I got so wrapped up in writing yesterday’s post about the origin of the Four Horsemen (not THESE four horsemen!!!) I completely forgot about the 80-days of football. Sorry about that. Let’s get caught up.
Yesterday was #62, Dallas Cowboys glory-days center John Fitzgerald. Fitz anchored the middle of that Cowboys offensive line from 1971-1980, helping lead the team to seven NFC Championship Games, four Super Bowls, and two World Championships. When Tom Landry first suggested the shotgun formation to Roger Staubach, it all really hinged on Fitzgerald. And the rest is history. Former Texas and Denver Broncos offensive lineman Dan Neil, who visited us at the Marble Falls Church ocassionally back in the day, gets honorable mention. He’s co-hosting a midday sports talk show now in Austin with old Ticket workhorse Kevin Scott. And Jerry Fontenot, of Aggies and Bears and Saints fame, deserves a mention. But America’s Center, John Fitzgerald, is my #62.
#61 is a guy you’ve probably never heard of. But he was truly the first ever genuine middle linebacker. He practically invented the position. And it’s only fitting he played his career in Chicago with the Bears and became the great ancestor to the Monsters of the Midway. Bill George (two first names) was the Bears number-two pick out of Wake Forest in 1951 as a noseguard. Every team in football played a five-man front and George was drafted to anchor that Bears defensive line. But in a game against the Eagles that rookie season, George stood up and backed away from the line right before the snap and tackled the running back after just a one yard gain. On the very next play, George did the same thing and wound up making an interception. For the rest of that game George lined up in a standing position about six yards off the ball, and the 4-3 defense and the middle linebacker were born.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is day 60 in the countdown. But I’ll go ahead and do it today. It’s the weekend, and this is kinda fun stuff anyway. #60 is one of those no-brainers. Tommy Nobis is the hands-down best ever player to wear the number. Nobis was an incredible two-way player at Texas, the only sophomore starter on the 1963 National Championship team. Darrell Royal called him the best two-way player he ever coached. A guard on the offensive line and a middle linebacker on defense, Nobis averaged 20 tackles per game, he made All-America twice, All-SWC twice, he was the Longhorns team MVP in ’64 and ’65, team captain in ’65, he won the Outland Trophy in ’65, and finished seventh in the Heisman voting. Texas went 27-5 during Nobis’ three years as a Longhorn. He was Texas’ first-ever overall number-one NFL pick when the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in 1966. The AFL Houston Oilers also picked him number-one, but Nobis signed with the more traditional and stable NFL franchise. He led the Falcons in tackles nine of his 11 seasons. He was NFL Rookie of the Year in ’66. And he played in five Pro Bowls. Following his retirement, Nobis worked for years in the Falcons front office. And he still serves the team as a consultant. Super nice guy out of San Antonio Jefferson High School. One of the all-time greats.
I don’t want to be overly critical of Mark Cuban. That’s not the stated or intended purpose of this blog. But it is the weekend. Give me a little freedom here. I believe he may be the worst owner in the history of professional sports in Dallas. And, good night, we’ve had some awful ones. Bum Bright. Eddie Chiles. Ross Perot, Jr. But has any one owner, repeatedly and consistently, singlehandedly embarassed his team, his league, and his city more than Cuban? His whining after Game Five of the Finals against Miami last year was so childish and petty. And it was so bad that even Avery Johnson got caught up in it. The team took the cue from Cuban and the rhetoric was so bad and embarassing during the two days between Games 5 & 6, I actually rooted for the Heat in that last game. It’s awful.
His reality show. Remember? The most self-serving, egotistical, embarassing thing any owner has ever done in the history of professional sports. Ever. His in-game behavior is childish at best. I could go on and on. I don’t mean to. I really think he’s awful. I can stand outrageous. But childish and petty and embarassing are really too much.
And now he’s suing former Mavs coach and GM Don Nelson because Nellie used “inside information” to destroy Dallas in the first round of the playoffs two months ago. What?!? The claims in the suit are ridiculous. Randy Galloway’s column sums up most of it. His best line in the story is this: you wanna sue somebody over the Golden State series, why not sue Dirk? Suing an opposing coach for using insider information after that coach thumps your team in an historic upset sounds like something a five-year-old would do. But certainly not any right-thinking adult. Cuban makes it very hard to root for the Mavs.
I’m sure I’ll be in a better mood tonight at the Medina Children’s Home Auction and Dinner. Avery Johnson is the guest speaker. I see on Richard Brown’s run sheet that Avery gets 20 minutes to speak. And I’ve been allotted one minute for the opening prayer. 60-seconds! I’m scheduled to pray at 7:16 and then Dan Branch is making an announcement about dinner and the end of the auction at 7:17. Can you imagine?
Have a great weekend.