Monday, January 4, 2016

The Freakin' Weekend (1970)


It's Jan. 4, 1970. The Cleveland Browns are making their third trip to the NFL championship game in five seasons; this is the first-ever appearance for the Minnesota Vikings. 

The two teams met during the regular season, and Minnesota walloped Cleveland, 51-3. But Paul Christman and Pat Summerall broke down the matchup on CBS's pre-game show today and described a fairly close matchup--the Vikings with the better a defense, the Browns with the better offense.







I will be rooting for Coach Blanton Collier of Paris High, Georgetown College and UKMiddle Linebacker Dale Lindsey of Bowling Green High and WKU and the Browns.

Then I'll be switching over to NBC for the AFL championship and having second thoughts about not flying out to Oakland for that game. 



69 comments:

  1. Welcome to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn., where our announcers, economical Ray Scott and eloquent Paul Christman, agree this is the best weather one could expect at this time of the year, in this part of the country.

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  2. Frigid--but sunny, with the snow pushed away from the field.

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  3. Ford is advertising its Maverick as "the simple machine" and talks a lot about how simply the car is put together, indicating that its simplicity contribute to its low cost--"still $1,995 when everything else is going up."

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    1. That's $12,901 today -- very cheap for a new car.

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  4. 9 degrees. The wind is 12 miles per hour. The field's in good condition.

    Minnesota wins the toss.

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  5. Here comes Don Cockroft for the kickoff. I once wrote an unpublished, short children's story about Don Cockroft. I sought his support on the project but never heard back; maybe I didn't have the right address.

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  6. Ray Scott tells us that all but nine of these Browns were part of the Cleveland team that lost the 1968 NFL championship to Baltimore.

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  7. This is a beautiful football game--the grass, the sun, the shadows, the players' breath in the cold, the black cleats, the Vikings' purple jerseys, the Browns' perfect helmets, everything.

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    1. Mid-century America had its good and bad points, but industrial design was one of its strengths.

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  8. Joe Kapp spins to hand off to Bill Brown, but, instead, the two Vikings collide in the Minnesota backfield. Kapp rights himself from a stumble to plow through three Cleveland defenders for a touchdown. "Watch! It's a busted play," Christman says. "This is the best bust in the world: six points."

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  9. And now here's a word from Winston. In this commercial, we have a depiction of male and female skiers who happen around the same fire in a ski lodge after injuring their legs. They share pleasant conversation over cigarettes and coffee.

    "Yeeeeeeaaaaaah ... Winston King or Super King ... you've got a real good thing."

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  10. Pat Summerall so clearly learned his spartan play-by-play style ("Montana ... Rice ... touchdown") from Ray Scott.

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  11. Jan. 24 on CBS: "The Harlem Globetrotters' Road to Mexico."

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  12. Not much happening for Cleveland ... the Vikings take over at their own 24 after a Cockroft punt.

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  13. Scott: "It is third-and-9 at the Viking 25 ... 8:24 left to play, first quarter ... Minnesota leads, seven-nothing, and Kapp sends Henderson to the left and Washington to the right ..."

    Joe Kapp: "BLUE 87! HUT! HUT!"

    Scott: "Washington! ... His defender fell down! ... Touchdown!"

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  14. 7:53 to play in the first quarter, and this does not appear to be shaping up as a banner day back in Paris among Blanton Collier's peeps.

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  15. Scott: "The head coach of the Cleveland Browns is referred to over and over again in descriptive phrases like 'mild-mannered.' The word 'gentlemanly' is used. And, certainly, I'd have to say, Paul, he's one of the truly soft-spoken head coaches I've ever known."

    Christman: "And one of the real greats in this coaching profession, and, incidentally, among other people, he taught a young man named Bud Grant--he started him off."

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  16. CBS starts its weekly National Hockey League telecasts next Sunday.

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  17. This one could end up even worse than 51-3.

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  18. Wow. And now here's a Leroy Kelly fumble.

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  19. Smoking, drinking, flying places, driving places ... it's a go-go country that has gone into the 1970s, per the commercials in this game.

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    1. I think grown-ups had more fun back then than they do now. Erma Bombeck was always writing stuff about New Year's Eve parties, and hangovers, and the like.

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  20. 14-0, Minnesota, early in the second quarter.

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  21. Ray Scott is keeping an eye on the players' footwear--which ones are wearing cleats and which ones have switched to sneakers. He's obviously teeing up himself or Paul Christman to tell this story.

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  22. 11 minutes to go in the half, and Cleveland makes its first penetration across midfield ... but here comes Cockroft for another punt.

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  23. The Browns quickly resume possession, but, on first down at the Minnesota 49 after a punt, Bill Nelsen throws an interception.

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  24. 40 seconds to go in the first half, and Cleveland fails on a fourth-and-3 opportunity at the Minnesota 17. The Vikings, leading 24-0, take over at their 20, as Ray Scott notes that an fourth-down pass that falls incomplete in the end zone results in a touchback.

    I wonder when that rule changed. I think the old way sounds pretty interesting.

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    1. You've got to kick that field goal. Just get some points on the board.

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  25. Through three quarters: Vikings 27, Browns 0.

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  26. Cleveland scores early in the fourth, and then the Browns stop Minnesota on three downs. Now the Browns have first down at midfield with 9:45 to go ...

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  27. Paul Warfield streaks open in the middle of the field long, but Bill Nelsen is engulfed by Alan Page just before he can throw. "If he had just a little more time to throw, ...," Paul Christman says. "It's been like that all day."

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  28. Inside eight minutes ... first down, Cleveland, inside the Minnesota 25 ...

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  29. But Nelsen, facing pressure each down, throws four straight incompletions, and that should do it.

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  30. Ray Scott: "So, the Cleveland Browns, who have won four championships, must wait yet another year."

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  31. The Browns upset Dallas, 38-14, at the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 28, 1969, and it was the last Cleveland road playoff win. From the team's founding in 1946 through 1969, the Browns advanced to a playoff or championship game in 17 of 24 seasons. Cleveland won all four All-America Football Conference championships and then four NFL titles. There have been 11 playoff appearances in the 46 seasons less with a total of four post-season wins, all in AFC divisional or wild-card rounds.

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    1. Cleveland is about to make a handoff to Pittsburgh.

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  32. Tex Maule reported that Nelsen, a "California extrovert," was planning to make Cleveland his permanent home. He also suggested Paul Warfield now might be the game's top receiver.

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  33. But after deciding that Nelsen's knees were in bad shape after this game, the Browns traded Warfield to Miami in order to be in position to draft Mike Phipps of Purdue.

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  34. Imagine you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan getting up to flip the TV set from CBS to NBC for the AFL championship. Your team just finished up a 1-13 season with Dick Shiner as its primary starting quarterback. You just watched ex-Steeler Bill Nelsen quarterback the Browns, and you're about to watch ex-Steeler Len Dawson quarterback the Chiefs. And you just spent the last 12 years watching ex-Steeler Johnny Unitas light it up for Baltimore.

    At least you've got Terry Hanratty, your second-round pick in the '69 draft. He's got the potential to be your quarterback of the 1970s.

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  35. I do want to say, though, that this would've probably been the issue that triggered the "cancel-my-son's-subscription" screed to SI from the mother of 10-year-old me. It's the annual swimsuit issue, and the pictures are getting pretty steamy. Plus, here's Tex Maule leading with a Kaul Kassulke quote with a vulgarity. Mom thought she had subscribed me to Sports Illustrated, not Playboy.

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  36. Replies
    1. We'll see how that goes with Hank Stram.

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  37. Um, yes ... well ... on to the Chiefs and the AFL half of things.

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  38. So, before this game, Sports Illustrated had a lengthy Daryle Lamonica feature in the issue that would've been arriving in our mailboxes either the weekend of this game or the weekend following. He is presented as a straight-laced version of Joe Namath, and it appears that everyone is looking at Namath vs. Lamonica as pro football's primary football rivalry of the 1970s.

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  39. Lamonica was a three-year starter at Notre Dame, during the down seasons for the Fighting Irish of the early 1960s.

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  40. "Daryle's first three years with the Raiders were nothing short of brilliant," Topps wrote of Lamonica on the back of his 1971 football card. "He was the unanimous choice as the AFL's MVP for 1969, he topped the 3000-yard mark passing all three years and his 89 touchdown passes were the most ever in a three-year period in pro football history."

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  41. So, anyway, Hoptown 1970 me absolutely would've been expecting Lamonica and the Raiders to dominate the Chiefs and then the Vikings. I watched Super Bowl II and Super Bowl III. I'm certainly under no illusion of NFL dominance. I think I believe in Lombardi dominance, and I'm very intrigued by what his Washington Redskins might do in the next several years. But it looks to me like the Lamonica Raiders and the Namath Jets are probably going to be the dominant teams of the 1970s and that Oakland is going to gets its first championship here in the first days of the new decade.

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  42. The Raiders were expecting it, too, apparently. As depicted in the AFL-championship link in the original post here, the Raiders showed up at the game with their suitcases packed to leave directly from Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to go to the airport and then fly to New Orleans for next Sunday's Super Bowl IV.

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  43. The Raiders opened a 7-0 lead on Kansas City, and then the Chiefs put together a drive at the end of the second quarter to tie the game at halftime.

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    1. In retrospect, this is like one of those recent games between the Ravens and the Steelers. It's just going to be a big violent mess that will probably be decided by turnovers.

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  44. The Raiders' first-year head coach, John Madden, brought back Lamonica in the fourth quarter, but he threw three interceptions. "I couldn't put any zip on the ball," United Press International's Steve Toomajian quoted Lamonica.

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  45. Here's how the next six possessions played out after the third quarter ended with Kansas City leading, 14-7:

    -- Jim Kearney intercepts Lamonica;

    -- Carleton Oats of Oakland recovers a fumble by Robert Holmes;

    -- Jim Marsalis intercepts Lamonica;

    -- Dan Connors recovers a Holmes fumble;

    -- Thomas intercepts Lamonica, and

    -- Jan Stenerud kicks a 22-yard field goal for a 17-7 Kansas City lead.

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  46. Replies
    1. Surely Blanda could have done better than this. I bet Madden regrets not playing Blanda down the stretch.

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  47. Toomajian of UPI focused his game story on how the Kansas City defensive line dominated Oakland's offensive line. Lamonica, who had been sacked 12 times in 14 regular-season games in 1969, "was smothered four times Sunday and forced to hurry his passes. The Raider offensive linemen offered no excuses and lauded the K.C. front four," Toomajian wrote. The next four paragraphs of his story, then, are quotes from Oakland left guard Gene Upshaw, left tackle Bob Svihus, right guard Jim Harvey and right tackle Harry Schuh acknowledging their difficulties in blocking, respectively, Kansas City defensive linemen Buck Buchanan, Aaron Brown, Curley Culp and Jerry Mays.

    I can't imagine there's ever been another football game story that quotes four of one team's offensive linemen--much less the losing team's.

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  48. The New York Post, meanwhile, quoted Blanda in its coverage: "Daryle was hurt. He should never have gone back in there. I might have moved the club after a while. Daryle started throwing over the middle. I can throw over the middle, too. But you've got to look guys off when you throw in there. Daryle goes back and he looks at his receiver the whole way. He draws everybody in there."

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    1. In 1962, Blanda threw 27 touchdown passes and 42 interceptions.

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    2. Forty-two interceptions! That's an average of three per game. And Houston still went 11-3.

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  49. The next day, Blanda (who missed all three of his field-goal attempts in the game) said he didn't say any of the bad stuff about Lamonica or Madden and that the quarterback should've returned to the game and that the coach made the right decision in putting him back in. "There were 20 or 30 writers around, and I'm certain none of them left with the same impression. Why I would say anything to this gentleman and not say anything to the other writers seems a little unreal."

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  50. Well, whatever, we have our league champions, and the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs are set to play in Super Bowl IV on Jan. 11, 1970.

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