Tagged with "Oakland Raiders"
Back To the Future: High-School Championship
Category: NCAA
Tags: ART SHELL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL JIM MORA NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OAKLAND RAIDERS
This is what the Louisiana state championship trophies look like, can't get it to show up: https://theknightswhosay.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/lhsaa-trophy.gif

I hope filing it under ncaa is ok.

I havenít written about high school sports since high school, but I had to comment about the high school I went to winning its first state championship since 1960. Hopefully itís an interesting story. Some may know or be able to figure out the school, but Iíll avoid mentioning names.

What made it even stranger is that in watching the clips posted online (I subscribed to nola.comís YouTube channel mostly for LSU content a while back), I saw a familiar face. It was the coach who had left my school in 1996. I honestly thought I was imagining things until I heard his name. He didnít look much older either.

Iíll just call him Coach M. Since he left for a rival school, he wasnít exactly my favorite person at the time. He did not do particularly well at that other school and had gone into other lines of work, although he had returned briefly to my school as an assistant at some point between the two stints. I would find out this was his first season back as head coach.

The administrators who were there while I was a student were all gone, so I guess that helped lessen any misgivings as well. Still, Iím sure some were skeptical he could just pick up where he had left off as a head coach. An NFL situation I thought of was Art Shellís ill-fated return to the Raiders. Unlike Shell, however, it seems that Coach M had really kept up with the game.

I also compared it to Jim Mora (Sr.), who also left the Saints rather suddenly when I was in high school, coming back to the Saints and at least going to the Super Bowl in his first season.

Mora presided over a lot of improvement in New Orleans but was not able to win a playoff game with the Saints (although the Saints did have a first-round bye one season).

Coach M had won playoff games but had come up short on at least a couple of occasions in the semifinals. I mentioned the prior state championship had been in 1960. That was before the Saints even came into existence.

One difference is in recent years, the Saints did better than had ever done before. They won a few playoff games, won the Super Bowl one season, and made the conference championship in yet another season. But Iím pretty sure my junior year (two seasons after Coach M left) was the last time my high school had made the state semifinals. So I guess that all helps you imagine why it was so surreal.

After a bit of an upset in the quarterfinals (#6 over #3 on the road), it looked like it might be another year where they made it to the semifinals and fell short, which happened three times while I was there.

The last two games were remarkable too. In the last few seasons, my high school played really well against a rival school from the same district but ultimately came up short in both the regular season and the playoffs. That school was seeded #2 and had won the previous two state championships, as well as the district championships, and was undefeated. Somehow my school had them on the defensive all right, and my school prevailed,

In the finals, my school played a school that had 26 state titles. That school also did not exist in 1960. To be fair, it is a smaller school, so it wasnít in the same classification in most of those years.

It was a low-scoring game with a lot of turnovers, but it seemed that the school that was used to state championships would pull it out when that school took a 14-7 lead into halftime (after a long drive to end that half) and still led 14-10 after the third quarter.

A number of second-half drives by both teams had stalled (or ended in turnovers) right outside of field-goal range, and obviously one ended in field-goal range. The other team got as close as the 25-yard line, but apparently that wasnít quite a comfortable enough distance.

The player of the game was a running back, so the success my school had was mostly on the ground. But somehow with about 9 minutes to play, they drew up and completed a long touchdown pass of 45 yards. The team only had 112 yards of passing the entire game, including that play, against 217 rushing yards.

A combination of running down the clock and good defense took care of the rest of the game.

Normally you get more used to things like this after you find out, but due to the result, itís only gotten more surreal since seeing that video. What adds to it is I ran (without much success) on the cross-country team in high school, and when I graduated we had never won a state championship in that sport. This was not the cross-country teamís first state title since I graduated; but it still adds to my feeling of disbelief to know my school holds what I consider the two biggest state titles of the fall, both of which seemed so elusive 10-20 years ago.
The Greatest Wide Receiver Not In The Pro Football Hall of Fame
Category: FEATURED
Tags: AFL Charlie Hennigan Pro Football Hall of Fame NCAA Houston Oilers Oakland Raiders Tennessee Titans

(I'm having some awful writers block, and really tired from a long weekend at work...So I decided to go back in the archives, and share a post from our old friend ThirdStone...Enjoy† -The Beeze)

Charlie Hennigan
6'1" 187
Wide Receiver
Houston Oilers
1960-1966
7 seasons
410 Receptions
6,723 Receiving Yards
51 Touchdowns
5 Pro Bowls
AFL All-Time Team
First With 101 Receptions In A Season



Charles Taylor Hennigan joined the expansion Houston Oilers as an undrafted 25-year old in the fledgling American Football League in 1960. He had previously been a high school teacher at a high school, where he earned $4,000 annually. He kept a monthly pay stub of $270.72 in his helmet for inspiration on the gridiron.

He had initially went to college at LSU on a track scholarship, where the coaches of the school had designs for him to compete in the Olympic games. The Tigers were the SCC mile-relay champions in his freshman year, an event Hennigan specialized in.

Football became Hennigan's primary interest soon after his high school sweetheart passed away from cancer. LSU did not want him switching sports, so Hennigan transferred to Northwestern State University and played running back for three years.

After college, he was invited to try out for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He was cut after a week, so he had a stint in the United States Army before returning to Louisiana to teach biology and gym class while also coaching both football and track.

Hennigan used his time as a track coach to run and stay in shape, along with using isometrics. Red Cochran was a former NFL player who later became a scout. He happened to live nearby Hennigan, so Cochran got him to try out for the newly founded Oilers. Cochran's career would last 52 years in the NFL, ending up in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Having no real experience as a wide receiver, Hennigan asked Cleveland Browns legend Dub Jones for some help. Jones, whose son Bert would later become a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Baltimore Colts, was a former Pro Bowl receiver who happened to live close by Hennigan as well.

Jones, who still shares the NFL record for six touchdowns scored in one game, drilled Hennigan on how to fake the defender and not the area. NFL defenses employed man-to-man coverage in those days, as opposed to the zone coverage most teams use in the game today.

Hennigan went into a Oilers camp that had a few stars trying out for the team. The team cut future stars like Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown and Pro Bowl wide receiver Homer Jones. Jones, who still holds the NFL record for yards per catch in a career, is known best for inventing the football spike after a score.

A big reason Brown didn't make the Oilers is because he had difficulty covering Hennigan in practice. The two would butt heads many times over the years, often complimenting each other as the toughest opponent either had faced in their careers.

There was a few hundred men trying out for the Oilers and Hennigan began to hear rumors he was about to be cut as well. Yet he made the team and had Browns great Mac Speedie, a former teammate of Dub Jones, as his wide receivers coach.

He and Oilers teammate Charley "The Human Bowling Ball" Tolar are the first persons at Northwestern State to play professional football. The school would later produce such greats like Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith, Pro Bowl players like quarterback Bobby Hebert, cornerback Terrence McGee, wide receiver Mark Duper, running backs Tolar, John Stephens and Joe Delaney. They are amongst the 44 players from that school to play professional football.

The five Pro Bowls Hennigan accrued is tied with Smith as the most ever by a Northwestern State Demon. Also a track star, he has been named one of the 100 greatest football players in school history.

He soon won a starting job in camp and developed an amazing repertoire with Hall of Fame quarterback George Blanda. Hennigan scored the first touchdown in Oilers history, which happened in the first game in franchise history against the Oakland Raiders.

Separating his shoulder in the first half of that game, Hennigan then sat out for three games as he healed from the injury. He returned to be second on the team in receiving yards and touchdown catches as the Oilers eventually reached the first ever AFL title game.

Playing against the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston came back from an early deficit to capture the championship with a 24-16 victory. Hennigan's four receptions for 71 yards were both the second best totals on the team.

The 1961 season started out strange for the Oilers. After stumbling out to a 1-3-1, they replaced head coach Lou Rymkus with Wally Lemm. This awoke the Oilers roster, as they would then explode upon the AFL with 10 straight wins on their way to winning the second, and so far last, title in franchise history.

The offense was ranked first in the league in offense, total yards and passing yards. They also finished second in rushing yards, points and total yards allowed. It was also the finest season of Hennigan's career.

He had to share receptions with Pro Bowlers like Tolar, Billy Cannon, Willard Dewveall, Bob McLoud and Bill Groman. Groman led the AFL with 17 touchdowns off of 50 receptions for 1,175 yards that year, as well as leading the league in yards per catch.

Hennigan racked up 82 catches at an impressive 21.3 yards per reception average that was second best in the AFL. He led the league with a career best 1,746 receiving yards, breaking an 11-year old record previously set by Hall of Famer Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch.

He had started out the season charting out a way to break Hirsch's record. Hennigan once calculated the number of receptions and receiving yards he needed to break the record by writing on a bathroom mirror with soap as he shaved.

Not only did he set a career best mark by leading the AFL with 124.7 receiving yards gained per game, he also caught a career high 12 touchdowns. The 124.7 yards mark stood as a record until 1982, when Wes Chandler surpassed it in a strike-shortened season that lasted nine games that year. Hennigan appeared in 14 games 21 years earlier and his average still ranks second best in pro football history.

Yet he also piled up more records. He still owns the record for three games of which Hennigan had over 200 yards receiving. He also owns the record for seven straight games of at least 100 yards receiving, which is how he started out the 1961 season. Hennigan was also the first player ever to have 10 games in a season with over 100 receiving yards.

Hennigan had 11 total games that year of at least 100 yards receiving. It, as well as his streak of seven games, was tied in 1995 by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Irvin needed 16 games to tie the record.

His streak of seven games ended after getting 232 yards and two scores against the Buffalo Bills. After missing his eighth straight game by 22 yards the next week in a game Houston won 55-14 over the Denver Broncos, he did not catch a pass the following game.

While the Oilers beat the San Diego Chargers for the 1961 AFL Championship, they did a good job limiting Hennigan to 43 yards on five catches. The reason was because they concentrated on him after he had burned them for 214 yards and three scores just three weeks earlier.

Not only did his 1,746 total yards lead the AFL on 1961, Hennigan began a streak of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. The record of 1,746 receiving yards stood as a record until 1995, when Isaac Bruce and record holder Jerry Rice surpassed it. Yet Hennigan's total still ranks and the third most ever.

The difference between Hennigan's record setting seasons to those who tied or surpassed him is the fact he passed Hirsch's record in 12 games, the same number of games Hirsch had played in 1951. Rice and Bruce needed 16 games, two more than Hennigan played in 1961, to surpass him.

Another difference is that only Irvin was on a championship team like Hennigan was during these record-setting years. Rice, a Hall of Famer, and Bruce would win titles in different seasons.

Hennigan, who was named First Team All-Pro in 1961 and 1962, then continued his excellence after his incredible year. He grabbed 115 balls for 1,918 yards and 18 touchdowns over the next two seasons. The 1962 Houston team reached the AFL title game for a third straight season, but lost in overtime.

Some say Hennigan's 1964 season was his best, while Hennigan prefers to think his 1961 season was. Though he was good friends with Denver Broncos legend Lionel Taylor, he set out to break Taylor's 1961 record of 100 receptions.

He broke the record by grabbing 101 passes that year. This mark stood 20 years until Hall of Famer Art Monk had 106 in 1984, a record would stand for. Hennigan also had 1,546 receiving yards, which also led the AFL and still ranks as the 21st most in pro football history.

The 110.4 yards gained per game receiving average he has in 1964 also still ranks as the eighth best ever in pro football history. Hennigan is the first pro player ever to have two seasons of over 1,500 yards receiving, and he is also the first to have four games of 200 or more receiving yards.

Concussions began to catch up to Hennigan by 1965, as well as the fact he was running around on an injured knee. He gutted it out over the next two years, catching 68 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns over that time.

One game against the Chargers saw San Diego cornerback Claude Gibson hit Hennigan with a rabbit punch, knocking the Oilers star out cold. Hennigan woke up in the locker room, but was dazed. He was put back out on the field, but didn't know where he was most of the time because of the concussion he suffered.

It turned out to be a mistake by Gibson, a great punt returner who led the AFL in punt return yardage and average twice. Player in those days took care of their own teammates.

Unbeknownst to Hennigan, two of his teammates set up Gibson during a preseason game a few years later. He was hit in the knees, which ended Gibson's career. Hennigan was told this story at a 50th anniversary reunion by his teammates.

Concussions went untreated back then, and medical technology was not good enough to do a good job repairing knees either. Houston traded Hennigan to the Raiders for a future draft pick, but he failed the physical and decided to retire.

Not only was Hennigan on the gridiron for the love of the game, but he was able to pursue his doctorate in education with an increase in salary compared to what he earned as a teacher.

He once asked Oilers owner Bud Adams for a raise after his monster 1961 season, but was refused. Instead, Adams cut him a check for $10,000 and sent Hennigan out of his offices.

When Hennigan retired after the 1966 season, he basically owned every receiving record there was for the Oilers and AFL. He still has the most touchdown receptions in franchise history, as well as the fourth most receiving yards and sixth most receptions in team history.

He owns the Oilers record of most catches and receiving yards in a game, when he went for 276 yards on 13 receptions in 1961. His 26 games of at least 100 yards receiving is also a franchise record.

His 71.8 receiving yards per game is not only the best in team history, it is still the 12th best ever in pro football history. Four of the players ahead of him on this list are still active, so Hennigan could move back up the list as the years go on.

The 16.8 yards per reception average is excellent for any era of football, especially one that dealt with the 10-yard chuck rule. Not only does it rank 39th best ever in yards per touch in pro football history, it is the second best in Oilers/ Titans history behind Oilers great Ken Burrough.

I do not know what disgusts me most. Hennigan's exclusion from the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the fact Adams has seemingly spit on his teams earlier history.

Blanda and Jim Norton are the only early Oilers in the franchises Hall of Fame. Ken Houston and Elvin Bethea, two more Hall of Fame players, are the only other AFL Oilers inducted into the teams Hall of Fame.

Hennigan should have been inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Oilers/ Titans Hall of Fame by now. Not only is he the greatest wide receiver in that franchises history, he is one of the very best in AFL history. Hennigan is a member of the AFL All-Time Team.

There are the obvious signs of the continued AFL disrespect by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the reasons to why Hennigan has not yet been inducted. Even though the building in Canton does not say NFL Hall of Fame, it has become just that.

The NFL's anger of being forced to merge with the successful AFL still seems to burn brightly. The voters obviously cower and heed this anger by inducting modern inferior players instead.

Not only did Hennigan have to deal with the 10-yard chuck rule, which is a lot harder to have success in compared to the modern five-yard rule, he dealt with playing fields that were nowhere as near as pristine as they have been the past few decades.

Football used to be a game for men in Hennigan's era. Players had to actually earn their accolades then, as opposed to the rule changes that guarantee successes like now. Yet the numbers he put up easily match or exceed many players today that are deemed as stars.

Some detractors will point at he fact he lasted just seven seasons, but the Hall of Fame is filled with men who had careers of that length or less. Men who put up inferior production as well.

While Hirsch is in the Hall of Fame, he went to two less Pro Bowls and had one less First Team All-Pro honor than Hennigan. Though a great wide receiver, Hirsch had two excellent seasons and several decent ones.

Lynn Swann, another Hall of Famer, lasted nine years but many of his number pale in comparison to Hennigan. Swann was finalist 13 times before induction, while Hennigan hasn't even been named a semi-finalist once. Hennigan also has more receptions than Hall of Fame receiver Bob Hayes, let alone the fact he either owns or shares several other records with some of the best receivers to ever play the game.

Blanda, who was later a teammate of Brown's, often lamented the exclusion of Hennigan from the Hall of Fame up until his death. Hennigan set his receptions record after catching nine passes against Brown, who also agrees with Blanda that the Oilers legend deserves a bust in Canton.

Not only did Hennigan's 101 reception season stand as a record for 20 years, his 1,746 yards gained stood as a record for 34 seasons. He is the only player ever to have three games of 200-yards receiving in a season.

Voters should look at the travails Hennigan had to persevere through compared to the game now. Not only the rules to empower the modern offense that he did not have to help him nor the shoddy fields he played on often. How the hash marks placement greatly differed then and the goal posts used to be placed hazardously on the goal line in his day.

How the defenses of his day actually were allowed to play defense and even extend it further to the realm of crossing the lines of fair play. Even with medical care that didn't have as much expertise as now, Hennigan went out there and performed at a Hall of Fame level no matter how hurt he was.

There is no doubt that Hennigan belongs in Canton. The seniors committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is afforded just two nominees each year, which is unfair to the tremendous backlog they have to sift through annually. Yet Hennigan should never have reached the seniors pool, because it is obvious he should have been inducted long ago.

While he is in that deep seniors pool now, Hennigan easily rises to the top of the best wide receivers not yet inducted. Yet too much times has passed in his omission, so the voters must get it together now and put him in so Hennigan can enjoy his long overdue induction.

It is easy to see Charlie Hennigan is the greatest wide receiver not yet put into the hallowed halls within Canton. He belonged long ago, but now is the time to right the wrongs made by past voters. Contact all of the voters and tell them that Hennigan deserves his rightful place inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame.























This and That 02/14/13
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Oakland Raiders City of Tamp Bay Edith Houghton

Valentineís Gift?? Raiderís covering up?? All this and more in this weeks edition ofÖ



My wife asked me what I wanted for Valentineís day so I showed her this picture:

Now Iím in the dog house. Oh well. At least I can enjoy my Valentineís Day.



You might not have seen this on ESPN, or the NFL website, but the Oakland Raiders are tarping off sections of the Oakland Coliseum to reduce the capacity by 10,000 sets to avoid blackouts. Attendance will max out at 53,200. The Raiders "described the decision as a 'tool' to ensure games remain on local television as well as to promote more of a community and family-friendly atmosphere."

At least the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars averaged over 64,500 fans per game and they have 4 sections covered. Well for two of the games they took one section of tarp down and for another game (New England) they took two sections down.



How come the City of Tampa has any major league sports teams in their city? The Tampa Bay Rays were†last in attendance, 19,255 fans per game and they have had a playoff caliber team for the last four years. When they did make the playoffs there were a lot of empty seats. Tampa Bay Buccaneers average 55,102 fans per game which is only 83% of capacity. The only team that people go to are the Tampa Bay Lighting which averages 18,000 fans per game which is 96.2% of capacity.



Is there a dominate college basketball team?? Could it be the Miami Hurricanes?? Indiana?? Duke?? Michigan?? Cuse?? Gonzaga?? Who knows, but one thing is clear, it will not be easy to do this years NCAA Brackets.



Edith Houghton, the first female scout in major league baseball history passed away at the age of 100. Before becoming a scout, Edith played baseball for the Philadelphia Bobbies, New York Bloomer Girls and the Hollywood Girls during the 1920s and 1930s before the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was formed. She served in the Navy during World War II. Upon returning from the War she contacted Bob Carpenter, Owner of the Philadelphia Phillies and asked to work as a scout. Carpenter was so impressed with a scrapbook Houghton compiled he hired her immediately. She signed 15 players during her career none of which earned a call to the big leagues.



The International Olympic Committee has decided to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics starting in 2020. Iím not going to go into the specifics of why they did it, Average Det Fan did a great job doing that.

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA) posted†an article about this incident. They are encouraging fan to take to social media to let your voices be heard. Speak out using #SaveOlympicWrestling and @Olympics



Til Next Time

Scott

A Guy Worthy of an Honor...
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Oakland Raiders NFL Ray Guy

I think this Guyís leg is a legal, lethal weapon...

Almost as lethal as a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick...

This Guy was a game changer...

He was bad field position waiting to happen...

If this Guy was a soccer player...

He could have scored a goal from his OWN penalty kick area...

All the way across the midline...

And just beyond the reach of the defending goalie....

A Ray Guy kick was a work of art...

He should be in the Louvre...

But he also should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame...

At his position...

There was nobody...

Thatís right...

Nobody like this Guy...

He wasnít just another Guy...

He was so incredible...

His first and last name combined only needed six letters...

Ray Guy...

The greatest NFL punter ever...

Ever...

His leg would turn poor field position for his team...

Into poor field position for the opposing team...

Yeah, I know...

The Guy was a Raider...

A hated rival of mine...

But there was now way I could hate that guy...

When he stepped onto the field...

You got your red zone offense ready...

Most likely...

Youíd start from your OWN red zone, not his...

Out of Southern Miss...

The only pure punter to be drafted in the first round...

Typical Raiders...

Drafting a punter in the first round...

Brilliant Raiders...

Thatís how good he was...

They ought to name an award after him...

Uhhhh....

They did...

The Ray Guy Award for best collegiate punter...

College accomplishments???

A then record 61 yard field goal at Utah...

In a snowstorm???

Youíve got to be kidding...

A 93 yard punt against Ole Miss...

The Most Valuable Player in the final and now defunct College All-Star game...

Against the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins...

Member of the Mississippi and Georgia Sports Halls of Fame...

The National High School Sports Hall of Fame...

The College Football Hall of Fame...

But the NFL...

Has yet to give this Guy his due...

207 consecutive games...

Nearly 45,000 total punted yards...

210 punts inside the red zone...

Not counting his first three seasons when the NFL didnít keep that stat...

More red zone punts than touchbacks...

Ray-dar Ray...

The Master of Hang Time...

Me thinks...

One of his punts is still up there...

619 consecutive punts without before one finally got blocked...

Zero punts returned for a touchdown...

Five punts over 60 yards in 1981...

First punter to hit the Superdome video screen (1976 Pro Bowl)...

So amazed were they...

NFC officials pulled the ball and tested it for helium...

Helium???

No...

More like Guy-lium...

And heís NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame...

Yet...

Wake up, voters...

This Guy dominated his position...

But just as sadly...

Like many Americans...

Ray Guy wasnít able to kick hard financial times....

Having filed for bankruptcy in 2011...

Super Bowl rings sold for more than ninety grand in an auction...

Somebody ought to buy those rings...

And give Ďem back to Ray...

But for now...

No rings...

No Hall of Fame...

And for a guy who caused many a fair catch...

Not fair...

Not fair at all...

dvt

Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Guy

http://www.theheismanwinners.com/images/RayGuy1_1_.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogdeHzBi4YM

http://www.diehardsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-15-at-3.31.58-PM.png

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/guy01.jpg

NFL Star Avoids Retirement And Hangs Onto A Glorious Past
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Hines Ward Pittsburgh Steelers Art Monk Charley Taylor Mike Wallace Jerry Rice San Francisco 49ers Oakland Raiders Washington Redskins




Subjugating admission to an ego that athletic abilities have waned is tough for many professional athletes. Especially when the person is under 40 years old and feels years of acquired knowledge have made them more valuable than ever before.

Hines Ward recently told reporters that he has no plans to retire and wants to play with the Pittsburgh Steelers next season. Having spent all of his career with Pittsburgh, the 14-year veteran told reporters he is willing to take a reduction in pay off his 2011 salary of $4 million.

Ward says he will be "devastated" if he cannot finish his career with the only professional team he has played for, but Pittsburgh will have to decide in a few months if they want to give the wide receiver a roster bonus in order to give him a chance to make the team in training camp.

Not only is he the the eighth player in NFL to accumulate 1,000 career receptions, Ward is coming off maybe his worst NFL season since his rookie season in 1998. A reserve behind Courtney Hawkins and Charles Johnson that season, it was the only year of Ward's career he didn't start a game.

Antonio Brown began to take starts away this year from Ward, whose nine starts in 2011 were his fewest since the 1998 season. Brown and fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace would be named to the Pro Bowl this year, further pushing Ward into a role of the sage veteran who is more of a coach than player at this stage of their career.
His 46 receptions in 2011 were the fewest Ward has had since his rookie season. Burt it wasn't just a decline in production there that may have the Steelers brass undecided as to whether or not they bring him back for another year.

He was always a possession receiver whose game was more noted for leadership and a run blocking ability that was truly bone-jarring. But Ward averaged a career low 8.3 yards per reception this year, and the two touchdown receptions Ward scored were his fewest since he failed to score as a rookie.

Wanting to hang on another year is nothing new for the NFL player. There has been a ton of wide receivers who wanted to extend their careers one last season, but few who went out to the retirement pastures having left an indelible mark on those last gasps for glory.

Jerry Rice is thought of by many to be the finest wide receiver in NFL history. The Hall of Famer spent 16 years with the San Francisco 49ers, but the team decided to part ways when Rice wanted to keep playing. He joined the Oakland Raiders and remained extremely productive for three season, one of which included a Pro Bowl nod, but wanted to keep playing in 2004.

Father Time finally caught up to Rice by then, so the Raiders traded him to the Seattle Seahawks early in the season. He still tried to play in 2005, but ultimately decided to retire after realizing he would never top the depth charts of any team again.

Rice broke the all-time receptions record of fellow Hall of Famer Art Monk, who is the first NFL player to ever have over 100 receptions in a season. Monk himself extended his career perhaps too long, just as did Rice and many others.

After having spent 14 seasons with the Washington Redskins, the team decided to trim their payroll and parted ways with Monk. He joined the New York Jets for a year and was a moderately effective player, but decided to try and keep playing. Monk joined the Philadelphia Eagles for three games in 1995 before deciding to retire.

Monk wanting to keep playing the game was no different than what his mentor, Charley Taylor, did. The Hall of Famer, who left the NFL as the all-time leader in receptions, tried to play his 13th season for the Redskins in 1977.

Taylor, who had missed the entire previous season due to injury, began the season starting and eventually lost his job to Danny Buggs. He retired as a player, but soon rejoined Washington and coached the wide receivers to three Super Bowl victories.

These are just a few examples of how Ward's NFL future could play out. Few end their careers on a high note, as Wes Chandler and Max McGee did.

Chandler spent 11 years with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers, which included four Pro Bowl nods. He joined the 49ers in 1988 and played just four games, but garnered a Super Bowl ring that season before finally retiring.

McGee spent 12 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, but had just 16 receptions for 325 yards and four scores in his last two years with the Packers. Yet his nine receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the postseason helped Green Bay win two consecutive Super Bowls and helped McGee retire at the top.

Whenever Ward does decide to retire, he will most likely receive a few votes for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Despite making the Pro Bowl just four times, he is the Super Bowl XL MVP and was named MVP of the team Steelers times. Ward is the Steelers all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

Recruited by Georgia University as a quarterback, Pittsburgh had Ward throw just three passes in his career but did run the ball 57 times for 428 yards and a score. He was a precision route-runner who was the only dependable weapon Pittsburgh's passing game had for several seasons.

Yet his leadership skills was perhaps as important as his playing ability. Ward's desire to win would have fit well with the famous "Steel Curtain" defense that won four titles, and his helping the franchise win two more just helps Pittsburgh stay one of the more respected teams in the NFL.

His blocking ability allows Ward to stand out from the rest of the wide receivers in the league. Unfairly termed a dirty player by some, all Ward did was out-think opponents and put himself in the right position to make crucial blocks that also happened to break bones.

In 2008, he laid out a unsuspecting Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers. While not penalized for the play, the ever-softening NFL did change rules in 2009 by making it illegal a blindside block if it comes from the blocker's helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender. It is called the Hines Ward Rule by many.

Whether or not Ward remains in the NFL, let alone with Pittsburgh, remains to be seen. It is obvious he is nearing the end of a fabulous career, one that can continue thanks to rules that cater to the offensive side of the football.

His wisdom, blocking ability and leadership should attain a job offer next season, but Pittsburgh may end up being forced with giving Ward's roster spot to a younger and cheaper player. It may not be what the teams wants, but the examples of Rice and Monk are proof that sometimes the bottom line of a fiscal situation outweighs the heart.







Yooooooooo! Dis IS 7thStone wunce again! OK, I took a little trip but I iz back four now cuz I gots 30 days of extenshun to cum up with da money deez goombas claim i owe. Interest iz a killer yo!

My cuzin 3rd filled in and went 4-4 in my absince. He almost called dat Patriots/ Broncos score perfectly tho. I tink I can be better dis weak.




Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

Baltimore has never beaten the Patriots in six regular seesun games since 1996, but dey did win in New England during da 2009 playoffs. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has four of those wins and is coming off a 2011 where he threw for career best totals in attempts, completions and passing yards.

Brady is one of just two players in NFL history to win both the league's most valuable player award and Super Bowl MVP multiple times. He is very much in the running for a third NFL MVP trophy, because the Patriots have relied on his prowess heavily all seasun.

Da Patriots don't run da football a lot, relying on five halfbacks two share da carries. Brady has spread da ball out too 12 different receivers, which includes fore players wif over 50 receptions.

New England's defense is nothing special, ranking 31st in yards allowed and 15th in points coughed up. Their 17th ranked rushing defense will be under the spotlight against a Ravens team that relies heavily on their ground game.

If Baltimore cannot run the ball well, da onus will bee on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco, whose 57.6 compleshun percentige dis yeer was da worst of his career, has won 46 of his 64 regular seesun starts. Da fourth-yeer pro has been drawing criticism recently for an inability to win big games, but da fact is dat Flacco has also won five of eight playoff games as well.


Ray Rice is the key to the Ravens offensive attack. Not only did he lead the team in rushing and receiving, but da 2,068 yards from scrimmage he had dis yeer led da NFL. Flacco has found five receivers more den 40 times dis seesun.

Baltimore has a veteran defense that is perennially amongst da best in da league. Dey ranked third in both points and yards allowed dis yeer, as well as furst on touchdown passes given up.

Fore Raven defenders wuz named two da Pro Bowl dis yeer, but da Ravens secondairy will have two bee grate for dere teem to win. Strong safety Bernard Pollard will be da most watched, cuz he will be given da assignment of trying to cover New England's two young stud tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Baltimore has a pair of young stud tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson themselves. While their combined 94 receptions and eight scores may pale in comparison to the 169 catches and 24 touchdowns Gronkowski and Hernandez got, the two are none the less an effective duo.

New England lost just one home game this yeer, while all fore of da Ravens 2011 losses happened on da road. Both squads know how too win da big game and are laden wif experienced veterans.

3rdStone picked da Ravens too win it all befour dis seesun started, while I tought dey will reech da Super Bowl. Tho I tink da Pats might win dis, I decided to go wif 3rd and stick wif da Ravens.

Ravens 31 Patriots 24













New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers

Dis surprise matchup iz indickadiv of a NFL seesun that kinda sucked tanks too no training camp. While da Niner was expected by few two bee hear at da beginning of dis seasun, praktically no one tought da Giants wuld ger hear after losing like half of dere defensive players before dey even got on da field dis yeer.

New York is a teem dat throws da ball a lot cuz dere running game sucks out loud. San Francisco has a grate defense, led by excellent linebackers, and a offense dat leens on using halfback Frank Gore too eat up da clock wif a lot of touches.

Vernon Davis is finally getting to show America his amazing athleticism tanks too da improved play of quarterback Alex Smith. Smith stopped turning da ball over dis yeer two, which allowed Davis more chances two get balls and be spechul.

Da Giants go as far as Eli Manning's arm takes dem. Dere team is mediocre, as dere 9-7 record shows dis yeer, but da quarterback has had his best seasun ever in 2011. He has excellent wide receivers to work wif, which helped Manning set career high marks in attempts, completions and passing yards while making his second Pro Bowl in his eight yeers.

Since da Niners wide receivers are pretty lousy, I expect even da beat up New York secondairy to play wif dem and allow da defense to concentrate on Gore and Davis. San Francisco needs Michael Crabtree to play as good as he thinks he is.

Cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown need to play well enuff too force New York into running da ball more. San Francisco should shut down most of da Jints offense for da most part, but dis iz da key area to push dem too victory.

Gore will be needed to run well, because da Niners do not want two rely to much on Smith. If da Giants blitz a lot to shut down Gore and try to shake up Smith, a pretty yung San Francisco offensive line will bee put two da test.

Dese teems met a weak befour Thanksgiving dis seasun in San Francisco. Da Niners won 27-20 tanks too for field goals by Pro Bowl kicker David Akers. New York gained 90 more yards, but two interceptions by Rogers helped da Niners seel da deal in da forth quarter.

I don't know if da Niners swipe too more balls dis Sunday, but I can sea it. New York has da edge in experience, but San Francisco holds a decisive edge at spechul teems. Gore was shut down in da first meating between da squads, so I am looking for improved production from him.

49ers 23 Giants 21




OK yous mugs, enjoy Sunday. I iz gunna catch da games at dis cuties house, where I expect us too due our own stretching exercises at halftime. Capeesh?

Like dey often say in Ol' Mexico = A.M.F.


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