Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Freakin' (New Year's) Weekend (1971/72)

This Week in Pro Football is a syndicated program that airs at different times in different markets in 1971--Friday nights in Chicago and Saturday afternoons in Salt Like City, for example--so check your local listings. But, by all means, check them, because This Week in Pro Football is outstanding (and has absolutely the best set in all of television history), even when Pat Summerall isn't available to join Tom Brookshier for the fun.

I am particularly interested in catching This Week in Pro Football this freakin' weekend because, as previously reported, I was tied up with Christmas doings and didn't get to see the opening-round NFL71 playoff games. 

It was Dallas over Minnesota, 20-12, in the noon Central game on Dec. 25.

Then Miami beat Kansas City, 27-24, in an AFC game that started at 3 p.m. Central but ended up needing two overtimes to decide.

In the early game on Sunday, Dec. 26, the defending-champion Colts won at Cleveland, 20-3. There were reports out of Baltimore after the Colts lost to the Patriots in Week 16 that the team might've thrown that game in order to play the Browns (and not the Chiefs) in the first round of the playoffs, but the team denied such suggestions.

In the late afternoon Sunday game, the 49ers outlasted Washington, 24-20.

This whole weekend is going to be huge for football, of course, with New Year's Day 1972 falling on a Saturday. We've got the Sugar, Cotton, Rose bowls all tomorrow afternoon and then, that evening, for the national championship, ...

The NFL conference championships are Sunday, Jan. 2, with the Cowboys and 49ers squaring off for the second year in a row for the NFC title and then the Colts and Dolphins playing for the AFC. I am very nervous about the Miami game, and I might just have to limit myself to only listening on the radio.


  1. The Minnesota quarterbacking situation of the late 1960s and early 1970s must be among the most bitter sagas shared among Vikings fans--from Fran Tarkenton to Joe Kapp to Gary Cuozzo/Norm Snead/Bob Lee (!) and the back to Fran Tarkenton.

  2. And the end of NFL71 must've be the lowest point of the story--when Bud Grant has convinced himself that his punter, Bob Lee, is a better option than either of two quarterbacks the Vikings have traded for in the last few years, Cuozzo or Snead. And the Vikings--11-3 with the NFC's MVP, defensive tackle Alan Page--lose at home in the opening round of the playoffs to the team that will go on to win the Super Bowl.

  3. 49ers coach Dick Nolan looked a lot like Merle Haggard.

    1. Three Cheers for the Redskins, co-starring Burl Ives and George Allen, is the leader in the clubhouse for my favorite movie of 1972. Check out this beautiful ending. (And what a great fourth-down tackle by 49ers Frank "The Fudgehammer" Nunley and Jim Sniadecki, and what a great prayer from (I think) Redskin and former Ram Tommy Mason.)

  4. Jack Mildren looks just like Chip Gaines. We saw some of the Gaineses' stuff in a Target today, and it all looked great.

  5. Here's Jerry from The Bob Newhart Show advertising some Mutual of New York (MONY) insurance. Santa Claus brought 2017 me the first season of that show on DVD, so we have that to look forward to this fall in TV72.

  6. Sugar Bowl final: Oklahoma 40, Auburn 22.

  7. Hey, Stanford did it! The Cardinal kicks a 31-yard field goal, and Stanford wins, 13-10. Very entertaining.

  8. Jerry Tagge and the Cornhuskers are just ripping Alabama in the Orange Bowl for the CFB71 national championship.

    Feb. 17, 2000

    Jerry Tagge grew up in Green Bay and eventually played for the Packers.

    Rocky Bleier, Alan Ameche, John Matuszak, Tim Krumrie, Jim Otto and Mike
    Webster -- hard men of hard knocks -- were all Wisconsin boys.


    Why sort them?
    Why sort them again and again?
    Does anyone still care about Jerry Tagge but me?
    Why am I entranced?
    Does it matter?
    I am entranced. That's the fact. It's part of who I am.
    I've never put away my childish things ...? OK, guilty.
    I am at home there, among the cardboard.
    What am I to say?
    Whatever happened to Jerry Tagge?


    This was going to be a piece of fiction, a novel -- something about a boy.

    He was going to ride around the country with his older brother and visit
    pro-football training camps. His brother was going to be the guy in charge
    of photographing players and collecting biographical information for Topps
    football cards in 1975. It was going to be part road book, part
    coming-of-age, part geeked-up NFL homage.

    Maybe it still will be. That sounds pretty good now that I see down on

    At one point it was going to be near nonfiction: A made-up narrator goes on
    the road to track down the heroes of hi outh and talk about life as an
    adult -- Chicken Soup for the Soul of Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, that sort of thing.

    I don't think it's going to be that.

    Tonight, I feel like being as full-on accurate as I can stand. Which is to
    say I'm a 32-year-old man who still plays with football cards ...

  9. So Nebraska—ranked first in the Associated Press poll before the bowls--finishes 13-0 with a 38-6 win over No. 2 Alabama (11-1). No. 3 Oklahoma won its bowl to finish 11-1, but the Sooners lost to the Cornhuskers, too. That should wrap up the national championship for Nebraska.

    No. 13 Toledo (12-0) beat Richmond, 28-3, in the Tangerine Bowl. Unfortunately, (superb) What If Sports doesn’t provide simulations for teams more than 20 years ago so that we could find out how the unbeaten Rockets would've fared against the unbeaten Cornhuskers.

  10. Replies
    1. Chiefs Len Dawson, Willie Lanier and Otis Taylor beat Dolphins Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield on Sports Challenge, 145-80, earning $1,000 in Voit sports equipment fo rthe Jones Memorial Community Center in Chicago Heights, Illinois. "Since there are no losers on Sports Challenge, the Bartow (Florida) Jay-Cees won $500 in Voit sports equipment.

      Enberg: “Since the Miami Dolphins eliminated Kansas City from the playoffs, and the Chiefs did not get a chance to play Dallas in the Super Bowl, we thought we’d have our own Super Bowl on Sports Challenge. Next week, the challengers will be the Cowboys—Bob Hayes, Lance Alworth and Roger Staubach!"

  11. Brilliant Mary McGrory column on the Christmas Day NFL games:

    WASHINGTON--Much criticism has been leveled at football and television for this year's pigskin observance of Christmas weekend, and it is true that the Astro-Turf blanketed the manger and that the Chiefs and Dolphins completely wiped out the shepherds, the wise men and the herald angels. But we shoud not be too hasty in our condemnation. Some traditionalists, particularly those who do not know Larry Csonka from Santa Claus, suffered a great deal. The opening of presents, once a high point, was discouraged. The crackling of the paper irritated the watchers. A woman I know heard her son breathe "That's beautiful," and thought him smitten with the rugby shirt she had quietly unwrapped for him. He was, however, referring to a forward pass to Stu Voigt.

    … (D)on't knock football. It completely eliminated what the weary consider the most intolerable burden of the season--that is, to be merry. After the final gun was fired, all that was required was to blink and say, "Oh, I didn't know you were here.”

    Moments of inspiration, stadium-style, lighted up the long watch. The President called up the Redskins after their loss, and told them that, no matter what their failures, he still loved them'. Was there a better expression of the Christmas spirit?

    And Garo Yepremian of the Dolphins reached for another when he said: "After I kicked the ball, I looked up at the sky and thanked God for giving me the chance to kick it.”

    It's not "The Messiah," perhaps, but it was certainly in keeping with this year's spiritual perspectives.

    … Despite the good side of it all, many people maintained that it was a desecration of the "gracious and hallowed season." But violations were occurring or about to occur all over the place. These were the massacres in Bengal and the bombing of North Vietnam, which was resumed by the President the same weekend the Redskins lost.

    At least, the men who mauled each other for eight hours on Christmas Day were being well paid to do it, and no children were involved.

    Maybe it was an odd observance of the day set aside for gentleness and good cheer. But if we're the kind of people whose idea of "Joy to the World" is sitting speechless and joyless in front of a lighted box, maybe we ought to know about it.

  12. #BREAKING, per Charlie Jones on this radio broadcast, the Cowboys have beaten the 49ers, 14-3, in the NFC Chamipionship earlier this Sunday, Jan. 2, 1972, afternoon.

  13. Colt (and future Dolphin) fullback Norm Bulaich is injured and sidelined for this game. (Future Dolphin) Don Nottingham will take Bulaich's spot in the Colts' lineup.

  14. I loved and miss Charlie Jones. Hearing him again on Epiphany morning 2018 is like being visited by a long-lost ghost of happy Christmases past for me. Rest in peace, Charlie Jones of Fort Smith, Arkansas, who, "in 2008," per fantastic Wikipedia, "died at the age of 77 at his home in La Jolla, California of a heart attack. He was survived by his wife of 54 years, Ann, two children Chuck and Julie, and three grandchildren."

  15. Miami's opening possession stalls out at its own 38 as Colt linebacker Ray May has fine coverage on Kiick on an outlet pass. Whoever Charlie Jones's color commentator is here just noted that the Colts believe they have football's best set of linebackers in May, Mike Curtis and Ted Hendricks--and that Baltimore is one of about 10 teams that maintain they have the league's best set of linebackers.

  16. Jim O'Brien has missed 47- and 48-yard field-goal tries. Through one quarter, it's Dolphins, 7-0.

    I think this is Bud Wilkinson on the color commentary.

  17. Griese sprints out of a broken pocket and angles toward the sideline. As he goes out of bounds, "Mad Dog" Curtis clubs him with what Jones calls "a forearm shiver." That's an extra 15 yards, and Miami is out to its 40.

  18. But that's about as far as the possession goes, and Miami punts Baltimore back to its 18.

  19. <a href='">Baltimore is driving. John Unitas fakes a handoff, fakes a screen pass one direction and then completes a screen to Nottingham for 13 yards across midfield for first down at the Miami 40.

    (Maybe) Wilkinson: "Unitas doing what he does best, just picking the defense apart ..."</a>

  20. The Colts go to two tight ends and two backs in the backfield with Unitas and plunges for a first down at the Miami 17 ...

  21. Third-and-4 ... Unitas draw to Nottingham ... Doug Swift stops him one yard short ... Colts going for it at the Miami 9 ...

  22. After a three-and-out Miami possession, Larry Seiple punts the Colts back into their territory, and now Unitas has Baltimore moving again. After a 20-yard pass to Eddie Hinton, it's first down, Colts, at the Dolphin 43 ...

  23. Unitas overthrows on a couple of deep balls, and now O'Brien is back on for a field-goal try--from 35 yards ...


    This is great. I love the internet and football.

  25. Griese, rolling right, zips a perfectly placed dart to Howard Twilley at the sideline at the Baltimore 49 ... stops the clock with a minute to go ...

  26. Griese tries deep for Larry Csonka, and Jerry Logan intercepts the under throw! RATS!

  27. And now Jake Scott intercepts Unitas! This is great.

  28. Third interception of Unitas ... this time by Mike Kolen for his first of the season ... about five minutes to play ...

  29. 40. Jerry Lee Lewis - Me and Bobby McGee
    39. The J. Geils Band "Looking For A Love"

  30. 38. Bob Dylan, "George Jackson"
    36. Nilsson, "Without You"

  31. 35. "Stay With Me," The Faces
    34. An American Trilogy, Mickey Newbury
    33. Led Zepplein, Black Dog

  32. 32. "Make Me the Woman That You Go Home To," Gladys Knight and the Pips
    31. Bobby Womack - Thats The Way I Feel About You
    30. Levon, Elton John
    29. Respect Yourself, Staples Singers

  33. 28. White Lies, Blue Eyes, Bullet
    27. The Witch Queen of New Orleans, Redbone
    26. The Chi-lites - Have you seen her?
    25. Kiss An Angel Good Morning, Charlie Pride
    24. All I Ever Need Is You - Sonny & Cher
    23. Once You Understand, Think

  34. 22. Carly Simon, Anticipation
    21. The Partridge Family, It's One of Those Nights (Yes, Love)
    20. Rare Earth, Hey Big Brother
    19. Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song, Three Dog Night
    18. Three Dog Night, Never Been To Spain
    17. David Cassidy, Cherish
    16. Joe Simons, Drowning in a Sea of Love
    15. The Honey Cone - One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
    14. Badfinger, Day After Da
    13. Hillside Singers, I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing

  35. 12. Jackson 5, Sugar Daddy
    11. Everything Is You, and You Are Everything, Stylistics

  36. 10. Betty Wright, Cleanup Woman
    9. Hey Girl, Donny Osmond
    8. Got To Be There, Michael Jackson
    7. I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing, New Seekers
    6. Scorpio, Dennis Coffey

  37. 5. Family Affair, Sly and the Family Stone
    4. Sunshine, Jonathan Edwards
    3. Let's Stay Together, Al Green
    2. Brand New Key, Melanie
    1. American Pie, Don McLean

  38. A few stray notes from NFL71, going into the Super Bowl ...

  39. The Houston Oilers will have a new coach for NFL72. Ed Hughes was let go after one season. Houston went 4-9-1, which sounds bad but was actually a one-game improvement on NFL70. And the Oilers won the final three games of the season and are headed for single-win seasons each of the next two years. In this light, Hughes looks like a freaking genius. And he is going to end up serving as Tom Landry's offensive-backfield coach in the middle 1970s and Mike Ditka's offensive coordinator with the Super Bowl Bears, so maybe he was.

    One of the weird things about his season in Houston was that, back in November, the Oilers fired Hughes's offensive-line coach, Ernie Zwahlen, without Hughes's consent. Hughes was reportedly angry. So then on the Monday after the second of the three-straight wins to close the regular season, Hughes fired Walt Schlinkman, an offensive-backfield coach who had been with the Oilers since the team's formation.

    The AP quoted Schlinkman as saying Hughes told him that he hadn't contributed to the team's offensive game plans, to which he added, "I am pleased that Coach Hughes has made this statement because I want the public and fans to know I am not responsible for the Oilers' offensive game plans or offensive performance this year."

    On the same Monday, Hughes also fired Houston's seventh-season equipment manager, Johnny Gonzalez, whom Oilers owner Bud Adams subsequently reinstated.

    Such was Dan Pastorini's rookie season with the Oilers.

  40. Last night 1972's episode of The New Dick Van Dyke Show, which was really, really good, had him attending a basketball game with some clients. Most of this episode actually transpired in the day after the game, so I imagine this game was the Phoenix Suns' 117-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Jan. 14, 1972. Here are the NBA72 standings as of the morning of Saturday, Jan. 15:

    Eastern Conference Atlantic Division
    Boston Celtics 31-16
    New York Knicks 25-19
    Philadephia 76ers 19-27
    Buffalo Braves 13-31

    Baltimore Bullets 19-24
    Atlanta Hawks 16-29
    Cleveland Cavaliers 15-29
    Cincinnati Royals 13-31

    Western Conference Midwest Division
    Milwaukee Bucks 37-10
    Chicago Bulls 31-14
    Phoenix Suns 27-19
    Detroit Pistons 17-29

    Los Angeles Lakers 41-5
    Seattle Supersonics 28-19
    Golden State Warriors 26-19
    Houston Rockets 15-29
    Portland Trail Blazers 12-35

  41. And then here are the ABA72 standings:

    Kentucky Colonels 35-9
    Virginia Squires 28-18
    New York Nets 20-26
    (Miami) Floridians 19-26
    Pittsburgh Condors 19-28
    Carolina Condors 16-30

    Utah Stars 22-14
    Indiana Pacers 26-19
    Memphis Tams 19-26
    Dallas Chaparrals 20-29
    Denver Nuggets 17-26

  42. But now back to the stray notes from NFL71 ... even more than Three Cheers for the Redskins, I think I would've really loved a movie about the 1971 summer in Chicago. It could cover both the Bears' training camp and the College All-Stars game.

    The training-camp part of the movie would have to do with the filming of Brian's Song, the death of Brian Piccolo, the injury rehabilitations of Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, etc.

    The All-Stars part could include all kinds of great stuff about the ancillary things the college guys did during their times in Chicago leading up to the game. Because the Chicago Tribune was a big sponsor of the game, it had a bunch of coverage of all of that over last summer. It was kind of like how The Paducah Sun used to cover the guest stars' week in town for the Channel 6 telethon--you'd get all kinds of pictures of their appearances at different community events, little stories about what's going on in their careers, all sorts of glowing comments about how much they were enjoying Paducah and the lakes, etc. Well, that was the tone of everything in the Chicago Tribune about the College All-Stars. For example, there was a little report about the team having a birthday party for one of Blanton Collier's assistant coaches, Packer great Willie Davis, in the lobby of the team hotel in Evanston, Illinois. And one time they had a picture of All-Stars John Riggins and Henry Allison buying popcorn from a concession wagon at the Lincoln Zoo on a day off from practices. And on the day or a couple of days before the game, there was a giant luncheon for visiting sportswriters hosted by the Harlem Globetrotters!

    Anyway, I love thinking about all of that stuff, and I personally would love a straight-linear, no-narrative-arc/looparound movie about the whole time. And what I'm not looking for is a deal with a bunch of contextual comments from people who were kids or writers in Chicago then, drawing some connection or distinction between events around the football stuff and, say, the Daley administration's handling of inner-city crime. What I want to know is whether it was John Riggins or Henry Allison or Blanton Collier or somebody else who collected the $1 and $2 donations from the rest of the All-Star team and what kind of cake and gift they got for freaking Willie Davis. And what a glorious scene it's going to be when we see all of those hale-and-hearty young men singing "Happy Birthday" to this not-as-young man undertaking a huge transition in his career and life!

    1. After the season, George Halas fired 41-year-old Jim Dooley, his hand-picked successor, after four years as head coach. Chicago lost its last five games to finish 6-8. Sayers said he was sorry to see Dooley go; "I thought he was a fine coach."

      Halas said he had no list of possible candidates for the open job.

    2. A little later in the Bears' offseason, George Halas's older brother, Frank, died at age 89. He had surgery back in June but still managed to attend every Bears game in NFL71. He had served as the team's traveling secretary for 50 years.

  43. There was a report in September that Sammy Davis Jr., Sidney Poitier and African-American owners of various businesses—Parks Sausage of Baltimore, Ebony Magazine and Johnson Cosmetics of Chicago—are planning to apply for an expansion NFL franchise. The plan is for the “Memphis Kings,” after Martin Luther King Jr., to hire African-Americans as head coach and for other management positions. Jim Brown and John Mackey were reported to be under consideration for such roles.

  44. The captains and player representatives from the 26 NFL teams voted Bob Griese as NFL MVP. But when the full rosters voted for their individual team MVPs, the choice among the Dolphins was Larry Csonka. The other picks in the AFC:

    -- linebacker Ted Hendricks by the Colts,
    -- linebacker Larry Grantham by the Jets,
    -- running back O.J. Simpson by the Bills,
    -- running back Carl Garrett by the Patriots,
    -- quarterback Virgil Carter by the Bengals,
    -- running back Leroy Kelly by the Browns,
    -- defensive tackle Joe Greene by the Steelers,
    -- safety Ken Houston by the Oilers,
    -- wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff by the Raiders,
    -- wide receiver Otis Taylor by the Chiefs and
    -- running back Floyd Little by the Broncos.

    Each of these guys were awarded the Newspaper Enterprise Award "Third Down Trophy," and linked here, in fact, is Floyd Little's! The Internet Is Amazing™!

  45. In the leadup to Super Bowl VI, Jack Sell reflected in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the start of the Cowboys. Their first game was Sept. 25, 1960, in the Cotton Bowl, and their first opponent was the Steelers. Pittsburgh won.

    "Landry would just as soon forget that initial coaching season," Sell wrote. "His team finished in the Western Conference cellar with an 0-11-1 record. Coach Buddy Parker's boys were 5-6-1 in the Eastern Conference.

    "To outside observers, the Landry story is remarkable. Indignant fans in other cities display 'Goodbye, Allie' and 'So Long, Jerry' signs when their teams disappoint. But Tom calmly keeps going in his 12th straight season.

    "Since that win in Dallas, the Steelers have said goodbye to Parker, Mike Nixon and Bill Austin and right now are puzzled about Chuck Noll. It's been the same story with many other clubs."

    Sell later reports that Noll, along with team president Art Rooney, son Dan Rooney and two other Steelers officials, are in New Orleans for the big game. Back in Pittsburgh, Art Rooney Jr. and Dick Haley are preparing for the Feb. 1-2 draft, Sell wrote.

    I wonder if the elder Rooney is going to cut ties with Noll down at the Super Bowl. His Pittsburgh teams have gone 1-13, 5-9 and 6-8, and it appears the progress is uneven with quarterback Terry Bradshaw, the No. 1 overall NFL70 draft choice.