Tagged with "Los Angeles Rams"
Drew Hill: Titans, Rams and NFL Fans Say Goodbye to a Legend
Category: NFL
Tags: Drew Hill NFL NCAA Georgia Tech Houston Oilers Atlanta Falcons Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowl Super Bowl Warren Moon

When the Los Angeles Rams took a flier on wide receiver Drew Hill in the 12th round of the 1979 draft, they knew they were getting a 5'9" player with excellent speed.

It was also a long shot that he'd make the team, having spent much of his time at Georgia Tech University blocking for running back Eddie Lee Ivory.

Ivory was the Green Bay Packers first-round draft pick that year. Offensive linemen Kent Hill and Roy Simmons were the only other Tech offensive players drafted that year.

Kent Hill happened to be the Rams first-round selection and would be Drew Hill's teammate his entire career except for the 1985 season.

Hill made the team as a kick returner. He took a return 98 yards for a score in his second season and led the league in returns in his third. He was rarely used as a receiver in his first three years, as the Rams leaned on veterans like Ron Jessie, Preston Dennard, and Bill Waddy.

Yet he did help the Rams reach their first ever Super Bowl as a rookie. After missing the entire 1983 year because of injury, Hill returned with luster.

Los Angeles finally used him more on offense, where he teamed with Pro Bowler Henry Ellard and Olympic sprint Gold Medalist Ron Brown to comprise of a very exciting receiving trio.

Though the Rams leaned on Hall of Fame halfback Eric Dickerson and his then-record 2,105 yards off a whopping 379 carries, Hill averaged an amazing 27.9 yards on 14 receptions. Brown averaged over 20 yards and Ellard averaged over 18 yards per catch as well that season.

Despite just 60 receptions in five years, Houston traded two draft picks to acquire Hill to help out Warren Moon, who was signed in 1984. Moon, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, came to the Oilers with new head coach Hugh Campbell and quickly bonded with Hill.

Moon and Campbell won five Grey Cups together with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Campbell won nine CFL titles total with the Eskimos.

Campbell was focused on stocking the defense in the draft. He drafted two players, Steve Tasker and Mike Golic, who went on to help other teams.

Hill caught 64 balls his first year as an Oiler, while gaining a career best 1,169 yards. The nine touchdown catches he had had year would be the second best total of his career. Campbell was fired before the season ended, replaced by Jerry Glanville.

Glanville began getting Moon and Hill players on offense by drafting wide receivers Haywood Jeffries, Ernest Givens and Curtis Duncan in the 1987 draft.

Kent Hill had come over from the Rams in 1986 to help Mike Munchak, Bruce Matthews, and Dean Steinkuhler form an excellent offensive line. Munchak and Matthews would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Oilers reached the playoffs in 1987 for the first time since 1980. They would go to the playoffs every year until 1993. Though they lost in the first round for times and reached the second round just thrice, their "Run and Shoot" offense was prolific.

Though Hill weighed 170, he was the inside receiver for Houston. While he often would stretch the seam of defenses, he was tough enough to go over the middle and was a good blocker. He soon became the guy Moon could rely on most.

“Drew was a great receiver, one who knew the offense and was always in the right spot,” Moon said. “I always knew exactly where Drew would be. He had a low-key demeanor. He didn’t get upset. He was always cool under pressure.”

While the 1987 season is most noted for losing four games because of a players strike, Hill was still able to pile up 989 yards on 49 receptions. He then followed that up the next year with perhaps the finest season of his career.

While obtaining his first Pro Bowl nod, Hill set a career high mark of 10 touchdown catches while grabbing 72 passes for 1,141 yards. He got dinged up with injuries the next year, missing four starts, but still was able to gain 938 yards on 66 receptions and eight scores.

The 1990 season was his last Pro Bowl year after Hill caught 74 passes. He followed that up with a career best 90 receptions the next season despite being 35-years old. Hill also has a knack of making his fellow wide receivers better too.

His leadership and influence helped Jeffries, Givens, and Duncan all become Pro Bowl players as well. The quartet caught 315 passes as a group in the 1991 season. Hill and Jeffries had 190 by themselves. He left the Oilers after that year to back to his home state and join the Atlanta Falcons.

He was the Oilers leader in career receptions and receiving yards when he left. He still ranks fourth in receptions and second in receiving yards and touchdowns. Hill caught 94 balls in two tears with the Falcons before retiring after the 1993 season.

Though he was a humble man who shunned the spotlight, Hill had over 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven years with Houston. His 15.6 yards per catch average shows his ability to get deep into a defense despite working through the heart of the defense most of the time.

While he was old school, just doing his job in a steady fashion that was as reliable as the sun rising and setting, Hill never made waves or wanted superfluous attention. Yet his 634 career receptions for 9,831 yards and 61 touchdowns show he was beyond spectacular.

Former teammates said he lived his last years an avid golfer who ran a business in the Atlanta area. Alonzo Highsmith saw Hill in December, saying Hill told him he was doing well. Yet he had two massive strokes Friday and passed away. News of his passing has slowly been trickling out at a low-key pace since.

Even in passing, Hill has found a way to temporarily avoid the spotlight. Yet now is the time for any fan anywhere, especially those blessed enough to actually get to watch him play, to take a moment of silence and appreciate the gridiron exploits of Drew Hill.

Crazy Canton Cuts : Harold Jackson
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL NFC East Los Angeles Rams Philadelphia Eagles NCAA Jackson State University Harold Jackson New England Patriots Seattle SeahawkS


Harold Jackson
5'10" 175
Wide Receiver
Los Angeles Rams
Philadelphia Eagles
1968 - 1983
16 Seasons
208 Games Played
579 Receptions
10,372 Yards Receiving
76 Touchdowns
5 Pro Bowls

Harold Leon Jackson was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL Draft, the 323rd player chosen overall. He was just the 11th of a now 56 players drafted from Jackson State University. There have been 92 players from the school to have played pro football so far.

Led by Hall of Famers Walter Payton, Jackie Slater, and Lem Barney with other gridiron legends like Robert Brazile, Coy Bacon, Speedy Duncan, Leon Gray, Wilbert Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, and Rickey Young. Jackson's five Pro Bowls are only exceeded by Payton, Slater, and Barney, and matched by Smith.

He only appeared in two games during his rookie season, not recording a statistic. The Rams then dealt him to the Philadelphia Eagles before the 1968 season, where he would soon be known throughout the league. He was their only offensive Pro Bowler, and one of the three they had that year.

On a Eagles team that struggled to four wins, he caught nearly half of starting quarterback Norm Snead's passing yards and touchdowns with an NFL leading 1,116 yards and 9 scores on a career best 65 receptions. His career best 79,7 receiving yards per game also led the league.

The Eagles struggled in mediocrity the next two years, and juggled Snead, Pete Liske, and Rick Arrington at the quarterback position. They ran the ball mostly, and Jackson caught 88 balls for eight scores over that time. He exploded in 1972 with another Pro Bowl season, leading the NFL with 62 receptions, 1,048 receiving yards, and 74.9 receiving yards per game.

The Rams decided they wanted Jackson back, so they traded three time Pro Bowl quarterback Roman Gabriel for him. The trade benefited both teams, as both men made the Pro Bowl that year with their new teams.

Jackson accrued his only First Team All-Pro honor as well that season, leading the NFL with a career high 13 touchdown catches with a career best 21.9 yards per catch on 40 receptions. One game saw him score four times on seven receptions for 238 yards that year.

He stayed a productive deep threat for the Rams over the next four years, making the Pro Bowl in 1975,, averaging over 16 yards per catch on 160 balls. He made his last Pro Bowl in 1977, then joined the New England Patriots the next year.

He added another component to an explosive Patriots passing attack led by quarterback Steve Grogan with wide receiver Stanley Morgan and tight end Russ Francis. They were called "Grogan's Heroes".

Jackson averaged over 20 yards per catch in three of his four years in New England. Though Grogan never earned a Pro Bowl nod, he enjoyed the finest years of his career with the trio. Morgan also averaged over 20 yards each year, going to a pair of Pro Bowls. Francis was a top tight end during that era, having made his third and final Pro Bowl squad that year. The team was in the top ten in the league in offensive yards and points in Jackson's first three years with the team.

Now 36-years old, he joined the Minnesota Vikings in 1982. It was the only year he did not have the number 29 on his jersey, and it proved to be a jinx. He was hurt in the first game, not getting any statistics and missing the rest of the year. He then joined the Seattle Seahawks the next year, catching eight passes before retiring at seasons end.

He was back in uniform in 1987 with the Patriots at the age of 41. The NFL players had went on strike, so New England asked him to suit up for two games. Though he was their receivers coach, he obliged but did not appear in a game.

In the decade of the 1970's, no other player caught more balls for more yards and more touchdowns than Harold Jackson. His feat is even more of an amazing accomplishment, considering he had over 14 different quarterbacks throwing him the ball in his career on some teams that generally struggled at that position.

He helped Pat Haden make his only Pro Bowl, helped John Hadl make his last and his only First Team All-Pro honor. He caught some of Hall of Famer Joe Namath last passes, and improved the games of Grogan, Liske, James Harris, and John Reaves.

Most people look at his career average of 17.9 yards per catch, or the fact he averaged over 20 yards four times, and assume Jackson was strictly a deep threat. While he was torturous on defensive backs on the long ball, he also ran precision routes and had excellent hands.

Of the four wide receivers that were chosen on the NFL's 1970's All-Decade Team, only two are in Canton. Not only did Jackson outperform them with catches, yardage, and touchdowns, but he averaged more yards per catch than any of them. The closest to him is Hall of Famer Lynn Swann and fellow All-Decade selection Drew Pearson with their 17.1 yards per catch. Pearson played seven years that decade, Swann had six. Jackson averaged 18.2 over the entire ten years.

One probable reason for his not being chosen was the fact he played on just a few teams that made the playoffs a few times. Mostly his teams struggled, where he was all they had as a deep route threat. He often was met with double teams in an era where the ten-yard chuck was legal, thus making it much more difficult to get open. Teams also generally had their defensive backs play man-to-man, another way making getting open much harder in the ten-yard chuck rule era.

If Jackson got to play in this era of zone defenses and the 5-yard chuck rule, you could easily pump up his career statistics to even more astonishing numbers. Yet with all the rules since 1979 that helped the offense, he still ranks 29th in NFL history in receiving yards, 23rd in career yards per touch, and 24th in receiving touchdowns.

Though the casual football viewer might see him as a sexy choice, and the voters in Canton have not really voted much for him since his retirement, the numbers do not lie. The newer fan might not appreciate his numbers, not understanding the game or the rules of his era.

The fact he still ranks 67th on the All-Time receptions list in NFL history shows his productivity and that he was more than a deep threat. Some critics might point to his five Pro Bowls not being enough, but Jackson played in an era where your peers voted him in. Not a computer generated fan vote like today that is a popularity contest seemingly based more of histrionics than actual football play.

Of the 19 wide receivers inducted into Canton, only eight have appeared in more Pro Bowls than Jackson. What got many of those with lesser Pro Bowls inducted was the fact they played on teams that won championships. This is a debate on whether a teams accomplishments should be part of the reasoning for induction or if a players actual individual accomplishments on the gridiron constitutes worthiness.

If he had played on just one championship team, the theory that Harold Jackson already being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame seems fathomable. Cliff Branch, though somewhat comparable to Jackson but with lesser numbers, played on three championship teams and came fairly close to induction a few times.

Perhaps it is time to look more at what the player does with what he has to work with around him, than what his team does while with him. Harold Jackson most certainly belongs in Canton.

Notable Players Drafted In 1968 (* Denotes Hall Of Fame)

1. Ron Yary, OT, Minnesota *
2. Bob Johnson, C, Cincinnati
3. Claude Humphrey, DE, Atlanta
4. Russ Washington, DT/ OT, San Diego
8. Larry Csonka, FB, Miami *
9. Haven Moses, WR, Buffalo
11. Greg Landry, QB, Detroit
13. MacArthur Lane, RB, St. Louis Cardinals
14. Tim Rossovich, LB, Philadelphia
15. Forrest Blue, C, San Francisco
23. John Williams, OT, Baltimore Colts
26. Bill Lueck, G, Green Bay
31. Curley Culp, DT, Denver
33. Charlie West, DB, Minnesota
42. Bob Atkins, DB, St. Louis
43. Bill Lenkaitus, C, San Diego
47. John Garlington, LB, Cleveland
48. Mike Livingston, QB, Kansas City
52. Ken Stabler, QB, Oakland
69. Skip Vanderbundt, LB, San Francisco
73. Dick Anderson, DB, Miami
74. Charlie Sanders, TE, Detroit *
77. Elvin Bethea, DE, Houston Oilers *
80. Art Shell, OT, Oakland *
81. Dick Himes, OT, Green Bay
82. Paul Robinson, RB, Cincinnati
84. Jess Phillips, RB, Cincinnati
98. Johnny Fuller, DB, San Francisco
105. Jim Beirne, WR, Houston
110. Charlie H. Smith, RB, Oakland
117. Mike Bragg, P, Washington
118. Jim Kiick, RB, Miami
124. Mark Nordquist, G, Philadelphia
127. Cecil Turner, WR, Chicago
130. Blaine Nye, G, Dallas
156. Essex Johnson, RB, Cincinnati
159. D.D. Lewis, LB, Dallas
167. Oscar Reed, RB, Minnesota
176. Bob Brunet, RB, Washington
181. Willie Holman, DE, Chicago
190. George Atkinson, DB, Oakland
222. Paul Smith, DT, Denver
249. John Outlaw, DB, Boston Patriots
261. Tommy Hart, DE, San Francisco
275. Greg Brezina, LB, Atlanta
277. Marv Hubbard, RB, Oakland
288. Henry Davis, LB, New York Giants
289. Rich Coady, C, Chicago
291. Dennis Partee, K, San Diego
297. John Pergine, LB, Los Angeles Rams
301. Bob Trumpy, TE, Cincinnati
305. Jim Cheyunski, LB, Boston
317. Jeff Queen, RB, San Diego
330. Charlie Greer, DB, Denver
351. Dean Halverson, LB, LA Rams
357. Marlin Briscoe, WR, Denver
375. Robert Holmes, RB, Kansas City
417. Rocky Bleier, RB, Pittsburgh
428. Larry Cole, DE, Dallas
441. Bob Lee, QB, Minnesota

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