NFL General

Jan 4 in Sports History: More NFL playoff history

In 1976: The Dallas Cowboys became the first Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl with a 37-7 drubbing of the Los Angeles Rams on the road. Roger Staubach, who had tortured the Vikings the week before with a miracle “Hail Mary” pass in the final seconds, threw for four touchdown passes in the blowout victory. The Cowboys were unable to complete the dream, as they lost in the Super Bowl to Pittsburgh.

In 1981: What does Sportscolumnhave against the Cleveland Browns? Nothing really — but when the Daily History writer is from Pittsburgh, these things get mentioned. Another January Sunday, another Cleveland Browns colossal playoff failure. This time, Browns’ quarterback Brian Sipe, kicker Don Cockcroft and coach Sam Rutigliano did the honors as the Browns blew another one they could’ve had. The warm weather Oakland Raiders were greeted with minus 37 degree wind chills (and snow balls from the Cleveland fans). But it was the Browns who were frozen, as Cockcroft missed three field goals and an extra point and Sipe threw three interceptions in a 14-12 loss. Cleveland drove to the Raiders 13 yard line in the final minutes, but Rutigliano elected not to have Cockcroft kick the game-winner (he did make two earlier) and called the infamous “Red Right 88” Sipe’s pass was intercepted by Mike Davis, and the Raiders went on to become the first Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl.

In 1980: President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States Olympic Team would be boycotting the Summer Games in Moscow later that year. In a highly criticized reaction to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan a few months earlier, hundreds of American athletes were not allowed to compete in their only chance to win an Olympic medal. The Soviets responded by not boycotting the upcoming Lake Placid Winter Games (we’re thankful for that- there wouldn’t have been a ‘Miracle On Ice’) but instead by skipping the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Both boycotts backfired, as the Soviets went unchallenged in 1980 and the U.S. had no competition in ’84. Really, it was just stupid, silly politics getting in the way of some great athletic contests. Carter wasn’t re-elected that year.

NFL General

Jan 3 in Sports History: The beginnings of Martyball

In 1987: It looked like the same old story for the Cleveland Browns: Have a great regular season only to choke it away in the playoffs. They were trailing the New York Jets by 10 with about 4 minutes left. Browns’ quarterback Bernie Kosar (who had complained that coach Marty Schottenheimer’s offense was too conservative in a playoff loss the previous year—I know, we couldn’t believe it either) had 489 yards passing and the Browns had out gained the Jets two to one., but still had to rally to tie the game. In overtime, it was Revenge of the Missed Chip-Shot Field Goals as kickers Pat Leahy of the Jets and Mark Moseley of Cleveland took turns pissing an AFC Championship Game trip away. Moseley finally connected in the second overtime to save the Browns’ playoff lives (and most likely his own—…we vaguely recall Marv Albert explaining how he would have been fed to the Dawg Pound had he missed again). Despite the lucky 23-20 win, the Cleveland Story continued in glorious fashion against Denver the following week.

In 1982: The San Diego Chargers defeated the Miami Dolphins 41-38 in a thrilling AFC divisional playoff game in the Orange Bowl. The Chargers jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Dolphins came right back to make it 24-17 at halftime. Miami’s final touchdown of the half came on the famous hook-and-ladder play, in which quarterback Don Strock completed a pass to Duriel Harris, who then pitched the ball to a sprinting Tony Nathan, who ran it the rest of the way for the touchdown. The Dolphins eventually took a 38-31 lead until the Chargers rallied to tie the score. A last second Uwe von Schamann field goal was blocked and the game went into overtime and was eventually won at 13:52 on a San Diego field goal. The game set records for total yardage (1,036) and points scored (79) but it is most remembered by the outstanding play of Kellen Winslow. The Chargers’ tight end caught 13 passes for 166 yards, many for critical first downs. He also blocked what would have been the game-winning field goal. After the game, Winslow was so spent he had to be helped off the field by teammates. And he was too tired to ride his motorcycle in the parking lot or violently proclaim himself a member of the Armed Forces in the postgame interview.

In 1993: Was it the greatest comeback in NFL history, or the biggest gag job ever performed on any playing surface? Either way, the Buffalo Bills overcame the largest deficit in NFL history to win an AFC Wild Card game against the Houston Oilers. A Bubba McDowell interception return put Houston ahead 35-3 in the third quarter. The Houston radio announcer proclaimed to his constituents back home that “they can turn off the lights here in Rich Stadium– it’s over!” The Oilers then went and made him look like the Douche of the Century by blowing the lead. Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich, subbing for an injured Jim Kelly, began leading the Bills down the field at will with 28 third quarter points, and they eventually took the lead 38-35 until Houston tied it with a last-second field goal. Warren Moon threw a quick interception on the first possession of overtime, and Buffalo’s Steve Christie kicked the game-winner, 41-38. The Bills were able to keep their string of losing in Super Bowls intact and the Oilers began thinking that maybe their luck would change in Tennessee a few years later.

Edmonton Oilers

Dec 19 in Sports History: Gretzky’s youngest to 1000 goals

In 1984: Wayne Gretzky, in a victory over the Los Angeles Kings, became the fastest player ever (23 years old) to reach 1,000 points in his career. Gretzky did it in only 424 games, which beat the former fastest Guy Lafleur by over 300 games. Gretzky would score his 400th goal a month later, also making him the fastest to 400 goals. To put Gretzky’s 1,000 points into perspective: The Great One reached 1,000 in only his sixth season. Mark Messier needed 12 years to reach 1,000, Ronnie Francis took 13, and Gordie Howe had to wait 14 years to reach the milestone. They are the three players behind Gretzky on the all-time scoring leader’s list. Today’s current leader, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, better step it up quick if he wants to break Gretzky’s record. Sid the Kid would need to average 179 points a year, but nobody has scored that many since 1989.

In 1999: Offensive lineman Orlando Brown of the Cleveland Browns suffered a career-threatening eye injury in a game against Jacksonville. Was it an accidental poke suffered in the trenches from a Jaguar’s defender? No, it was a careless toss of the flag by a foolish NFL referee. While flagging Brown for holding, official Jeff Triplette needlessly Elwayed his flag – which was weighted with bb’s for some reason — and struck Brown in the right eye. Brown reacted angrily and shoved Triplette to the ground. He was ejected and suspended indefinitely by the NFL. He returned to play for the Baltimore Ravens in 2003 and eventually received a multi-million dollar settlement from the NHL. Triplette was never disciplined for the incident.

Cleveland Browns

Oct 27 in Sports History: Art Modell steals away in the night


In 1995: It is well known how miserable of a sporting existence Cleveland fans have suffered, but this might have been the lowest point, the cruelest blow, the coup de grace gut punch. Browns’ owner Art Modell signed a secret agreement with the city of Baltimore to move his franchise – which probably had the most loyal fans in the NFL – there for the 1996 season. Modell cried poor and blamed Cleveland officials for refusing to build him a new stadium. He took a sweetheart deal from Baltimore (who was desperate for a franchise after losing the Colts in similar fashion in 1984), the Browns became the Ravens and changed their logo and uniforms, and the Mistake by the Lake was soon a memory (it caught fire during demolition just to remind Cleveland what it really was). Cleveland kept the rights to the Browns nickname and colors and was granted an expansion franchise for the 1999 season. The Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 while the Browns have gone 37-81 to this day.

In 2002: Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys took a handoff from Chad Hutchinson and ran off left tackle for 11 yards. They were last of 16,727 yards he needed to break the late Walter Payton’s career rushing total. The game was stopped for five minutes to honor Smith, and a post-game celebration was also held despite the Cowboys losing 17-14 to the Seattle Seahawks. Smith is the NFL’s all-time career rushing leader in yards, attempts and touchdowns.

In 1986 and 1991: A pair of memorable World Series Game 7’s took place: In 1986, the Mets completed their stunning comeback by finishing off the Boston Red Sox 8-5 and continuing the Curse of the Bambino for the 68th consecutive year. In 1991, Jack Morris of the Twins turned in a legendary complete game, 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves and a Gene Larkin bases-loaded single clinched the second World Series in four years for Minnesota.

And no Boston, we didn’t forget that the Red Sox clinched their first championship since 1918 with a four game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on this day in 2004.

Cincinnati Bengals

Chad Johnson is the best trash talker in the league

Kellen Winslow might have fired the first round but then Chad Johnson returned fire with a series of shots. First, Winslow said that Browns corner Leigh Bodden would shut down Chad this weekend. In response, Chad had a teleconference with the Cleveland media that must have made Marvin Lewis just shake his head.

It’s humanly impossible to stop 85. You are kind of insulting me. I cannot be stopped. Period. Regardless as to how many times Carson and I missed on our page, I still give credit to [Leigh Bodden]. If you want to be realistic about it, he didn’t stop me — but I’m going to give him his credit anyways. That’s what I did.

I can’t be stopped, regardless as to what Kellen Winslow says. If he feels that strongly, that’s good. His teammates should have faith in him like that, to feel that he is the best cornerback. I feel that way about my corner. There is nothing wrong with that. You know what I feel? I feel our defense will shut down Kellen Winslow.

Have you ever seen anyone cover me before? I have six years’ worth of film. Go get all of them and find someone that has stopped me. You saw me drop balls in the Pepto game. Last year, in the second game here, you saw balls all over the place because it was a heavy wind game.

You didn’t see anyone physically stop me, physically knock the ball down, physically jam me at the line or reroute me. Come on now, let’s talk football.

Winner and still champeeeen — #85.


[Yahoo]: Words flying as Browns prepare for Bengals

Cleveland Browns

There’s your Karma, Cleveland

Stay Classy, Cleveland

You ever wonder why Cleveland is the most cursed city in sports? And why the Browns seem to be the most cursed franchise? It’s because one of their fans will actually steal a wheelchair from a guy with spina bifoda. The fan leaves his wheelchair at the bottom of the landing before walking up to his seat. At the end of the game, he walked back down and his wheelchair was gone.

Now can you understand why prize free-agent signing LeCharles Bentley blew out his left knee in the first practice of the season and why another free agent Joe Jurevicius suffered a rib injury in the first game. Romeo Crennel should just quit right now and get the hell out of there. It’s not ever going to get any better.

Of course, just last week, Cleveland was named the most loyal fans in the NFL.

St. Louis Cardinals

Sep 8 in Sports History: Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris’ record

In 1998: Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris single season homerun record with his 62nd of the year in St. Louis. McGwire’s low line drive off a Steve Trachsel pitch barely cleared the left field fence. Sammy Sosa of the Cubs, who was locked in a then-riveting battle with McGwire to catch Maris, came in from right field to embrace McGwire. “Big Mac” finished with 70 on the season and Sosa ended up with 66. Although many laugh about it now while others are angry at the fraud that was perpetrated that summer (re: Congressional hearings of 2005), the Home Run Chase of ‘98 was believed to help lift baseball out of its post-strike doldrums. On a side note, does anyone remember the kid who tore up his winning lottery ticket by just handing the homerun ball back to McGwire? We can’t help but wonder how much those signed bats he received in return are worth right now.

In 2002: In an exciting and historic opening weekend of NFL action, Dwayne Rudd of the Cleveland Browns would end up costing his team a home playoff game by forgetting the Emmitt Smith Rule. After stopping the Chiefs on the last play of the game, Rudd removed his helmet on the playing field and tossed it 15 feet into the air in celebration. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called and Kansas City was able to use their final free play to kick a game-winning field goal for a 40-39 victory. The Browns finished a game behind the Steelers and ended up losing to them at Heinz Field in a Wild Card game…… The Houston Texans made their debut with a 19-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at brand new Reliant Stadium. Although, they finished 4-12 in 2002, the future looked bright for the Texans upon returning to Houston that evening. They selected what they believed to be a franchise quarterback in David Carr at no. 1 overall; and Reggie Bush and Mario Williams were only seniors in high school.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Sept 1 in Sports History: MLB’s first all-black lineup

Willie Stargell was black

In 1971: Manager Danny Murtaugh of the Pittsburgh Pirates starting lineup against the Phillies was Rennie Stennett, Gene Clines, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, and Jackie Hernandez, with Doc Ellis pitching. It was believed to be the first all-black (with several Latinos, of course) lineup in Major League history. The Pirates won 10-7, and would go on to win the World Series that year.

In 1906: The Philadelphia A’s and Boston Americans played the longest game to date with the A’s winning in 24 innings. Amazingly, A’s starter Jack Coombs and the American’s Joe Harris pitched all 24 innings. Coombs faced 89 batters and struck out 18 for the win, while Harris was the hard-luck loser with 14 K’s while giving up 16 hits. His luck was so horrible that he had a 3-30 career record despite a respectable 3.35 ERA. (Courtesy of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia)

In 1996: 10 months after owner Art Modell announced his controversial move to Baltimore from Cleveland, the Ravens (the NFL ruled that the Browns name and colors would remain in Cleveland) played the first game in the city in 12 years and defeated the Oakland Raiders 17-14. The game was played at War Memorial Stadium, the old home of the Colts, who took off for Indianapolis in 1984. Vinny Testaverde of the Ravens ran for the winning score in the fourth quarter. Cleveland would be granted an expansion franchise for the 1999 season. (