Football History

Remembering Willie Richardson – Part II

Caddying at the Greenville Country Club as a teenager, Willie Richardson had the good fortune to come under the tutelage of a DeWitt Walcott Jr., who offered valuable instruction.

Born in Hollandale, Miss., and raised in Greenville, Walcott attended the University of Mississippi for three years, before joining the United States Army in 1942. A

Caddying at the Greenville Country Club as a teenager, Willie Richardson had the good fortune to come under the tutelage of a DeWitt Walcott Jr., who offered valuable instruction.

Born in Hollandale, Miss., and raised in Greenville, Walcott attended the University of Mississippi for three years, before joining the United States Army in 1942. A sports enthusiast with an abiding love for the game, Walcott won several amateur events in Mississippi and mentored dozens of teens in the Greenville area for most of his life. He passed away in 2003.

“My dad would hit balls before work in the morning and then after work at night,” said his son DeWitt Walcott III, a graduate of Greenville High School in 1964, who lives in Austin, Tx. “You’d have a bag of 80-100 balls. Willie would shag balls for my dad and then my dad would shag balls for Willie.

“From the beginning, Willie showed a tremendous natural ability to play golf,” said Wolcott.

Those instructions shaped a game that was fundamentally sound in all phases.

“Whatever lessons Willie got from Walcott were definitely helpful,” said Judge Reuben Anderson, a close friend of Richardson. “He was always so fundamentally sound in everything he did.”

Despite the rigorous pounding during his football career, Richardson never underwent surgery. His good health and southern climate enabled him to get on the course almost daily.

Richardson’s quartet included Anderson, Paul Covington and A.D. Jones. Through their many travels to golfing tournaments, Anderson was able to see how many lives Richardson impacted, across the state.

“I didn’t know Willie until he came back to Jackson,” said Anderson, who was the first African American Supreme Court Justice in Mississippi [1985-90], the first black to graduate University of Mississippi Law School (1967) and first black President of the Mississippi Bar Association. “I guess facilitator would be a good word to describe Willie; he was a very unique individual. He had a special connection to coaches at all the colleges in the state. He was a big brother and mentor to so many in athletics and business. He helped a lot of people get started in city government. He was involved with many non-profit and fundraising projects. He always worked to make things better in Mississippi.

“He ran for Mississippi’s Department of Transportation Commissioner, in the early 1990s, and Johnny Unitas came down to campaign for him.

“Willie had an incredible memory, he never forgot a name or place. He always felt blessed and had a unique perspective on life.

“In my 30 years as friends, I never knew him to have an argument or falling out with anyone. He was very committed to Jackson State and helped the school as much as possible.”

His easy stroke and nimble touch on the course never faltered.

“It was a bad day if Willie didn’t shoot his age,” said Anderson. “He shot 74 the Friday before he passed away. He had a great swing and was always consistent with his chipping and putting. I don’t think his skills ever diminished a bit in 30 years!”

There were many avid black golfers in Mississippi, but most of the courses were restricted until the 1980s.

“We had a strong group of black golfers and caddies in Jackson, going back to the 1950s,” said Anderson. “There were guys here who caddied for Calvin Peete and Raymond Floyd.

“We played what we called the Chitlin Circuit. The better courses didn’t open up until the 1990s.

“For competition we’d go to Natchez, Miss. Vicksburg, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., Mobile, Ala. and Baton Rouge, La. The public courses there were much better. We’d play two days, Saturday and Sunday. There would be a full field with 90 guys, but only three-four guys could compete with Willie. I’d say he won 50 percent of the tournaments. We did that until almost 2010. He won a lot of the charity events as well.”

In 1992, Judge Anderson brought Richardson with him to The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, 12 miles south of Jacksonville, Fla. The Monday after the tournament concluded, Richardson played for Jim and Mark McCumber to assess his game.

“They were impressed with Willie and wanted him to give the PGA Senior Tour a shot, but with his work schedule it just wasn’t going to work out,” said Anderson.

Seth Schwartz is a freelance writer in Chicago. He can be reached atseth.schwartz@sbcglobal.net

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Remembering Willie Richardson

It seems only fitting that Willie Richardson passed away of natural causes February 8, 2016, at age 76. Natural is the appropriate description for the genial Richardson.

Moving adroitly on the gridiron, golf course and all walks of life, Richardson was one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League from 1967-69 as

It seems only fitting that Willie Richardson passed away of natural causes February 8, 2016, at age 76. Natural is the appropriate description for the genial Richardson.

Moving adroitly on the gridiron, golf course and all walks of life, Richardson was one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League from 1967-69 as a two-time pro-bowler during his tenure with the Baltimore Colts 1963-71 [and Miami Dolphins in 1970].

Former University of Mississippi Law School Dean, Bob Farley, once said, “Mississippi is not a state, it’s a family.”

On many levels, Richardson’s life parallels this theme. Family, friends and relatives from across Mississippi were intertwined throughout his life.

W.C. Gorden, a high school coach [1956-66], defensive coordinator for Jackson State coach Rod Paige [1967-77], head baseball coach [1966-76] and head football coach at Jackson State [1977-91], shared a friendship of nearly half century with Richardson.

“Willie was known throughout the state and that started with high school football,” said Gorden. “He was an outstanding community servant and a natural at connecting with people.

“When I got to the church, I saw white and black professionals and people from all walks of life. You had over 1,800 people; many had come from all over the state. It was the largest funeral I’d been to. That’s when I understood just how beautiful a person Willie was.”

Growing up in Greenville, Miss. Richardson and his five brothers: Gloster, Ernie, Thomas, Charles and Allan made a name in football, basketball and baseball.

The majority of the black students attended Coleman High School established in 1926 and named after Lizzie Coleman on the north side of the city [rival Weston High School was on the south side]. Taking pride in their students’ achievements was palpable throughout the community. A person who had a sizeable hand in developing Richardson, his brothers and hundreds of kids during his tenure was coach Davis Weathersby. A native of Liberty, Miss., he grew up with six brothers and three sisters helping farm the 65 acres his father owned, where they raised cotton, vegetables, sweet potatoes and also had their own sugar cane mill. Attending Alcorn State in 1951, Weathersby learned from a strong senior class that included running back Medgar Evers and 6-0, 230 pound fullback Jack Spinks, who became the first black from Mississippi to play in the NFL. Weathersby started three years as a 5-10, 185 pound offensive guard and defensive lineman.

Head coach at Coleman High School from 1956-70, Weathersby posted a 112-26-6 record, which included state championships in 1957 and ’67 and four Big Eight Conference titles. Richardson’s junior year, they went 9-0-2 and beat Laurel 19-14 for the conference championship. The following season they started 0-2, Weathersby moved Richardson from receiver to quarterback [he started at free safety] and they went 8-2-1 the rest of the way. In 1961, wide receiver Gloster Richardson paired with quarterback George Scott and they went to the conference final against Rowan in 1961. Scott went onto play major league baseball [1966-79] with the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. A receiver in the NFL from 1967-74, Gloster was on Super Bowl championships with the Kansas City Chiefs [1969] and the Dallas Cowboys [1971]. A South Side Chicago resident in the South Shore neighborhood after his career ended, Gloster returned to Mississippi for two years where he was the wide receiver coach at Mississippi Valley State in 1983-84 working with future NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

Teachers and administrators at Coleman High School made certain every opportunity was extended to the students.

“Coleman was a great school,” said the 83-year old Weathersby, who lives in Greenville. “We called it the school of champions. We had a great band and glee club; we excelled in everything. We had dedicated teachers and parents who were very supportive. We had people come in before and after school to teach advanced calculus and other subjects. We were strict and had complete control of our kids.”

In a state overflowing with football fever, Friday afternoons for home games brought the community out to celebrate. The 70 member award winning band, led by renowned director Roy P. Huddleston, festooned in stylish attire, stepping with drum majors and majorettes, led the march down Nelson St. before a crowd of a couple thousand.

“I grew up wanting to be a drum major,” said Wilbert Montgomery, who was part of the integration of Greenville High School in 1970 [the same year the high school ended up 90 percent African American]. He played with younger brother, Cleotha, for coach Gary Dempsey, winning a state championship in 1972 going 11-0 before attending Abilene Christian. A four year starter with the Wildcats, Montgomery set a record with 37 touchdowns as a freshman,  teaming with quarterback Clint Longley to help win a NAIA National Championship. Montgomery gained over 6,700 yards playing with the Philadelphia Eagles [1977-84]. Younger brothers Cleotha, Tyrone and Fred Montgomery also played professional football; nine of the 10 brothers played college football. “You’d see them out in front of everyone with their stylish uniforms high-stepping in their routine.

“Later at night, I’d get out in the street and practice my own routine.

“As a child, we’d go to watch the games. It cost a quarter and we couldn’t afford it so we’d watch from outside the fence.

“Most kids grew up dreaming of playing for Coleman. My brother Alfred played there and my mom and aunt went there.

“Willie was a pioneer. He set and raised the bar for everyone. He showed you could go to college and play ball and even beyond that. You could see that life didn’t stop after high school.”

 

Willie Richardson

Photo Courtesy: Indianapolis Colts

Yazoo City native Willie Brown went up against Richardson throughout high school in the Big 6 Conference and then in college.

“He did everything and we couldn’t stop him,” said Brown, who played cornerback for the Raiders [1967-78, Broncos 1963-66] and was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. “Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson and the staff told me Willie was going to Grambling, but they took me there in the summer before my freshman year and Willie never came. I guess Jackson State did the same thing with him.

“Willie was dating a girl I went to school with. I had to give my approval before he could go out with her. We ended up going to the high school prom together.”

Following visits to Grambling, Tennessee State and Michigan State, he ended up at Jackson State after coach John Merritt came to his home.

“Coach Merritt told my mother [Alice] if Willie came to Jackson State, the rest of us could play there, too,” said Gloster. “He had the vision to see what was down the line.”

Younger brothers Charles, Allan and Tom, [with the New England Patriots 1969, 70] all played at Jackson State during the 1960s.

Born in Clarksdale, Richardson moved to Greenville at age five, but went back periodically to visit his aunt. During his time there, he became good friends with Higgins High School quarterback Roy Curry.

Teaming with Curry, the duo executed an offensive machine that was unstoppable in the SWAC [Southwestern Athletic Conference] with a 19-3 record from 1961-62.

In a rematch against Florida A&M, they were dominant with a 22-6 win at the 30th Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, Fla. before 47,791 breaking the Rattlers 21 game win streak.

The team was feted with a parade through the city of Jackson and a celebration on campus.

“We’re still celebrating!” Gloster insisted.

A four-year starter at receiver and free safety, and two-time All-American, Richardson tallied 171 receptions and 36 touchdowns for the Tigers.

He and Florida A&M’s Robert Paremore were the first blacks to play for the Southern team in the 17th annual North-South Shrine game. Catching two touchdowns, Richardson was voted MVP.

He also played in the North-South All-Star game. A few days later, they had a parade for him in Jackson and a Willie Richardson day was held in Greenville.

“There were about 4,000 people lined up down Washington Ave. that ended at City Hall,” said Weathersby. “After that, we had a dinner with 200 people at Coleman High School with all the coaches from Jackson State.”

At the time of Civil Rights unrest, the fanfare for Richardson portrays the complexities of race in Mississippi.

A native of Moss Point and lifelong Mississippian, Dr. Robert Khayat holds a distinguished resume of service at the University of Mississippi. A member of the Rebels 1960 championship and an academic All-American and all SEC catcher, kicker for the Washington Redskins [1960, ’62 and ‘63], a 1966 law school graduate and professor at the school of law. Khayat was Chancellor of Ole Miss from 1995-2009 and had the law building named in his honor in April, 2011.

“Mississippi is much discussed. It produces a diverse group of incredibly successful people and Willie was one of those,” said Khayat, who lives in Oxford, Miss.

“Willie was widely respected across the state. I don’t know of anyone who didn’t admire him. He was involved in a many projects that always had to do with helping people. Wherever you saw him, he was always upbeat. He mixed well with everyone whether it was at Annandale Golf Course or any other venue.”

During the 17th annual North-South All-Star game in 1962 he became friends with Syracuse tight end John Mackey, who was a second round selection of the Colts. Richardson caught two touchdowns and was named MVP as the South won 15-14 a few days before the NFL draft.

A post-game interview impressed the viewers including Mackey’s wife, Sylvia, who was watching the game with her mother at home in Washington, D.C.

“Willie was so eloquent and at ease in the interview; we were spellbound,” said Sylvia. “John called me after the game, I told him how impressed we were with Willie and he said, ‘That’s my man Willie!’”

The 1962 draft was held Dec. 4 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago. A seventh round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts and third round selection of the New York Jets, Richardson’s relationship with Mackey was a significant factor in signing with the Colts.

The two roomed together in training camp for the 1963 College All-Star team that beat the Green Bay Packers, 20-17, before 65,000 at Chicago’s Soldier Field in the 30th annual game.

“Coach [Vince] Lombardi told me, ‘If I had that all-star team, I’d win a championship in three years,’” said Dave Robinson, who was the last pick in the first round [No. 14] by the Packers after playing linebacker-tight end at Penn State. Among the guys who went on to exceptional careers were: Lee Roy Jordan, Kermit Alexander, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Lee Roy Caffey, Walt Sweeney, Ray Mansfield, Fred Miller, Jim Dunaway and Ed Budde.

He got a good look at Richardson during practice and when he lined up against the Colts.

“I really hadn’t seen a wide receiver like Willie [in college],” said Robinson. “Willie didn’t make breaks in his routes, he just went from one part of the route to another; he was that smooth. Guys who came from the black colleges were coming from wide open offenses; it was a different style of play. It was an untapped market, a lot of those guys went to the AFL. It wasn’t an easy time for any of us. For blacks players to make it [in the NFL] you had to be great. If you were borderline, you had no chance. We all had respect for each other’s ability; there were no prima donnas.

“When we played Baltimore we double covered Willie often. We brought the free safety over so we wouldn’t get beat deep. He was the guy we were worried about.”

How would Richardson’s career differed had he signed with the Jets?

“Oh my gosh! He would’ve broken all Don Maynard’s records,” said Larry Grantham, who played on the University of Mississippi’s national championship team in 1959 and was a starting linebacker for the Jets from 1960-72 at 6-1, 195 pounds. “It sure would’ve been interesting to see. I think it would’ve benefitted Joe Namath and Willie. [Namath’s rookie season was 1965].”

In the spring of 1963, Grantham received a call from a Jackson State coach who wanted to introduce him to Richardson. After a workout, the two went for coffee and felt a common ground. Richardson was invited to Grantham’s home in Crystal Springs [20 miles from Jackson] for dinner. Richardson reciprocated and the two became friends.

“We did a number of events together in the offseason in and around Jackson during the 1960s,” said Grantham. “Willie was always a gentleman; you enjoyed being around him.”

Stepping in with some of the best to ever play the game takes adjusting. A master of the craft and meticulously detailed, Raymond Berry gave Richardson a few pointers, but was also impressed with the rookie’s tools.

Willie Richardson

Photo Courtesy: Indianapolis Colts

“Willie had a tremendous combination of size, speed, quickness and great hands,” said Berry. “He was a tough competitor; the complete package. That’s the reason he became a super wide receiver.

“Physically, Willie could match up with anyone. Once he learned the double and triple fake he became extremely effective.

“As a receiver, you had to communicate with Unitas. He would ask you, ‘What can you get open with?’ And you better be prepared to tell him! That was a key thing; John depended on that constant feedback.”

Behind Berry and Jimmy Orr his first four years, Richardson waited in reserve, grabbing 35 receptions. In 1967 with Orr injured and Berry in his last season, the league got a full view of Richardson’s talents as he caught 63 passes [eighth in the NFL] and made all-pro. Richardson followed that with 37 and eight touchdowns [1968] and 43 grabs [in 1969], but only 17 his last two years. He led the Colts with eight receptions in their famous 16-7 Super Bowl III loss to the New York Jets.

The Colts multipurpose running back Tom Matte [1961-72] explained one of the reasons for the team’s success.

“Willie was a great competitor and phenomenal Jack of all trades guy,” he said. “He paid his dues and came up through the ranks. The guys always made sacrifices, putting in extra time and Willie fell right in line. He worked his butt off after practice. I worked with him on different patterns, reading defenses and man-to-man adjustments. He was unselfish and fell into the same crowd of Art Donovan, Johnny Unitas and others; we always hung out together.

“We had a basketball team in the offseason where we traveled around and played about 30 games. It was a way to stay in shape and raise some money for charity. It was Mackey, Unitas, Geno Marchetti and a few others. Willie was one of the best players.

“We had a group that would play golf frequently and Willie was the best. He was right at par, I was a three-four handicap. He was always 30-yards longer off the tee.

“We’d all go out for beers together, we had a lot of great times together. His wife [Earline] was a real sweetheart and was good friends with my wife.”

In 1965, Richardson made an instinctive interception which resulted in a joyful 50-year marriage and three kids [Sonji Nicole, Willie III and Shawn Elizabeth].

One of seven children, who spent her first five years on the famous Hopkins Plantation outside of Clarksdale, Earline Outlaw’s family roots go back before the Civil War in the same city. Earline’s father drove a tractor at the Hopkins Plantation, but he died of heart failure when she was five. She moved into town with her grandparents [her grandfather was a barber].

“My grandparents and everyone else emphasized education and the importance of going to college and bettering yourself,” said Earline.

During her freshman year at Jackson State, she met Willie. While never dating, the two kept in touch through letters and occasional phone calls. When Richardson found out Earline was getting engaged, he made a quick decision.

“He told me, ‘Don’t marry him…wait for me!’” said Earline, laughing at the memory.

Married June 6, 1965, by a Justice of the Peace in Clarksdale, their honeymoon was postponed as Richardson prepared for training camp. Earline finished her degree at Coppin State and began teaching elementary school in Baltimore.

“I never really knew all the things Willie did, but at the funeral so many people came up and said, ‘Willie helped me get my first job in city government or in other areas,’” said Earline. “That’s when it hit me how many people he reached.”

As one of the premier cornerbacks in the league [1963-69 with the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams 1970-71, free safety the Philadelphia Eagles 1972-73], Kermit Alexander lined up against Richardson many times, beginning with the College All-Star team.

“It didn’t matter if he was double-covered, whenever they needed a big catch, on third down, he’d get it,” said Alexander, who was All-Pro in 1968 and second in the NFL with nine interceptions [he had 43 in his career and ranks third in 49er history with 36]. “He would destroy a zone [defense] so we’d switch to man-to-man to cut down his opportunities. You had to pick and choose when to double cover him. You couldn’t intimidate him and you never saw him drop a pass.

“Willie ran terrific routes and had very deceptive speed.  He would glide along and then change gears, separate from you and break a pattern so quickly. Unitas would throw the ball before he finished the route and the ball would be there right when he made his break. We’d have guys on our team cussing each other out because we couldn’t stop him.

“Unitas and his receivers worked for an hour after practice to perfect their timing.

“When I was with the Rams we double-teamed him, but he still owned the red zone. Even in double coverage, he could out-jump you for the ball. His hands were so strong. I thought Willie was like Berry in that they were masterful in running their routes; of course Willie had more speed.”

A common thread was woven through the Jackson State players. They were primarily from small towns across the state and grew up laboring long hours picking cotton and were the first of their family to attend college. Taking full advantage of opportunities on the field and in the classroom, relationships cemented 50 years ago are intact, as hair grew gray and gaits slowed.        Raised in Clarksdale, John Outlaw watched his older cousin, Roy Curry, star as a quarterback at Higgins High School.

Outlaw, who battled receiver Harold Jackson in practice, was drafted in the 10th round in 1969 by the Boston Patriots. Before training camp, he moved in with Richardson in Baltimore and worked out with Berry, Unitas, Ray Perkins and a few others.

“What I learned in one month was invaluable,” said Outlaw, who played with the Patriots from 1969-73 and the Eagles from 1973-77. “There was a slew of talented receivers and you had Unitas at quarterback. I didn’t shy away.

“Willie’s hand-eye coordination was at another level. He knew how to set you up. He’d get you leaning one way and then cut the other way; he had incredible body control.

“Playing at Jackson State, Willie was a guy everyone looked up to and aspired to be. He was a straight shooter and a huge asset to the school.”

A case of deja vu occurred in 1971 when Outlaw found himself lined up against Richardson during the final game of the season. In the second quarter, he picked off a Unitas pass and sped 60-yards for a touchdown as the New England Patriots held off the Colts 21-17.

A year behind Richardson in college, Speedy Duncan enjoyed the opportunity to square off against the best.

“[Assistant coach] Joe Gilliam Sr. taught us to play bump-and-run,” said Duncan, who joined the San Diego Chargers as a free agent in 1964. Defensive coordinator Chuck Noll put Duncan in as a starter in 1965, at right cornerback, where he became a four-time All-Pro in addition to returning punts and kickoffs. He was a special teams ace with the Washington Redskins from 1971-74.

“Willie knew how to get you where he wanted in his route and then make his cut. He knew how to separate from you under any situation. He was a tremendous competitor and never made a dirty play [in practice].

“I went against Lance Alworth [for six years] and there were similarities between the two. Both had a mindset when the ball was in the air it belonged to me! It didn’t matter what position you had, or how close you were, they would find a way to go up, position their body and come away with the ball. Both had incredible hand-eye coordination and were also great golfers.”

Gulfport, Miss. native Lem Barney, who was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame with John Mackey in 1992, has close ties to the Richardsons.

“I remember watching Willie when Jackson State played Grambling and then during the Blue-Gray All-Star game,” said Barney, who was a seven-time pro bowler with the Detroit Lions [1967-77]. “He was an inspiration for me signing with Jackson State.”

Barney’s roommate was Thomas and Gloster lived across the hall.

“I felt like I was part of the Richardson family, we had a great relationship,” said Barney, who was a three-time All SWAC selection. “We spent a lot of time talking about Willie and watching him when the Colts were on television. You talk about a loaded team, they had it all with Unitas, Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry.

“When Willie came back to Jackson he was very encouraging with me. He said, ‘You have great footwork, you’re fundamentally sound, you’re going to get drafted high.’”

It wasn’t long before Barney was lining up against Richardson, who caught five passes against him in a 41-7 Colts win in 1967.

“When Willie went up in the air, he was impossible to stop. He had long arms, great body control and his hands were like nets. He was as good as any receiver I faced.”

Barney and Richardson went at it in the Pro Bowl held in Los Angeles in 1967 and ‘68. Afterwards, they joined their wives, Jacqui and Earline and enjoyed the sights in Los Angeles.

The day after the 1965 draft, Bill Curry woke up to a phone call from his brother-in-law telling him he was the second to last player drafted in the 20th round, by the Green Bay Packers. Curry hung up thinking it was a joke. It wasn’t. Making the squad in 1965, Curry became their starting center in 1966 and then started for the Colts from 1967-72. His memories are still vivid recalling Richardson’s artistry that helped the Colts beat the Packers.

“Willie was a dominant receiver in those three years [1967-69],” said Curry. “He made a number of big catches to win games for us. In 1967 [at Baltimore], Willie stepped in front of [Hall of Fame cornerback] Herb Adderly on a post route and caught a [23-yard] touchdown pass [from Johnny Unitas] in the fourth quarter to give us the win [13-10]. That snapped a four-game losing streak to the Packers.

“The next year at Green Bay, I desperately wanted to win that game. Willie went up and reached over the top of Adderly at the goal line to take away the ball and complete a 26-yard touchdown pass [from Earl Morrall]. I remember running down there picking him up to celebrate [a 16-3 win].

“The other thing that sticks out about Willie is he was always upbeat and ready for the next thing, like most of the guys on the team.

“The Packers had a passionate fan base, but Baltimore, there was nothing like it. They called Memorial Stadium the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum and that’s what it was. We played on what we called the astro-dirt. We had pep rallies, we had the Colts’ Corral in the offseason. It was a special time and place.”

Making a seamless transition to television, he worked as a sports anchor for Fox 45, in Baltimore from 1972-82.

In 1982, Governor William Forest Winter called Richardson and offered him a job in the tax division, where he ended up working for 25 years.

“Willie was very close with his mother,” said Earline. “It was a little more of an adjustment for me. I taught at an elementary school in Rankin County for two years and then at Barr Elementary for nine years.”

 

Pastor Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson was an extended family member and eulogized Richardson.

“Willie’s mother [Alice] was my second grade teacher,” said Young, who has been pastor since 1980. “She convinced me I could be successful. I went to her class from second grade to high school. His father W.L. Richardson and my dad E.L. Young were preaching buddies. They went to a number of churches in the delta.

“I went to high school in Benoit at Nugent Center.”

A few years younger Willie, Pastor Young followed his career. Richardson was a member of his church for over 30 years.

“Willie Richardson represented all of us,” he said. “It wasn’t just pride, but hope and aspiration of what was possible. To come out of Jackson State and make it.

“The Richardson family were tremendous people. I can’t tell you how proud we were of Willie and his brothers.

“Sometimes, when a man has accomplished what Willie had, by the grace of God, he reads his own press clippings and becomes pompous or arrogant. I know Willie understood the power that came through him, not from him and was a gift of God.

“Willie was a great person who was always humble. I did the eulogy for his mother and brother Ernie. I was pleased and proud to be a friend. He was in church the Sunday before he passed, sitting in his usual spot. I looked out and said, ‘There’s Willie.’”

Seth Schwartz is a freelance writer in Chicago. He can be reached atseth.schwartz@sbcglobal.net

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Retired NFL Players Congress and NFL Sign Historic Deal

This past week, the Retired NFL Players Congress and the NFL were able to finalize a landmark deal. For those of you not familiar with the Retired NFL Players Congress, here is a little background.

They represent the Retired NFL Players and their Widows. It is controlled by and operates for the benefit of

This past week, the Retired NFL Players Congress and the NFL were able to finalize a landmark deal. For those of you not familiar with the Retired NFL Players Congress, here is a little background.

They represent the Retired NFL Players and their Widows. It is controlled by and operates for the benefit of same. The Congress works to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of Retired Players both collectively and individually. Its aim is to reduce litigation battles and dependence on charity so that they can focus their resources and efforts on identifying new revenue sources for their 18,000+ members. They give the retired players and their family members a voice that has been missing for far too long.

Below are some quotes from the Retired NFL Players Congress Press Release, which can be read in full here.

Greetings Retired/Former Players and Widows:

We are pleased to announce that the Retired NFL Players Congress has entered into a historic apparel licensing  agreement with National Football League Properties, the NFL Player Care Foundation, and JH Design Group on your behalf. This is a profit making venture that the Congress has been working on for the past eighteen months to generate real income for retired players while supporting the many other benefits/programs that are already in place.

Former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, Eugene Upshaw, properly advised us before his death that he did not work for, or legally represent us. “The bottom line is I don’t work for them,” Upshaw told the Observer. “They don’t hire me and they can’t fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote. That’s who pays my salary.” He went on to compare our value as retired players to “dog food” that no one wanted.  Mr. Upshaw was correct in his first statement. We accepted what he publicly stated and verified the legality of his statement. That is why we went to work filing the necessary legal paperwork to insure that we as retired/former NFL players have a legal entity that does represent us independently and directly. (Retired NFL Players Congress, Inc.)  Upshaw, then Executive Director of the NFL Players Association was wrong, we have found, on the $$$ value that we have  to the NFL and other companies in corporate America who recognize our contribution to the game.

We know retired players need tangible ways to supplement pensions, retirement income and beneficial programs that the Owners already fund and contribute to both directly and indirectly. This innovative NFL licensing initiative is the first in a series of money producing business ventures planned by the retired players and widows of the NFL who are now the Retired NFL Players Congress.

Our aim is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate the seemingly never ending litigation battles and dependence on charity and focus our resources, efforts and energy on identifying new revenue sources for all of our family. We intend to work toward including our unvested 1, 2 and 3 year men into our pension programs.  Another goal is to raise our pension programs to the same level as that of Major League Baseball. The question is not one of whether or not it can be done, it is rather one of what can we do to make that happen. The Congress also plans to purchase various tangible assets that will directly benefit the Congress and its members.

Our goal this year is to fund and institute, with our earnings, the first of two programs for financial assistance to the roughly 70 former players who are 90+ years old and have received less than we believe they are entitled to. We believe this oversight should be addressed immediately and  we have strong support from the League office and some of the team owners. The apparel licensing program is one of thetools that the Players Congress, working with the NFL Player Care Foundation will use to fund improved payouts to these deserving men and their families. This new relationship between the NFL and the Players Congress is an important step in addressing the decades long missing business link between the NFL Owners and retired NFL players collectively.  The Retired NFL Players Congress is “The Missing Link” and it has the support of all of the living men who formed the original NFLPA and the Players Union back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Through our new NFL apparel licensing and sales program, which allows us to manufacture and sell an exclusive line of high-end NFL team jackets in leather, wool, and mixed leather and wool, the Congress will provide income, education, training, and other opportunities for NFL alumni. We are partnering with JH Design Group, one of the nation’s leading sportswear apparel manufacturing and licensing companies.

NFL Player Care will help structure the 90+ year old program and some of our other benefit programs so that we can minimize administrative expenses. Initially, revenues may be reduced because we have a limited product line, and we are getting a late start on season sales for 2015. Nevertheless, we are excited at the prospect of becoming an actual business participant in the upcoming 50th Anniversary Super Bowl. We are also confident that with your support and small membership payment, we can grow our licensing program and
expand business relationships and opportunities, in the long term, with others in corporate America…

Read further at playerscongress.com.

I understand the Players Congress also hopes to improve the current pension program for players that played prior to 1993 to that of Major League Baseball. According to Vice Sports, former MLB Players become eligible for pensions after spending 43 days on the active roster. Once that feat is accomplished, MLB Players are eligible for $34,000 a year pension. Furthermore, former MLB Players are rewarded with a $100,000 a year pension if they play 10-plus years in the Majors. It would take a Pre-1993 NFL player 11 credited seasons to earn the MLB’s 43 day (not game) pension and 30 seasons to earn the $100,000 a year pension. Not to mention, the average NFL player’s tenure is roughly three years compared to the MLB’s 5.5 years.

Furthermore, Vice Sports states that roughly 3,641 former players receive an average monthly pension of $1,656 and 90% of former players also receive $723 a month from the Legacy fund. Those amounts roughly equate to $28,550 dollars a year, which is far less than Major League Baseball players and far harder to obtain.

The Retired NFL Players Congress, which represents retired NFL Players and their widows, will continue to work tirelessly to develop business partnerships that create revenue to serve the needs of the Retired Players.

I hope I was able to shed some light on what a tremendous job this organization is doing and to spread the word to all players, current and retired, in the hopes that they will become members and stand with their brothers who fought for them so long ago.

https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/battle-for-benefits-part-3-dont-make-proud-men-beg

Michael Freas

Graduate of both NFP’s Intro to Scouting 101 course and Sport Management Worldwide’s Football GM & Scouting course. Relevant experience includes shadowing former NFL Players & Coaches/Scouts, Bob Pellegrini and Dick Bielski as well as current New England Patriots Front Office Executive, Michael Lombardi during his tenure with NFP.

Fantasy Football and Daily Fantasy Football enthusiast.

Read More 1104 Words

Historical Scouting Report: Mike Curtis

Mike Curtis

NAME: Mike Curtis
POSITION: Linebacker
TEAMS: 1965-75 Baltimore Colts, 1976 Seattle Seahawks, 1977-78 Washington Redskins
UNIFORM NUMBER: 32

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Very good agility and quickness
• Excellent instincts
• Transitioned well
• Very good tackler

WEAKNESSES
• Slow to shed blocks
• Does not have

NAME: Mike Curtis
POSITION: Linebacker
TEAMS: 1965-75 Baltimore Colts, 1976 Seattle Seahawks, 1977-78 Washington Redskins
UNIFORM NUMBER: 32

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Very good agility and quickness
• Excellent instincts
• Transitioned well
• Very good tackler

WEAKNESSES
• Slow to shed blocks
• Does not have the straight-away speed to cover running backs and flankers

BOTTOM LINE
Curtis displayed excellent instincts, as well as very good quickness and agility. He transitioned well in coverage and showed very good tackling skills. However, he had a habit of going high and missing on tackles. He was slow to shed his blocks and had a habit of getting sealed away from the play. He did not have the speed to cover running backs or flankers that he was responsible for covering. But, he did show the ability to cover from hash mark to hash mark. He did not always take the best angles, but his quickness allowed him to recover and make up ground.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.4
QUICKNESS: 7.7
AGILITY: 7.5
BALANCE: 7.2
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.7
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.8
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.6
INSTINCTS: 7.7

OVERALL GRADE: 7.6

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 7

GAME: December 10, 1966 – Green Bay Packers: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Curtis lined up as a left outside linebacker and played on the line of scrimmage for the bulk of the game. He showed very good quickness and agility in both run stopping and pass coverage. He could get out of his transition quickly in pass coverage. He was quick to react on the line of scrimmage. However, he could sometimes be slow to shed blocks to make plays. He was willing to take on blockers, but had a habit of being sealed and kicked out. A very good tackler, however, this film did not show many tackles of his. There was one missed tackle of Elijah Pitts (#22) in the fourth quarter. He shed the block of Marv Fleming (#81), but failed to make the tackle of Pitts. In the second quarter, he left his feet, which allowed him to be cut blocked. He was around the ball on many occasions. He was good in zone coverage.

GAME: January 12, 1969 – New York Jets: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: Curtis lined up as a left outside linebacker and played on the line of scrimmage for the bulk of the game. When he played off the line of scrimmage, he would move from the end of the line to between the left defensive end and left defensive tackle. Curtis showed very good quickness and agility in both run stopping and pass coverage. He could get out of his transition quickly in pass coverage. He was a little slower than the running backs and flankers that he was covering, but he could quickly close to make the tackle with little yards after the catch. The Jets primarily ran to the weak side, away from Curtis. He was quick to react on the line of scrimmage. However, he could sometimes be slow to shed blocks to make plays. A very good tackler. He made several excellent open-field tackles throughout the game. Could cover from hash mark to hash mark quickly to make a play. He had trouble staying on his feet.

GAME: September 28, 1970 – Kansas City Chiefs: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: Curtis played middle linebacker in the game. He was quick and aggressive in his play. He showed excellent instincts and was quick to diagnose plays. He didn’t take the best angles in his coverage, but he was able to make up ground. Very good tackling, but he had a habit of hitting high and missing the tackle. He displayed a very good ability to shed blocks.

GAME: October 18, 1970 – New York Jets: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: This is a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Curtis made an excellent interception in the second quarter. Excellent instincts. Quick to react to the play. On an interception, he quickly got into position to assist in blocking downfield. Late in the second quarter, Curtis had a missed tackle on receiver Eddie Bell (#7) in the middle of the field. Curtis was quick to cover ground in zone coverage.

GAME: January 17, 1971 – Dallas Cowboys: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: This is a television broadcast. Curtis played middle linebacker throughout the game. Curtis was aggressive, but he tended to overrun the play at times. He was quick to diagnose plays and was always around the ball. He was walled off a few times, but did a very good job shedding blocks and getting through traffic. In the first quarter, Curtis showed excellent red zone play when he pushed the center back into the leading back and stopped Duane Thomas (#33) for a short loss. He showed very good coverage skills. In the fourth quarter, Curtis intercepted a Craig Morton (#14) pass.

GAME: October 25, 1971 – Minnesota Vikings: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: Curtis played middle linebacker in the game. In the first quarter, he dropped into coverage and almost had an interception. However, later in the quarter, Curtis was covering tight end Stu Voigt (#83). Voigt caught the ball ahead of Curtis and streaked down the sideline. Curtis just stopped on the play. Curtis also struggled in zone coverage. He was aggressive in his coverage, but did not take good angles and spent too much time on the ground.

GAME: October 12, 1975 – Buffalo Bills: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film, and not all plays are shown. The Colts’ defense focused on the run. The Colts stacked the box, with Mike Curtis focused on the running backs. He lined up as a middle linebacker. In the first half, the Colts were able to hold O.J. Simpson (#32) to minimal gains. However, Simpson exploded in the second half. Curtis showed excellent reaction times to the running back. He also showed smooth transitions in pass coverage and showed very good tackling skills. However, he was a little slow in pass coverage. In the third quarter, he was covering tight end Paul Seymour (#87). Seymour got a step on him and caught a pass for a 26-yard gain. Curtis did not make the tackle. In the second quarter, Curtis was called for a holding penalty on a sack, which kept a Buffalo drive alive. Also in the second quarter, Curtis failed to make a tackle on Simpson.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

Read More 1151 Words

Historical Scouting Report: Del Shofner

Del Shofner

NAME: Del Shofner
POSITION: Split End, Flanker, Tight/Closed/Left End
TEAMS: 1957-60 Los Angeles Rams, 1961-67 New York Giants
UNIFORM NUMBER: 29 (1957-60), 85 (1961-67)

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Ran excellent routes
• Excellent hands

WEAKNESSES
• Did not give full effort to plays run to the opposite side

NAME: Del Shofner
POSITION: Split End, Flanker, Tight/Closed/Left End
TEAMS: 1957-60 Los Angeles Rams, 1961-67 New York Giants
UNIFORM NUMBER: 29 (1957-60), 85 (1961-67)

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Ran excellent routes
• Excellent hands

WEAKNESSES
• Did not give full effort to plays run to the opposite side of the field
• Struggled at times with blocking

BOTTOM LINE
Shofner ran excellent routes. However, he did not sell the route when the play went to the opposite side of the field. He had excellent hands and concentration when catching in a crowd of defenders. Excellent run after the catch. Competitive and fought for extra yardage. However, his competitiveness was lacking when he was not the target. Shofner was inconsistent on blocking. He showed very good ability at times, but was not always willing to complete the block.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.9
RELEASE: 8.0
QUICKNESS: 7.8
PASS ROUTES: 8.0
AGILITY: 7.9
SEPARATION: 8.1
BALANCE: 7.9
RECEIVE LONG 8.0
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.5
RECEIVE SHORT: 8.1
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.3
HANDS: 8.2
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 8.0
ADJUST TO BALL: 8.0
INSTINCTS: 8.0
RUN AFTER CATCH: 8.0
INITIAL QUICKNESS: 7.9
BLOCKING: 7.3

OVERALL GRADE: 7.7

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 5

GAME: December 31, 1961 – Green Bay Packers: 7.9
BOTTOM LINE: Shofner played split end, flanker, and tight/closed/left end in the game. He was primarily a split end and strictly on the left side. The tight camera angles made it difficult to evaluate the entire route. On the second offensive series, Y.A. Tittle (#14) threw a pass to Shofner along the left sideline. The pass was under-thrown and Shofner lost his footing. Incomplete pass. Charley Conerly (#42) replaced Tittle in the second quarter. Late in the second quarter, Shofner lined up tight. Off the snap, he released and blocked downfield for a sweep to his side. He showed very good blocking skills. Tittle returned late in the third quarter. He threw to Shofner running a quick slant pattern. Shofner caught the pass with three defenders around him, and still gained about five yards after the catch. Shofner showed good hands to not only receive the ball, but strength to hold on to it with multiple defenders tying to strip the ball. Excellent concentration. Tittle hit Shofner again in the third quarter for a short gain. Shofner ran a quick slant pattern and caught the ball. He was hit in the head by the defender, ran a yard or two before being tackled. In the fourth quarter, Tittle threw a long pass on a nineroute. The ball was slightly underthrown and was intercepted by the trailing defender. Shofner rode him for a few yards before he brought him to the ground. Later in the fourth quarter, Tittle threw a short slant to Shofner, who caught it with Jessie Whittenton (#47) hanging on him. No yards after the catch. Tittle threw a pass on an out pattern along the left sideline. The pass was short and uncatchable. On catchable passes, he made the catch on all but one, which was a low pass on a sideline out in the fourth quarter.

GAME: December 30, 1962 – Green Bay Packers: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: The way this film was edited, not all plays were shown. However, there were no interruptions in the broadcast audio to fill in the detail on missing plays. Shofner played split end, flanker and tight/closed/left end. Always on the left side of the line. On the first offensive series, Shofner was penalized for pass interference. He pushed off defensive back Jesse Whittenton (#47) on a sideline out pattern. Later in the series, Y.A. Tittle (#14) overthrew Shofner. The play was not shown to see if the ball was catchable. On the second offensive series, Shofner was lined up tight. He broke through the defense on a crossing route and Tittle hit him in stride. The defenders closed quickly, but there was decent yards after the catch. On the next play, Shofner was split wide to the left and ran an out route. Tittle hit him along the sideline. Shofner showed very good hands and the ability to keep his feet inbounds for the catch. No targets in the second quarter. On the first offensive series of the third quarter, Tittle threw an out to Shofner, who showed very good hands and concentration to pull in the ball and keep his feet in bounds. The ball was a little high and outside. Shofner had to stretch out to get the reception. On the next offensive series, Shofner was targeted, but Whittenton knocked it out of his hands. The play was described on audio, but no video was shown. On the next play, Shofner was targeted and made an excellent catch with Whittenton hanging on him. Shofner leapt into the air to catch the high pass, but was tackled immediately. On the same series, Shofner ran a crossing pattern. Tittle targeted Shofner, but Willie Wood (#24) interfered and was penalized. Wood was ejected from the game for bumping the official. On the next play, Shofner was targeted in the end zone, but the pass was overthrown. In the fourth quarter, Tittle targeted Shofner on a long nine-route, but the ball was overthrown. Uncatchable. On the final offensive series, Shofner was targeted, but the pass was incomplete. No video of the play. Also, no video of Shofner’s last reception a minute before the end of the game. Blocking was good to very good, but inconsistent.

GAME: September 15, 1963 – Baltimore Colts: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: This is an NFL Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Shofner played split end, flanker, and tight/closed/left end in the game. The tight camera angles made it difficult to evaluate the entire route. In the first quarter, Y.A. Tittle (#14) threw an out pass to Shofner for a 14-yard gain and a first down. He did a great job to get both feet in bounds for the completion. In the second quarter, Shofner ran a curl pattern. Tittle threw the ball high and it went through Shofner’s hands for an incomplete pass. A few plays later, Tittle hit Shofner on an out pattern, but it was negated due to a penalty on the offense. A few plays later, Tittle hit Shofner on the same out pattern for a nine-yard completion. Two plays later, Tittle threw a pass to Shofner at the side of the end zone. The pass was overthrown. Shofner had a few fingertips on it, but he was out of bounds. In the third quarter, Tittle hit Shofner on a short pass for a five-yard gain. A few plays later, Tittle hit Shofner on a slant. Shofner continued to streak across the field for a 43-yard reception. Very good hands and speed. Tittle is injured on a touchdown run and is replaced by Ralph Guglielmi (#9). Also in the third quarter, Guglielmi threw a sideline pass to Shofner. The pass was under thrown and was intercepted by the trailing defender. Shofner tackled the defender in the end zone. Shofner showed good to very good blocking abilities. He was able to knock linebacker Don Shinnick (#66) to the ground in the fourth quarter. He did an excellent job getting open on out routes.

GAME: November 24, 1963 – St. Louis Cardinals: 7.9
BOTTOM LINE: Shofner played split end, flanker and tight/closed/left end. Shofner showed very little effort when the play was not run to him. No receptions for Shofner in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Y.A. Tittle (#14) threw an out pass to Shofner. The ball was incomplete. Hard to tell if it was catchable. A few series’ later, Shofner had a very good reception near the left sideline. After the catch, he was hit immediately by two defenders and stopped without yards after the catch. Shofner showed very good hands with the reception. Later in the quarter, Tittle threw a long pass to Shofner, but the ball was underthrown and almost intercepted by Larry Wilson (#8). Two plays later, Tittle hit Shofner on a mid-range pass. Shofner got his body in front of the defensive back to get the ball. He broke away from the tackle of Wilson and gained an extra 12 yards. Very good effort to get yards after the catch. In the third quarter, Shofner ran a deep post pattern. The ball was underthrown by Tittle and intercepted by Wilson. Shofner ran back over 30 yards to make the tackle. Excellent hustle. Later in the quarter, Tittle underthrew a sideline pass to Shofner, which was again intercepted by Wilson. Later in the quarter, Tittle threw an out to Shofner, who showed an excellent ability to turn upfield to gain yards after the catch. The reception went for 20 yards. In the fourth quarter, Shofner caught a short out. He was hit immediately and had no yards after the catch. A few plays later, Shofner ran a deep post, beating the defender by about two yards. Tittle hit him in stride. Jimmy Hill (#41) caught him and tripped him up at the one-yard line for a 48-yard reception. Excellent concentration and hands to catch the over-the-shoulder pass.

GAME: December 29, 1963 – Chicago Bears: 7.2
BOTTOM LINE This is a highlight film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Shofner played split end, flanker and tight/closed/left end. In the first quarter, Shofner beat Dave Whitsell (#23) to the end zone. Tittle threw the pass but it was a little high and slightly behind Shofner. It hit the hands of Shofner, but he was unable to catch it. It should have been a touchdown reception. Tittle left the game in the second quarter when he was hit in the leg by linebacker Larry Morris (#33). He was replaced by Glynn Griffing (#15). No targets for Shofner in the second quarter. Tittle returned at the beginning of the third quarter. On the first offensive series of the third quarter, Shofner was targeted by Tittle on a curl route. Dave Whitsell stepped in front of Shofner for the interception. Shofner tackled Whitsell for only about a one-yard return. Shofner was targeted again at the end of the third quarter, but the pass was too far in front of him. With about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Shofner ran a deep post. He beat his defender, but Tittle’s pass was overthrown. Shofner did not have a reception in the game. His competitiveness was good at best in this game.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

Read More 1815 Words

Historical Scouting Report: Pat Fischer

Pat Fischer

NAME: Pat Fischer
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1961-67 St. Louis Cardinals, 1968-77 Washington Redskins
UNIFORM NUMBER: 37

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Very good in run support
• Tight coverage downfield

WEAKNESSES
• Can get beat long
• Has a habit of trailing receivers, preventing him from breaking up passes

NAME: Pat Fischer
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1961-67 St. Louis Cardinals, 1968-77 Washington Redskins
UNIFORM NUMBER: 37

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Very good in run support
• Tight coverage downfield

WEAKNESSES
• Can get beat long
• Has a habit of trailing receivers, preventing him from breaking up passes
• Not aggressive towards the ball

BOTTOM LINE
Fischer showed very good skills in both run stopping and pass coverage. In the run game, he was quick to react and showed good instincts. He had some aggressiveness in run support, but was not consistent in his aggressiveness. His size worked against him when attempting to tackle larger running backs. In coverage, Fischer displayed very tight coverage. At times, he was turned around by the receivers and they were able to exploit that flaw and beat him long or with sharp cuts. His recovery speed was excellent, which helped him mask that flaw.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.8
QUICKNESS: 8.0
AGILITY: 8.0
BALANCE: 7.5
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.2
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.7
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.6
INSTINCTS: 7.6

OVERALL GRADE: 7.5

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 5

GAME: November 24, 1963 – New York Giants: 7.4
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Fischer played left cornerback in the game. The Giant threw many short outs and crossing routes to Frank Gifford (#16) to attack Fischer’s side of the field. In the second quarter, Fischer almost intercepted a pass when he was fighting for the ball with Gifford. Gifford won the battle for a reception with no yards after the catch. Throughout the game, Fischer was tight in coverage and did not give up many yards after the catch. However, Gifford did get behind him in the third quarter, but failed to make the reception as the ball was overthrown. Even though Fischer had tight coverage, he did not seem to be in a position to break up the pass. Fischer was good in run support, but in the first quarter, Phil King (#24) ran through his tackle. In the third quarter, right guard Bookie Bolin (#63) was able to block Fischer away from the run. But, in the fourth quarter, he shed the block of Bolin to assist on a tackle of Joe Morrison (#40) for a loss.

Fischer chasing the Cardinals’ Mel Gray

GAME: December 13, 1971 – Los Angeles Rams: 7.7
BOTTOM LINE: This was a television broadcast. Fischer played left cornerback in the game, but occasionally played the right side when the Rams put two receivers on the weak side of the line. In the first quarter, Fischer was tested deep in man coverage against Jack Snow (#84). Fischer got his hands on the ball, but failed to make the interception in the end zone. Later in the first quarter, Fischer was beat inside by the receiver, but the receiver failed to make the catch. Fischer had a nice breakup of a pass across the middle, also in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he was quick to react to a pass to a back, but over ran him and failed to make the tackle. In the third quarter, Fischer had very tight coverage of Snow and intercepted a Roman Gabriel (#18) pass. In the fourth quarter, Fischer made a good breakup of a pass.

GAME: December 22, 1973 – Minnesota Vikings: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: Fischer played left cornerback in the game. In the first quarter, Fischer was badly beaten by Joe Gilliam (#42), but Gilliam failed to make the catch. Also in the first quarter, Fischer forced a fumble when he hit Fran Tarkenton (#10) on a scramble. Tarkenton recovered the fumble. In the second quarter, Fischer broke his ribs on a tackle of Oscar Reed (#32). Fischer left the game for a series, returned, and then left the game for good.

GAME: January 14, 1973 – Miami Dolphins: 7.5
BOTTOM LINE: This was a television broadcast. Fischer played left cornerback in the game. Very good in run support and was quick to react to the play. In the first quarter, he shed a pulling right tackle Norm Evans (#73) to knock Mercury Morris (#22) out of bounds for a loss. The play was negated due to a holding penalty on Miami, but Fischer made a very good play. In the second quarter, he made a nice tackle of Morris to get him out of bounds. In the third quarter, he brought down Larry Csonka (#39) in the middle of the field. A short time later, Csonka broke loose and ran down the middle of the field. Fischer was able to run him down, but bounced off Csonka on the attempted tackle. In pass coverage, Fischer played tight to the receiver. However, first quarter, Fischer was easily beat by Howard Twilley (#81) for a touchdown. Fischer was turned around and was not able to keep up on Twilley’s cut back. Fischer recovered to get his hands on Twilley, but Twilley muscled his way into the end zone. In the fourth quarter, Fischer showed excellent recovery speed to break up a pass to Twilley near the goal line.

GAME: December 18, 1976 – Minnesota Vikings: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE This film was a television broadcast that ended with 11:37 remaining in the game. Fischer played left cornerback in the game. Overall, he showed excellent coverage downfield and had an opportunity for an interception in the second quarter, but failed to make the catch. In the first quarter, tight end Stu Voigt (#83) pushed his way through Fischer’s tackle to score a touchdown. Fischer was not very aggressive with his tackle on the goal line. In the second quarter, Ahmad Rashad (#28) got behind Fischer for a reception. Fischer could not keep up with Rashad.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

Read More 1031 Words

Historical Scouting Report: Johnny Robinson

Johnny Robinson

NAME: Johnny Robinson
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1960-62 Dallas Texans, 1963-71 Kansas City Chiefs
UNIFORM NUMBER: 42

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent instincts
• Great play-making ability

WEAKNESSES
• His aggressiveness can get him in trouble
• Tackling can be an issue

BOTTOM LINE
Robinson showed excellent instincts, quickness

NAME: Johnny Robinson
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1960-62 Dallas Texans, 1963-71 Kansas City Chiefs
UNIFORM NUMBER: 42

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent instincts
• Great play-making ability

WEAKNESSES
• His aggressiveness can get him in trouble
• Tackling can be an issue

BOTTOM LINE
Robinson showed excellent instincts, quickness and agility in his play. He is aggressive in reacting to the ball, but that can get him into trouble. He is quick to jump a route, but if his timing is not correct, the receiver gets the ball and makes a play, sometimes for a touchdown. However, when his timing is correct, he has a big impact on the outcome of the game. He is always around the ball and willing to make a play. He made excellent tackles, but there were times where he struggled in his tackling technique. Overall, an excellent player.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 8.1
QUICKNESS: 8.1
AGILITY: 8.1
BALANCE: 8.1
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 8.0
COMPETITIVENESS: 8.0
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 8.2
INSTINCTS: 8.1

OVERALL GRADE: 8.2

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 4

GAME: December 23, 1962 – Houston Oilers: 8.2
BOTTOM LINE: This film was a television copy, but some of the plays were missing. Robinson had an excellent game. He played right safety. He showed excellent quickness and instincts, and was always around the ball. In the first quarter, Robinson was in the vicinity to intercept a George Blanda (#16) pass, but it was just out of his reach. In the second quarter, Robinson made nice tackles of Billy Cannon (#20) and Bob McLeod (#81). In the third quarter, Robinson was in on tackles of Charley Tolar (#44) and Willard Dewveall (#88). However, on a pass to the end zone, Robinson jumped the route of Dewveall and missed. Robinson was too deep and did not react quick enough. The pass was completed for a touchdown. This was Robinson’s only noticeable mistake in the game. In the fourth quarter, Robinson was in on tackles of Dewveall and Cannon. He intercepted a pass on the Dallas two-yard line and returned it to the Dallas 37-yard line. He also broke up two passes in the quarter. In the first overtime period, Robinson was in on tackles of Cannon and Tolar. He also intercepted a pass in the middle of the field.

GAME: January 11, 1970 – Minnesota Vikings: 8.1
BOTTOM LINE:  (Crippen: Overall Grade: 8.3) This game was a television broadcast. Robinson played free safety in the game. Due to the tight camera angles, the safety play was not always visible. The evaluations are based on what could be seen as the play progressed downfield. In the first quarter, Robinson made a hard tackle of John Beasley (#87) on a pass across the middle. In the second quarter, he was very quick to react to a fumble and recovered it. In the third quarter, Robinson was blocked and did not take a good angle on the goal line touchdown run by Dave Osborn (#41). Another negative in the game is that in the second half, he failed to wrap up on a tackle of John Henderson (#80), and Henderson was able to gain an extra nine yards. However, on the next play, he intercepted a Joe Kapp (#11) pass and returned it nine yards. Quick in coverage and quick to react to the play. Can be a hard hitter, but does not always wrap up on the tackle. This allowed Henderson to escape his grasp in the second half. Excellent instincts.

GAME: September 28, 1970 – Baltimore Colts: 8.3
BOTTOM LINE: This is a television broadcast. Robinson played free safety in the game. He displayed great instincts as was always around the ball and showed excellent play-making ability. In the first quarter, he played in the box for a handful of plays while Baltimore was in the red zone. Also in the first quarter, Robinson intercepted a Johnny Unitas pass when the receiver fell. Robinson returned it 15 yards. In the second quarter, he stepped in front of a Unitas pass for another interception, returning it 27 yards. In the second quarter, he recovered a fumble, which took down the sidelines for a touchdown. However, Robinson did have two negative plays in the second quarter. First, he missed on a tackle on a short pass to a back out of the backfield. Also, he misjudged a pass down the middle where he jumped to make a play on the ball, but the receiver caught it in front of him. This allowed the receiver to run past him for an extra ten yards. In the fourth quarter, Robinson intercepted an Earl Morrall pass on the last play of the game.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

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Historical Scouting Report: Dick Schafrath

Dick Schafrath

NAME: Dick Schafrath
POSITION: LT
TEAMS: 1959-71 Cleveland Browns
UNIFORM NUMBER: 80 (1959), 77 (1960-71)

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent downfield blocker
• Very competitive

WEAKNESSES
• Can lose his balance on occasion
• Can get pushed back in pass protection
• Defenders could stand him

NAME: Dick Schafrath
POSITION: LT
TEAMS: 1959-71 Cleveland Browns
UNIFORM NUMBER: 80 (1959), 77 (1960-71)

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent downfield blocker
• Very competitive

WEAKNESSES
• Can lose his balance on occasion
• Can get pushed back in pass protection
• Defenders could stand him up, getting him to lose leverage

BOTTOM LINE Schafrath’s game had some deficiencies. In pass protection, he could get pushed back, beaten on the edge and lose his balance. However, it did not often result in negative plays. Defenders could get pressure on the quarterback, but did not sack the quarterback. He was effective in getting downfield to block on sweeps and screens. Was weak with his cut blocks. Struggled to maintain balance in pass protection.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.4
QUICKNESS: 7.5
AGILITY: 7.8
BALANCE: 7.0
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.1
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.9
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.5
INSTINCTS: 7.5
RUN BLOCKING: 7.6
PASS BLOCKING: 7.2

OVERALL GRADE 7.5

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 4

GAME: December 27, 1964 – Baltimore Colts: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE The film is of poor quality. This film is a highlight film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Ordell Braase (#81). He was very good in both run blocking and pass protection. At one point in the third quarter, Brasse got around Schafrath and caused a fumble in the backfield. It was not shown how Brasse got around Schafrath. He may have released Brasse in order to block downfield, as he had on a few other plays in the game. The film did not show Schafrath getting beat, but it did show him getting pushed around and pushed back. Schafrath was knocked off balance on occasion. Very competitive. Very good athleticism to get out in front of screens and sweeps.

GAME: October 8, 1966 – Pittsburgh Steelers: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This is a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Ben McGee (#60). Schafrath struggled at times in pass protection. McGee was able to get good penetration into the offensive backfield, especially on a bull rush. In the second quarter, Schafrath blocked McGee low. McGee jumped over him and pressured quarterback Frank Ryan (#13). Later in the second quarter, Schafrath did an excellent job picking up a stunting linebacker Rod Breedlove (#63). Schafrath was knocked off balance on a few occasions. Very good run blocking downfield. Schafrath left the game in the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand. He was replaced by John Brown (#70). Overall, Schafrath was beaten around the edge, pushed back, thrown around and missed some cut blocks. However, none of this led to negative plays.

GAME: October 30, 1966 – Atlanta Flacons: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: This is a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Sam Williams (#88). Excellent downfield blocking. In the second quarter, he made a very good block out in front of a sweep. Very good in pass protection. However, there were times when he stood too straight up and lost leverage against the defender. He was repeatedly pushed back into the pass pocket, as well as knocked off balance.

GAME: September 21, 1970 – New York Jets: 7.0
BOTTOM LINE: Schafrath played left tackle. Depending on the formation, he faced either right defensive end Verlon Biggs (#86) or right defensive tackle John Elliott (#80). Schafrath was very good in run blocking. However, he was a little slow when pulling to the opposite side of the field to block on the sweep. He struggled in pass protection. Lateral movement was not smooth and he was slow to get into his stance, which made him relatively easy to knock off balance. On several occasions, the defender was able to get by him to pressure quarterback Bill Nelsen. In the first quarter, he made a good cut block on a screen pass. However, in the same quarter, he was run over by Biggs. He was repeatedly beat on the edge. With all of these struggles in pass protection, he did not give up a sack.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

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Historical Scouting Report: Eddie Meador

Eddie Meador

NAME: Eddie Meador
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1959-70 Los Angeles Rams
UNIFORM NUMBER: 21

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent tackler
• Quick and Aggressive

WEAKNESSES
• Can get caught out of position due to his aggressiveness

BOTTOM LINE
A very good defensive back. Quick and aggressive. Always around

NAME: Eddie Meador
POSITION: DB
TEAMS: 1959-70 Los Angeles Rams
UNIFORM NUMBER: 21

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent tackler
• Quick and Aggressive

WEAKNESSES
• Can get caught out of position due to his aggressiveness

BOTTOM LINE
A very good defensive back. Quick and aggressive. Always around the ball. Very good at reading the play and adjusting. A solid tackler and can take on the ball carrier one-on-one. His aggressiveness can get him in trouble. Receivers can get behind him to cause damage. There are times that he can recover quickly, but there are times when he is too far out of position. Very good instincts and competitiveness.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 8.0
QUICKNESS: 8.2
AGILITY: 8.0
BALANCE: 7.9
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.5
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.9
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.9
INSTINCTS: 7.9

OVERALL GRADE 7.7

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 7

GAME: October 31, 1965 – Detroit Lions: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This was a NFL Play by Play Report film. Meador showed quickness and aggressiveness throughout the game. However, several times he was caught out of position or too far downfield to make a play. Receivers were able to get behind him. This was evident early in the game as Joe Don Looney (#32) ran past him for the first score of the game. Later in the first quarter, Terry Barr (#41) also got behind him to catch a touchdown pass. Meador showed excellent tackling skills. However, in the third quarter, Joe Don Looney ran through him for a touchdown. When in position, Meador was able to make a play. However, frequently, he was caught out of position and the Lions were able to capitalize.

GAME: September 25, 1966 – Green Bay Packers: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Meador played the weak-side safety position in the game. Overall, he played well. He showed excellent speed and mental awareness to always be around the ball. His speed was on display in the third quarter, when he chased down Paul Hornung (#5) to not only tackle him, but to strip the ball away from him for a fumble. He was quick to react to the play and was in on a few tackles. He was very good in run support. A very good game for Meador. He showed excellent quickness and aggressiveness.

GAME: December 18, 1966 – Green Bay Packers: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Meador had a very good game. He was injured in the third quarter, but returned in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter, he chased down Elijah Pitts (#22) on a screen pass to knock him out of bounds. He made a good solo tackle in the second quarter, but had a few missed tackles throughout the game. In the third quarter, he was run over by Jim Taylor (#31). When he returned in the fourth quarter, he undercut a receiver to intercept a pass. He left the game again later in the fourth quarter. He showed very good competitiveness and quickness.

GAME: December 9, 1967 – Green Bay Packers: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Meador played free safety throughout the game. He made an excellent touchdown-saving solo tackle on Donny Anderson (#44) in the first quarter. He also made another tackle later in the game to prevent a long gain. However, there were few plays of his shown in the film.

GAME: December 8, 1968 – Chicago Bears: 7.7
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. There were few plays of his shown in the film. Meador played right safety throughout the game. He showed very good mental awareness. He also had a very good 39-yard punt return in the second quarter.

GAME: November 16, 1969 – Philadelphia Eagles: 8.1
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Meador showed excellent quickness, speed and mental alertness. He made a few downfield tackles, but occasionally was sealed away from the play. This was seen twice in the second quarter. He had an outstanding third quarter. He showed excellent toughness on a fake field goal, where he ran the ball to the right and powered his way through a few defenders for a five-yard gain and a first down. Later in the quarter, Meador recovered a fumble by Tom Woodeshick (#37). Still in the third quarter, Meador cut in front of Leroy Keyes (#20) to intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown. His excellent third quarter made up for a few shortcomings earlier in the game.

GAME: October 26, 1970 – Minnesota Vikings: 7.7
BOTTOM LINE: This film was an original television broadcast. Meador played free safety throughout the game. The field conditions were rainy and muddy, making footing difficult. Meador showed excellent tackling skills throughout the game. He was consistently around the ball. In the first quarter, he was looked off by quarterback Gary Cuozzo (#15) on a touchdown pass to Bill Brown (#30).

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

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Historical Scouting Report: Jerry Kramer

Jerry Kramer

NAME: Jerry Kramer
POSITION: RG
TEAMS: 1958-68 Green Bay Packers
UNIFORM NUMBER: 64

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS

• Excellent quickness and agility
• Run blocking is exceptional
• Can pull effectively and seal the blocks

WEAKNESSES

• Can get off-balance

NAME: Jerry Kramer
POSITION: RG
TEAMS: 1958-68 Green Bay Packers
UNIFORM NUMBER: 64

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS

• Excellent quickness and agility
• Run blocking is exceptional
• Can pull effectively and seal the blocks

WEAKNESSES

• Can get off-balance on pass blocking
• Occasionally pushed back on a bull rush
• Has a habit of not playing snap-to-whistle on pass plays

BOTTOM LINE

Kramer is excellent at run blocking, but not as good on pass blocking. Whether he is run blocking or pass blocking, he shows good hand placement. He missed many games in 1961 and 1964 due to injury. Also kicked field goals and extra points for the team in 1962-63 and 1968. He led the league in field goal percentage in 1962. Run Blocking: When pulling, he is quick to get into position and gains proper leverage against the defender. While staying on the line to run block, he shows excellent explosion into the defender and can turn the defender away from the runner. Pass Blocking: He can get pushed a little far into the backfield and lose his balance. He also has a habit of not playing snap-to-whistle. If a defender gets by him, he gives up on the play. He can also get high and flat-footed on pass blocking, which leads to his balance issues. When he sheds a blocker, he is good (not great) at picking up a new blocker. He also has trouble deciding who to block and sometimes makes the wrong decision. However, he is excellent when he is pulling to pass block on the screen. His skill and instincts are on par with his run blocking.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.8
QUICKNESS: 8.0
AGILITY: 8.1
BALANCE: 7.4
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 8.0
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.3
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.5
INSTINCTS: 7.7
RUN BLOCKING: 8.0
PASS BLOCKING: 7.7

OVERALL GRADE 7.8

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 27

GAME: December 26, 1960 – Philadelphia Eagles:  7.5
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer showed excellent quickness and agility throughout the game. However, he did have issues with balance. He showed good drive and leverage in run blocking. In pass protection, he did not always finish the block or make the block when in position to do so. He frequently dove at defenders.

GAME: December 30, 1962 – New York Giants: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: This was a radio broadcast with available video footage shown. As a result, not all plays were shown. In fact, very few plays were shown. Depending on the blocking scheme, Kramer either faced Dick Modzelewski (#77) or Sam Huff (#70). In the first quarter, Kramer recovered a Jim Taylor (#31) fumble. After the play, he left the game for a few plays. He returned, but left a few more times throughout the game. In the second quarter, Kramer gave up a sack to Modelewski. Later in the quarter, he made an excellent block on Modelewski on the Taylor touchdown run. Also in the second quarter, he picked up a rushing Jim Katcavage (#75) to protect Bart Starr.

GAME: October 27, 1963 – Baltimore Colts: 8.1
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer had an excellent game against Jim Colvin (#75) of the Baltimore Colts. He showed excellent quickness and agility as a pulling guard. He was able to get good penetration on run blocking. He could also seal the block. Pass blocking was a little weaker as he occasionally got pushed back or lost his balance. In the first quarter, he blocked Colvin, then quickly shed him to block Jackie Burkett (#55). He also recovered an onside kick in the first quarter.

GAME: October 3, 1965 – Chicago Bears: 6.4
BOTTOM LINE: This was an NFL Play by Play Report film. Kramer hit the ground on a few occasions against Bob Kilcullen (#74). A lack of balance has been an issue for him. Also, competitiveness was lacking on a few occasions as he gave up on the play before the whistle. Kramer showed some waist bending. However, he did show good hand position throughout the game. He kept his knees bent and flexible ankles. He repeatedly turned his back toward the defender after initial contact. Not Kramer’s best game.

GAME: October 10, 1965 – San Francisco 49ers: 6.4
BOTTOM LINE: This was an NFL Play by Play Report film. Dan Grimm (#67) started. Kramer only played briefly toward the end of the first half. He did not play in the second half. Kramer showed good run blocking and pass blocking skills in the short time he was in the game. However, he also exhibited balance issues. He repeatedly fell to the ground after initial contact.

GAME: October 31, 1965 – Chicago Bears: 7.5
BOTTOM LINE: This was an NFL Play by Play Report film. Kramer had a rough start versus Bob Kilcullen (#74), but he improved as the game progressed. Toward the beginning of the game, Kilcullen beat Kramer to Kramer’s left, went around Kramer and straight to Bart Starr. As Kilcullen shed the block, Kramer stopped playing and watched Kilcullen run straight to Starr. A little later in the quarter, Kramer was pulling to the right. He failed to hit either defender in his path. However, as mentioned previously, he improved as the game progressed. He showed better run and pass blocking. Overall, he showed improved balance than in previous games. He also showed very good quickness, agility, explosion, foot placement and flexibility. Competitiveness was lacking in the beginning, but improved later in the game. In the first quarter, Kramer made a very good down block on Jim Taylor’s run.

GAME: November 21, 1965 – Minnesota Vikings: 8.3
BOTTOM LINE: This was an NFL Play by Play Report film. Exceptional game for Kramer. Few to no mistakes. He showed exceptional skill in all phases of his game. He was able to get good penetration on run blocking. He showed excellent pass blocking against Gary Larsen (#77). But, Kramer left the game in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Dan Grimm (#67).

GAME: December 19, 1965 – San Francisco 49ers: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: This was an NFL Play by Play Report film. Kramer struggled in the first offensive series against Charlie Krueger (#70). Krueger was able to get excellent penetration into the Packer backfield, including shedding Kramer’s block to get in on a sack of Starr. However, Kramer strengthened his skills after that series and put together an exceptional game. Few mistakes were made.

GAME: December 26, 1965 – Baltimore Colts: 7.9
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer faced Fred Miller (#76) for most of the game. However, in the third quarter, Miller was replaced by Guy Reese (#75). Kramer Held his own in both run blocking and pass protection throughout the game. However, there were two occasions where Miller bull rushed Kramer and got the better of him. On one of those occasions, Miller easily tossed Kramer aside. Kramer was out of action for a few plays in the fourth quarter. He was replaced by Dan Grimm (#67). There was no noticeable drop-off in the quality of play when Grimm was in for Kramer. However, it was only for a few plays.

GAME: September 10, 1966 – Baltimore Colts: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: Excellent game by Kramer. He showed quickness, agility and balance. Good drive and leverage. In run blocking, he got excellent penetration into the defense. On pass blocking, he maintained his balance and was very effective. On screen passes, he got outside quickly and sealed the block effectively.

GAME: September 18, 1966 – Cleveland Browns: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Overall, an excellent game by Kramer. However, I need to grade him slightly lower based on a play late in the fourth quarter. Matched up against Walter Johnson (#71), Kramer held him off momentarily. But, Johnson was able to get around him. Once Johnson got around him, Kramer stopped playing for a few seconds. To his credit, though, when Bill Glass (#80) was running unabated to Starr, Kramer kicked it in gear and blocked Glass. You never want to see a player stop playing before the whistle blows. Excellent hook and seal blocks.

GAME: September 25, 1966 – Los Angeles Rams: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer’s run blocking was excellent in the game. His opponent was Merlin Olsen (#74). However, he did struggle at times in pass blocking. Olsen was able to get good penetration into the backfield and disrupt plays. Kramer did get help from center Ken Bowman (#57) and right tackle Forrest Gregg (#75) at times.

GAME: October 2, 1966 – Detroit Lions: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: Alex Karras (#71) had a good day pass rushing against Kramer. On a bull rush, Karras was able to push Kramer back or push him to the side. On run blocking, Kramer did well. There was an instance late in the third quarter where Jim Taylor (#31) ran through the B gap. Kramer had Karras turned toward Taylor. Karras easily shed the block and stopped Taylor for minimal to no gain. Kramer was also aided on a few occasions by center Bill Curry (#50) in blocking Karras. Also, Kramer regularly pulled away from Karras. In the fourth quarter, Kramer gave up a sack to Karras.

GAME: October 9, 1966 – San Francisco 49ers: 7.9
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer had a good game against Charlie Krueger (#70). There was one instance where Krueger easily pushed Kramer aside on a pass rush. Kramer lost his balance and was out of the play. Otherwise, Kramer put together a solid performance.

GAME: October 16, 1966 – Chicago Bears: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: Bob Kilcullen (#74) and Dick Evey (#79) swapped DT positions throughout the game. The Bears also sprinkled in Frank Cornish (#73) at LDT in the fourth quarter. Kramer played well throughout the game. He especially had a great play against Cornish in the fourth quarter. On a pass rush, Kramer easily knocked Cornish to the ground and out of the play. However, in the first quarter, Kramer fell backwards to the ground out of his stance.

GAME: October 23, 1966 – Atlanta Falcons: 8.1
BOTTOM LINE Kramer had another excellent game. This time, against Karl Rubke (#74) of the Falcons. Very few mistakes. However, he did give up on a play in the first offensive series. The same series, he was tossed aside.

GAME: November 6, 1966 – Minnesota Vikings: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer had an excellent game. Very few mistakes. His primary responsibility was left defensive tackle Gary Larsen (#77). Kramer maintained excellent positioning and leverage in both the run and pass game. He was quick to pull and cover the sweep and screen pass. He lost his balance on a few occasions due to waistbending and not maintaining good leverage, but overall had a good base under him.

GAME: November 20, 1966 – Chicago Bears: 8.0
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer mainly lined up against Bob Kilcullen (#74), but the Bears also shifted Dick Evey (#79) and Frank Cornish (#73) into the left defensive tackle position. Overall, a very good game from Kramer. However, he did miss a few blocks on the power sweep. Also lost his balance a time or two. On pass blocking, Evey blew through the A gap and Kramer was slow to react.

GAME: November 27, 1966 – Minnesota Vikings: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: Faced Gary Larsen (#77) at left defensive tackle. For the most part, Kramer had a very good game. Pass blocking was an issue on occasion, as he gave up on a play before the whistle and did a little waist-bending. Fortunately, it did not impact the game to any degree. Run blocking was excellent.

GAME: December 4, 1966 – San Francisco 49ers: 7.9
BOTTOM LINE: This film was more of a highlight reel and a play-by-play game film. As a result, not all plays were available. Of the plays I could see, Kramer did an excellent job against Charlie Krueger (#70). A few times, Kramer was knocked to the ground. However, the turf was very icy and players were easily losing their footing. I will not mark him down much for loss of balance at the iciest portions of the field. Kramer did miss a block on Krueger, who made a tackle for a loss.

GAME: December 10, 1966 – Baltimore Colts: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer faced Fred Miller (#76) throughout the game. Miller was able to get a few plays against Kramer. On a passing play, he got around Kramer by tossing him aside. Kramer did not have a solid base and could not get leverage on him. Miller also was able to get penetration on Kramer when Kramer went low to block. Kramer missed hitting Miller squarely and Miller was able to get into the backfield and almost make a play. On a screen pass, Kramer went to block an outside defender, but missed the block.

GAME: December 18, 1966 – Los Angeles Rams: 7.7
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. For the most part, Kramer handled left defensive tackle Merlin Olsen (#74) well. However, there were a few issues in the game. When Kramer went low to block Olsen, Merlin was able to shed the block and make a play. An example of this was a handoff to Jim Grabowski (#33) in the second half. Kramer went low, Olsen pushed him aside and penetrated the backfield. Olsen hit Grabowski to force a fumble.

GAME: January 1, 1967 -Dallas Cowboys: 7.6
BOTTOM LINE: Not many plays were shown. In the third quarter, Larry Stevens (#77) went around Kramer and Stevens tripped over another player. Stevens had easily beaten Kramer and had a clear path to Starr until he tripped. The play resulted in a touchdown pass, but it was not a good play for Kramer.

GAME: October 22, 1967 – New York Giants: 8.1
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Kramer had an excellent game against left defensive tackle Jim Moran (#74). Both run blocking and pass blocking were excellent. On one occasion, he did not play snap-to-whistle, but he was competitive the remainder of the game. Kramer did exhibit waistbending on pass blocking on occasion.

GAME: November 5, 1967 – Baltimore Colts: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Kramer did well on run blocking against Billy Ray Smith, Sr. (#74). However, he struggled against him in pass blocking. Smith was able to get deep penetration into the backfield, including getting in on a sack of Starr in the first half. The second half was more of the same. In the third quarter, Smith was able to get around Kramer for a sack of Starr. NOTE: The quality of the film is very poor.

GAME: December 9, 1967 – Los Angeles Rams: 7.4
BOTTOM LINE: This was a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays were shown. Kramer struggled in this game against Merlin Olsen (#74). In the first half, Kramer was called for holding as Olsen was pushing past him. Olsen regularly was able to get penetration into the backfield to disrupt plays. Kramer was also susceptible to getting knocked down.

GAME: December 15, 1968 – Chicago Bears: 8.2
BOTTOM LINE: Kramer only played a partial game against Frank Cornish (#73). In the fourth quarter, Kramer was replaced by Bill Lueck (#62). In the time that Kramer was in, he played well. No glaring issues were seen in his game.

 

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

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