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Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

NFL Films: NFL 1958-Championship-Baltimore Colts @ New York Giants: The Most Important Game in NFL History



Was the 1958 NFL Championship game the best game ever played, well if you look at the 5-6 turnovers in that game and both teams getting in the red zone and not scoring and other mistakes like that of course not. The 1967 NFC Championship between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Back Packers especially if you consider the weather conditions and where the game was played in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was a much better played game.

But the Cowboys and Packers still manages to play very well in that game. Even though it was played under those conditions. And the Hall of Fame head coaches Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi coaching that game and all the Hall of Fame players that played in that game. Cowboys DT Bob Lilly, WR Bob Hayes, CB Mell Renfro. For the Packers QB Bob Starr, OT Forrest Gregg, OG Jerry Kramer, DE Willy Davis, LB Ray Nitchke and others. I believe thats the greatest game ever played as far as the quality of the game.

And that's different from the most important game ever played. Because the 1958 NFL Championship had more to do with the future of the NFL as well as pro football. It made it easier to form the American Football League because of the attention that the 58 NFL Championship got, because now it was clear that there was room in America for more than twelve Pro football franchises, that were all in the NFL. And the NFL wasn't looking to expand, but instead consolidate the revenue that it had.

The NFL had just survived the Korean War where it lost players to that war, World War II obviously same thing the Great Depression and somehow survived financially from that and came out better and on top from where it was before. What makes the 1958 NFL Championship and yes it was a very well played game and even a great game to watch as far as how entertaining it was, was for one it was the most important game ever played. You're talking about the two best teams in pro football playing for the NFL Championship in New York at Yankee Stadium in front of a live national televised audience, with two great football teams that had great coaching.

For the Baltimore Colts coached by Weeb Ewbank who's in the Hall of Fame. For the New York Giants, forget about their head coach Jim Lee Howell and (I know with a name like Jim Lee Howell how can you forget that name) but you got Vince Lombardi as the offensive coordinator and Tom Landry as the defensive coordinator. As they say in Brooklyn, forget about it! That's all you need to know about the Giants coaching staff.

And then you Hall of Famers for the Colts like QB John Unitas the greatest ever, RB Len More, RB Alan Ameche who scored the winning TD in the game, OT Jim Parker maybe the greatest OT of all time. WR Ray Berry one of the greatest possession WR of all time. DE Gino Marchetti maybe the greatest DE of all time, CB Johnny Sample and many others. The 1958 Giants as far as Hall of Famers, on offense RB Frank Gifford, on defense DT Andy Robostelli, DT Rosey Greer, MLB Sam Huff.

These are three of the greatest defenders of all-time and they had the best defense in the NFL as well and scored enough points to win. With  Frank Gifford, FB Alex Webster, WR Tobin Rote and QB Charlie Connerly who could both run and pass and do them well. Anytime you get a matchup like that, under those conditions in a championship final on network TV and radio with all the major newspapers covering the game, you got something special, the NFL at this point was a major sports league.

But Major League Baseball was still number one and college football was probably number two as far as team sports. But this game set the stage because of the audience it drew, still one of the highest rated programs and intended games in pro sports history, for the NFL by the early 1970s to be the dominant sports league in America if not the world.

What the 1958 NFL Championship Final did, was set the stage for the NFL and the AFL to become the number one sports league in America because of the teams that played it, the players that played in it, how well they played. And of course the audience it drew, because now America could see how great of a sport pro football was and decided they wanted to see a lot more of it.



Frank Russo: Captain- The Thurman Munson Story: Mr. New York Yankee of The 1970s



I'm not an expert on Thurman Munson, he died in 1979 and I didn't start watching baseball until 1983 but what I've heard about Thurman Munson, is that there's not nearly enough information or reporting about him one of the most underrated and under appreciated baseball players of all time. We are talking about one of the best all around Catchers of the 1970s, right there with Carlton Fisk and Johnny Bench. Same skills as both players but ran better and could hit for a better average. 

This was a catcher who was a 300 hitter and back then that almost never happened. Besides I'm a Baltimore Orioles fan and the New York Yankees are our arch rivals and Orioles fans hate the Yankees and we had a very good rivalry with each other in the 1970s and 80s and the Yankees cost the Orioles a three division titles in the mid and late 1970s, 76-78. But again what I've heard and know about Munson, is a great all around catcher who was headed to the Hall of Fame. 

And even though he only played eleven seasons 1969-79, again since he was one of the best all around catchers of an entire decade that alone should be enough to give Thurman Munson consideration for the Hall of Fame. Anytime you're one of the best players at your positions and one of the best players in the game for an entire decade, that alone should give you strong consideration to be in the Hall of Fame. But thats not up to me but it took a plane crash in the Summer of 1979 to keep Thurman Munson out of the Hall of Fame because he's a player that played in pain constantly, similar to Mickey Mantle another great Yankee and who was headed to the Hall of Fame.

If you want to know if Thurman Munson was a great baseball player or not, you need to know what makes a great baseball player. To me thats someone with no glaring weakness's and at least with a few glaring strengths and you show these skills consistently for a solid period of time, 5-7 or ten years to me for a catcher to be a great Catcher, you can't just be a guy that calls a great game, defends his position well and throws the ball well, Rick Dempsey of the Orioles did all of those things very well. 

And for about ten years about as well as they could be done. But he was basically a 230 hitter with very little if any power and not much of a run producer his entire career. But he was a good clutch hitter in the playoffs but that alone even with being a great Defensive Catcher. Doesn't get you in the Hall of Fame, the reason why Thurman Munson was a great catcher because he did everything that Rick Dempsey could do if not better. 

But he was also a 300 Hitter who drove in runs. Who also had solid power but not great power but definite threat to go deep. In the American League the two best catchers in the 1970s were Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson and you could go either way and for that decade I would lean towards Munson, because he played through injuries without losing production. Fisk missed a lot of time because of injuries. When I think of the term captain as it relates to sports, I think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers who his teammates called Cap. 

But captain also fits Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees who was not only the captain of his teams but the leader the quarterback, the on field coach of that team that his teammates knew they better do their jobs or the captain was going to get on them. Who always did whatever he could to make sure his players were in the best position that they could be so they could play as well for the Yankees as possible. Thurman Munson was the Captain of the New York Yankees.