The Soul Of The Game – Fred Williamson

The helmet Fred "The Hammer" Williamson wore with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The helmet Fred “The Hammer” Williamson wore with the Kansas City Chiefs.

When you think of the wild west scoring of the AFL, you think of long bombs, high scores, quarterbacks going for broke. Well, someone had to be deployed to stop those receivers and that’s where Fred Williamson comes in.  He was the “original” AFL shut down corner with the Oakland Raiders when he arrived in 1961.

There just isn’t a lot of footage on Fred Williamson’s early days. NFL Films didn’t acquire a lot of the old footage until after the merger agreement of 1966 so they exclusively used Kansas City Chiefs footage.

However he was an AFL All Star in 1961, ’62, and ’63 and was chosen 1st team All Pro in 1962 and 1963. Consider the fact he achieved All Star status with 5 int. with 58 yards in returns for a 2-12 Raider team. His best season was in 1962 which was his first as an All Pro, he intercepted 8 passes returning them for 151 yards and a touchdown. This he achieved on a 1-13 Raiders team that had two coaches and preceded Al Davis. In an 8 team league where the Raiders finished last on offense and second to last on defense, he was 1st team All Pro and the only player on the team to achieve any honors.

An autographed pic of Fred Williamson with Al Davis. He was the first guy to wear white shoes, not Joe Namath. Joe came into the AFL in 1965 when Williams stopped playing for the Raiders in 1964.

An autographed pic of Fred Williamson with Al Davis. He was the first guy to wear white shoes, not Joe Namath. Joe came into the AFL in 1965 when Williams stopped playing for the Raiders in 1964.

Those are high numbers for a cornerback who played for a team that was always behind and teams were running the clock out on them.

After intercepting 25 passes for the Raiders for 4 years, Williamson became a Chief and finally played for a winner. He teamed with all time AFL interception leader S Johnny Robinson to form arguably the best secondary in AFL history.

For all the talk of the “point a minute” reputation of the AFL, the 1966 Chiefs were dominant on defense. In a 14 game season teams threw away from “The Hammer’s” side of the field. So much so that both safeties Robinson and Bobby Hunt intercepted 10 passes each and the team grabbed 33 as a unit.

In the AFL Championship Game, the two time defending champion Buffalo Bills were eyeing a three-peat when Williamson nearly beheaded receiver Glenn Bass. It took the fight out of the Bills much like the Mike Stratton hit on Keith Lincoln in the 1964 championship, knocked the fight out of the Chargers giving Buffalo the momentum and emotional advantage.

Fred’s hit should have been remembered in the same light…

Fred “The Hammer” Williamson was the AFL’s version of the shutdown corner if there was one. Had the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl I his legend would be greater and might have his inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

The 2013 Class of Hall of Fame Enshrinees: Bill Parcells & Cris Carter

300_110727The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the culmination of a career where a player, coach or owner stood as giants of the game. Once they’re enshrined here, they belong to every football fan for all eternity. Family members and fans can come to a place where they’ll be forever young and immortalized as one of the greats of all time.

This was the 50th anniversary class of those that went in. There will be another day for those that didn’t make it on this ballot but this is where we celebrate those that did make it.

Parcells

2013 Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Coach Bill Parcells – The only coach in NFL history to take 4 teams to the NFL’s post-season. Although many still think of him as the Head Coach of the New York Giants, don’t forget he took the 1998 New York Jets to a 12-4 record and the AFC Championship that season. This came on the heels of taking the New England Patriots to Super Bowl just two seasons before. His last good team was the 2007 Dallas Cowboys that finished 13-3 that should have played for it all. If not for a Patrick Crayton dropped pass in the 4th quarter, he may have had a third make the Super Bowl.

He finished 172-130-1 in the regular season and was 11-8 in the playoffs including 2 Super Bowls. Yet think about it?? He almost led four different teams to the Super Bowl, the latter three in an 11 year period. His famous departure from New England where he claimed “If you’re going to cook the meal you should be able to shop for the groceries.” He shopped for former Patriot in Hall of Fame back Curtis Martin and resurrected Vinny Testaverde’s career and pointed Bryan Cox in the right direction.  He’s now where he belongs, among the true giants of the game.

From THE Ohio State University: Cris Carter

From THE Ohio State University: Cris Carter

WR Cris Carter -What can’t be said that we hadn’t already said in our article about his Hall of Fame candidacy?? Has there been a better set of hands in the history of Pro Football?? How many ridiculous one handed catches did Cris Carter make during his great career with the Philadelphia Eagles and mainly with the Minnesota Vikings?? At first glance, the numbers stand out with 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns. Good for 2nd most in NFL history for receptions and receiving touchdowns at the time of his retirement.One of the greatest attributes is that he honed his skill amidst a myriad of pedestrian NFL quarterbacks.

The Vikings claimed Carter from the waiver wire for $100!! They nabbed a Hall of Fame wide receiver for half the price of a smartphone. Think about that for a second. With the humbling experience he rededicated himself and gave up his tempestuous ways and became a polished receiver with the Vikings. So polished that he thrived with moderate quarterbacking in Minnesota in the ensuing years. Do you realize that in just 12 years for the Norsemen he caught 1,004 receptions for 12,383 yards and 110 touchdowns?? Do you also realize he did most of this while catching passes from the likes of a moderately successful Sean Salisbury, a decade away from developing Rich Gannon, an eroding (with his fourth team) Jim McMahon, a developing Brad Johnson, and an on the downside late 30′s Warren Moon?? Now why didn’t we place an out of retirement Comeback Player of the Year Randall Cunningham with this group?? Because his three best years came before the famous 1998 Vikings everyone remembers with Cunningham & Randy Moss.

Carter, along with Jerry Rice became the first receivers not named Sterling Sharpe to have 100 receptions in back to back seasons for 1994 & 1995. Carter caught 122 in ’94 then 122 in ’95 as compared to Rice’s 112 and 122 respectively. It was 1994-1996 where Carter did his best work. In 1994 his stat-line was 122 rec. for 1,256 yards and 7 TDs. He followed that up with 122 receptions for 1,371 yards and a career high 17 touchdowns in 1995. Lets compare these numbers with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and should be Hall of Famer Sterling Sharpe over their best 3 year periods. Where Sharpe’s numbers are 1992-1994, Rice and Carter’s are both from 1994-1996.

  • Cris Carter (1994-1996) 340 receptions, 3,790 yards & 34TDs
  • Jerry Rice (1994-1996) 342 receptions, 4,601 yards & 36TDs
  • Sterling Sharpe (1992-1994) 314 receptions, 3,854yards & 42 TDs

No longer does he have to be compared or concerned about not being enshrined. We will hear this come August: For induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I present to you “From THE Ohio St University” Cris Carter!

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

On This Date 1971: The Longest Game Ever Played – Kansas City Chiefs v Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in the longest game in NFL history. Christmas Day 1971 they played well into 6 quarters or more than 82 minutes of playing time.

Here at Taylor Blitz Times, we for one don’t like the fact the NFL buckled and gave in to juvenile thinking when it came to the NFL’s overtime rule. Everyone must touch the ball once?? What is this, second grade girl’s soccer??

don shulaOur CEO loved the thought of sudden death overtime. You had four full quarters to win a football game. The two point conversion was introduced in 1994 so that a team can win it in regulation yet NFL coaches are too soft and won’t roll the dice and win it in one play. If you don’t, you’re involved in a winner take all overtime where the game can be won on offense, defense, or special teams. Play was heightened with players realizing one mistake, a blown coverage, fumble, interception, or penalty could cost your team its season. It made for great theater.

One such game happened shortly after the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. The upstart Miami Dolphins were facing a perennial heavyweight in the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional playoff.

Why do we mention the AFL??

For one, both teams were rooted in the rival league. Second, it was the Baltimore Colts with Head Coach Don Shula that lost Super Bowl III that legitimized the merger. In the aftermath of the Baltimore Colts’ embarrassment losing that game, Don Shula amid tense corporate pressure, decided to move on and take the head coaching job in Miami.  He quickly whipped the Dolphins into shape and they made the playoffs in each of his first two seasons there. In 1970 they were bested by a veteran Raider team in an AFC Divisional Playoff in Oakland and many felt the same way about them traveling to Kansas City for the ’71 playoff.

Another reason we mention the AFL was this was the last game ever to be played in Municipal Stadium. One of the AFL’s great stadiums through the 1960’s as the Kansas City Chiefs had been perennial winners there. It would be left behind as the Chiefs moved on to Arrowhead Stadium as the NFL moved on to future years of prosperity with new antiseptic ballparks.

The newer stadiums lacked individual culture as the 70’s dawned and it was as though teams were leaving a piece of their soul when they left old places behind. This was where Lamar Hunt had moved his team in 1963, to keep the fight along with league brothers against the NFL and won. Sure they were going to live on in the American Football Conference of the NFL, but it wasn’t going to be the same.

Ed Podolak's 350 all purpose yardage record in one NFL postseason game may never be broken.

Ed Podolak’s 350 all purpose yardage record in one NFL postseason game may never be broken.

The Kansas City Chiefs were an older team and 1972 would be their last hurrah. They had finished as the AFL’s winningest team going 87-48-3, appearing in the first Super Bowl, then winning the fourth edition over Minnesota down in New Orleans. The team had just parted ways with All-time All AFL DE Jerry Mays and team leader C/LB E.J. Holub to retirement  in 1970. Even RB Mike Garrett was gone to the San Diego Chargers by this time, replaced by Ed Podolak.

These men along with holdovers QB Len Dawson, WR Otis Taylor, LBs Bobby Bell, and Willie Lanier had led the Chiefs for much of the 1960s as they worked to get owner and AFL Founder Lamar Hunt that elusive Super Bowl trophy. They were an older team lead by Dawson 36 yrs of age, Taylor turning 30 within a year, Bobby Bell was 31 and FS Johnny Robinson was 33. Various retirements were coming but they had finished 1971 with a 10-3-1 record and if they could get through this postseason, win it all, then they could go their separate ways. All they had to do was get through Miami and…

After this game the Dolphins went on to defeat the Baltimore Colts 21-0 in the AFC Championship Game which put them in Super Bowl VI. It was further satisfying for Shula for he defeated Carroll Rosenbloom and the Colts for whom he once coached. In the same stadium as Super Bowl III no less. Within a year, Rosenbloom was so disenchanted with owning the Colts who would have to rebuild, he swapped franchises with Robert Irsay who owned the Los Angeles Rams. Within 6 years he would marry Georgia, drown and that is how Georgia Rosenbloom-Frontiere became owner of the Rams. All aftermath of Super Bowl III.

Don Shula’s Dolphins would lose Super Bowl VI but would return and win VII & VIII becoming one of the great teams in NFL history. He went on to coach Miami through the 1995 season where he went on to win more games than any other coach with 347 wins. This was his first postseason win with the Dolphins that launched them as an NFL elite member for many years to come.

The AFL Logo of the Kansas City Chiefs

The AFL Logo of the Kansas City Chiefs

As for the Chiefs, the mystique of who they were as an AFL power was gone as they would not return to the playoffs for 15 years. Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, and Head Coach Hank Stram went on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However Johnny Robinson and Jerry Mays have been glaring omissions.

Each of which played most of their careers over in the “other league” and have been treated like such by the writers who make up the voting panel for the Hall of Fame. The late Jerry Mays should have had that honor bestowed upon him before his death in 1994. Although he didn’t play in this game, the legacy /era of the old AFL Kansas City Chiefs closed Christmas of 1971.

The Miami Dolphins outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in the longest game in NFL history. Christmas Day 1971 they played well into 6 quarters or more than 82 minutes of playing time.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

The Chancellor Of Football’s Take: Hall of Fame Voting

The Pro Football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio

When I learned that Jerry Kramer was skipped over as a senior nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I just had utter contempt for the sportswriters who seem to be the gatekeepers of history. It felt like they were going to work against the groundswell of support for Kramer and the passion from fans talking about his exclusion. I think the selection committee needs to have a few more wrinkles thrown into the mix.

Sure there are personal reasons as to why I would think a player deserves to be in the Hall and is the foremost problem with the voting. There is no way to ignore your own thoughts or feelings about a person’s nomination being put before you. There will be partiality. You’ll remember that last year (______) didn’t vote for my guy so I won’t vote for his this year. That is human nature. So you have to do it by a committee there would be no other way.

Chancellor.halloffameWhen I think of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I think of a treasured museum for everyone who ever played the game, at ANY level, could appreciate. The ongoing history to the greatest sport there is and the telling of that story. Don’t tell me that Emmitt Smith is the greatest if you can’t tell me who Jim Brown was, or OJ Simpson, Ernie Nevers, or who Steve Van Buren was. Someone saying he didn’t see Bronko Nagurski or Red Grange isn’t enough. There are books, the Taylor Blitz Times or more important this incredible museum housing all this history. That’s what makes this building significant.

hof_gallery_visit-1With it’s enshrinees and special wings to memorable moments, the 92 year history of the NFL, the 10 years of the AFL, and early football pioneers before the NFL, come to life. This is where fathers get to teach sons moments in history… Like the famous “wristband” of Baltimore Colt running back Tom Matte from the 1960s. When injuries to the Colts quarterbacks pressed Matte into service, Don Shula supplied him with a “wristband” with the play calls on it for him to remember. That is how he got through the game as a fill in quarterback.

Not only does that legacy live on to this day with every NFL quarterback wearing one, but right now as you read this…there is a father or mother teaching their son that story and looking at the actual “wristband”. What dreams and goals will that kid aspire to upon learning that and tossing the ball with his father the next day?? What if that kid grows up to be the next Dan Marino or Johnny Unitas??

chancellor.blackcollegeThis is why it is important the players, coaches, innovators, owners and their stories should be here to be told. Its for us to relive moments and future generations to learn how things came to be. The special men who were the embodiment of  the very spirit of football.

Which brings us back to The Chancellor’s thoughts on the matter. A few things should be changed which would allow for a  smoother selection process. First things first… we couldn’t just turn the vote over to the fans. This would significantly cheapen the situation and dumb it down to just a popularity contest. We would just have Dallas Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers enshrined from this point on…so this one gets thrown out yet not entirely…

The first item to be changed is there should be 30 Hall of Fame players involved in the voting. Who would be better at this than those players who played with or against players coming up for nomination?? How has it gone this far without their inclusion?? A Hall of Famer would best know what another Hall of Famer would look like and play like. Here a nominee would need a majority vote. These votes are confidential…

Secondly, scale back the number of non football playing voters to 30, which would include the Chancellor, and these accounts along with enshrined members would be a better panel to debate who is a Hall of Famer than not. Those writers would be able to hear accounts from the inside that they wouldn’t be aware of without hearing from those players peers. Here a nominee would need half of the vote to make it. Not only that…there needs to be new blood in this pool with the advent of successful blog writers and historians in the mix, the terms for limitation to be on this committee should be 7-10 years. These votes aren’t confidential…

ryan.ronLast would be one where the fans would have a vote. A write in candidate with a specific number of write in votes by the fans and former players. That number to be determined and the fans (who are the paying customers) would have a little say. Number to be determined later by a committee.

If this were to be done there would be a better selection process and those voting would be held accountable for their vote. Why have the Hall of Famers votes confidential?? They belong to an exclusive club. Its like the Ray Nitschke luncheon. That is not for us… that is for those players who belong to that club to share in it’s exclusivity about what it means to be there and how they are their brother’s keeper. They don’t have to share who they think should be in and why. They do so with a vote.

My feelings on the selection process has been this way for many years yet I had the chance to see it from the other side. Those of you who have been following this blog know that I have my own nominations for players who should be in the Hall of Fame. One of the first articles I wrote was on Jerry Kramer last year on July 26th. Now I’m not exactly sure as to where it took place but I shared many videos of the 1960’s Green Bay Packers here and on Facebook. I came to know Alicia Kramer who spearheaded a great campaign to help her father get inducted to his rightful place. She asked me to be an administrator to the facebook page Jerry KramerHOF to which I was honored.

Seriously, I read two of his books as a kid including Distant Replay, which is one of the reasons I love and write about Pro Football. The fact that he had read and enjoyed a few of my stories on Facebook were a reciprocal part of the journey and why I share with other fans what is on my mind about football and the history of the game.  I contributed as often as I could with videos and such and wrote a letter to “The Hall” pleading for his nomination. I remember uploading the 1968 Green Bay Packers America’s Game to the page. To be right there from the start of that page and watch her work grow to include Hall of Fame members lending their support and passionate fans as well, it is something incredible to be a part of.

When the senior nomination came back without Jerry Kramer’s name on it, I took it personally…and still am. There were countless letters written by enshrinees such as Lem Barney, Jim Kelly, Bob Lilly, Dave Wilcox just to name a few yet Kramer’s nomination comes down to writers over former players?? No way. All the while from my first article to placing it on my Facebook page several times, at least one person would ask “Jerry Kramer is not in the HOF?” every single time.

I also shared an email exchange with Kevin Greene when he didn’t make the finalist round this year. These players who deserve their legacies to be secured earned this right. Those gatekeepers to history need to be guarded more by the enshrinees themselves than writers. That is what I learned from this last year through Alicia’s work. If it were up to them, Kramer wins by a landslide. Yet its time for forward and positive energy. Onward to 2013 and his certain nomination.

kramer.hof

Dedicated to the memory of Hall Of Fame Member Steve Van Buren who passed away last week. RIP You were a great running back and a true warrior of the game. Thank you!!

Other articles on who The Chancellor thinks should be in the Hall

Kevin Greene

Chuck Foreman

Lester Hayes

Tom Flores

Cris Carter

Everson Walls

Terrell Davis

Randy Moss

Sterling Sharpe

Robert Brazile

Drew Pearson

Cliff Branch 

Ken Stabler

Ken Riley

Corey Dillon

Roger Craig

Andre Reed

Edgerrin James

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

The AFL: A True American Success Story

Roster from Ange Coniglio’s Remember The AFL.

Unlike other leagues that popped up and died, the American Football League lives on in the American Football Conference of the modern NFL.  With a burgeoning economy after World War II, Americans turned their attention to a life of leisure during the 1950s. Sports became the outlet for most of America. There was a clamor by many who felt slighted when it came to big league sports.  The furthest point west on the map where major professional sports was played, was Wisconsin & St Louis Missouri. Then something happened to change the landscape.  The AAFC football league folded and the San Francisco 49ers joined the NFL in 1950, along with the champion Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts.

This event helped propel the Cleveland Rams west to Los Angeles, where they joined San Francisco to be the first pro teams in California. Now other western cities wanted in on the action and all the other sports started to broaden their minds toward relocation.  Soon moves were made by an L.A. Councilwoman who massaged the beginnings of what came to be the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants move to California also in 1957.  Expansion was on soon with the Lakers in 1960 moving from Minneapolis.  Now Texans wanted an NFL team and had the money to gain an NFL franchise or so Lamar Hunt thought.

AFL and Kansas City Chief founder Lamar Hunt holding a platter of AFL footballs.

AFL and Kansas City Chief founder Lamar Hunt holding a platter of AFL footballs.

Then the NFL had the landmark 1958 NFL Championship overtime game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts that transformed the spark of interest into a flame. Hunt and principles moved quickly to form the American Football League since the NFL had thwarted their attempts to bring football to Texas. Now you have to understand who we’re talking about here for a second.  Lamar Hunt was son of H.L. Hunt of Hunt Brothers Oil! We’re talking seriously deep pockets here. The NFL in its arrogance thought they would outlast a fledgling league like the AAFC just a decade before….damn were they wrong.

Once the idea of the AFL gained momentum, the NFL turned to espionage and tricky double dealing to sink the new league.  The eight cities that Hunt and the other AFL owners decided on were Dallas, Houston, Denver, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Buffalo. However the NFL bent the ear of the Minnesota ownership group, and told them they would give them an NFL franchise if they would decieve their brethren, by defecting to the NFL at the last minute. It almost worked but the AFL scrambled to move the eighth team to its new home in Oakland. Meanwhile the NFL put a team in Dallas to compete with Hunt’s Dallas Texans, they were called the Cowboys.

The AFL had some seriously rich men that wanted to see it succeed in Bud Adams, Ralph Wilson, Lamar Hunt, and Barron Hilton yet there were other ownership groups that struggled to make ends meet as the league got off the ground in 1960. Many teams were losing money at record rates, some to the tune of a million dollars or more.

It was former Boston Patriot owner Billy Sullivan who coined the phrase “The Foolish Club” when listening to his colleagues joke about revenues lost.  However John Madden recalled a reporter asking Lamar’s father H.L. Hunt “What did he think of his son losing $1 million  a year??” Hunt’s answer was cryptic to the NFL and the sporting establishment’s ears when he replied “Well, he’ll be ok. At that rate he’ll only be able to go on for another 150 years.” Damn!!  On 1960’s dollars??  Yikes!!

Although the NFL had been around forever, for the first time they were up against wealthy men who gained their fortunes as titans of industry outside of football. NFL owners George Halas, Carroll Rosenbloom, Tim and Wellington Mara, George Preston Marshall, and Art Modell were primarily football men and knew their asses were in trouble.  If it came down to the AFL’s pockets they would be in for a battle they couldn’t win.

The first few years had the established sporting press scoffing at the league’s style of play, uniforms, retread players and coaches, you name it. This is an era where if you went against the establishment, you had more than an uphill battle just for acceptance….I mean the radical 60’s were not yet underway. Yet here they were continuing the plan on expanding professional football to more points within the United States.

One of the first items the AFL did was secure a television contract to assist the teams that had financial problems like the Titans and Raiders.  The Raiders had also come to a point of folding when they contacted their fellow teams and said they couldn’t sustain operation financially.  Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson stepped in and lent the Raiders $450,000 to stay afloat because the league couldn’t operate with only 7 teams. As for the Titans and Harry Wismer, the Jets needed an ownership group that had the pockets and vision to rival that of the New York Giants. Enter Sonny Werblin.

Werblin spearheaded a group that purchased the bankrupt New York Titans, renamed them the Jets and helped negotiate the most lucrative television contract to date with NBC.  Over $1.8 million dollars went to each team in 1965 and with all of their teams solvent for future operation, new stadiums went up in San Diego (Los Angeles), Oakland, & Denver. Now the next move Werblin spearheaded was to draft Joe Namath and pay him a ridiculous $427,000 contract to be the star in New York. Uh oh…this single shot turned the draft into a who is going to pay the most for a players services between the two leagues.  Talk about impact.

An unwritten agreement existed between the two leagues to not sign each others current players.  Yet the NFL went underhanded, yet again, when the New York Giants signed kicker Pete Gogolak from the two time AFL Champion Buffalo Bills.  The AFL retaliated big time. It was recounted by Lamar Hunt, the founder of the Texans who had moved his team to Kansas City and renamed them the Chiefs, to meet Tex Schramm and discuss a possible merger. Hunt still lived in Dallas. They met at Love Field under the Texas Ranger statue and when the meeting was over, Hunt flew to Houston to elect Al Davis AFL Commissioner.  Joe Foss had been a good commissioner but now they needed a “war time President”.  Al Davis quickly helped teams realize they could bring the NFL to its knees if they created a bidding war by signing away their superstars.

The moves of signing away San Francisco quarterback John Brodie, Los Angeles’ Roman Gabriel, and Chicago’s Mike Ditka were the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The bidding for player’s talents had driven contracts up dramatically and the NFL grudgingly came to the table.  Al Davis was away about to sign another player when Hunt told him that they were going to meet the next day about a merger and they didn’t need the headlines. *Pay attention because this is the birthplace of the Chiefs / Raiders rivalry and the Al Davis against the world mentality takes place*  Davis signs the player which angers Hunt.

In the subsequent negotiations, the leagues agree to a merger with the two league’s champions playing in a new championship game, the Super Bowl, for the first four years and realignment into one all inclusive league in 1970.  Pete Rozelle remained commissioner over all of football, there was a common draft starting in 1966… and Al Davis….?? They left him out in the cold sort of..

al-davis-bustThis is where he received his dubious ownership distinction and awkward title President of the Managing General Partner for the Raiders.  He had only been a coach before, yet one of the  items that seemed spineless is the NFL made the AFL’s teams pay $3 million in reparation damages each and had Al Davis been there would never have acquiesced to such a demand.  Not when they had the NFL crawling to the table.  It was this animosity toward Pete Rozelle, Bud Adams and especially the Kansas City Chiefs and Lamar Hunt that raged on for many years. *This is where the animosity between Davis and Rozelle fostered…remember the court battles of the 1980s between the Oakland Raiders v the NFL??*

The patch worn by the Kansas City Chiefs on January 11, 1970 for Super Bowl IV. The final game of the AFL

In the first two Super Bowls Green Bay bested Kansas City and Oakland respectively.  The landmark win came when the Jets upset Baltimore to show that the AFL was on a par in Super Bowl III.  Then with a twist of fate, the ownership group who traitorously tried to sink the AFL by defecting, came into Super Bowl IV against the Kansas City Chiefs and AFL founder Lamar Hunt.  In the last game ever for the AFL, Kansas City buried the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 to bring not only the Super Bowl record to 2-2 between the two leagues, but able to have the satisfaction of kicking Judas’ ass in the process.

In conclusion: It was wrong to not include Davis and to me is the one of the few black eyes in this success story.  The AFL was swallowed into the monolith that is the NFL after expanding the AFL to 10 teams with Cincinnati, and Miami emerging.  These 10 teams were joined by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Colts, yes the Baltimore Colts who gave the NFL a black eye with that first loss. They didn’t go empty handed, each club was paid $3 million to move to the new AFC.  Yet AFL loyalists such as Davis wished the two leagues stay separate, and he truly believed they would have eventually folded the NFL.

This is the ring for the Raiders triumph in Super Bowl XI. Look at the middle pic of the side of the ring. There you’ll see the AFL Block “A” along with the AFL logo and not the bold modified AFC “A”.

In fact in the 3 Super Bowls the Raiders won in the post merger NFL, Davis always used the Block “A” of the AFL and not the bold modified block “A” of the AFC on their Super Bowl rings.  He didn’t relent until the 2002 AFC championship ring where he finally used the AFC “A”.

hof-lamar-huntThere you have it…how the AFL changed the sporting landscape after the first shot was fired by the folding of their predecessors, the AAFC.  San Francisco’s entering the NFL doesn’t get the impact that it should because so much focus was on champion Cleveland coming over.  The western expansion of American Football owes a debt of gratitude to the 49ers yet even more to those original owners.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.