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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    



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The Legend of Babe Laufenberg
by Andy Pollin
Aug 01, 2014 -- 12:52pm

ESPN 980

There is nothing in sports as meaningless as exhibition football games.  The results don’t count, most of the players who perform in the fourth quarter are cut, and the games are quickly forgotten as teams begin focusing on the regular season.  Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said publicly that he’d like to see the number of preseason games cut down.  Yet in Washington, the name Babe Laufenberg still brings a smile more than 30 years after he became a surprise summertime sensation, playing only exhibition games.  He is without question, the most popular player in Redskins history, never to have taken a regular season snap.

 

Branden Hugh “Babe” Laufenberg was already something of a never-say-die legend when he arrived in the Nation’s Capital as the defending Super Bowl champion’s sixth-round draft pick out of Indiana in 1983.  When he graduated from a Los Angeles area high school in 1977, Bill Walsh landed Laufenberg at Stanford, telling him he was the best high school quarterback in the state of California.  But after a redshirt year, Laufenberg fell behind a true freshman on the depth chart.  As he told Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, Laufenberg said to Walsh, “I thought you told me I was the best high school quarterback in California when you recruited me.”Walsh said, “I did.  But this kid is the best high school quarterback I have ever seen.”  His name was John Elway.

 

Laufenberg left, making a brief stop at Missouri, before landing at Pierce Junior College in LA.  The odds said that’s where Laufenberg would likely take his place in a long line of high school hotshots who couldn’t cut it at the next level.  That’s not what happened.  He played well enough to draw the attention of coach who’s now known for the line, “Not so fast my friend.”  Lee Corso, who now makes his living putting on the mascot heads of the teams he picks to win the game of the day on ESPN’s very popular “College Football Gameday Show”, signed Laufenberg to play at Indiana.  And he played well enough to wind up in Washington, where they weren’t exactly hurting at quarterback.  Joe Theismann had just led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl championship and would be named NFC offensive player of the year the following season.  But Theismann had reached his mid-30′s by then and the idea of trying to develop a young quarterback behind him with similar moxie seemed like a good idea.

 

Making the team, though, was no sure thing.  Behind Theismann, the Redskins had Bob Holly, who’d been drafted the year before.  Coach Joe Gibbs usually didn’t keep three quarterbacks.  But in the third preseason game, a Super Bowl rematch against Miami, Laufenberg got some second-half playing time and delivered.  He was 9 of 17 for 86 yards and the Redskins to their only score in a 38-7 loss.  That cemented his spot on the team, though he never saw the field in the regular season or playoffs with Theismann taking almost every snap.

 

A year later, the Redskins drafted another quarterback, Jay Schroeder from UCLA, and again it looked like Laufenberg might be the odd man out.  But once again in the third exhibition game, he got his time to shine once again, and delivered.  Down two scores when he came in against New England in the 4th quarter, Laufenberg went 10 of 17 for 184 yards, leading the Skins to a thrilling 31-27 victory.  Said Gibbs after the game, “I thought Babe really competed at the end and showed he’s a fighter.”  Once again, Laufenberg survived the final cuts, but once again didn’t take a single regular season snap.

 

One year later, 1985, Laufenberg again needed a spectacular performance to stick.  And again in the third preseason game, again against New England at home, he delivered.  Down 13 points in the 4th quarter, Laufenberg went 12 of 21 for 200 yards, including two touchdown passes – one for 75 yards to Gary Clark and the 25 yard game-winner to Clint Didier with four seconds left for a 37-36 win.  Said the Babe after the game, “I certainly think I helped my cause.”  Said Gibbs, “It may have made the decision difficult.”

 

Difficult though the decision may have been, alas Laufenberg was cut.  His Redskin story may have ended there, but in reality it was just starting to get good.  After failing to catch on with another team, he planned a mid-November vacation to Cabo San Lucas and happened to be there when the Redskins played a Monday night game against the New York Giants.  Wanting to watch his old team play and not having a television in his hotel room, he headed to the only bar in town that had one – The Giggling Marlin.Known for their upside down tequila shots, Laufenberg was enjoying one, when he glanced up at the TV (upside down of course) and saw that Theismann had gone down with a broken leg.  He thought to himself, “Gee I wonder if the Redskins might want to get a hold of me.”

 

Never mind it was the pre-cellphone era, there was only one telephone in Cabo at the time and it sat in the Post Office.  That’s where he headed the next morning and was told by Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard on the phone, “Yes.  Get here as quickly as you can.”

 

Laufenberg finished out the year watching Schroeder take every snap.  Theismann’s career was ended by the injury and with the USFL folding, Doug Williams arrived in 1986 to be Schroeder’s backup.  Still there would be time for one more magical August night for the Babe.  Getting action this time in the second preseason game, the Redskins trailed Pittsburgh 24-10 when Laufenberg stepped into the huddle in the 4th quarter.  And just like the last three Augusts, fireworks followed.  Laufenberg threw for 182 yards to send the game into overtime and led drive that set up Mark Moseley’s 51-yard game winning field goal.

 

Though it was now four-straight years of heroics, most knew his release was inevitable.  A local television station launched a “Save the Babe” campaign, but it was all for naught.  Babe Laufenberg was cut by the Redskins for the final time.  Over?  Who said anything about over?

 

Before the 1986 season ended, Laufenberg landed in New Orleans and four seasons after his NFL journey began, he took his first regular snaps for the Saints.  But 1987 again found the Babe on the unemployment line.  When the strike occurred, the Redskins called and asked him to play with their replacement players.  He wanted no part of that and wound up without a team for the entire season.  Over?  Who said anything about over?

 

Incredibly in 1988, Laufenberg not only made the Chargers final roster, he opened the season as their starting quarterback!  He wound up starting six games before once again landing on the bench.  In 1999 Jimmy Johnson brought him to Dallas to help mentor rookies Troy Aikman and Steve Walsh.  After taking their lumps at 1-15 in ’89, Johnson had enough confidence in Laufenberg as a backup in 1990 to deal Walsh early in the season to New Orleans.

 

It turned out to be a mistake.  Aikman hurt his shoulder, leaving Laufenberg to start the last game of the year against a 4-11 Falcons team in Atlanta.  A win would put the Cowboys in the playoffs.  It wasn’t close.  Atlanta won 26-7 and Laufenberg never took another snap in the NFL.

 

Sometimes stories like this make for a good “Where are they now?” feature, but in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, nobody has to ask.  In a town that produced legendary names like Don Meredith, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, Babe Laufenberg has one of the highest profiles around.  He does color commentary on the Cowboys radio broadcasts with Brad Sham and is the Sports Director of the local CBS TV affiliate.  Everybody else in the sports department backs HIM up.

 

That must be nice for a change.


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Does the Hall of Fame Have Team Quotas?
by Andy Pollin
Jul 25, 2014 -- 1:57pm
Tony Dungy

(AP Photo/David Duprey)

 

     Gary Shelton is one of the best sports columnists in the country.  He writes for the Tampa Bay Times, who’s readers have interest in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks going in next week.  Brooks will be the second player from the Bucs 2002 Super Bowl championship team to be inducted in Canton.  Warren Sapp went in last year. 

     Shelton suggests there are three more from that team who could get Hall of Fame consideration – John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Tony Dungy.  But he writes:

 

“Some will tell you that is already too many players for a team that one won one championship.”

 

     Hall of Fame selectors will tell you number of players per team is not a consideration, that players are selected on their individual merit.  And Shelton points to the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the Minnesota Vikings to win Super Bowl IV.  They have nine in Canton:

 

Bobby Bell

Buck Buchanan

Curley Culp

Len Dawson

Willie Lanier

Jan Stenerud

Emitt Thomas

Hank Stram (coach)

Lamar Hunt (owner)

 

     It’s hard to make a case against any of the nine, even Stenerud, who is the only player who was exclusively a placekicker in the Hall of Fame.  Yet that group won only one Super Bowl.  But Shelton writes:

 

“The 49ers, who won five Super Bowls in the ‘80’s and 90’s, have seven players in the Hall of Fame from those decades.  The Cowboys, who won three Super Bowls in four years in the 90’s, have five players off that era in the Hall.  The Dolphins, who went to three straight Super Bowls and won two (including an undefeated season), have seven from that era.”

 

     Shelton doesn’t write it, but I would add the Redskins between 1982 and 1992, who went to four Super Bowls and won three, as a team that may be shortchanged on inductees.  Like the Cowboys, those Redskins have five in Canton:

 

John Riggins (1992)

Joe Gibbs (1996)

Darrell Green (2008)

Art Monk (2008)

Russ Grimm (2010)

 

     If the theory of one team having a limit on inductees is to be believed, that may be it for those Redskins.  That would be a shame.  There is one more - possibly two more - that deserve consideration for induction.  Monk was on the team for all four Super Bowl appearances.  Green played on three of those teams.  And they were great players, but the heart and soul of all four teams was the offensive line.

     When Grimm was inducted in ’08, the vibe I got when Doc Walker and I did live coverage of the event, was that Grimm finally getting in addressed the entire offensive line.  Not for me.

     You can’t talk about Grimm without Joe Jacoby.  They were not only the best of friends, but one of the best blocking tandems in the history of the NFL.  Riggins used to talk about running down highway 66 and 68 (their jersey numbers).  Gibbs has said Jacoby was one of the best drive blockers in the history of the game. 

     Gary Clark didn’t play long enough to get close to Monk’s catch numbers, but I would add his name as a Hall of Fame omission.  He was fearless, running routes across the middle, taking the big hit.  And for touchdowns, nobody caught more important ones that Clark.  The problem is wide receiver numbers have exploded.  Clark just doesn’t have enough career catches.  However, for many years Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said his justification for not voting Monk into the Hall of Fame was what he’d heard from New York Giant coaches when both Clark and Monk were playing.  He said they feared Clark much more than Monk.  Well if that worked against Monk, now that he’s in, shouldn’t that help Clark?

     The greatest era in Redskins history has produced five Hall of Famers.  You’d think there would be room for a couple more.

 

“I Love Robert Griffin III.  I Don’t Like RGII”

 

     When I saw that comment from former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot on Comcast SportsNet, I was reminded of a conversation I had with former Giants linebacker Harry Carson when Lawrence Taylor was selected for the Hall of Fame.  Carson said, “Lawrence Taylor was great.  I just wish he didn’t spend so much time trying to be LT.”

     Carson went on to explain that his former teammate was actually a good person, as well as being a great football player, but seemed to have this need to play a character to get attention.  And that character caused many of his problems.

     Now in terms of how they run their lives off the field, Griffin and Taylor are polar opposites.  Taylor was known for staying up all night to party.  He had admitted problems with drugs and alcohol.  Griffin is a homebody, who’s married and seems to run his life in an exemplary way.

     However, what I see in LT and RGIII is a constant need for attention.  It’s not a big deal, but Griffin showed up for the first day of training camp wearing one white show and one black shoe.  He explained it by saying, “You know, that’s something I’ve done since college.  It’s called the yin and the yang.  White and black working together.  We’re all brothers.  We’re doing it together.”  Oh please.

     He’s participating in a practice, not a clown show.  The players are given practice gear to look like a team.  The quarterback is the leader.  Shouldn’t he set an example instead of this goofy ebony and ivory statement?  It may have drawn a few laughs in college.  This is the NFL. 

     These small things add up.  A quarterback coming off a 3-13 season, needs to put the focus on the team, not RGII.

    

    


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He Just Doesn't Get It
by Andy Pollin
Jul 18, 2014 -- 2:41pm
Randy Edsall

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

     I want to like Maryland football coach Randy Edsall.  I really do.  Yet every time I’m ready to clean the slate and give him another chance, he says something that makes me shake my head. 

     After inheriting the 9-4 team left behind by Ralph Friedgen in 2011, Edsall proceeded to go 2-10 in his first year.  That was bad enough, but he seemed to take every opportunity he could to throw Friedgen under the bus for what he perceived to be an undisciplined bunch that he (Edsall) was left to deal with.  That was reeeally classy.

     Edsall’s second year, 2012, pretty much has to be thrown out.  Maryland suffered unbelievable bad luck, losing four quarterbacks to leg injuries.  They wound up playing their last three games with a backup linebacker playing quarterback.  The 4-8 record was about as good as could be expected under the circumstances.

     Last season included more bad luck with injuries, but there were at least enough quarterbacks to make it through the season.  With wins in two of their last three regular season games, Maryland made it to a bowl game – the Military Bowl, where they lost to Marshall 31-20 for a 7-6 final record.  After two terrible years, at least Edsall was able to bring the program back to respectability.  I was okay with that, until…Edsall made a statement at an event in Baltimore about Maryland’s move to the Big 10 next season. 

     As reported in the D.C. Sports Bog in the Washington Post, Edsall said, “As a football coach, I feel better because I’m going to a football conference.  I’m not in a basketball conference anymore.”

     Huh?  Does Edsall think he’s living back in 1975?  Did he not take notice of the school from the “basketball conference”, the ACC, that went 14-0 and won the national championship?  Surely he must have noticed when that basketball conference school, Florida State, beat his team 63-0 last fall.  He also may have forgotten that another school from that “basketball conference”, Clemson, beat his team at Byrd Stadium 40-27. 

     He may also not have noticed that with Florida State finishing number one in the country and Clemson winding up number eight, that the ACC had more teams in the top 10 in the final Associated Press Poll than his new “football conference”.  The only Big 10 team in the top 10 was Michigan State at number three.  And in the entire top 25, the Big 10 had only one more team than the ACC, with Ohio State ranked 12th and Wisconsin 22nd

     Enjoy your new home Randy.  I guess you think your 13-24 record at Maryland in that silly old basketball conference makes you good and ready to take on football teams from a real conference.  Lots of luck.

 

Teddy Don’t Use That Number

 

     A number of years ago, while talking to then solely Caps owner Ted Leonsis on the Sports Reporters, Steve Czaban said he would like to see Mike Gartner’s number 11 retired.  Czabe said Gartner was his favorite player growing up.  Ted said he’d throw the idea out on his blog and see what the response was.

     The next time he appeared, Ted said there didn’t seem to be much interest in that idea.  A few years later however, Gartner’s number was rightfully retired.

     Well, now that Ted owns the Wizards, as well as the Caps, I’d like to see him retire Phil Chenier’s number 45.  I’ve talked about it on the air and written about it in this space, but haven’t heard anything about a possible retirement of the number of one of the great players in franchise history.

     So far, the organization has retired only four numbers – all for players who wore Bullets uniforms, not Wizards.  They are Wes Unseld (41), Elvin Hayes (11), Gus Johnson (25) and Earl Monroe (10).  Unseld and Hayes played both in Baltimore and Washington, Johnson and Monroe played solely in Baltimore.

     Chenier not only belongs in that group, but was as important as Unseld and Hayes in transitioning the team from Baltimore to D.C.  They were the three big stars on a team that was in the NBA finals only three years after moving to town.

     Now we have a real test case for number 45.  The Wizards have just traded for DeJuan Blair.  He wore 45 at Pitt, at San Antonio, and last year at Dallas.  He even has 45 tattooed on his left bicep.  That doesn’t come off, but the number on his jersey should.

     If anybody has a sense of history in the Wizards organization, Blair should be asked to select another number.  And on top of that, with Chenier now completing 30 years as one of the team’s television announcers, it’s time he gets the recognition he deserves by hoisting 45 to the Verizon Center rafters.

     The Redskins have officially retired only one number, Sammy Baugh’s 33.   However, they’ve had a policy not to issue numbers worn by former greats such as Sonny Jurgensen (9), John Riggins (44), Charley Taylor (42) and even Joe Theismann (7), who won’t be in the Hall of Fame. 

     It wasn’t a problem until Steve Spurrier arrived as head coach in 2002.  He was all set to let Shane Matthews wear number 9 and Danny Wuerffel wear number 7, until enough of a fuss was kicked up by the fan base to have Matthews switch to 6 and Wuerffel to 17. 

     That seemed to solve the problem for most people, except for a few like me that noticed backup tight end Leonard Stephens was issued number 49.  That was the number worn by Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.  He not only was a great player, he was the first African American player in franchise history in 1962.  I let the Redskins know about the mistake, but they decided not to do anything about it.

     Mitchell retired at the end of that season, bitter about the treatment he’d received in his 40 years with the organization.  He said the final straw was seeing his number given out.  It was sad to see a great man like that go out in that manner.

      A player’s number matters to the player and to the fans who saw him play.  And don’t think it’s a small thing.  Here’s hoping that when the 2014-15 NBA season rolls around, we’ll see number 45 in the Verizon Center rafters, not on DeJuan Blair’s back.

 

 

 


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Everything Old Is New Again
by Andy Pollin
Jul 11, 2014 -- 1:31pm
Andy Pollin Blog on ESPN 980

(AP Photo/Lori Shepler, File)

     So after all that, LeBron James is going home.  With a pair of championship rings the size of hubcaps on a Buick, earned in Miami, LeBron is back in Cleveland to try and win more.  It’s a great story that could have one of the great sports endings of all time.

     Imagine where LeBron would stand in the history of Cleveland if he delivers a championship to a rust belt city that hasn’t had a title of any kind since 1964.  The question now is, do the ends justify the means?

     Since LeBron and the Heat were beaten in the NBA finals last month, he kept the entire league on hold while he decided where he wanted to play next.  The first part of July was a virtual circus while ESPN seemingly went round the clock on LeBron.  Ultimately he not only winds up back home, but also in the best basketball situation.  The Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving under a long-term contract and have the flexibility to possibly make a deal for Kevin Love.  LeBron, Irving and Love are a better big three than LeBron, Bosh and Wade, especially at the stages of their careers.

   Old timers will say it didn’t work this way in the old days.  Players didn’t change teams to chase rings.  They didn’t just decide where they wanted to play.  They did their best to make the teams that drafted them or traded for them as strong as they could possibly be.  Maybe, but not in every case.

     I offer you three trades that were made over a three-year period that had star players going where they wanted to go, long before free agency entered the NBA:

 

July, 1968 – The Philadelphia 76ers trade Wilt Chamberlain to the Los Angeles Lakers for Darrell Imhoff, Archie Clark and Jerry Chambers.  Wilt was arguably the best player in the league at the time.  He averaged 24 points and 24 rebounds a game during the 1967-68 season.  The season before, he’d led the 76ers to the championship.  Why would a savvy basketball man like Philadelphia general manager Jack Ramsay trade a superstar for three journeymen players?  As story goes, Wilt had fallen in love with the beaches of Los Angeles.  He liked to play volleyball there in the offseason and had built himself a mansion befitting his 7-foot frame.  He wanted to play in LA and told Ramsay he would jump to the rival ABA unless he was traded to the Lakers.  Ramsay made the best deal he could.  And in joining the Lakers, Wilt had his own big three with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.  With West, Wilt would win a title in 1972, but that was his only title in five years with the Lakers. 

 

April, 1970 – The Cincinnati Royals trade Oscar Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charley Paulk.  Few would not put Oscar on their list of the 20 greatest players of all time.  One season he averaged a triple double for the entire year.  He’d spent nearly a decade in Cincinnati on a team that never got close to a title.  At the end of the 1969-70 season, he told the Royals to trade him.  He wanted out, but rejected a deal that would have sent him to the Baltimore Bullets for Gus Johnson.  Oscar exercised a clause in his contract to turn down the deal.  He accepted the trade to Milwaukee because it paired him up with Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and upped his salary from an already high for the time, $125 thousand to $175 thousand.  Playing with Alcindor, Oscar won his only championship with a sweep of the Bullets in the 1971 finals. 

November 1971 – The  Baltimore Bullets trade Earl Monroe to the New York Knicks for Dave Stallworth, Mike Riordan and cash.  This was more about money than chasing a ring.  Monroe and the Bullets had played Milwaukee for the title months before.  The problem here was money.  Monroe wanted to collect deferred money from his contract up front.  The Bullets insisted he would get the money down the line, as the contract called for.  Less than two months before the season opener, Monroe demanded to be traded.  The season opened with Monroe still on the roster.  He actually played three games, but then left the team.  After two weeks, the Bullets caved and dealt him to the Knicks.  Monroe would get his title two seasons later, but had to change his game to fit in with Walt Frazier in the Knicks backcourt.  He had a Hall of Fame career, but in New York we never got to see the real Earl “The Pearl”.  To understand, look at the script from the Spike Lee movie, “He Got Game”.  Jake Shuttlesworth, played by Denzel Washington, explains to his son played by Ray Allen, why he was given the name, Jesus:

 

Jake:My all-time favorite ballplayer was Earl Monroe. Earl the Pearl. Yeah, he was nice. See, everybody remember him from the Knicks, you know, when he helped win that second championship and everything like that. But I’m talking about when he was with the Bullets down at Winston-Salem Stadium… before that game, with 42 points a game the whole season. 41.6… the whole season. But the Knicks, they put the shackles on him, man, you know, on his whole game. They locked him up, like in a straitjacket or something. When he was in the streets of Philly, the playgrounds, he was like… You know what they called him? Jesus. That’s what they called him… Jesus, ‘cause he was the truth. Then the white media got a hold of it. Then they got to call him Black Jesus. He can’t just be Jesus, he got to be Black Jesus, you know. But still… he was the truth. So that’s the real reason why you got your name.

Jesus: You named me Jesus after Earl Monroe, and not Jesus in the Bible?

Jake:Not Jesus of the Bible, Jesus of North Philadelphia. Jesus of the playgrounds. That’s the truth, son.

 

     LeBron is back in Cleveland, thanks to new way of doing business in the NBA.  Although, the new way may not be all that much different from the old way.


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We Are the Luckiest
by Andy Pollin
Jul 04, 2014 -- 10:51am
ESPN 980

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

Seventy -five years to the day that Lou Gherig declared himself, “The luckiest man on the face of the earth,” I sit here typing the stories of two others who embraced the spirit of the “Iron Man.”  Staring adversity in the eye and not backing down is what made Gherig an American legend and what makes Brendan Marrocco heroic and made Louis Zamperini a hero.  A profile of Morrocco and the death of Zamperini have come, fittingly, just before Independence Day.

     Marrocco is a 27-year old wounded warrior from Staten Island, New York, profiled in the Washington Post this week.  And in his case, wounded, may be one of the most understated words ever.  Marrocco is the first service man from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive the loss of four limbs.  An explosion in 2009 cost him both legs and parts of both arms.  But his never-say-die attitude made Marrocco a candidate for groundbreaking surgery.  He became the first serviceman, and only the seventh person in U.S. history to undergo a double arm transplant. 

     Eighteen months later, he’s rehabbing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.  Marrocco is able to pull ups, push- ups and drive a car.  He’s active on Facebook, where he lists himself as, “wounded warrior – very wounded.”

     The closest Brendan Marrocco will come to complaining about his tedious rehab is to say, “I’ve got to admit, it does suck at times.”  But is quick to add, “Has to be done.  It doesn’t matter how tired or hung over you are.”

     While seemingly channeling Lou Gherig, Marrocco says, “I’ve been lucky enough to have things go pretty well for me since I got hurt.  I’m happy.  I don’t have any demons in the sense of what happened to me.”

     Louis Zamperini is name you should be familiar with if you’ve read the best seller, “Unbroken”, written by Laura Hillenbrand (another Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School graduate who knocks me further down the list of “notable alums”).  That book is about to become a movie directed by Angelina Jolie scheduled to be released Christmas Day.  Zamperini died this week at the age of 97 – more than 70 years after the United States told his family that he was dead.

     Zamperini is a true American story.  The son of immigrant Italian parents, he went on to become a track star at USC, winning two NCAA championships in the mile.  He ran in the 1936 Olympics as a 19-year old.  He was expected to be a gold medal contender at the 1940 games, which never took place because of World War II.

     Like many Americans at that time, Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Forces.  On a search-and-rescue mission in 1943, Zamperini’s plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean.  He and two other crewmen managed to climb into a rubber life raft that had few provisions. 

     With methods that included catching birds and using their insides as fish bait, they were able to survive long past a time when the U.S. government had given up hope.  One of the crew died, but Zamperini and Russell Phillips stayed afloat for an incredible 47 days.

     Their rescue should have been the end of the ordeal, but it was just beginning.  Captured by the Japanese, they were sent to separate POW camps.  It was there that Zamperini endured daily beatings after refusing to denounce his country.

     Finally released after the Japanese surrender in 1945, Zamperini married and moved to California, where his life went on out of the spotlight for more than 60 years.  It wasn’t until the release of “Unbroken” in 2010 that most became aware of his incredible story.

     Not surprisingly, Zamperini struggled with alcohol in his post-war years that left him with painful memories.  But a revival meeting led by Billy Graham in 1949 that he attended with the encouragement of his wife, helped him to find peace.  He even traveled back to Japan several times and attempted to forgive the sadistic prison guard who had beaten him, but the guard refused to meet with him.

     We all face adversity in life, but reading about the lives of men like Brendan Marrocco and Louis Zamperini helps you realize no mountain is too steep to climb.  The American spirit, embodied by these heroes, lives on from generation to generation.

     Lou Gherig called himself, “The luckiest man on the face of the earth,” two years before ALS completed sucked the life out of him.  On our nation’s birthday, and 75 years after those chilling words from the “Iron Horse”, it’s a good time to realize, no matter what you may be going through, we as Americans are in fact, the luckiest.


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Significance? Try These Comparisons
by Andy Pollin
Jun 28, 2014 -- 2:29pm

 

Most significant NFL players of the 90s

(AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

We are actually in the NFL’s offseason.  The OTA’s and mini camps are over.  Other than free agent signings here and there, nothing happens until teams report to training camp in late July.  But at the NFL Network, football never sleeps.  So, last Friday they put out a tweet asking who the most significant player of the 1990’s was.  The choices – Deion Sanders, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Reggie White, Barry Sanders and John Elway.  All six are in the Hall of Fame.  All except Barry Sanders won Super Bowls.

Recognizing that the question asks about, significance, not greatness, here is how I rank the six

And…with that list completed, it got me thinking about the most significant Redskins of the 1980’s.  A 90’s list wouldn’t be worth the brain exertion, given the two six-win, four-win and three-win seasons made it mostly a lost decade outside of the Super Bowl championship after the 91 season.

Here is my list of the most significant Skins of the 80’s


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