Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Freakin' Weekend (1971)

Here goes up another monument that I'm probably going to regret.

You've probably been wondering what was on TV the last few nights of 1971. I'll get back to that in earnest; for now, I'll just say here's one of the things that was on Friday night, Sept. 17, about "the sport with the flash, dash and thrills custom-made for the new America ... the now America ..."

The new NFL season opened Sunday, Sept. 19, 1971, and the Baltimore Colts are the defending champs. Here are how the NFL70 division races played out ...

AFC East

Baltimore Colts (11-2-1, NFL champs)

Miami Dolphins (10-4, lost in first round of AFC playoffs)
New York Jets (4-10)
Buffalo Bills (3-10-1)
New England Patriots (2-12)

AFC Central

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, lost in first round of AFC playoffs)
Cleveland Browns (7-7)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-9)
Houston Oilers (3-10-1)

AFC West

Oakland Raiders (8-4-2, lost in AFC championship)
Kansas City Chiefs (7-5-2)
San Diego Chargers (6-6-3)
Denver Broncos (5-8-1)

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (10-4, lost in the Super Bowl)
New York Giants (9-5)
St. Louis Cardinals (8-5-1)
Washington Redskins (6-8)
Philadelphia Eagles (3-10-1)

NFC Central

Minnesota Vikings (12-2, lost in the first round of the NFC playoffs)
Detroit Lions (10-4, lost in the first round of the NFC playoffs)
Chicago Bears (6-8)
Green Bay Packers (6-8)

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1, lost in the NFC championship)
Los Angeles Rams (9-4-1)
Atlanta Falcons (4-8-2)
New Orleans Saints (2-11-1)

I'm for the Zangers and the Dolphins ...

God, help me; I love it so ...


  1. NFL71 Week 1:

    Dallas at Buffalo, noon
    Houston at Cleveland, noon
    Oakland at New England, noon
    Philadelphia at Cincinnati, noon
    San Francisco at Atlanta, noon
    Pittsburgh at Chicago, 1 p.m.
    Los Angeles at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
    Giants at Green Bay, 1 p.m.
    Washington at St. Louis, 1 p.m.
    Jets at Baltimore, 3 p.m.
    Miami at Denver, 3 p.m.
    Kansas City at San Diego, 3 p.m.
    Minnesota at Detroit, 8 p.m. Monday

  2. The NFL71 Bills are fantasy-football darlings--"a young, point-a-minute" machine with O.J. Simpson, second-year quarterback and some intriguing receivers in young Haven Moses and rookies J.D. Hill and Jan White. But Dallas is 1-0 after a 49-37 victory in Buffalo.

    Dallas traded Duane Thomas to New England in the offseason, along with offensive lineman Halvor Hagen and receiver Honor Jackson, for running back Carl Garrett. But then Thomas left the Patriots shortly after coach John Mazur reportedly ranted that he didn't want any free spirits, and the trade was mostly canceled. The Patriots earlier had acquired linebacker Steve Kiner from Dallas after Kiner, Thomas's roommate with the Cowboys, sided with Thomas in his salary dispute with Schramm. The Cowboys also reportedly tried to trade Thomas to Kansas City, but Chiefs coach Hank Stram would not give up rookie runner Mike Adamle in exchange.

    It looked for a long time that Thomas was going to simply sit out the entire season, but he is active with the Cowboys. Calvin Hill was the star of the Week 1 win over Buffalo, though.

  3. Another weird story that came out of Dallas this past offseason was that Bob Hayes reportedly said he paid $200 to deter an extortionist from kidnapping his daughter and bombing the homes of Tom Landry and Tex Schramm.

  4. I was sorry to see my main man from Paris, Blanton Collier, call it quits this offseason, but I'll still be rooting for the Browns as long as new-coach Nick Skorich keeps wearing these great beanies. Browns 31, Oilers 0.

  5. The Saints also turned an upset with a rookie quarterback, as Archie Manning led New Orleans to a come-from-behind victory at Los Angeles. The guy I want to talk about here, though, is J.D. Roberts, the Saints' coach.

    J.D. Roberts is in his first full season with New Orleans. He was hired at midseason in NFL70 from the minor-league Richmond Saints of the Atlantic Coast Football League, and, in his first game, he was the guy who sent Tom Dempsey onto the field for a last-second, 63-yard-field-goal attempt with the Saints trailing the Lions by a point. Dempsey's kick was good; it stood as the long-distance NFL record for years and years; the Saints put Dempsey on the cover of its NFL71 media guide, and then Roberts cut Dempsey in the preseason. Also, in the preseason, J.D. Roberts may or may not have known who O.J. Simpson was in a Saints exhibition against the Bills, per Archie Manning, via Jeff Duncan's book, Tales from the New Orleans Saints Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Saints Stories Ever Told. But, think what you will about this dude's football acumen or qualifications for the job, now he has coached the Saints to their first-ever season-opening victory, and it came at the Rams.

    I would say this is all as if the Carolina Panthers hired Rob, head coach of the NCFA Burlington Bees, as their head coach in 2003 or whatever, but at least Rob actually was successful in the minors. J.D. Roberts' Richmond Saints were 1-7 when he was hired away by New Orleans in NFL70.

    1. Pardon ... this game was at Tulane Stadium, not the Los Angeles Coliseum. Final was 24-20, New Orleans, and it's so great that there was no instant-replay review to jeopardize Manning's last-second run for the winning touchdown.

  6. Halftime in San Diego: Chiefs 14, Chargers 0.

    Final from San Diego: Chargers 21, Chiefs 14.

    But despair not, Chiefs fans! That linked NFL Films movie, A Year To Remember, opens with these rich, reassuring words of John Facenda: "Municipal Stadium, Kansas City, 1971—the ninth and final season of pro football in a stadium filled with memories for every Kansas City fan and every Kansas City player. And, in 1971, the miracle of television brought to the entire nation many more stirring memories of the Kansas City Chiefs, a pro-football team whose history is synonymous with success."

    TV really is great.

    1. Here's a really pretty home movie shot from the stands of San Diego Stadium (which would eventually come to be known as "Jack Murphy Stadium"). I would really like to see TV mix in more full-field shots of football games--it's neat to see all of the players moving at once in relation to one another.

  7. What a crazy game in Green Bay! The Packers' new coach, Dan Devine, formerly of the University of Missouri, had his leg broken as ex-Packer Bob Hyland is rolled out of bounds and into his old team's sideline on a play. Green Bay ends up coming back from a huge deficit, but New York holds on to prevail, 42-40.

    Two more things ...

    -- One, the new Packer quarterback is not old Zeke Bratkowski, who most writers expected to start in Bart Starr's place after coming out of retirement as a Bears assistant coach. It's Scott Hunter, a sixth-round rookie out of, like Starr, the University of Alabama. My dad loved Scott Hunter. We went to see a couple of Falcons exhibition games in the late 1970s, and Dad was always saying that he thought Atlanta would probably give up on (long-haired) Steve Bartkowski and turn the team over to Scott Hunter.

    -- The NFL70 Giants went 9-5, finished second in the NFC East and appeared to have identified a couple of young stars in second-year running back Ron Johnson (the franchise's first-ever 1,000-yard rusher and an All-Pro picked up from Cleveland in a preseason trade) and rookie middle-linebacker Jim Files (New York's first-round draft choice out of the University of Oklahoma). So there's a lot of sense of promise around the Giants of the new decade, and they show up on some covers of some preseason publications, etc. But then some strange things happen in the offseason. Fran Tarkenton has this lengthy holdout from the team, and it reportedly has something to do with the Giants not granting Tarkenton some kind of loan for some kind of big business venture. And then Tarkenton's backup quarterback, Dick Shiner, simply disappears from the squad during some preseason trip. New York ends up losing all six of its exhibition games in an era where exhibition games are absolutely treated more consequentially as win-loss affairs than they are today. Now I haven't checked to see whatever happened with Dick Shiner, but Fran Tarkenton did come back. And he and Ron Johnson and Jim Files and the rest end up getting the regular season rolling with a road win in Green Bay.

  8. So I think that's a wrap for the opening Sunday of NFL71. The Monday-night game is an NFC Central delight: Vikings at Lions. These are almost certainly the teams who will be slugging it out for the division championship, and Minnesota strikes a stunning early blow, coming from 13-0 behind in the first half at Tiger Stadium to win, 16-13.

    I know that somebody else might've written the script, but I love it how Pat Summerall hails Viking Bill Brown, the NFL's 10th-leading active rusher, for accepting and excelling in a diminished, special-teams role. I'll bet that's the kind of thing Summerall genuinely did respect. In fact, Bill Brown is going to keep right on playing a pivotal role on Bud Grant's special teams, through at least NFL74.

    NFL71 spoiler alert: "This was to be a year of almost for the Lions."

    1. I wonder if Detroit is going to have a new kicker by Week 2.

  9. No way! Pat opens by reporting that the Cowboys, the Redskins, the Browns and--shockingly to me, having read about them all summer in the Chicago Tribune--the Bears (!) each remain unbeaten through two weeks.

  10. One can really see why people who had watched the NFL through the 1960s thought O.J. Simpson was a near-perfect merging of Jim Brown and Gale Sayers.

  11. Patriots rookie Jim Plunkett, by the way, is on the cover of the league's game program, Pro!, this week. Here's the Buffalo edition, with an absolutely gorgeous International House of Pancakes ad.

  12. Oh, my, the Bears came up with 17 fourth-quarter points to beat the Vikings, 20-17. And for the second-straight week, Kent Nix came off the bench to quarterback Chicago to victory. This is crazy. This must be great to read about in the Chicago Tribune, but I discovered today that, in just the last couple of days, the newspaper has put up a paywall in front of its archives.