Chargers’ 1st-round pick in 1961, and was named Rookie of the Year. He was the team’s starting left defensive end for 5 seasons, and made the All-Star team each year, and was named first-team All-Pro 4 times. After 3 games in 1966 he was released, then hooked on with the Dolphins for the rest of the season. He did not play after 1966. 
Tom Nomina – The Broncos’ 2nd-round pick in 1963, he played guard for 2 seasons until switching to defensive tackle in 1965. Nomina played his final 3 seasons (1966-68) with the Dolphins as their starting left defensive tackle (although missing 9 games in 1967). This was one of the cards in the only pack I bought in 1967. 
*Rich Zecher was drafted by the Raiders in 1965. After one season, he joined the Dolphins and was their starting right defensive tackle in 1966. He split the 1967 season between Miami and Buffalo. 
*Wahoo McDaniel was drafted by the Chargers in 1960, but played for the Oilers as a guard that season. For the next 5 seasons he was the starting middle linebacker for the Broncos (1961-63) and Jets (1964-65). He was the Dolphins’ right linebacker in ’66 and middle linebacker in ’67, then played 4 games as a reserve in 1968. He was also a professional wrestler from 1961-96 (which may explain why this card was the most expensive one to acquire)
Willie West was drafted by the Broncos and Cardinals in 1960. In his first 6 seasons, he played cornerback for the Cardinals (1960-61), Bills (1962-63), Broncos (1964), and Jets (1964-65). He played for the Dolphins from 1966-68, starting most games at safety in ’66 and ’68, and making the All-Star team in 1966. 
Jimmy Warren – An undrafted free agent, Warren was a starting left cornerback for the Chargers (1964-65) and Dolphins (1966-69). He made the All-Star team in 1966. From 1970-77 he was a backup defensive back for the Raiders. 
*Unknown to me before November 2023 
As the Bengals had not yet joined the league, this post completes the 1967 AFL card set.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

New York Jets

1967 was the Jets’ first winning season (8-5-1). They won their division in 1968 (also winning Super Bowl III) and 1969, then would not finish in first place again until 1998. 
Mathis and Baird are the only Jets' cards I had before November 2023. The Larry Grantham card has a light green border, whereas all the others have a light blue border.
Joe Namath – The first overall pick in the 1965 AFL draft, Namath quarterbacked the Jets from 1965-76 (although missing most of the games in ’70, ’71, and ’73). He made the All-Star team as a rookie, and 4 times thereafter, and led the league in passing yards in ’66, ’67, and ‘72. Namath finished up with the Rams in 1977, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. This is the only 1967 AFL card I do not have.
Don Maynard - After playing 1958 with the Giants and 1959 in Canada, Maynard joined the Jets in 1960 and was one of the premier receivers in the AFL, leading the league in TDs in 1965 and yards in 1967. He made 4 All-Star teams, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Bill Mathis was selected by the Titans in the 1960 draft, and was the Titans’ starting fullback from 1960-62, and the Jets’ starting halfback from 1963 until midway through 1966, when he was replaced by Emerson Boozer. 
Matt Snell was the Jets’ 1st pick (3rd overall) in the 1964 draft and was the AFL Rookie of the Year. He was the Jets’ starting fullback from 1964-69, making 3 All-Star teams in those years. He remained with the Jets from 1970-72, backing up John Riggins.
George Sauer – The Jets’ 5th-round pick in 1965, Sauer was the Jets’ starting split end from 1965-70, and led the AFL with 75 receptions in 1967. He made 4 All-Star teams and was named first-team All-Pro twice. 
*Sam DeLuca played for the Chargers from 1960-63, then was a starting guard for the Jets from 1964-66. 
Winston Hill played for the Jets from 1963 to 1976, and played every game at tackle from 1964 to 1976, starting all of them except for 4 games in ’76. He was an 8-time All-Star, including every year from 1967 to 1973. Hill finished up in 1977 with the Rams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. 
Gerry Philbin was selected in the 3rd round of the 1964 draft, and started at left defensive end for the Jets from 1964-72. He was an All-Star and first-team All-Pro in ’68 and ’69. Philbin played for the Eagles in his final season (1973). 
Verlon Biggs – The Jets’ 3rd-round pick in 1965, Biggs was their starting right end every season from 1965-70, and the Redskins’ starting right end from 1971-74. It doesn't look like he's wearing a Jets' uniform.
*Jim Harris was the Jets’ starting right defensive tackle from 1965-67. 
Paul Rochester played in every AFL season, for the Dallas Texans from 1960-63, and the Jets from 1963-69. He was his team’s starting left defensive tackle every season from 1961-68. 
Ralph Baker – The Jets’ 6th-round pick in 1964, he was their starting left linebacker for his entire career (1964-74). 
Larry Grantham was selected by the Titans in 1he 1960 draft. After starting every game at left linebacker as a rookie, he moved to the right side, where he started almost every game for the next 12 years, until retiring after the 1972 season. He was named first-team All-Pro in his first 5 seasons, and also made 5 All-Star teams.
Bill Baird – An undrafted free agent, Baird was the Jets’ starting free safety every season from 1963-69, while also playing some cornerback in ’64 and ’66. 
*Unknown to me before November 2023. 
Next: Miami Dolphins

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Denver Broncos

As you can see in the League Champions chart on this blog’s sidebar, each of the original 8 AFL teams made it to the AFL Championship game at least once during the decade – except the Denver Broncos. Look at their history of ineptitude!
(Even the expansion Dolphins and Bengals made the playoffs by 1970.) 
The most obvious reason for this is their lack of a quality quarterback. While other teams were employing Len Dawson, Jack Kemp, John Hadl, George Blanda, Daryle Lamonica, and Joe Namath, the Broncos attempted to get by with the likes of Frank Tripucka, Mickey Slaughter, Jacky Lee, John McCormick, Steve Tensi, and Marlin Briscoe. This theory is reinforced by the Jets, who waited 6 years to get a good QB. Their first winning season wasn't until 1967.
The best AFL quarterbacks (in order of appearance) were: George Blanda, Jack Kemp, Tom Flores, Babe Parilli, Len Dawson, John Hadl, Joe Namath, Daryle Lamonica, and Bob Griese.  None of them ever played for the Broncos. 
John McCormick was a backup quarterback for the Vikings as a rookie in 1962, then played for the Broncos from 1963-68 (although he missed the ’64 and ’67 seasons). He played every game from 1965-66, starting 6 and 5 games those seasons. 
Abner Haynes – Although picked by the Oakland Raiders in 1960, Haynes started his career with the Dallas Texans that season. He was the AFL Rookie of the Year in 1960, and was the Texans’/Chiefs’ featured back from 1960 to 1964, making 3 All-Star teams and having 2 first-team All-Pro selections in that time. Haynes played for the Broncos in ’65 and ’66, and split the 1967 season between the Dolphins and Jets. 
Wendell Hayes was a starting running back for the Broncos from 1965 to 1967, then played 7 seasons for the Chiefs. He was the Chiefs’ starting fullback from 1970-72, and parts of ’73 and ’74. 
Al Denson was the Broncos’ 6th-round pick in 1964. After 2 seasons as a backup wide receiver, he was their starting tight end in 1966. He moved back to flanker in 1967, starting almost every game there through the 1970 season (although he missed 6 games in 1968). He finished up with the Vikings in 1971. 
Bob Scarpitto – The Chargers’ 9th-round pick in 1961, after a season on their bench he was traded to the Broncos. Scarpitto was Denver’s starting flanker every season from 1962-66, and made the All-Star team in 1966. He was also his team’s punter from 1965-68, leading the AFL in punts and punting yards in both 1966 and 1967. (When you punt 105 times (like he did in 1967) I guess it’s easy to lead the league in yards!) He played his last season (1968) with the Patriots. 
Lionel Taylor played briefly with the Bears in 1959, then was one of the AFL’s top receivers, leading the league in receptions from 1960-63, and 1965. In his 7 seasons with the Broncos (1960-66) he made first-team All-Pro 4 times along with 3 All-Star games. He also played for the Oilers from 1967-68. 
Jerry Sturm played in every game for the Broncos from 1961-66, starting all but 12 games. He spent 2 years at tackle, 2 at center, and 2 at guard. He also played for the Saints from 1967-70, and was a starting tackle or center from 1968-70. After playing 1 season with the Oilers, he finished up in 1972 with 1 game for the Eagles. 
*Rex Mirich was drafted by the Raiders in 1963, and played 3 seasons for them (‘64-’65 as a defensive tackle, and ’66 as an offensive tackle). Joining the Broncos in 1967, he switched back to defense and was their starting left end in ’67 and starting left tackle in ‘68. After a season on the bench, he finished up with the Patriots in 1970, back on offense. 
*Max Leetzow was the Broncos’ 5th-round pick in 1965, and played 2 seasons. He was a sub in his rookie year, and the starting right end in 1966. 
Dave Costa – The Raiders’ 7th-round pick in 1963, Costa was their starting right defensive tackle for 3 seasons (making the All-Star team as a rookie). After 1 season on the Bills’ bench, he started every game at defensive tackle for the Broncos from 1967 to 1971, making 3 more All-Star teams. From 1972-73 he also started every game for the Chargers, then returned to the Bills for his final season (1974), that year as a linebacker. 
John Bramlett was the starting right linebacker for his team from 1965 to 1970, 2 seasons each with Denver, Miami, and Boston. He made the All-Star team in ’66 and ’67. He finished his career in 1971 as a Falcons’ substitute. 
Arch Matsos was drafted by the Colts in 1958, but did not play for them. He was a starting middle linebacker for his entire career: 1960-62 with the Bills, 1963-65 with the Raiders, and splitting 1966 between the Broncos and Chargers. In his first 4 seasons, he made 3 All-Star teams and was named first-team All-Pro twice. 
Nemiah Wilson was a starting cornerback for the Broncos from 1965-67, making the All-Start team in 1967. The following year he joined the Raiders and was a starting cornerback every season from 1969-1973. After 1 season backing up Oakland’s other goons, he played for the Bears in 1975. 
*Goose Gonsoulin was selected by the Dallas Texans in the 1960 draft, but was dealt to the Broncos before the season. He was their starting free safety every year from 1960-66, making 5 All-Star teams and garnering 2 first-team All-Pro berths. He was the 49ers’ free safety in 1967.
*Unknown to me before November 2023 
Next: New York Jets