The Chancellor’s Take on Tributes At NFL Games

The NFL is built on the backs of great players who have made this game into an American institution. Great players have come and gone and their exploits were usually passed down generation to generation by fathers to sons, uncles to nephews, and every combination of sons and daughters you can think of.  Newspapers and word of mouth were how legends were built as the NFL emerged from the 1940’s on. That’s until television began to take over as the major story teller of the modern game. However in the last decade even television lost it’s soul for passing down stories that newspaper and families failed to miss.

Raven GM Ozzie Newsome addressing Ray Lewis during his "ring of honor" ceremony earlier this year.

Raven GM Ozzie Newsome addressing Ray Lewis during his “ring of honor” ceremony earlier this year.

Yet if you make it to an NFL game during the early portion of the season, you may run into an onfield tribute to a player or championship team from years gone by. However television execs don’t think the television audience should see it. That has to be the attitude taken as we didn’t get to see any of Ray Lewis’ tribute a month ago. Instead, we had to hear talking heads at the half talk about a game we had already spent an hour and a half watching. Seriously??

To not watch Ray Lewis tribute was glaring but wasn’t the worst example of this. That happened on Thursday Night to start week 4. The St. Louis Rams were playing the San Francisco 49ers and hosting alumni of over 5 decades of excellence. Including former players who played their careers back in Los Angeles. Men like “Jaguar” Jon Arnett.

The legendary Jon Arnett along with current Ram coach Jeff Fisher, former players Les Josephson, and Roger Brown.

The legendary Jon Arnett along with current Ram coach Jeff Fisher, former players Les Josephson, and Roger Brown.

If you asked who is  Jon Arnett, you’re exactly who would have benefited from the game broadcast including the tribute to all the former Ram players. What made this painful is this was NFL Network that was broadcasting the game and not Fox, CBS, or ESPN. The NFL Network commentators would make mention when the camera would catch a former Ram on the sideline.  But only when it was an Eric Dickerson, or a Greatest Show on Turf player from the early 2000s. I can’t believe the NFL’s own network would miss that opportunity to be the catalyst to start some of those father /son stories of the men that shaped the league.

Some of the Ram alumni on the sideline during the Rams v. 49ers in week 4.

Some of the Ram alumni on the sideline during the Rams v. 49ers in week 4.

As the NFL has gone more corporate, it hasn’t cared about the players who built the league and fight for their benefits later in life. Yet these are proud men whose accomplishments and contributions shouldn’t be swept into the dustbin of history. How do we know this??

Well let’s take you back to the turn of the century. No, not 1900, I’m talking about 2000. Twice on Monday Night Football we were offered retirement ceremonies for both Dan Marino, and John Elway. ABC allowed the viewer to enjoy what fans in Joe Robbie, and Mile High Stadium were able to witness. How many stories were told those nights to young football players around the country?? How many of today’s NFL players had fathers, uncles, or grandparents, share stories of Elway and Marino on those nights??

An all purpose threat for the Los Angeles Rams and later the Chicago Bears, Arnett was a 5 time Pro Bowler. Worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Arnett has been a friend to Taylor Blitz Times since it's inception. I call him "Captain Cutback" and he was right behind Frank Gifford in the lineage of great USC tailbacks.

An all purpose threat for the Los Angeles Rams and later the Chicago Bears, Arnett was a 5 time Pro Bowler. Worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Arnett has been a friend to Taylor Blitz Times since it’s inception. I call him “Captain Cutback” and he was right behind Frank Gifford in the lineage of great USC tailbacks.

ABC did this again before the 2001 season when Terrell Davis had his retirement ceremony live before a televised audience. Before that we had Phil Simms throw a pass to Lawrence Taylor during his retirement ceremony in 1995. Also on Monday Night. it was understood what it meant to share the games history and aid in story telling that inspired the next generation of football players. Now even the NFL’s own network doesn’t even recognize this.

They robbed some little boy or girl of watching the pregame / halftime ceremony of former Ram players and ask: “Dad, who is that guy in the white jersey?? You know #26 right there??”  just before his father could answer, his uncle or grandfather would walk in with a beer and a bowl of chips and respond “That’s Jaguar John Arnett…and you should have seen him play. He was the most elusive….

If the networks won’t stop and offer something more rewarding than studio analysis of a game we have watched for nearly 2 hours. To hell with it, Taylor Blitz Times will do it.  Shut up and let us see the ceremonies in the stadium…please.

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NFL Films – A Football Life

One of the most compelling documentary series brought to you by NFL Films. The first season brought some great stories and the second looks to bring much of the same. The episode with Ray Lewis and his relationship with a fallen Raven fan is touching. Gives you the impact a player can have on a team, a town, a community. Transcendental stories like this make this a compelling watch. I can’t wait for the rest of the episodes this season.

The Tebow Quotient

You could almost hear the television announcers last night on NFL Network: “If you’re just joining us Tim Tebow has a chance to do it again.” Invesco Field at Mile High sprung to life when the Broncos came onto the field with just over 5:50 to go. We don’t want to say the New York defense looked defeated as they took the field but they had somewhat of a demoralized pace and demeanor . You could see the look on their faces which seemed to say “How did we let ourselves get in this position?” Then Tebow went to work.

It is here where we’ll cite a previous article on the Tebow quotient. In our week 10 AFC West edition we said “The Broncos need to realize they have a running quarterback the size of a linebacker. They need to call plays that exploit his ability to turn football back into 11 on 11 on some running plays. He and Willis McGahee bludgeoned Oakland with over 100 yards each and the better he runs, the more defenses are going to remain honest in nickel and especially dime defense situations. Instead of 6th and 7th pass defenders back to cover receivers they have to keep them within 10 yards of the scrimmage line to deter him from running. Right now the Broncos have to come up with a hybrid version of the wildcat where the quarterback is as much a runner as a thrower. That simple. They have to go to the collegiate ranks and nab a quarterback friendly offensive co-ordinator to make this work.”

‘Critics are just going to bash Tebow for backlash from the super favorable treatment he received in college. We legitimately thought of him as a tight end going into the draft. Yet when you see a pass play breakdown, he can bull his way to positive yards instead of throwing a pass that could be intercepted. Sure critics point to Kyle Orton’s superior passing percentage (58.7% -46.4%) yet this is the only showcase to Orton’s upside. Yet when it comes to touchdown to interception ratio Tebow is killing Orton (6TDs /1 INT- 8TDs /7INTS) and Orton has thrown 58 more passes. Orton’s having thrown 6 more interceptions directly relate to Denver’s losing 23-20 to Oakland, the Titans 17-14, and the 29-24 loss to San Diego. Think about it, had they had the ball and possibly have scored 1 more time in each game, this team could be 6-2. The Tebow trade-off for rushing yards (277-17 for Orton) is well worth getting rid of the 6 extra turnovers. The difference is Tebow SHOULD improve passing the football vs this is it for Orton’s upside. Coach Fox, you’re just going to have to live with some offensive breakdowns from time to time, hell the Giants did that with Lawrence Taylor when he’d rush the passer instead of dropping like he should when he was young. This is where you have to close ranks as a team and move on. Yet you’re 2-1 with Tebow v. 1-4 with Orton. Alright make a case for why Orton should be elevated to starter again??”

Now the Broncos are 4-1 with Tim Tebow at the helm…

Was this or was this not the essence of Tebow ball last night. It was sloppy and haphazard yet when the game was on the line the Broncos did what they did best: Run with Tebow to force defenses to  play 11 on 11 and we clearly saw CB Darelle Revis NOT want to tackle the charging 245 lbs quarterback on one of his runs to the sideline. Then the final touchdown run illustrating how hard it is to defense this guy. If you’re going to run a man to man defense, the linemen and blitzers can’t allow the quarterback to take off with the football. No one will account for him. So once he broke past Jets safety Eric Smith, it was clear sailing to the endzone. Had the Jets been in a zone the defenders wouldn’t have had their backs to him when he took off running.  Yet this is nothing new…

Remember back in the 1987 season when defenses started to defend a young John Elway with spies?? These were normally reserve defensive backs that played 5 yards off the line of scrimmage and mirrored the quarterback once he stepped up and threatened to run they would come up as delayed blitzers. They did this with Randall Cunningham also yet I digress. We hear of all the pundits getting on Tebow’s passing ability but let’s not forget Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, Fran Tarkenton, and many of the greats had to rely on their running ability before they developed downfield throwing prowess. In the famous game with the “Immaculate Reception” before Franco Harris won the game, it was Kenny Stabler who scrambled 30 yards for a TD to give the Raiders a  7-6 lead. When the Cowboys won Super Bowl VI, Staubach wasn’t the full time starter until week 7. Even in the Super Bowl Staubach ran more times than he passed it in the first half (9 to 6).

Right now Tebow can get away with games where he just runs the football and should develop as a down field passer. Again Orton had far superior passing yards yet the Broncos were 1-4 with him passing. Looks like the Broncos will be playing “Wing-T” or “Wildcat” football for now.

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ESPN- What the Fuck Happened To You??


Yes I asked the question and meant it in the language I used. Why am I upset? Well I have been a fan since the channel’s inception in 1979. You see, Columbus, Ohio was one of those first test cities for ESPN making it’s first foray into cable television. If my mom wasn’t watching something or it was my turn to channel surf, boom ESPN was on in our house. Now many of the old NFL stories you used to play on holidays is why I’m a historian on the sport now.

All you had were experts in terms of former players, former coaches who would talk strategies and insight to what the casual viewer could learn. Now I turn on your network and all I see are Jen Sterger eye candy types regurgitating what someone teleprompts her to say.

Half the time they can’t get into an indpth discussion on most of the topics and when they cross reference something there are TEN better references that could have been used! Damn! Does it really have to go to the lowest common denominator like most channels?? You don’t have to sexy up football, men have watched the NFL for 92 fuckin’ years. It didn’t start from an MTV spinoff

You want to know how long I go back with you…First off in 1980, you would start showing football in the third week of July when you would show the Super Bowl highlight from the previous season. I would be buried in the TV listings looking for it because from that point on you’d dabble in historical pieces until the season would start. You had no football shows to speak of but you got the juices going.

By 84′ you’d have Jim Simpson hosting these shows. He’d come on and speak for a few minutes before the Yearbook (they weren’t called that at that point) of the ’73 Dolphins and the ’74 Steelers (which i taped) or a Super Bowl highlight as these shows were dotted across a television viewing day. I always had tape running in those days.

Can remember wanting to hear what ESPN would say about a game on SportsCenter and can remember Chris Berman’s on the field report after “The Catch” following the ’81 NFC Championship with San Francisco knocking off Dallas 28-27. Same thing for the ’82 NFC Championship as the crowd stormed the field in RFK. CBS wouldn’t get down IN the celebration where you guys did. Gave it more feeling than reporting from the booth.

Then every holiday before real games were played you’d show something of yesteryear that added history to the tradition. Can remember on Thanksgiving ’85 taping yearbooks for the ’68 Jets, ’69Chiefs, ’70 Raiders, and ’73 Buffalo Bills. Then on Christmas Day the ’71 AFC Divisional Playoff Highlight to Ed Podolak’s spectacular 350 yard game where the Dolphins beat the Chiefs 27-24 in the longest game ever. Then you played the ’77 AFC Divisonal Playoff of the Super Bowl Champion Raiders beating the Colts in double overtime 37-31.

Up to that point you let the game and the sounds do all the talking, yet in ’86 you started to sprinkle in some good shows. Namely Monday Night Theater (predecessor to my Taylor Blitz Times Theater on Facebook) where you would highlight great games of the past relevant to the two teams playing. Then the coup de’ gras…Monday Night Matchup.

I can still remember the good old days on that show with Ally Sherman, Steve Sabol of NFL Films, and a young Chris Berman. It was the best television show ever covering the X’s and O’s on the sport and I wouldn’t miss it.

With that show’s success you decided: Why not have our own pregame show for the Sunday games?? NFL Gameday and NFL Primetime hit and I was watching from that first episode in ’87. You snatched up the late Pete Axthelm from NBC to go with Chris Berman and a just retired Tom Jackson and I haven’t watched a full pregame broadcast from the regular networks since.

Berman came off the television, just like us. A huge fan, who just happened to be up close to express it and ask the questions we zealots would had we switched places with him. Then you introduced the Sunday Night Games and I thought Mike Patrick was the best play by play announcer next to Dick Enberg. He made the games feel like an event. Can still remember the Sunday Night Matchup with the Cleveland Browns with CBs Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon against the Forty Niners and WR Jerry Rice. That game was treated like a Super Bowl and that game dwarfed all others that day and the folllowing Monday.

You were elevating the game with your coverage and shows and literally my television wasn’t off ESPN by this time at all. Throw in college basketball, NFL,  and the NBA’s televised drafts?? Man, I can remember a six way phone conversaton when the Boston Celtics selected Len Bias in the ’86  draft. We all hated the Celtics so we were in a complete shock as you broadcast his selection. Then broadcast on SportsCenter and subsequent shows of his death two days later. Being a high school teenager at the time, man this was big news. Then being on your station following up Bias one week later was the death of Cleveland Browns safety Don Rogers from a cocaine overdose. Where regular news spoke of this for a few minutes and moved on, you gave it hours and depth. Especially one from the black community, I looked at that as a sign of respect not afforded by the regular networks. To many of us, the perception was if something happened to a black celebrity it wouldn’t be afforded the coverage of that of a white one. That was extremely important to me.

At that time and beyond you were the sports information universe outside of what else I was reading on my own. Yet in the late 90’s you started to change into something more commercial, more sinister, more tabloid. Gone was the respect of the athletes you covered and you seemed to sensationalize items that didn’t need to be. Yes, the ignorance and tragedy of Ray Carruth’s murder/ attempted murder of his fiance should be covered, but every time someone gets a speeding ticket or a DUI doesn’t have to be. The tone your station has reporting transgressions of black players has a negative undertone to it. Any argument at a team’s practice facility was now on the air 24 hours a day. All of a sudden you were in a race to leak every off the field incident and to me started to seem more like TMZ than ESPN.

Just know that  power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was exactly at the turn of the century where you became aware of your own pull and started to act as though you owned or governed the leagues you covered. The corporate dumbing down of your shows started and the proliferation of eye candy blondes took the place of former players and writers. Whether they’d be asking silly ass questions on the sideline during games or slowing down topics discussed on shows, I kept asking why??

Then to make matters worse is you are even now a tabloid to those who work / worked for you and started to eat your own young. From the Sean Salisbury incident ( which was totally wrong in our estimation) to Erin Andrews being peeped on while dressing on the road, to Jalen Rose’s DUI a few months back.  Instead of hearing about a trade on Sports Center we’re listening to some report on Erin Andrews?? Please stop! Where the hell did my favorite station go?? What the fuck is this nonsense??

Get back to doing what you had done to become a sports giant. Be there for the fan and offer the best talent and the best coverage a fan can ask for based on information and insight they can provide. You don’t see Fox News getting rid of Greta Van Susteren for an eye candy strumpet with a blouse full do you?? No because the viewer is tuning in for the news and want to hear it from a credible source. Sports is in the same boat and we zealots would tune in anyway. Listen, there were over 80 million viewers that tuned in for Super Bowl X and a reported 120 million for Super Bowl XX, and the sideline reporter for the latter was Bob Griese. Certainly not eye candy. We’re going to tune in. Some outlets don’t need the sex sells dogma that has infiltrated every other aspect of advertising and entertainment.

But alas, we know this is falling on deaf ears but needed to be expressed. Like our government you’re too big to listen and too far gone to reverse your tactics. I thank the NFL for realizing this and building their own network based upon your prior model in the NFL Network. If it weren’t for Chris Berman and Tom Jackson, I wouldn’t turn to your channel. Yet for the few times a week I’m around a television, I tune to you inadvertently and leave a few minutes later disappointed.

So at this time I have to break up with you and I’ll miss my friends Chris and Tom but it isn’t the same. Trey Wingo doing NFL Primetime makes me want to throw a brick through my television and I paid too much for my 47″ 1080P LG. That move along with the bimbo eye candy was the last straw for me and I won’t turn on your channel ever again. From a historian and writer who aspires to make this blog and subsequent website, radio shows, and internet television shows in the spirit an old ESPN could enjoy… This is goodbye.

Chancellor of Football from the Football Offices of Burbank, California

Sincerely Yours,

Jef A Taylor

Chancellor of Football

NFL Week 5 Game Predictions

Proposed patch in memory of Al Davis by the Remember The AFL Group in honor of Al Davis' passing.

We are steamrolling into week 5 with a slate of pivotal games today. Now we told you to circle the week 5 Monday Night matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears back in May, so loyal readers shouldn’t be surprised. So we had a bumpy first quarter to this football season predicting games. Week 1 we were 8-8, followed by 12-4, 12-4, and 11-5. So right now for the season Taylor Blitz Times is sitting with a nice 43-21 record. Unlike other groups, we don’t take the 5 easy games to pick and try to look good, call them all and see what you can come up with.

So without further adieu lets get into the games”:

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers: With the 22nd ranked rushing defense having allowed 2, 100 yard rushers, this is a good time for the Titans to keep playing mistake free football an pulling off an upset. James Harrison is out with an orbital bone break. That’s not a good thing. Roethlisberger will keep the Steelers in it. If you look at the Steelers rushing totals, they’re not as good as years past. Titans

Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars:  The Bengals have been protecting Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski with the run and Cedric Benson has rewarded them as the 6th best rusher in football. The flip side of that equation is they now field the #1 defense in all of football. The Jaguars come in with the #2 rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew and the same formula of protecting a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. They do field a more middle of the road defense and for that reason we’re going Bengals.

Seattle Seahawks @ New York Giants: The Seattle group is foundering under Tavarres Jackson just as we thought and are a junior league NFL team for the forseeable future. If the Giants can’t get up for this team and blow them away in less than 3 quarters, it will say a lot to how far the Giants have slipped since Super Bowl XLII. Giants

Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson talk to your offensive line. Here comes the 24th best defense in all of football. What most folks don’ t know is Beanie Wells is averging 5.4 yards per carry and has 5TDs so far. We think the Vikings front seven can slow him down. Vikings

Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills: Could two teams arrive at this game so different from one another?? We asked at the beginning of the year if the Eagles were the second coming of the ’94 49ers or ’95 Dolphins?? Early returns are showing have them less than the Dolphins with a 1-3 record. The team isn’t playing with much confidence. The “Land of the Misfit Toys” Buffalo Bills are believing in themselves more and more. Even with last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals they led for much of the game before losing 23-20. It was a game they should have been on lookout for a letdown yet still played well….at home in Rich/Ralph Wilson Stadium??? They keep it going today BILLS!

Steve Smith has resurfaced as one of the best receivers in the NFL and is second in receiving yards.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers: This is going to be a fun game to watch….what is surprising is the Panthers aren’t really running the ball as much as you’d expect. Coming into this game, the Saints rank 2nd and the Panthers 3rd in offense and come in 14th and 15th respectively. Cam Newton is on pace for setting rookie passing records and the reawakening of Steve Smith is frightening. The Saints don’t have an answer for Smith…seriously that defense?? Panthers

Kansas City Chief @ Indianapolis Colts: “The I Cant Believe Its Not Butter Bowl” We have the Chiefs winning this one. The Colts played well for the Monday Night  audience to keep from being embarrassed on national television. Chiefs are better as a team. Chiefs

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans: In memory of Al Davis, this team will play some hard rugged football. The Texans are out to show they belong with the AFC Heavyweights and Arian Foster will run for more yards than Darren McFadden today. Texans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ San Francisco 49ers: The NFL is paying for the 10-6 Bucs of last year not making the playoffs. They are playing physical football with a chip on their shoulder. LaGarette Blount is running like a new model of Eddie George where your heart better be in it if you want to tackle him. Josh Freeman and company go in and burst the Niners bubble today. Bucs!

New York Jets @ New England Patriots: After giving up 34 in consecutive games, this is a bad place for the Jets who stole that first game with the Cowboys. At this point you can’t pick against Brady who has thrown for 1,553 yards, 13TDs and 5 interceptions. Wes Welker leads the NFL in receptions and receiving yards and with that much attention on him the Patriots have to find other receivers. Last January they didn’t. However with the Jets unable to run, they just give Tom Brady too many chances. Patriots

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons: Have to take Aaron Rodgers and the Packers

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos: Chargers roll to 4-1 start

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions: Lions kill the Bears Monday Night

1956 NFL Championship Ring

You are looking at the first championship ring won in the NFL by both Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. Each would go on to become legendary head coaches but they were offensive and defensive coordinators for the New York Giants at the time.  The 1956 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears was won by New York 47-7.  In the fabled house of the New York Yankees, these two teams fought it out in the first ever nationally televised NFL championship game.  Its notoriety reduced because of the blowout and the famous game held in the same stadium 2 years later between the Colts and Giants…uh…you may have heard of it.

Furthermore this ushered in a new era that saw the Giants rise to prominence after copying Philadelphia Eagle coach Joe Kuharich’s defensive scheme, the 4-3, and cruising to the championship.  In the ensuing years Sam Huff became a household name along with DE Andy Robustelli, DTs Rosie Grier, and Jim Katcavage, LB Karl Karilivacz, S Jim Patton, and Hall of Fame CB Emlen Tunnell.

This team dominated the league for the next 7 years. They became household names and the first chants of “De-Fense- De-Fense” was first heard in Yankee Stadium.  This was the first time in the history of professional football where a defense was introduced before games. Although the team of the 1950’s was the Cleveland Browns, who had played in 6 championship games during the 1950s, it was this stalwart defensive unit that kept the Browns out of the championship game the rest of the decade.

This team had a few offensive players of mention in halfback Frank Gifford, QB Charlie Conerly, WR Kyle Rote, K Pat Summerall, and RB Alex Webster.  These men really did play their roles well.  Frank Gifford was a Hall of Fame RB who was as dangerous catching passes out of the backfield as he was a runner.  He was the Marshall Faulk of his day and later in his career was switched to receiver.

Now he did star on television and became a game analyst who saw further fame with his nearly 30 year run on Monday Night Football. Alex Webster was a steady fullback who later became the Giants head coach in the late 1960s once New York couldn’t lure back budding legends in Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry from championship situations in Green Bay and Dallas respectively.

Did you know the original Marlboro Man was Giants quarterback Charlie Conerly? LOL Go take a look at those first posters. Guess what?? He didn’t smoke!  Being a champion in New York allowed this team to break down barriers unheard of in other places.

Kyle Rote was a good receiver for this team yet needs to be remembered for his courageous stance in spearheading the movement that became the first players association (Union) fighting for equal opportunities for all players.  Not for money like today’s lockout!! For the equal treatment of all players of all races when the teams played on the road.  This WASN’T the radical 1960s, so be respectful of these movements in rememberance.

Now Pat Summerall?? You know his smooth voice as being one that helped lead the NFL to further prominence as a character and announcer with Tom Brookshier for one generation (60s-1980), then brough the game to another generation (1982-2000) while being teamed with Hall of Famer John Madden. Now lets throw in legendary coaches Vince Lombardi (team of the 60s) and Tom Landry (nearly team of the 70s) overall league contributions and you see why this team is to be held up reverently.  Talk about pillars of the league…

This group would go on to play in famous championship games later  in 1958, ’59, ’61, ’62, and ’63. They kept the once powerful Cleveland Browns out of the championship so much that all time RB Jim Brown had to wait until their run was over to win a championship in 1964.  Although they only won 1 championship, this team should never be forgotten.  These men helped reshape the league and are one of the reasons we love the game. What would the league have been like without ’em?