Tuesday, October 17, 2023


17 Oct 1976, Sun The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) Newspapers.com

Well, until this very day in 2023, I believed the town in Massachusetts where the Patriots play was spelled "Foxboro," and it often is. Actually, though, it's "Foxborough," and, in my 1976 pretend, I'm planning to be there for tomorrow night's Jets-Patriots game. 

On today, Oct. 17, 1976, however, fake me is hanging out in my Holiday Inn room in Worcester, flipping through the (fantastic!) Sunday Boston Globe and watching (glorious!) television. We've got the Week 6 of the NFL, Game 2 of the World Series and/or a highly promising made-for-TV movie to check out.


Of course, supper is looking pretty promising, too. We'll definitely be taking a break this evening from Borbon, Barbeau et al., to make a trip downstairs to the ol' Persian Room to eat.


  1. As previously reported, the Reds are 5-0 in the 1976 postseason after Game 2 of the World Series. Tony Kubek said it was the first-ever Sunday-night World Series game. Temperatures dipped into the 30s as the game at Riverfront Stadium progressed, but Bowie Kuhn eschewed an overcoat. Wikipedia says it was a tough-guy move to show for critics who said it was too cold to be playing night baseball for TV ratings.

    My favorite part of the NBC telecast was when Joe Garagiola showed a picture from his wedding (to a Cardinals organist). I guess yesterday 1976 was his anniversary. Anyway, his best man was Yogi Berra, and Stan Musial was also part of the wedding party. Kubek joked that two of three players in the picture were in the Hall of Fame. "But I made the best catch of all that day," Garagiola said.

    1. I vividly remember the controversy over Bowie Kuhn's coat, and I'm pretty sure I boycotted this game over the Sunday night start.

  2. It was a happy evening after a horrible afternoon for Cincinnati fans. Playing without Terry Bradshaw one week after the famous Joe "Turkey" Jones sack, the Steelers clubbed the Bengals, 23-6, in Pittsburgh. Having gotten rid of both Joe Gilliam and Terry Hanratty before the start of the 1976 regular season, Chuck Noll was without a veteran reserve for Bradshaw. So with rookie Mike Kruczek under center, Noll simply ran Franco Harris an NFL-record 41 times (for 143 yards and two touchdowns) and then relied on his defense (five sacks, three turnovers).

    So, the two-time defending champs tighten the AFC Central. Fortunately for the Bengals, the Oilers lost, too--30-27 at San Diego.

    Oilers 4-2
    Bengals 4-2
    Browns 3-3
    Steelers 2-4

  3. The other league-headline result yesterday was Dallas 17 at St. Louis 21. The Cardinals aren’t kidding around. Dallas won all three NFL Capitol Division championships and then won three of the first four NFC East championships since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. But St. Louis has won the last two, and now it is tied for the division lead with the previously unbeaten Cowboys in NFL76.

    Cowboys 5-1
    Cardinals 5-1
    WFT 4-2
    Eagles 2-4
    Giants 0-6

  4. I was going to go through all of the divisions before getting to Monday-night kickoff, but I think I'll now wait until if we get Howard Cosell's halftime highlights in this video of 1-4 Jets at 3-2 Patriots on Oct. 18, 1976.

  5. Frank Gifford tells us that the Jets lead this all-time series, 22-9-1, after sweeping the Patriots in NFL75.

  6. New England, however, is NFL76's surprise team, Frank tells us, having beaten the Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders in successive weeks. Unfortunately for them, those three wins were bookended by losses to the Colts in Week 1 and Lions in Week 5.

    Colts 5-1
    Patriots 3-2
    Dolphins 2-4
    Bills 2-4
    Jets 1-4

    "The Colts are red hot, so the Patriots have to win tonight," Frank says. "It's as simple as that."

  7. The Jets go three-and-out on their first possession, and now the Patriots are driving after the punt. I had a thought the other day that it might be fun to track football games like boxing matches where a possession and the opponent's ensuing possession are considered a round. Of course, the most accurate way to score a football game is to simply count up how many points each team gets, but I thought the boxing-round thing would be fun to look at in terms of seeing how momentum changes. And I don't think I've seen it done, so I think I might try it with this game.

    Also, Howard just mentioned that Joe Willie Namath "made quite a statement" on Good Morning America earlier today and that we would get to hear that later. So that's something to be excited about, too!

    1. Wikipedia unsurprisingly has an absolutely brilliant history of Good Morning America:

      On January 6, 1975, ABC launched AM America in an attempt to compete with NBC's Today. The program was hosted by Bill Beutel and Stephanie Edwards, with Peter Jennings reading the news (Jennings had been a replacement for Bob Kennedy, who had been scheduled to be the program's newsreader, but died two months before the premiere from bone cancer). Because the show could not find an audience against Today (and its anchor team of Jim Hartz and Barbara Walters), ABC sought a new approach. The network found that one of its affiliates, WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio, had been pre-empting AM America in favor of airing a locally produced show called The Morning Exchange.

      Unlike AM America and Today, The Morning Exchange featured an easygoing and less dramatic approach by offering news and weather updates only at the top and bottom of every hour and used the rest of the time to discuss general-interest/entertainment topics. The Morning Exchange also established a group of regular guests who were experts in certain fields, including health, entertainment, consumer affairs and travel. Also unlike both the NBC and ABC shows, The Morning Exchange was not broadcast from a newsroom set but instead one that resembled a suburban living room.

      In the process of screening the Cleveland morning program as a creative source, ABC also began looking at another local show, Good Morning!, which was produced by Boston ABC affiliate WCVB-TV. Good Morning! was very similar in format to The Morning Exchange, but with a lesser emphasis on news and weather. In fact, once the revamped ABC morning show took to the air late in 1975 under the title Good Morning America, WCVB station manager Bob Bennett accused ABC entertainment president Fred Silverman of deliberately stealing the title of Good Morning!; no legal cease and desist action was finalized against ABC in the matter, however. The launch of Good Morning America did result in the Boston morning show changing its name—to Good Day!. Currently, WCVB's morning news program is titled EyeOpener.

      ABC took an episode of The Morning Exchange and used it as a television pilot. The format replaced AM America on Monday, November 3, as Good Morning America. The first cohosts were actor David Hartman and actress Nancy Dussault.

  8. Andy Johnson plows through for a short-run touchdown, and New England is up, 7-0. Andy Johnson, the former Georgia quarterback who plays running back for Chuck Fairbanks, punched above his weight in my neighborhood in terms of prestige versus production, and I'm wondering if this is going to be the game that made Andy Johnson a Cedar Hill star. He just scored a touchdown before anyone's Monday-night bedtimes, and I'll bet the guys in the MNF booth is going to start talking about the 1973 Peach Bowl.

    Round 1: Patriots, 10-8

  9. Jets punt, and Patriots punt--with New York taking back over at its 20.

    Round 2: Draw, 10-10

  10. Hand-painted stadium sign:

    “5” SAYS

    An NBC News poll taken Oct. 12-14 after the second presidential debate has Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter leading President Ford, 42 percent to 40 percent, with 1 percent casting for other candidates and 17 percent undecided. The election is Nov. 2.

  11. Programming note: I'm switching to >this version of the game because it includes the opening theme and at least some of the commercials.

  12. Yeah, this game was huge in my neighborhood. Had to be. Howard just said that New England guard John Hannah and tackle Leon Gray might make up the best left side of an offensive line in the NFL, and that was absolutely almost an immediate consensus opinion at some point. Also, there's been a lot of talk about Lou Holtz moving Richard Caster from tight end to wide receiver--everyone at some point suddenly knew that. It all has to track to this broadcast.

    Among the Monday Night Baseball equivalents to this phenomenon is suddenly all of us knowing that the nickname of Clarence Gaston (which is what he was always called on his Topps cards) was "Cito" the morning after a Braves game.

  13. Sign:


    And then a little box in the lower left of the sheet or whatever reads, “FROM WINSTED CONN."

  14. I wish Jets backup running back Clarence "Jazz" Jackson had had a terrific game; he went to WKU.

  15. Of course, everybody (else but me) also thought Steve Grogan was adorbs. But the breathless coverage of Grogan was so widespread across NFL media, that I'm not going to singularly hold Frank, Howard and Alex responsible for this Bay City Rollers mania.

  16. New York punts on its third possession, and then golden Grogan overthrows a receiver and the Jets intercept. They'll take over at about their 35.

    Round 3: Draw, 10-10

  17. Punt and punt.

    Round 4: Draw, 10-10

  18. The Jets get the ball moving on their fifth possession, but their field-goal attempt collapses as the holder is smothered after a bad snap. The Patriots take over at their own 36 and (mostly) ride burly Sam Cunningham into New York territory. Then they really get the Schaefer Stadium faithful roaring with a designed sweep right and timing pass to the left by Grogan. After some intricate misdirection runs to Cunningham and Johnson ("O.J., if you're watching, that's A.J.," says Howard), New England brings in reserve running back Don Calhoun. On his first carry into the middle of the Jet defense, the ball is punched out back into the New England backfield, where Grogan fields the bouncing ball and races in from six yards out. You can imagine how crazy everyone goes for that play by Grogan. It's 14-0, Patriots, with 7:46 to play in the first half.

    Round 5: Patriots, 10-8

  19. The Jets have gotten out to midfield now on a combination of Namath passes and Bob Gresham and Lou Giammonna runs. Namath doesn't throw as crisp of a pass as he once did, says Alex, and Howard remembers these same run plays being very effectively run by Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer. "But those days were a long, long time ago," he says. New York's sixth possession ends with Namath being intercepted by Tim Fox.

    Now New England is driving, and ABC cuts to a shot of Jets offensive lineman Gary Puetz laughing on the sideline. "He's lucky I'm not sitting on the bench--I'd knock his head off," observes Alex.

  20. Frank says the Patriots are using Grogan "like an old single-wing tailback." It helps that the Jets' defense appears to have already called it a night; Patriot receivers are running wide, wide open. Sometimes Grogan hits them, and sometimes he doesn't. (He's five-of-10 passing so far for 157 yards.) And then Fairbanks keeps sprinkling in designed runs for Grogan--delayed draws and end-around stuff. I imagine he has about 50 yards rushing so far.

  21. Grogan to A.J.: Touchdown. PAT blocked. 20-0.

    Round 6: Patriots, 10-8

  22. There's about a minute left, and Roone Arledge is apparently concerned that he's going to lose his audience before even Howard's halftime highlights. So now we've got the extended clip from Good Morning America of Namath telling us that he "probably" is done after this season, that he's "tired of losing," that "I still love to play the game," that his teammates "really pick up my day" and that his career is coming to an end--"I just don't know if it will be after this season, next season or the season after that."

    OK, well, there you go. Glad we waited for that.

  23. Halftime: New England 21, New York 0. My boxing-scorecard idea is pretty worthless here relative to the actual scoreboard.

  24. Programming note: 1976 me is going to go have an extended cigarette break, so 2023 me can pay attention to the baseball playoffs. We'll check back in tomorrow to see if Howard has nice things to say about our favorite teams ...

  25. OK, after promos for tomorrow 1976 night's Charlie's Angels, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, plus an appeal from Candidate Carter, we are back in Foxborough for Howard and the Monday Night Football halftime-highlights segment ...

  26. Pat Haden’s still quarterbacking the Rams, which I guess means that James Harris and Ron Jaworski are still hurt, and Walter Payton, Howard says, is “a brilliant sophomore who is electrifying Chicago fans.”

    Final Score
    CHICAGO 12

    Tampa Stadium
    Tampa, Florida

  28. “The expansion bowl they call this one.” Tampa leads, 3-0, in the second quarter, until “Jim Zorn, the surprisingly effective quarterback of Seattle, looking downfield, hits Sam McCullum, acquired from Minnesota.”

    Final Score
    SEATTLE 13
    TAMPA BAY 10

    Robert F. Kennedy Stadium
    Washington, D.C.

  30. No score in the third quarter … Joe Theismann hits Frank Grant for 41 yards, setting up one WFT touchdown, and then Mike Thomas goes off left tackle on the first play of the fourth quarter.

    Final Score

    Busch Memorial Stadium
    St. Louis, Missouri

  32. We already talked about this result, but it should be noted that Jim Hart went 22-of-33 for 346 yards and three touchdown passes in this game against Doomsday. That’s a tremendous (especially for the time) completion percentage of 66.7 for Hart.

    Final Score
    ST. LOUIS 21
    DALLAS 17

    Orange Bowl
    Miami, Florida

    Trailing 14-10 with two minutes to go in the game, the Chiefs execute a reverse (quarterback hands to running back, who hands to wide receiver) looping behind back of the line) for 60 yards and a touchdown. After Garo Yepremian gets a tying field goal at the end of regulation, Jan Stenerud bangs the game-winning field goal off the goal post in overtime.

    Final Score
    MIAMI 17

    Three Rivers Stadium
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    OK, we talked about this one, as well. Howard focused a lot of his commentary on the Bengals’ hit out of bounds on the Steelers’ backup quarterback, Mike Kruczek—and then Jack Lambert running over from the sideline to punch the Bengal, Bo Harris.

    Final Score

    San Diego Stadium
    San Diego, California

    These highlights feature the (famous) first and last Billy “White Shoes” Johnson dances with the Oilers that are featured in this video against Silentó’s (brilliant) “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae).”

    Final Score
    SAN DIEGO 30
    HOUSTON 27

  36. So we're back to live Monday-night, Oct. 18, 1976, action in Foxborough, and, shortly after Howard refers to Andy Johnson as "a beautiful running back," Steve Grogan runs behind and then cuts inside of pulling blocks by John Hannah and Leon Gray to race 42 yards through the Jet defense for a touchdown. It's 27-0, and this is clearly the television broadcast that is primarily responsible for the Cedar Hill reputations of Johnson, Grogan, Hannah and Gray.

  37. Joe Namath remains the quarterback, but Richard Todd is warming up on the sidelines for New York.

  38. The game has now been interrupted at least three times by people running onto the field.

    Howard: "Makes you wonder about the sports syndrome."

    Frank: "Let's not blame this on sports."

    Howard: "No, I said the sports syndrome."

    Alex: "Makes me wonder about the syndrome."

  39. Namath is limping.

    Howard: "Courage is the word for that man."

  40. Oh, good ... Namath throws a short touchdown pass to running back Clark Gaines. It's 27-7, still in the third quarter, and I will now be suspending NFL76 commentary in order to focus on MLB23 and Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

    EXCEPT ONE MORE THING ... HERE'S THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED PINKY TUSCADERO WITH A COMMERCIAL UNITED AIRLINES! I don't believe I remember ever seeing that woman in anything else.

    OK, go, Phillies!