Sunday, August 29, 2021

NFL75: Preseason

"Regularly scheduled programs will not be seen tonight, so that we can bring you the College All-Stars football game ..."

Previous and future reports:

-- Super Bowl X


  1. I prefer a silent barber, and I particularly don't want to hear anything about hair. So a visit to the stylist in the Mennen Protein 29 commercial preceding this Aug. 1, 1975, telecast would likely be my last.

  2. Our ABC broadcast team from Soldier Field in Chicago is a creative blending of voices familiar to pro- and college-game fans: Keith Jackson, Bud Wilkinson and Howard Cosell.

  3. Some of the collegians we will get to see tonight: quarterback Steve Bartkowski from the University of California and now of the Atlanta Falcons, running back Walter Payton from Jackson State University and now of the Chicago Bears and Russ Francis from the University of Oregon and now of the New England Patriots.

  4. Oh, here again is the Mickey Mantle athlete's foot commercial.

  5. The Steelers drafted Joe Greene from North Texas State with the fourth-overall selection in 1969, Chuck Noll’s first year as Pittsburgh’s head coach. Their second-round choice was Terry Hanratty, the Notre Dame star quarterback. With rookie Hanratty starting five games and playing in three others (the other Pittsburgh quarterbacks were Dick Shiner and Kent Nix), the Steelers in 1969 went 1-13.

    So, they had the top overall pick in the 1970 draft, and, with it, Pittsburgh picked quarterback Terry Bradshaw from Louisiana Tech. For their second-round choice, the Steelers went back to North Texas and one of Greene’s Mean Green teammates, wide receiver Ron Shanklin.

  6. Shanklin caught Bradshaw’s first NFL touchdown pass and led the Steelers in receptions in each of his first four seasons. In 1973, his teammates voted Shanklin team MVP. He was again a starting receiver in 1974, including throughout the playoffs. But that year was the year that the Steelers drafted John Stallworth and Lynn Swann among what is often cited as the greatest draft class in NFL history. After one quarter of Super Bowl IX last January, Noll relied on his rookie receivers, rather than Shanklin and fellow starter Frank Lewis.

  7. Replies
    1. This game was being played/aired Aug. 1, 1975. I wonder why it was that I didn't note that in 2021. I feel confident I had a reason.

  8. But not much longer. By the end of August, Shanklin will be back in Chicago—traded to the Bears for a second-round draft choice.

  9. Fink led his story with lyrics from Glen Campbell’s hit song, “Rhinestone Cowboy” (which he performed brilliantly on a recent Midnight Special):

    There’ll be a load of compromisin’
    On the road to my horizon,
    But I want to be
    Where the lights are shinin’ on me

  10. On Sept. 6, Shanklin was injured in a Bears exhibition against the Dolphins, and what appeared to be a knee sprain ended up requiring season-ending surgery.

    He came back in NFL76 to play in and start five games for the Bears, and then that was it. Shanklin later coached football at North Texas State (as well as the University of Houston).

    Rest in peace, Ron Shanklin (1948-2003), originally of Hubbard and finally of DeSoto, Texas.

  11. It also has shown exactly why the NFL wanted to rid of the thing:

    — Franco Harris got his shoulder hurt early and is sidelined for the rest of the evening, and Terry Bradshaw has been getting clobbered. So Chuck Noll probably isn’t happy about the game.

    — Howard Cosell noted that, because he has been tied up with all-star practices, Randy White hasn’t gotten much work at his new linebacking position that the Cowboys plan for him. So Tom Landry probably isn’t happy.

    — And on the crossing pattern on which he received a pass from Steve Bartkowski and took it for a touchdown to give the collegian’s the game’s first score, Pat McInally, the Bengals’ top rookie broke his leg. The Bengals went 7-7 in NFL74 and finished third in the AFC Central. Ken Anderson is coming into his own headed into NFL75, his fifth season, and he has an inventive coach, Bill Walsh, who has all sorts of interesting new ideas about how to attack defenses like the Steelers’ with layers of varied weapons. McInally is not only another tool for Walsh’s belt, he’s also a heck of a good punter—eventually a Pro Bowl punter. So Paul Brown almost certainly is not happy at all about the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game.

  12. But Bud Wilkinson and I are very happy. The old Oklahoma Sooner coach is so obviously proud of the collegians’ performance, and the future Western Kentucky Hilltopper is thrilled that it was Virgil Livers, ex of WKU, who returned a punt for a touchdown to push the all-stars back ahead, 14-7.

  13. Livers is a little famous for a gruesome injury he sustained in his second season. While he was headed to surgery, his wife went into labor with their first child. It was Connie Payton, wife of Walter, who drove Linda Livers to the hospital in Des Plaines, Illinois.

  14. Payton was the Bears’ first draft choice (and No. 4 overall). Chicago’s second rounder was Penn State defensive end Mike Hartenstine. The Bears didn’t have a third, and then Livers, a defensive back, came in the fourth round. All three of those guys are in the College All-Stars Game.

  15. The Bears later in the NFL75 draft got a guard (fifth-rounder Revie Sorey of Illinois), a quarterback (sixth-rounder Bob Avellini of Maryland), a couple of linebackers (sixth-rounder Tom Hicks of Illinois and Joe Harris of Georgia Tech), a defensive tackle (ninth-rounder Roger Stillwell), another defensive back (12th-rounder Doug Plank) and another running back (17th-rounder Roland Harper) who each spent at least one season as a primary starter as his position for the Bears. Hartenstine and Plank started every game for Chicago as rookies in NFL75; Stillwell, 11; Harper, 10; Livers and Payton, seven each; Avellini, four. That’s a heck of a draft.

  16. The Bears went 4-10 in NFL74, and they're going to go 4-10 in NFL75. But big changes are happening in Chicago.

  17. In the week prior to the opening of the regular season in NFL74, George Halas hired Jim Finks, who built the great Vikings teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as his new general manager. Then, as for his head coach, Finks fired Abe Gibron, the lovable-but-gruff guy singing "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" on NFL Films, and hired Jack Pardee, the old George Allen linebacker who impressed everyone as a 38-year-old coached a team of players who didn't receive paychecks for the last three months of the season to within one point of winning the first World Football League championship in 1974.

  18. In NFL77, the Pardee/Finks/Payton situation is going to have the Bears in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. And--though Pardee, then Finks and then Payton are going to leave--the Bears are going to go through about a 20-year run of being mostly quite good, sometimes great, occasionally only OK and, one season, the best.

    The 1975 Chicago Charities College All-Star Game would've been a great time for some kid to decide to start being a Bears fan.

  19. Howard Cosell at halftime dopes NFL75:

    — AFC East is the tightest division, with Dolphins favored over Bills (Colts "dramatically improved”)

    — Steelers in AFC Central, followed by Bengals (Oilers “a coming team”)

    — Raiders and Broncos battling for AFC West

    — Three-way race among Cowboys, Redskins and Cardinals in NFC East

    — Vikings in NFC Central (Packers “interesting” and Bears “dramatically improved”)

    — Rams in NFC West

    “Can Jim Harris do the job at quarterback? If so, the Rams could be Super Bowl champions.”

  20. Bud Wilkinson and Keith Jackson dope CFB75:

    — Alabama in the Southeastern Conference
    — Texas A&M in the Southwest Conference
    — Oklahoma ahead of Nebraska in the Big Eight
    — UCLA/USC—ahead of Cal, Stanford and maybe Washington--in the balanced Pac-8

    They did not identify Big Ten favorites. Instead, they opened this halftime segment with a note about the Big Ten’s decision to allow more than one team into bowl games. Keith mentioned this might allow “good teams like Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State” to also play in bowl games, so I think that means he and Bud like Ohio State and they just forgot to say so.

  21. Early in the fourth quarter, Chuck Noll has gone to Joe Gilliam in place of Terry Bradshaw, and Gilliam leads the Steelers to a tying touchdown. Remembering that Noll started out NFL74 with Gilliam ahead of Bradshaw, Howard Cosell wonders whether a quarterback change in Pittsburgh might unfold in reverse over the course of this season. Keith Jackson buffers the suggestion with the note that Noll has already announced that Bradshaw is his quarterback for NFL75.

  22. Cosell hails Pittsburgh's drafting prowess under Noll, and he specifically calls out the NFL71 haul--not yet realizing that the Steelers' NFL74 take is going to go down as the best in league history. Nonetheless, Cosell’s totally right about 1971. Wide receiver Frank Lewis (first round), linebacker Jack Ham (second), guard Gerry Mullins (fourth), defensive end Dwight White (fourth), tackle Larry Brown (fifth), defensive tackle Ernie Holmes (eighth) and safety Mike Wagner (11th) all started in the Super Bowl in January 1975. Six of the other 15 guys Pittsburgh each spent no fewer than two seasons on NFL rosters.

    Lewis, a wide receiver from Grambling State, is on his way to being pushed out of his job with the Steelers (along with Ron Shanklin) by NFL74 draftees John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. But in 1978, he’s going to end up having a whole new career—six seasons as a starter, including a Pro Bowl turn in NFL81. That guy used to kill the Dolphins.

  23. I think Keith is worn out with Howard.