Saturday, August 25, 2018

NFL72 Update

Dolphin Gas Systems at 2990 N.W. 24 St., (633.0571) in an Aug. 25, 1972, Miami News ad, urges the home team to …


It’s 0-2 Atlanta at 1-2 Miami in the Orange Bowl for an 8 p.m. Eastern Friday exhibition game. Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder likes the Dolphins by seven. Preseason NFL72 gets much more serious treatment than does preseason NFLNow—there’s more emphasis on winning, and the starters play more.

One of the matchups that Miami News reporter Al Levine will be watching in tonight 1972’s game is 272-pound Falcon defensive end John Small against 265-pound Dolphin guard Larry Little. The Small-Little clash, Levine expects, will have large bearing on the fortunes of the vaunted Miami running attack, which is still sorting itself out.

The Dolphins' backup-quarterback problem, meanwhile, appears to have been solved. Jim Del Gaizo, the young quarterback who excelled in fierce preseason competition with Earl Morrall for the No. 2 quarterback spot until cutting a finger on his passing hand, has been “waived injured” and “cleared,” which I think means no other team chose to sign him. He is likely to head to the taxi squad for a second straight season, and he was asked about the prospect. Del Gaizo's response, per the Miami News: “Don’t ask stupid questions, man.”

As for the other side of the field, Atlanta coach Norm Van Brocklin told Levine, “What we’e been trying to do for the past three and a half years is to come up with 22 great football players, one for each of the starting positions on offense and defense. Now we think we’re closing in on that goal.”

The Falcons are coming off their first-ever winning season: 7-6-1 in NFL71. I’ve been reading a great book, Illustrated Digest of Pro Football, published in July 1972, and, for each team, it includes little profiles of several key players, statistics, schedules and snappy essays putting the current squad in context of its history. 

Here’s what the book has to say about Atlanta:

The Falcons enter their seventh season still looking to fly a conference flag which could be the turning point in their payment of dividends in victories. Payment to the fans who have supported them from the minute owner Rankin Smith and his friends paid $8.5 million in 1966 to enter the gates of the National Football League.

Fans came faster than victories. There were more than 1,000 telephone calls for tickets on the day the NFL expansion announcement was made. Now there are more than 45,000 season subscribers who are looking to see whether the Falcons have gained that extra step that will have the Falcons doing as well outside its NFC-Western Division as they did within the division last year.

Norm Van Brocklin, who succeeded Norb Hecker as head coach in mid-1966, is counting on linebacker Tommy Nobis, tight end Jim Mitchell and offensive tackle George Kunz to be matched by other Falcons in aggressiveness. “Our kind of team has to expect to win close or lose close,” Van Brocklin said. “We must be aggressive.”

Based on the info that Ed Croke and Art Poretz edited together in this book, plus the players Van Brocklin started last season, here’s what I project to be the Falcon lineup for NFL72 (oh, my gosh, I cannot begin to explain just how fun it was to arrange this photograph; maybe I’ll do it for every team!).

I’m thrown by Al Levine’s reporting, however, that Dick Shiner, not Bob Berry, is going to be Atlanta's starting quarterback tonight in the Orange Bowl. So, now, I don’t know what the heck's going on, because it seems like most coaches are starting their actual starters in the preseason. Don Shula has been, and I imagine Norm Van Brocklin is, too.

By the way, have I ever shared my Dick Shiner artwork at the HP? I love it!

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