The Red Moustache Manuscripts

The Red Moustache Manuscripts contains vignettes chronicling over a half century of adventures. Some of the stories are amusingly funny while others can be seriously enlightening. So come in and enjoy a truly unique experience!

There is no mandate, there can be no flags...

It's no longer about respect for the Office of the Presidency, it's about beliefs. The New England Patriots did not become Super Bowl 51 Champions in a stunning come-from-behind win without believing in themselves. So why would a visit to Donald Trump's White House be any different? Successful football players have strong beliefs and if they are at odds with the current President and his policies, they can choose not to go.

Tom Brady chose not to visit the White House when Barack Obama occupied it in 2015. Brady exercised his right to choose and you do not have to agree with him to respect his decision.

Roger Goodell's NFL mandates many things, like interviews on Media Day before the Super Bowl. He has not mandated the trip to the White House by the Super Bowl Champs because that's a political choice. On record, the trip to the White House is by invitation, and invitations can either be accepted or declined. Several New England Patriots players have exercised their right to choose and have declined President Trump's invitation.

In a lot of ways, these players in declining the invite, are doing so out of respect for the many citizens of the United States they believe, have been disrespected by President Trump, his policies and his cabinet members. They do not agree with the politics of Donald Trump's White House.

History has a funny way of remembering events and in a lot of cases, it disagrees with the headlines of the day. The players who have declined may be under scrutiny today for their choice, but years from now, after all the truths are revealed, they may not be remembered simply as Super Bowl 51 Champions, but as courageous champions of the oppressed.

I would not call the Patriots players who declined a trip to the White House, including Brady in 2015, radicals, but I would rather refer to them as activists. They're making a statement that not every Super Bowl Champion has to "go along for the political ride".

You don't have to agree with their politics to respect them for holding onto their beliefs and making the right choice for them. There is no need to throw the flag...

Jacked Up!

When I was 10 years old I was one of the biggest kids in my grade. My growth spurt ended up being short-lived, but for a brief time in my life I enjoyed having a size and strength advantage over other kids my age.

In addition to size, I was an overly aggressive kid and while playing with other kids in my neighborhood, in a normal way;  I was unintentionally hurting them.

After some parents began complaining about my behavior, my parents took me to our Doctor for consultation. Back in the day they were called "Family Doctors" and not "General Practioners" and they genuinely took an interest in their patient's well being. Insurance companies hadn't changed the face of health care yet...

Our Doctor's advice was simple. No personality altering drugs or therapy sessions, just "let him play football-" was all he said.

I went to the Ames Street Playground to watch the local Pop Warner team practice. The Red Devils displayed a camaraderie that I wanted to be part of. I began practicing the following day.

Being large for my age, I was put in a group of kids two years older than me. When they sent the 11 year olds to a separate area of the field to practice, my father motioned for me to stay with the 12 and 13 year olds. I initially lied about my age to remain in that group.

I became a second string lineman on the "A Squad" and with great  coaching and my father's help, I learned how to play the game of football.

My father always made sure I lined up against Larry, the biggest, toughest kid on the team at the time. He had crazy eyes, a chipped tooth and he hit hard.  Playing regularly against Larry was the equivalent of being broken in as a junkyard dog. Larry kicked the crap out of me and after hearing it from my father during one practice, I went nuts and began hitting Larry as hard as he was hitting me. The advantage was still with Larry, but I was becoming a violent football player who embraced contact and unbeknownst to me, that had been the desired outcome all along.

The following two years I established myself as a big hitter and when I'd lead with my head and knock someone on their backside, my Coach and my Dad reinforced my behavior with testosterone-filled cheers. I began to like being a head-hunting linebacker and enjoyed the accolades I was receiving for my vicious hits.

In 1969, during a Championship game, playing right tackle next to my best friend Scott at tight end, we were told to do whatever we had to in order to get the opponents defensive end out of the game. Together Scott and I went after this kid and eventually we rode him out of bounds and knocked him over a bench and out of the game.

After winning the championship we had one more game, an annual game against the Hawks of Long Island. We traveled to New York from Massachusetts and stayed in the homes of the opposing players. It was a competitive game, but for the most part it was an extra game and a fun time for all of us, parents too..

The night before the game, the Hawk's big guy approached me and told me he was going to "kick my ass"... It was a bold move and initially intimidating, but that led to a reaction that was not without consequences...

With my adrenaline screaming and my pride as a head-hunting middle linebacker on the line, I lined up on the opening kickoff across from him thinking "Let's get this done-". We kicked off to them and I ran hard down the field with only this kid in my sight... I hit him as hard as I had ever hit anyone and he went down hard and fast; I barely slowed and continued down the field. When the whistles blew and the play was over, I looked back to where the collision occurred and there he was, lifeless on the ground...

The coaches came onto the field, but the kid was unconscious. Play was halted and the crowd was silenced while a 60's finned Cadillac ambulance pulled onto the field and in a cloud of dust, amidst emergency lights and the sound of a siren, he was taken to the local emergency room. He did not return...

I had a great game, arguably one of my best, highlighted of course by knocking a kid out of the game. That evening both teams went to a hockey game where I was confronted by this kid. He admitted he shouldn't have threatened me before the game and I responded that I would have never hit him that hard if he hadn't...

Truth be told- football is a violent sport and I was a violent player. Any defensive player who says they're not out to hurt someone is probably lying. We were "jacking players up" long before Tom Jackson and the network jocks were hosting the weekly presentation of the  NFL's top ten most vicious hits on " Jacked-up!".

During the spring of my senior year in high school, I was approached by my good friend Carlos, an exchange student from Mexico where soccer was king. He wanted me to play on the spring soccer team...

Soccer was always the "other sport" for kids who didn't like contact or whose parents wouldn't let them play football. The football players referred to them as "pussies" and being identified as a football player carried a macho status soccer players never experienced...

I agreed to play the 16 game schedule. Most of the players on the team were my friends and this was the first time I'd be playing competitive soccer and participating in a sport with this group of kids.

The first thing I noticed was how accepting my teammates were of me and that I didn't miss the angry whistles that had chased me around the practice fields during seven football seasons. And, no one revved us up to be violent and I found out firsthand that soccer players were incredibly talented athletes. I had a great time and that experience had me second guessing my decision to strap on a Riddell helmet and play four years of high school football.

When I got to college in 1974  I naturally tried out for the freshman football team. A kid from Walpole who was Co-MVP  with me in the championship game in '69, was the halfback and after two weeks of practice, while in a three point stance in front of him, starting at fullback, it hit me- I no longer wanted to be chased around by angry whistles and prodded into being violent by loud, angry, wide-eyed, animated football coaches. I handed in my uniform before the season began...

In my 7+ years playing organized football I suffered one concussion that I know of. Thinking back, I took a lot of hits to my head and wearing the sub-standard helmets available in the late 60's early 70's, I probably suffered a lot of head trauma that I was unaware of. I don't blame the coaches for teaching us to lead with our heads as little was known then about brain damage and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. But, that has all changed. CTE is a well-known result of head trauma experienced in contact sports. The fact that the NFL had been doing all they can to prevent this discovery from changing their game and potentially slowing  their cash cow, is regrettable.

After seeing the movie "Concussion" I'm reconsidering just how much I want to support the National Football League. There are a lot of people dependent on the NFL for their living, but the lion's share stays in the hands of greedy owners and league administrators who care little about the players, their families, and the fans.

The NFL has become a powerful machine, capable of destroying lives and controlling outcomes. And when any corporation or institution has that kind of power, it can be a very dangerous situation...

If I had to do it all over again would I play football? Probably not, but at the same time I have fond memories of the game, my teammates, and the coaches who devoted their time trying to make me the best football player I could be. 

August 18th...

In 1964 I was eight years old and baseball was my favorite game and Boston Red Sox rookie Tony Conigliaro was my favorite player.

Born in Revere and a star at St. Mary’s High School in Lynn, he was signed by the Red Sox in 1962 at the age of 17. Rooting for “Tony C” was rooting for the “home team” exemplified!

He was tall, he was handsome, he hit home runs and every little leaguer emulated his batting stance and swing. He was a favorite of the ladies too. Long before “pink hats”, Tony C enticed females to Fenway Park. In 1965 the slugger recorded “Little Red Scooter” and performed it on the popular “Merv Griffin Show”. Tony C was a talented athlete with a dynamic personality.

 In 1964, his rookie season, he hit 24 home runs in an injury shortened season. He only played in 111 games. In his sophomore season (’65) he became the youngest player to lead the American League in home runs, depositing 32 balls in various bleachers and into the netting above the green monster. The team however, lost 100 games that year and remained in the cellar of the American League.

In 1967 new Red Sox Manager and former utility infielder Dick Williams predicted his team would “win more ball games than we lose”. Tony C immediately became the catalyst for that promise.

Selected to the All Star team in ’67, Tony C became the youngest player in the American League history to reach 100 home runs. Red Sox fans knew they had a legitimate super star and a homegrown one at that. With a chase for the pennant full-on, life was good at Fenway Park!

Then on August 18th Tony C was hit on the left cheekbone by a high and tight fastball thrown by Angel’s pitcher Jack Hamilton. On deck hitter Rico Petrocelli heard the god-awful sound which he compared to the crushing of a melon. 

Conigliaro had always been a “plate hanger” and opposing pitchers not wanting to give in, pitched him inside. Without the benefit of today’s batting helmets that have earflaps, Tony C took a direct hit. He went down and suffered a broken cheekbone, dislocated jaw and a damaged retina. He was carried off the field on a stretcher while a stunned and silent Fenway crowd looked on.

Conigliaro would not return to baseball until 1969 and was named “Comeback Player of the Year” hitting 20 home runs with 82 RBI in 141 games. In 1970 with his brother Billy in the Red Sox outfield with him and Yastrzemski at first base, he put up his best numbers with home runs (36) and RBI (116), but from there his eyesight worsened.

 After a brief stint with the Angels in ’71, Conigliaro returned to the Red Sox in ’75 in an attempt to regain his form.

In 1975 while attending Boston University two friends and I decided to go to Tony C’s first game back at Fenway. We got on a BU bus on Commonwealth Ave. by Nickerson Field and we were told once it filled it would start to move. We snuck a couple of “pony packs” of Miller on and we were content to wait for the bus to fill before it started its journey down Commonwealth Ave. It never even partially filled and with the beer depleted we had to consider “Plan B”-

We got off the parked bus and started a fast walk down Commonwealth. By the time we got to Kenmore Square it was packed with fans and the seats were sold out. My good friend Jay and I were all but defeated, until Gil, a BU Wrestler with long straight brown hair, dark skin, bright green eyes and the slinger of some of the best BS this side of the Mississippi, came up with “Plan C”-

In those days most of the red uniform clad Ushers at Fenway Park weren’t a day under 75 years of age, old silver tops with lots of facial wrinkles and easy prey for a slick young guy like Gil. He went up to one usher and proclaimed “We’re BU students who work for the Ogden Food Company and we’re late arriving because we had an exam. We have to get in immediately-” This Usher was overwhelmed with Gil’s request and so he referred us to second usher standing inside the turnstile. Gil was allowed in to speak with him. We didn’t hear much of what was said, but Gil pointed to us standing with the first Usher. After a moment on indecision, the second usher began waving us in- We got in to Fenway Park through the front door and without a ticket. The Ogden Food Company was a real food company, but they had nothing to do with Fenway Park or the Boston Red Sox. Gil was immediately declared a genius and we hurried in.

We got booted all over the park pregame, not having any tickets to claim any seats was at once a problem. I’m not sure how it happened, but Gil negotiated seats in the second row, between the Red Sox dugout and home plate. I’m sure by now Gil is either a successful CEO or serving time, but at 19 he was relentless and because of his negotiating skills we had great seats.

When Tony C stepped to the plate for the first time the place went crazy! I have never heard a louder, longer ovation for any Boston/New England athlete. When play resumed Tony C stood in. He went through all his regular at bat preps and his stance was exactly as we all remembered- perfect! The kind they teach you in little league.

The first pitch he saw had to be to his liking and he took a big cut at it and sent it high and deep and over the “Green Monsta”! It was an incredible moment, one I’ll always remember. Fenway went wild as Tony C rounded the bases. Electrifying!

It wasn't long after that an ‘o-for something large’ forced Conig’s retirement from baseball. Looking back, during his short career Tony C had won the hearts of baseball fans everywhere and he will never be forgotten... 

 

 

"Say It Ain't So"

 It’s when we’re young and impressionable that we choose our heroes. Often times, those choices remain with us for our entire lives. We’re loyal to our chosen heroes, despite evidence to the contrary.

In Classic Mythology a hero was viewed as “a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity”. Later, during the Homeric period, a hero was “a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability” and in later antiquity “an immortal being; demigod”.

By the late 14th century the word hero was used to describe a “man of superhuman strength or courage”. In modern times we tend to categorize our heroes as those “who are idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field”, but still reserve the ultimate hero-worship for our athletes, who similar to beliefs in early mythology, we fantasize that they are “beings of extraordinary strength and courage, who must be the offspring of a mortal and a god.” My first such hero was Carl Yastrzemski.

I began watching baseball in 1961, the year “Yaz” replaced the immortal Ted Williams as the Red Sox left fielder. Originally it was his strange-to-me last name that captured my attention. Add the names Conigliaro and Petrocelli and there were several fantastical names on the roster. Fortunately, Yaz lived up to all expectations, winning the triple crown in 1967 while in the starring role of “The Impossible Dream”.

Marketing people are quick to sniff out the development of heroes, and Arnold (the brick oven bakers) quickly came out with “Big Yaz - Special Fitness White Bread” which lined the shelves of local grocery stores throughout Red Sox–friendly New England. Yaz did other ad spots, but none as impressive as his gig with the American Cancer Society. The full page spot proclaimed “I don’t smoke cigarettes”.

My “Say It Ain’t So” moment came in 1978, when “in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career”, in a one-game playoff for the division title against the Yankees, with two outs and the tying run on third, Yaz hit a harmless pop-up to Yankee third baseman Gregg Nettles to end Boston's season. After the game, TV cameras caught a dejected Carl Yastrzemski slumping in front of his locker, smoking a butt and sipping from a can of beer. To this day, I do all I can to avoid that haunting black and white memory. (He was human after all)

Although I was living in New Jersey and working in Gotham in 1983, and doing my best to dodge Yankee caps while disguising my accent, I was still able to secure tickets to Yaz’s last game. A four hour ride later and we were sitting in the first row in the right field bleachers at Fenway, behind the visitor’s bullpen, holding large cardboard signs that had a bull’s eye painted on one and the number 453 on another, hoping Yaz could end his career in Williams-like fashion. He managed a base hit and that was good enough for me.

Yastrzemski’s legend continued when at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony he boldly stated “The race doesn’t always belong to the swift nor the battle to the strong. It belongs rather to those who run the race, who stay the course, and who fight the good fight.”

Fitting words for a mortal hero…

 

Rice-A-Phony - The San Francisco Creep?

Considered by many to be the "Greatest Reciver of All Time", San Francisco Forty Niner Wide Receiver Jerry Rice was one of  the first retired NFL players to jump on the "Hate Train" and accuse the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of deflating footballs to 2 PSI below the NFL limit, and with no proof. Then in what has to be one of the stupidest moves since Pete Carroll called a play to throw the ball over the middle on the New England one yard line with a 'beast in his backfield' and Super Bowl 49 on the line, Rice admitted to using "stickum" on his gloves during his HOF career, knowing at the time stickum was banned  by the NFL. His defense? A silly laugh and a statement "Everybody was doing it-"

So Rice is an admitted cheater! How many of his great catches or even his average catches were aided by wearing stickum covered gloves? 5%? 10%? 20%? It can't be proven  now, but we know he used an illegal substance (think pine tar) to procure an advantage, one that helped him catch  at least a portion of his 1,549 receptions. Sticky rice in San Francisco?

On one NFL show several years ago, retired Dallas Cowboy Wide Receiver Michael Irvin demonstrated how he was able to cleverly push off defenders to create space without drawing a penalty flag during his HOF career. It was against the rules, but Irvin was slick enough not to get caught. Wearing a sly grin of his own, and not too unlike a magician revealing his craft, he came clean on national TV ...

Cheating has been  part of competitive sports for a long time. Stella Walsh won a gold medal representing her native Poland in the 100 meters at the 1932 Olympics, tying the world record, and took silver in 1936. Born in Poland in 1911 as Stanlislawa Walasiewiczowna, her  name was changed to Walsh by age two, shortly after immigrating to Cleveland with her family. Walsh’s career included 20 women's track and field world records, 41 AAU titles, earning her a 1975 induction into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame. An autopsy performed after her accidental shooting death in 1980 revealed she had both female and  male chromosomes. Was Stella Walsh injecting herself with male hormones to increase muscle mass? No, in fact the coroner also reported that in addition to female characteristics, Walsh had male genitalia. One of the greatest female track stars had actually been born with what Doctors refer to today as ambiguous gender "mosaicism" and  just as easily could have been considered a man. There was talk of stripping her Olympic medals, but nothing was ever done.

So where does it stop? Certainly not with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, Danny Almonte, etc...

People cheat on their taxes, drive above the posted speed limit, lie on their resumes, have extramarital affairs, and if they don't get caught, they don't consider it cheating.

We'll have to wait and see how the whole "Deflategate" debacle shakes out, but we do know the New England Patriots won Super Bowl 49 fair and square, unless of course they put something in Pete Carroll's chewing gum to cause him to have a senior moment...

 

 

Damnatio ad bestias

In 1998 Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were involved in the chase for baseball’s home run record. Both men hit baseballs distances that became legend. At the time, Major League Baseball was enjoying a rebirth of sorts, baseball was no longer a boring game, it had become a very exciting game; incredibly muscular men mightily swinging their wooden sticks at tightly wound baseballs and sending them 500 feet in the opposite direction. Barbaric! It was starting to look a lot like men’s softball, but who was complaining? Certainly the caretakers of the business of baseball (the profiteers) who were raking in huge profits weren’t about to pull the plug. The use of performance-enhancing drugs and band substances had re-shaped the game of baseball and it has taken years of hard work to clean-up the game, a process that is ongoing. During the “steroid era” baseball was still the same game, using the same bats, and the same balls. Only the players had changed.

The National Football League has progressed in a similar fashion. As the players have evolved into ‘bigger, faster, and stronger’ athletes the game has become a more violent sport. But, has the way the game is being played changed? No. It’s still the same game, but with stronger players on the field the hits have begun to take their toll. Open-field tackling, hits that are usually at full-speed and sharper angles, are doing the most damage. Running backs, receivers, linebackers, defensive backs and special team’s players are putting themselves at risk and are the ones being regularly carted off the field and back into the locker rooms.

Although football equipment has improved dramatically over the years, the number of injuries has continually increased both in number and severity. The use of performance-enhancing drugs and prohibited substances have turned the men of the gridiron into chiseled Adonis’s and the game has become faster and more dangerous. They have truly become modern day gladiators and the fans are loving it. Viewership is up which translates into huge profits.

The NFL has opted to change the way the game is played rather than aggressively policing their players for PEDs and prohibited substances. Good move? Some say "let them play football", just limit the octane of the fuel and the allowable horsepower, like NASCAR does. The WWE has had problems over the years with their wrestlers as a result of steroid use. Wrestling is an entertainment sport, football and baseball at one time were competitive sports with rich histories and should have been able to control this problem with rules, but they have not. Who is going to stop it? Certainly the caretakers of the business of football who are raking in huge profits aren’t about to pull the plug on their cash cow. Professional football, though still competitive, has begun to look more like an entertainment sport, which generates higher profits.

The players and their families are the ones suffering the ill-effects; filing law suits because of the debilitating head injuries sustained while playing professional football. But on who does the  blame really fall?

You could blame the NFL. They make the most money and could enforce rules to prevent injuries. You could blame the owners. They make a ton of cash and they have turned their heads to illegal substance use in order to compete. In defense of performance-enhancing drugs, some say they have leveled the playing field. Everyone is taking them and so games are close and the fans stay and pay till the end… Or you could blame the players. They’re the ones taking the PEDs and they’re completely aware of the risks involved.

The NFL Players Association could step in and vote to enforce their own rules regarding prohibited substances, but they have not been overly aggressive. Or... you could blame the fans. The fans support the league and the caretakers of the game (the profiteers) react to their customers. As long as the coliseums are full, flat screens are on, licensed souvenirs are being purchased along with beer and parking, gambling and fantasy leagues are operating, everything is still good, they’re not about to change anything. Football has always been a violent game, but more recently it has become a blood-sport and the fans are not the ones complaining.

From 1965-'73 Dick Butkis was one of the most feared players in the NFL; he laid people out. But in today’s game Mr. Butkis, even in his prime, would get man-handled by these kids who are ‘bigger, faster, stronger’. So should the NFL change the way the game has been played since the league’s inception in 1920? Perhaps, but not without addressing the use of performance-enhancing drugs. That is the more difficult task and that’s why the NFL has opted instead to change the way the game is played.

The caretakers of the NFL will have to huddle-up and decide the future of professional football. If they change the way the game is played by limiting the target area of tackling and hitting, they could risk losing the portion of the audience who tune in to watch the violent hits and according to several sources “the NFL has the highest per-game attendance of any domestic professional sports league in the world.” If they choose to aggressively police the locker rooms for prohibited substances and enforce stricter policies for violations like baseball has done, they will need to create a task force and that takes time and money.

And if it’s not enough to wait for the NFL’s injury report, a list of prohibited substance suspensions would be an even bigger problem for odds-makers, gamblers and fantasy sports aficionados, all big parts of professional football in the current version of the modern era.

When solutions create problems, especially those of a financial nature, those making the decisions are caught in a dilemma and the NFL will have to make some difficult decisions.

One thing is certain- If the NFL doesn’t make some changes and professional football continues being the blood-sport it has become, they will have to increase roster sizes to counter the number of players (gladiators) being carted off the field on a regular basis.

The NFL isn't exactly Ancient Rome around the 2nd century BC where damnatio ad bestias (Latin for "condemnation to beasts") was used as entertainment and was part of the inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre , but it's headed in that direction. "Feed them to the Lions, Bears, Panthers, Bengals, Jaguars" may be exactly what we're doing to our young athletes seeking careers in the NFL...

Pete Carroll

With just over twenty seconds remaining in Super Bowl 49, and on The New England 1 yard line, Seahawks' Coach Pete Carroll was chewing his gum feverishly when one of his assistants asked "Coach, you want another stick of gum?" To which Carroll responded "No, I'll pass-" The rest is Super Bowl history!

PSI New England

They're calling it "Deflategate": The deliberate use of underinflated footballs to gain an advantage during a game. The accusers? The media and other haters of Patriot Coach Bill Belichick,  Quarterback Tom Brady,  the entire Patriot organization and their fans.

So what are the actual rules of football inflation? (not to be confused with the rising ticket prices, jersey costs, and other over-priced concessions) Here's the rule as it appears on www.nfl.com/rulebook/ball

"The home club shall have 36 balls for outdoor games and 24 for indoor games available for testing with a pressure gauge by the referee two hours prior to the starting time of the game to meet with League requirements. Twelve (12) new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked with the letter "k" and used exclusively for the kicking game."

NFL regulation balls are inflated to a pressure of between 12.5 and 13.5 psi (pounds per square inch).There is an allowable one psi variable that each team has in order to satisfy the demands of quarterbacks around the league. We now know Aaron Rodgers prefers his footballs be prepared on the high side, perhaps 13.5 and maybe then some. Rumors have it that Tom Brady prefers 12.5 and maybe something less.

I liken the NFL ball  rule to the batter's box in baseball. A hitter is supposed to stand in the box, but as hitters dig in, the batter's box lines get distorted and batters wanting to stand beyond the "game time" box to gain an advantage, can do so. I've never witnessed an Umpire stopping play to reset the batters in the box or to have the batter's box re-lined. And so we play baseball despite what could be determined as an unfair advantage. Boxgate? Stay tuned...

Many Scientists have chipped in with their take on football inflation pressure, applying Chemistry and Physics to the equation. They have pointed out all the variables: pressure, temperature, volume, number of moles in gas, gas constant... Deciphering this information is not for the weak, it takes more than a football IQ and a fantasy update.

They begin by using the Ideal Gas Law pV=nRT, where p is pressure, v is volume, n is the number of moles of a gas, R is the Universal Gas constant, and T is temperature.

If pressure (p) is increased the temperature (T) would be increased as well. The change in volume (V) would also be responsible for a change in temperature.

Unless there is tampering during a game, the volume (V) of air should not change, ( n) will not change nor would (R). Scientists can simplify their equation by removing the unchanged variables (V), (n) and (R) and arrive at a more simple equation. In comparing locker room ball pressures to field pressure there are only two variables, temperature and pressure (inside the ball).

If the temperature inside the locker room during initial ball testing pre-game was greater than game time outdoor temperature, which was 51 degrees, then there would be a natural pressure drop inside the ball.

Using an indoor temperature of 68 degrees the equation  would look like this: 

{[(86,184.5 Pa + 100950.0 Pa) / 293.15 K] * 283.15 K} - 100950.0 Pa = p2

79,800.9 Pa = p2 ---> 11.8 psi

At 68 degrees indoor and 51 degrees outdoor there would be a .7 PSI drop at game time (11.8 PSI). If the inside temperature was 80 degrees the game-time ball pressure once brought outdoors would be 11.0 PSI and if the room was 90 degrees once brought outside it would have been 10.5 PSI at the start of the game.

It all gets very complicated, but the NFL has not been strict (think MLB batter's box) and it is safe to assume that game ball pressures throughout the league are very different city to city, given the 1 PSI variable the NFL provides and the differing locker -room to field temperatures. Imagine what a -1 at Lambeau would do to the game time PSI of a football!

In the end, what you need to know is that  Indianapolis  scored only 7 points against a tough New England defense and once the Officials put a new ball on the field, one that was properly inflated to start the second half, the Patriots scored 28 unanswered points, beating the Colts 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl.

It would be better to spend time planning your Super Bowl menu than to try and sort this mess out. ( I'm thinking Eggplant Parm!)

Deflate This!

Sixty-three year old Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll appears in great health, it looks as though father time has been kind to him and any thoughts of senility are light years away. He chews his gum as hard and fast as any edgy teenager. On Sunday night he was involved in a shootout with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 49 and looking to win his second championship in a row. 

The lead was going back and forth, but remained in the Seahawks' favor for the entire third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, down 10 points, New England made a phenomenal comeback and had a four point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game. It would take a Seattle touchdown to change the outcome. 

After a big catch and run on first down (30 yards) by Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks got a gift when a perfectly defended and deflected pass by Patriots Corner Malcolm Butler, somehow stayed in the air long enough for Seattle Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse to bobble it several times, knees, arms, other body parts involved, and eventually secure it before it hit the ground. The improbable 33 yard play put the ball on the New England 5 yard line, first and goal, and had Patriots fans thinking about David Tyree and "Deja Vu all over again".

After a hard Lynch run on first down, the ball was spotted on the one yard line. Then Pete Carroll did what no other coach in NFL history has ever done- With Marshawn "The Beast" Lynch in his backfield and just one yard standing in his way, and Super Bowl 49 clearly in Seattle's grasp, Quarterback Russell Wilson was given a pass play to run... A knife at a gunfight? Undrafted, 5' 11" rookie cornerback, Malcolm Butler forced his way in front of 6'2" wide receiver Ricardo Lockette who ran a slant across the middle of the field, and just stole the Super Bowl from the Seahawks with the most clutch interception in Super Bowl history!

 An unlikely play and an unlikely hero! With 20 seconds left on the one yard line, Brady just had to find some real estate to get a knee down... Seattle dug in, but jumped off-sides putting the ball on the 6 yard line. Then the "Thugs" from Seattle, frustrated with Carroll's call, the certainty of a Super Bowl loss, began throwing punches and showing their true demeanor. They were penalized another fifteen and SIR Tom Brady had plenty of turf on which to place his championship knee! 

So what was Pete Carroll thinking? Was he thinking too much? Any NFL Coach in that spot would know enough to run Marshawn Lynch for the win. This will forever haunt Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks' organization. 

Just maybe that special delivery, senility package addressed to Pete Carroll arrived late Sunday night...

NFL Bad Boys Under Center: Ben Roethlisberger (written in 2010)

First ballot Hall of Famer, 14 year Pittsburgh Steeler and winner of four Super Bowl titles, Terry Bradshaw knows what it takes to be a successful quarterback in the NFL both on and off the field. However, according to Bradshaw, it wasn’t always that way.

After a failed marriage, an injury, and then the loss of his starting job in 1974, Bradshaw, already a born-again Christian, confronted his demons, and later admitted “I had separated myself from God. I lived only for Terry Bradshaw, not for God. I tried to be one of the boys and went to every honky-tonk I could find and chased women and behaved in a way that was totally alien to anything I had ever known before … my whole life was out of control … I was trying to be someone else and was doing a rotten job of it.”

After consulting with God to help him steer his life back on course, Bradshaw suddenly felt "stronger mentally and physically”. After his revelation, Bradshaw returned to his starting job and the Steelers won their first of four championships with Bradshaw under center, beating the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 in Super Bowl IX.

More recently, another Steeler Quarterback, 28 year old Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. This action occurred just one week after prosecutors dropped the charges against him involving a 20 year-old college student who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March 2010. This was not the first time Roethlisberger had found himself in trouble. In 2008, a hotel employee alleges that the 6’5” 240 lb. quarterback sexually assaulted her in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe using force. There is a civil lawsuit still pending in that case.

After Steeler backup quarterback Byron Leftwich limped off the playing field in the final preseason game, Roethlisberger’s representatives, along with Steeler president Arthur J. Rooney II traveled to New York for a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss reducing Roethlisberger’s six game suspension. Bradshaw responded “Going to bars -- treating women like that; oh my God. I pray they don't cut [his NFL suspension] to four games. I hope they leave it at six. There is no excuse for that. The egos get out of hand.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC, the seventh-oldest in the NFL, and were originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates when Art Rooney purchased the team for $2,500 on July 8, 1933. Rooney would rename the team “Steelers” in 1940.

Owned and operated by just one family, it went from Art to his son Dan (the current U.S. ambassador to Ireland), and then to his son Art II. Dan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 making him and his dad only the second father-son combination to be so honored.

Recently Steeler ownership has broadened. Two part owners, Timothy and Pat Rooney, purchased racetracks in New York and Florida where they later installed video slot machines, a violation of NFL policy, and in compliance with league rules, sold their shares in the team. Although the Rooney's still control the Steelers with the league minimum 30%, other investors have been brought in.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, in what has since been referred to as the NFL’s “modern era”, the Steelers have posted the best record in the league, won the most total games, the most divisional titles, earned the best winning percentage, have the most All-Pro nominations, and have accumulated the most Super Bowl wins (six). They are second overall in playoff wins and tied with the Miami Dolphins for most regular-season wins.

After the Pittsburgh brass met with Commissioner Goodell in his New York office, Ben Roethlisberger’s six game suspension was reduced to just four games.

In a letter to Roethlisberger, Goodel stated “You have told me and the Steelers that you are committed to making better decisions. Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and you must continue to honor that commitment.”

Steeler owner Art Rooney had this to say “Ben has done a good job this summer of growing as the person that he needs to be, both on and off the field. I am confident that Ben is committed to continuing in this positive direction.”

Roethlisberger, after receiving notification of his reduced NFL suspension made this statement “I have learned a lot over the past several months about myself as a person. I am committed to continuing on this path of being the type of person my family raised me to be, and exceeding what is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Terry Bradshaw had this to say to Ben Roethlisberger upon hearing of the reduced suspension “I don't know that you've proven to the NFL that you're on the right path…”

Can Ben Roethlisberger change or will he simply reinvent his football persona in an attempt to avoid prosecution, termination, and damage to his reputation?

In 2006, just months after winning his first Super Bowl title, an unlicensed, unhelmeted, Roethlisberger crashed his unregistered 2005 Suzuki Hyabusa motorcycle in downtown Pittsburgh suffering a broken jaw and nose. After seven hours of surgery he vowed “If I ever ride again it certainly will be with a helmet.”

According to an article in SI VAULT, “A few months after the accident, a reporter and a cameraman for KDKA-TV, the CBS affiliate that broadcasts Steelers games, were driving on I-376 in Pittsburgh when they saw two men on motorcycles and recognized one as Roethlisberger, who was not wearing a helmet. They began shooting footage, which showed Roethlisberger giving them the finger as he sped away, but the video never aired. The station's news director at the time, John Verrilli, and its current assistant news director, Anne Linaberger, deny that any such tape existed, but several people who saw the video gave SI similar accounts of the tape; sources believe the story was killed out of fear that it would damage KDKA's relationship with the Steelers.”

Just two years after Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident, the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII by defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-23, finishing the season 15-4. In March of 2009, just days after his 26th birthday, Ben Roethlisberger was rewarded with an eight year, 102 million dollar contract, receiving 25 million in a lump-sum signing bonus. At the time, Roethlisberger was quoted as saying “I love Pittsburgh, I love the fans. Got probably the best organization and fans in all of sport. I don't want to go anywhere.” Team chairman Dan Rooney responded “He's a Steeler and he'll always be a Steeler.”

In downtown Pittsburgh where Roethlisberger frequents his favorite watering holes he has earned a reputation for disrespecting bar employees, using public profanity, making lewd remarks, refusing to pay cover charges and in some cases his entire tab. At the Cabana Bar he refused to pay a cover and at the Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille he left without paying his tab and was pursued into the parking lot by an angry waitress where he reconsidered.

The theme in Roethlisberger’s repeated misconduct appears to be entitlement. The former first round pick in the 2004 NFL draft (11th overall) and AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Roethlisberger has been able to live above the law and as long as he continues to win for the Steelers, he may continue benefitting from the long and well-established relationship the Rooneys have with the NFL and Roger Goodell.

At least for now, Ben Roethlisberger, who is known for avoiding sacks and then making big throws down field, remains under center for the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers. In a recent statement apologizing for his violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, he reminded the press that he has not been charged with any crimes... 

Ben Roethlisberger has been quoted as saying that he “…wanted to be like the Dan Marinos, like the John Elways, guys who played with one team their whole career.”

He has got a long way to go and a lot to prove if he wants to be mentioned in that elite company (just ask Terry Bradshaw).

Aluminum or Wood?

Ted Williams once said "It ain't the arrow, it's the Indian". Consistent hitting had always been about technique, not equipment. Hitting Guru Mike Epstein, a close friend of Williams, added that “A baseball bat is one item that doesn't come with directions. Players must be taught how to use it." Many top hitting coaches agree that hitting technique is best taught using heavier wooden bats because they are less forgiving, require the use of the hips and legs, not just the arms (as with lighter aluminum bats), translating into better mechanics.

The initial reason for the switch from wood to aluminum was cost. Wooden bats cracked easily, requiring teams to restock. I am old enough to remember a teammate breaking my favorite Nellie Fox model, the one with the thicker handle; it happened a lot. Al Kaline, Stan Musial models, all reduced to shattered debris with one unlucky swing. The bats were inexpensive back then and because we shared, we managed to get complete games in.

By the time my own children began playing baseball in the mid 90's, aluminum had replaced wood. I was skeptical. The coaches said it was a cheaper alternative, that aluminum bats would last forever. After a trip to the local sporting goods store I was shocked; while I wasn't looking, cheap had gotten very expensive...I paid $35 for an entry-level aluminum bat for my eight year-old son (1996).

As he got older the bats got more costly. I was told by those selling them that "aluminum is expensive". I am a cyclist and could buy an entire aluminum bicycle frame that had to be aligned, tig welded, threaded, and painted for less than a youth baseball bat! Who was fooling who? The bats had a one year guarantee, but there were warnings about using them in temperatures below 60 degrees. Here in New England 50 degrees is baseball weather...

The early aluminum bats dimpled easily and even a perfect swing might yield a donk, and a weakly batted ball .Then came Scandium and Titanium, more expensive materials that hardened the bats, prompting manufactures to boast “30 more feet!" A friend of my son’s received a bat on his 12th birthday that cost $200! This kid was an excellent baseball player and with his new bat, he was even better. By then I was coaching and during warm-ups I once used it to hit outfield. I couldn't keep the balls in the field; even one-arm, half swings were traveling over the 200 foot fence.

Another kid’s Dad was wealthy and he and his wife did little to hide it. He drove a Jaguar and they lived in a very large home in an upscale neighborhood. He bought his son the very best aluminum bats. He would arrive at the baseball complex with several bats zipped inside a fancy bat bag. After his son used a bat it was quickly put away and never shared with any teammates. I noticed that the kids with the more expensive aluminum bats hit the ball further, their economics providing them with an extreme advantage.

The bat controversy got more complicated when aluminum bats were categorized by their length and weight and assigned minus numbers. A 30" bat that weighed 18 ounces (30-18=12) was labeled a minus 12 (-12). The league established rules governing the length and weight of the bats allowed, by age group. Even barrel diameter was dictated by the rules (2-1/4", 2-5/8", and 2-3/4"). As with all rules, there was cheating. Bats were doctored, illegal bats were used and teams that got away unnoticed hit up and down their lineups.

After Scandium and Titanium came Composites. Carbon fiber used for the barrel of the bat in conjunction with aluminum handles, produced "Whip", a term that grew to mean increased bat speed, energy transfer and distance. Bats with names like "Stealth", "Vexxum", “Nitro”, and “Laser” filled bat bags across the country. Nike claimed its “Aero Torque” was designed to “maximize the explosiveness of bat/ball collision”.

The current trend is towards 100% composite bats. With names like “Virus”, “Freak”, and “Mayhem”, these bats sell in the $300-$400 range! If a player wants to be competitive, he or she better be swinging the latest and greatest.

In an effort to protect pitchers and corner infielders, and to keep the balls in the park, as the players get older the bat’s length to weight gets closer, producing smaller minus numbers and heavier bats. By age fourteen only -8’s can be used, and at all high school levels, only -3's are allowed. At one indoor tryout, a freshman baseball player snuck a -8 by the coaching staff. Inside the batting cage, using a pitching machine that can’t simulate release point, and only shoots fastballs, bat speed is important. The player using the -8 looked quicker to the ball when compared to his potential teammates who were swinging -3's, a heavier bat by 5 ounces. He had procured an unfair advantage and as a result of his hitting display, made the team.

The high end aluminum bat market provides the more affluent players with better equipment. These lightweight aluminum bats permit the use of poor hitting techniques (arm swings). The greatest concern however, is that balls hit by hardened aluminum bats are redirected towards the field of play at higher speeds than wooden bats and are a danger to pitchers and corner infielders, especially on youth diamonds.  

By saying no to aluminum, Youth Baseball Organizations and High School Athletic Associations would be forced to teach better hitting mechanics, be protecting pitchers and corner infielders from batted balls, keep economic advantages from determining outcomes, and prevent greedy manufacturers from cashing in on the hitting frenzy.

In the end “Teddy Ballgame” had it right; it shouldn’t be about the arrow…

 

Is the pocket collapsing?

The Super Bowl is to football what the runway is to fashion. The best teams are on full display and the copycats are taking notes. New styles that prove to be winners become templates for success.

The drubbing of the Denver Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks on the big stage made a huge statement about the direction of the game. In a league that has continued to get "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" the quarterback's role has been redefined. Traditional drop-back passers, ala 6' 5" Peyton Manning and 6' 4" Tom Brady, may soon become a thing of the past. The new template for successful quarterbacks is taking shape and no one resembles that shape more than 5'11" Russell Wilson.

It began with 6' tall Fran Tarkenton who was drafted by both the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL and The Boston Patriots of the AFL in 1961. He chose the Vikings where he was nicknamed "The Mad Scrambler". In 1969 a biography was written about him titled "Better Scramble than Lose". Tarkenton played 18 years in the NFL for the Vikings and the Giants (1967-'71) , making it to three Super Bowls, but never winning one. In 1975 he was the NFL's Most Valuable Player and when he retired he had thrown 342 touchdown passes, had 124 regular season wins, rushed for 3,674 yards and had just about every major quarterback record prompting Viking's head coach Bud Grant to call him "the greatest quarterback who ever played."

Tarkenton's  scrambling ways were continued by Kordell Stewart, Randall Cunningham, Steve Young and later Michael Vick. The debate began. Can a scrambling quarterback stay healthy and win the big game?

In 1988 after a slow start, the New England Patriots replaced Steve Grogan with 5'10" quarterback Doug Flutie. Flutie, a scrambler who cared little about passing stats, won six of nine games, but was suddenly pulled from his starting position in favor of pocket passer Tony Eason. The network broadcasting the game had delivered a pregame that was all about Flutie's success as a starter, but Flutie never took the field. Instead Coach Raymond Berry opted for a traditional pocket quarterback. Eason wasn't in a Patriots' uniform very long, but it is interesting to know he was picked by the Patriots in the 1983 draft with Dan Marino still available...

In 2012 the San Francisco Forty Niners made a big move at quarterback, removing their starter Alex Smith for the more athletic Kolin Kaepernick. The Smith led Niners were 6-2-1 and with a 70.2% completion percentage, Smith was leading the league in that category. By all accounts there was no reason to remove Smith. The debate started, but ended quickly when Kaepernick began winning games. It turned into a "brilliant move by Harbaugh" when his team made it to the Super Bowl in 2012 and then the NFC Championship in 2013. In 155 rushing attempts over two years Kaepernick gained 939 yards rushing. It's obvious that Kaepernick is the more complete quarterback and with that athleticism under center defenses have had much more to prepare for.

Not too unlike Stewart, Cunningham, Vick and other early prototypes, the new-age quarterback has the shiny wheels, but uses them as "Plan B" or when the play brakes down and there's a first down available on the ground. Moving the chains is what this new-age quarterback does best. But do not underestimate the strength of their arms, they're not lacking in that category either. These guys are not one-trick ponies. They're multi-talented and can do a lot of things very well. And, they are coming to the NFL from college ready-to-play out of the box. There is no need to carry clipboards for two to three years, the game they play is physical and for the young. These young quarterbacks are more adept than the traditional pocket passers at succeeding in the new role quarterback's play in complex offenses. They're no longer the hub of the wheel, they are however, important cogs and if they can play mistake-free football, they can be successful.

So are we seeing in Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and other pocket passers, a dying breed? Is the pocket collapsing? I believe so. The new-age quarterback is more athletic, throws on the run, can manage a complex offense, and can pick up first downs using his legs. A quick look at "new-age" versus "old school" is revealing. Here's the 2013 quarterback rushing stats, first the new-age guys: Newton (585), Pryor (576), Wilson (539), Kaepernick (524), RG III (489), Luck (377), and Geno Smith (366). Now for the old school pocket passers: Flacco (131), Cutler (118), Roethlisberger (99), Rivers (72), Clemens (64), Brees (52), Romo (38), E. Manning (36), Brady (18), P. Manning (-31). Although having a rushing quarterback doesn't guarantee wins, it does keep the defense honest and gives the offense more options, especially on third down.

With the success of the Seattle Seahawks it is certain that their system will be dissected. Obviously their overly aggressive defense kept opposing quarterbacks off the field and out of the end zone, but when it came to winning games their potent offense was up to the task. That offense was run effectively and efficiently by second year quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson was picked 12th in the third round, 75th overall. At the University of Wisconsin in 2011 Wilson set the single season FBS record for passing efficiency (191.8) and led the team to a Big Ten Title and the 2012 Rose Bowl. He received the "Big Ten Quarterback of the Year" award.

Wilson's success came early. At Collegiate School (a preparatory school) in Richmond, Virginia, in his junior year he threw for 3,287 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also rushed for 634 yards and 15 touchdowns.  His senior year he threw for 3,009 yards and 34 touchdowns. That year he rushed for 1,132 yards and 18 touchdowns. All-district, all-region, all-state, all-conference, Player of the Year, Wilson has done it all and he makes very few mistakes. Initially scouts believed he was too small, not fast enough, lacked arm strength, all the same things that were said about Doug Flutie. Flutie was forced to bring his game to Canada where he was regarded as one of the best to play the position in the CFL.

So what has changed in the NFL? With players getting "Bigger, Faster, Stronger", NFL quarterbacks are under constant pressure. Standing in the pocket has become risky business and in order to avoid the rush and make a play quarterbacks must be able to use their athleticism to extend the play. Wilson, Newton, Kaepernick, are three new-age quarterbacks who have been able to do that and as a result have won games and given their teams opportunities to win titles.

Similar to fashion, where narrow ties are out and then in again, scrambling quarterbacks with skills similar to those of "The Mad Scrambler" Fran Tarkenton, are making a comeback. Certainly defensive coordinators will adjust to this change in the game. They will figure it out...

 

  

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"The Monster"

At six foot five, two-hundred and forty pounds and wearing size 14D shoes, Richard Raymond Radatz was a big man. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 2nd 1937, becoming a two sport star (baseball and basketball) at Michigan State University before signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1960.

While still in the minors, Radatz developed a “sore arm” and was sent to the bullpen by his manager, Johnny Pesky. Radatz was not happy about his bullpen assignment, but it was there where he would become one of the most feared pitchers in baseball during the mid 1960’s.

Radatz delivered the baseball sidearm for most of his career, effectively hiding the ball which he threw consistently at 95-96 miles per hour, and from a mound that was 15”, sometimes as much as 20” above home plate. It was in Radatz’s final season, 1969, the year after Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with a .301 average that Major League Baseball mandated pitching rubbers be no more than 10” above home plate, attempting to minimize the pitcher’s long time advantage (1904). One can only imagine how imposing Radatz must have been at his size, hovering 20” above home plate, and slinging fastball after fastball…

In 1962, his rookie season, Radatz led the American League in saves (24), games (62) and relief wins (9) and was named Fireman of the Year by The Sporting News.

In 1963 Radatz entered a game against the rival New York Yankees in the top of the ninth in relief of starter Earl Wilson who had loaded the bases with nobody out. Radatz struck out Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Elston Howard, each an American League MVP during their careers, throwing only ten pitches in completing the feat. When Howard struck out for the final out of the game, Radatz thrust his clenched fists overhead, and after being reminded of it the next day by Red Sox broadcasting legend Curt Gowdy, it became his “trademark gesture". It was after that game that Mantle referred to his nemesis as “that Monster”. And why not, Radatz faced Mantle 66 times during “The Mick’s” Hall of Fame career, striking him out 47 times. Yankee manager Ralph Houk later said of '62 and '63, "For two seasons, I've never seen a better pitcher".

It was in 1963, from May 13th to June 14th, that Radatz pitched 33 consecutive scoreless innings. The only Red Sox pitchers to pitch more consecutive scoreless innings were Luis Tiant, who had 40 between August 19th and September 8th in 1972, and the great Cy Young who had 45 between April 25th and May 17th back in 1904. In the 1963 All Star game Radatz fanned Willie Mays, Dick Groat, Duke Snider, Willie McCovey and Julián Javier in the two innings he pitched.

But “The Monster” wasn’t just all business. He had a lighter side. Former Red Sox starter and 20 game winner, Bill Mombouquette, remembers him this way-- ''I never used to give the ball to the manager when he'd come to get me, I'd wait to give it to the guy coming into the game. I used to say to Dick, 'You'd better get these guys out or I'm going to kick your butt,' He'd say, 'Go in the clubhouse, crack me a Bud, and I'll be right up.' And he would.' "

Johnny Pesky's recollection of Radatz's three strikeouts of Yankee greats goes something like this-- "Radatz comes in, and says to Earl, `Big boy, crack a couple of cold ones and I'll be up there in 10 minutes.' He told me to get my little ass in the dugout, which is something he told me a lot of times. He strikes out the three of 'em, Mantle, Maris, and Howard, on 10 pitches."

It wasn’t uncommon for Radatz to pitch three innings of relief one day and four the next. In one three day span "The Monster” pitched 6 innings of relief one day and then 9 innings of an extra-inning game two nights later, the winner in both games.

In 1963 Radatz went 15-6 with a 1.97 ERA, while saving 25 games and becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to have consecutive 20-save seasons. In 1964 Radatz pitched in 79 games, led the league with 29 saves, compiling 16 wins and a 2.29 ERA in the process. He fanned 181 batters in 157 innings, establishing a record for the most strikeouts by a relief pitcher in a single season and won his second Fireman of the Year award.


 Sportswriter Jim Murray wrote that "Dick Radatz brings one weapon - a fastball. It's like saying all a country brings to a war is an atom bomb." Radatz's “one-pitch arsenal” was concerning, and Ted Williams encouraged Radatz to develop a second pitch, a sinker. Radatz took William’s advice, but in doing so he altered his mechanics, and as a result his fastball suffered and he never regained his dominating form.

Struggling with a 9-11 record, with 24 saves and 3.91 ERA in 1965, Radatz injured both his arm and shoulder, requiring season-ending surgery. He was traded to the Indians mid-season 1966, and was with the Cubs the following year. Out of action entirely in 1968, he finished his career in 1969 with the Tigers and Expos.

Dick Radatz’s career was cut short after only seven seasons as a result of injuries and the intensity with which he played the game. During that brief time he compiled a 52-43 record with a 3.13 ERA, 122 saves, with 745 strikeouts in 693.2 innings, and earned the respect of many major league hitters. A two-time All Star and saves leader, Radatz was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame (established 1995) in 1997.

After his retirement from baseball Radatz made his home in Easton, Massachusetts and many local residents enjoyed the rare privilege of bumping into him around town. It was in 2002 that I was in the CVS Pharmacy in Easton that I looked over and saw “The Monster” heading for the cash register with several boxes of Hershey chocolate bars tucked under his huge arms. I reacted like the kid who had watched Radatz pitch on his family’s 14” black and white TV many years ago—“Hey, Dick Radatz-- I saw you hit a home run!” Radatz never broke stride, cracked a big, confident smile and said “1965 against the Kansas City Athletics on June 5th!” He kept on walking and I was in left in total awe…

Radatz had one career home run and I had seen it live. It gave the Sox a 4-3 lead and they went on to win 5-3, Radatz getting the win. The day after hitting the home run into the right field bleachers, Radatz was quoted in the newspapers as offering to give batting instruction to his teammates, of course tongue-in-cheek. Both Conigliaro (league leading 32 HR) and Yastrzemski (league leading 45 doubles) hit well that year, but the team finished 62-100, 40 games behind the first place Minnesota Twins, in 9th place (out of 10), and with a team batting average of just .251.

Dick Radatz, AKA: “The Monster” (pronounced Monstah), died on March 16, 2005 after falling down the stairs in his home and suffering a fatal head injury. He was a unique individual, who, in his brief major league career, definitely left his mark on the game of baseball.

NFL Bad Boys Under Center: Double Trouble!

The position is the arguably the most important on the gridiron. It requires a combination of skill and smarts. Quarterbacks in today’s game have the freedom to switch plays at the line of scrimmage based on the defense’s formation. It’s no accident that they get a majority of the credit, or the blame, depending on the game’s outcome. Over the history of the NFL there have been many skilled quarterbacks who have found themselves categorized as “highly-spirited young men”.

One of the first quarterbacks to gain notoriety as a “highly-spirited young man” was Christian Adolph Jurgensen III . He would be followed shortly after by William Orland Kilmer, Jr., and the two would later become teammates in the nation’s capital where they played concurrently for the Redskins.

Sonny Jurgensen was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on August 23, 1934. He played his college football at Duke University where he made his first impact in 1954 as a defensive back, tying a team record by intercepting at least one pass in four consecutive games. In 1955 Jurgensen took over as starting quarterback while also starting on defense. In 1956, Jurgensen’s final year at Duke, the team finished 5-4-1. Jurgensen finished his college football career with less than stellar numbers: 77-156 passing for 1,119 yards, 16 career interceptions and six touchdowns. He also rushed for 109 yards and intercepted ten passes.

Billy Kilmer was born in Topeka, Kansas on September 5, 1939. He played his college football at UCLA where he was the last single-wing tailback, a position that required a player to pass, run, and kick. In 1960, his final season, he threw for over 1,000 yards, ran for over 800, scored eight touchdowns, was the team's punter, and finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, leading the nation with 1,889 yards of total offense and becoming an All-American. He was also named Most Valuable Player in the 1961 College All-Star Game and received the 1960 W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy  as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast.

Jurgensen was picked in the fourth round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He served as backup to quarterback Bobby Thomason in 1957 and Norm Van Brocklin in 1958-’60. In 1961, his first year as a starter, Jurgensen passed for an NFL record 3,723 yards, his 32 touchdown passes tied an NFL record, was named All-Pro, and the Eagles finished 10-4.

Kilmer was picked in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft, eleventh overall, by the San Francisco 49ers where he was utilized primarily as a running back. During his rookie year he rushed for 509 yards and ten touchdowns, four coming in one game against the expansion Minnesota Vikings.

During the 1962 and 1963 seasons, Sonny Jurgensen compiled a record of just 5-15-2, and after an injury-plagued ’63 season he was traded to the Washington Redskins on April Fools day in 1964. During the ’64, ’65, and ’66 seasons Jurgensen started all but one game for the Redskins, throwing 67 touchdown passes, but compiled only a 19-22 record in the process.

On December 5th 1962, Billy Kilmer fell asleep at the wheel of his 1957 Chevrolet and drove off the Bayshore Freeway and into the San Francisco Bay, suffering a fractured leg. At first it was feared the leg would have to be amputated, but he was lucky and the leg was stable enough to be rehabilitated. Kilmer sat out the entire 1963 NFL season. The following year his participation was limited and as a result of the injury, he had lost a step and was switched from running back to quarterback. In 1965 he did not play. After a training camp contract dispute the next season, he was placed in the 1967 NFL Expansion Draft.

In 1967, a healthy Sonny Jurgensen broke his own passing record by throwing for 3,747 yards while setting new records for attempts (508) and completions (288). The Redskins finished the season 5-6-3. Jurgensen played injured in ’68 and the Redskins finished 5-9.

Billy Kilmer was picked by the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967 and went on to play there for four years, a starter half of the time. On November 2, 1969 he threw for 345 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-42 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was Saint’s owner John Mecom, who would later admit to Kilmer's many late-hour visits to New Orleans bars while playing for the team. Kilmer had been arrested once for being intoxicated and was gaining a reputation for being a “hell-raiser”.

In 1969 the Redskins made Vince Lombardi their Head Coach. Under Lombardi, the once “soft-bellied” Sonny Jurgensen was coached into top condition by the strict disciplinarian and went on to have a brilliant year leading the NFL in attempts (442), completions (274), completion percentage (62%) and passing yards (3,102). The Redskins finished 7-5-2 in what would be Lombardi’s last season as he succumbed to colon cancer September 3, 1970 at the age of 57. He said of Jurgensen “Jurgensen is a great quarterback. He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may be the best the league has ever seen. He is the best I have seen.” The feeling was mutual as Jurgensen would later say that of the nine head coaches he played for during his NFL career, Lombardi was his favorite.

After Lombardi’s sudden passing, assistant Bill Austin stepped in and finished a dismal 6-8 in 1970. Former Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen was brought in to coach the Redskins in ’71 where his teams would be nick-named the “Over-the-Hill-Gang”.

When rumors surfaced that the Saints would be picking Archie Manning 2nd overall in the 1971 NFL Draft, Kilmer asked to be traded. He was traded to the Washington Redskins where he was to serve as back-up to Sonny Jurgensen, the highly-skilled passer with a colorful personality, who had a “let’s go out and have a beer” type image, was known to keep some late nights, and was quoted in a magazine admitting to a fondness for “scotch and broads”

After Jurgensen suffered a shoulder injury in the 5th exhibition game while trying to make a tackle, Kilmer took the helm and the Redskins finished 9-4-1, reaching the post season for the first time since 1945. Jurgensen made it back on the field for the 11th game, but re-injured his shoulder, ending the year with 16 completions for 170 yards and without a touchdown pass.

It was during the 1971 season that rumors stirred that Kilmer missed curfew before a game against the Denver Broncos and that his new Redskins teammates had nicknamed him “Ole Whiskey”. Kilmer’s most memorable night on the town in 1971 came when he got arrested in an Arlington coffee shop. Apparently, Kilmer was attempting to pay for a cup of coffee with a $100 bill when an argument ensued involving the waitress. A policeman showed up, and Kilmer, who had been drinking anything but coffee earlier that evening, told the policeman, “If you think I’m wrong, put me in jail!” The policeman locked Kilmer up for the night, releasing him in time to lead the Redskins into the playoffs against San Francisco. Kilmer “won the hearts of fans when he told the waitress she could keep the $100 as a tip”.

The normally full-figured Jurgensen came into training camp fit and trim and ready to compete for the starting quarterback job in 1972. George Allen was known to favor a more controlled offense with fewer turnovers and Jurgensen had a reputation as being a gun-slinger type quarterback who plays with an aggressive and decisive manner by throwing deep, risky passes and is frequently intercepted. Kilmer was more of a ball control guy.

Coach Allen played the two quarterbacks equally during the exhibition season, each playing as well as the other, but started Kilmer when the season began. That season Kilmer led the NFL with 19 touchdown passes and an 84.8 passer rating and took the Redskins to the Super Bowl where they lost 14-7 to the undefeated (16-0) Miami Dolphins. Sonny Jurgensen never felt any contempt towards his replacement and good friend Billy Kilmer, even praised him on his ability to win.

Kilmer was not known for throwing the tightest spiral, in fact some of his most ardent fans recall a perennial wobbler. He did not posses the quarterbacking skills of Sonny Jurgensen, and even after a quarterback controversy divided fans who expressed their feelings with “I love Sonny”-“I love Billy” bumper stickers, Kilmer remained the primary starting quarterback from 1971-’77, going 49-22-1 in that time. He credits his passing improvements to Jurgensen, who he said helped him with his grip and his throwing mechanics, mostly his hip rotation. Up to that point Kilmer admitted to being an arm thrower and suffering constant pain in his elbow and shoulder areas as a result.

Former NFL defensive back (1953-’61) and CBS commentator Tom Brookshier once said of Kilmer “He never threw a spiral in his life, but his receivers caught every ball he threw at them”. In his reflection, Pro Football Weekly’s Tom Danyluk described Kilmer this way “Banquet-Circuit Billy- the chunky, flutterball passer with New Orleans and Washington, playing above his playing weight and not giving a damn how his uniform fit …”

In 1974, his final year in professional football, at the age of 40 and while splitting playing time with Billy Kilmer, Sonny Jurgensen was able to lead the NFL in passing with a 64.1 % completion percentage, completing 107 of 167 passes. The Redskins enjoyed their third impressive winning season in a row going 10-4, first in the NFC East all three times (10-4 in ’73, 11-3 in ’72) , and the Sonny and Billy quarterback time-share had worked very well. Kilmer was quoted as saying “We knew it was a good thing- and it didn’t hurt that we hung out in the same saloons-”

Sonny Jurgensen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

On December 11, 1976, nearing the end of his career, Kilmer was arrested for drunk driving less than 2 days before a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Kilmer was 7-2 as a starter that year with 12 touchdown passes in ten games.

When Billy Kilmer played in his final game in the NFL in 1978 he was backing up Joe Theisman, still wearing his number 17 jersey, and viewing the game over his single-bar facemask long after double-bar facemasks had become the norm, an in-your-face gesture he made to would-be pass rushers during his entire 16 year NFL career.

In the years that they played together for the Washington Redskins, quarterbacks Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgensen were able to unselfishly share the snaps, the spotlight, and probably the whiskey too-

To this day Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer remain close friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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