Before OJ Simpson became a household name because of that other thing that happened in 1994; he was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC (1968 season). Simpson was chosen by the Buffalo Bills as the first draft pick in 1969, but his first three seasons in the NFL were somewhat disappointing.
A New Coach and The Juice is Loose!
In 1972 Lou Saban became the coach of the Bills, and he tailored the offense around OJ. That year Simpson led the NFL in rushing with 1,251 yards. In 1971, his previous best season, he only rushed for 742 yards.
On September 16, 1973, in the season opener against New England, OJ rushed for 250 yards, tying the NFL single game record.
Buffalo won the game 31-13 and went on to finish the season 9-5, second in the AFC East, a big improvement over their 4-9-1 finish in 1972.
Playing a 14 game schedule in 1973, Simpson rushed for what was then an NFL season total record of 2,003 yards.
In 1984 Eric Dickerson broke Simpson’s record, rushing 2,105 yards, but he did not reach the 2,000 yard plateau until the 15th game of the season. Five other players have also rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season, but all of them did it in 16 games.
Adrian Peterson now holds the NFL single game rushing record. He ran the ball for 296 yards on November 4, 2007.
The Green Bay Packers played their home opener on September 15, 2013 – against the Washington Redskins. Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers put on a show for the fans at Lambeau Field. He completed 34 of 42 passes for 480 yards. Four of his throws went for touchdowns, and not a single pass was intercepted.
The rest of the Packers team also had a respectable game, especially running back James Starks who rushed for 132 yards.
This was the only time in history of the NFL when a team had a 450 yard passer and a 125 yard rusher.
Despite his spectacular numbers, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rodgers. At 9:54 of the first period Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan sacked him. On the very next play Kerrigan sacked him again. Then Brian Orakpo got him at 6:06. Maybe the Redskins should have let sleeping dogs lie. At that point Rodgers was having an okay quarter. He had thrown seven passes and completed all but one of them for 76 yards, but he had not yet found anybody in the end zone.
After the third sack Rodgers completed two more passes, but the Packers were short of the first down and punted (with a 3-0 lead). The Redskins followed with their own “three-and-out” and Green took possession again at 3:08. Four plays later Rodgers hit Randall Cobb on a 35 touchdown pass.
For the first quarter Rodgers was 10-13 with a 138 passing yards, and he was just getting started.
In the second quarter Rodgers put on one of the most spectacular passing shows in the history of pro football. He threw the ball 18 times and completed 16 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
The Packers led 24-0 at the half and cruised the rest of the way to a 38-20 win over Washington.
Broncos win 13-10 First AFL Game
On a Friday night in Boston, the AFL (American Football League) was officially launched. The game was played on September 9, 1960 at Boston University Stadium (formerly Braves Field), between the Denver Broncos and the Boston Patriots, who of course are widely recognized now as the New England Patriots.
Some NFC-AFC History
Before 1960, the NFL held a monopoly on pro football in America (as it does now). Then in 1959, Lamar Hunt, the son of oil magnate H.L Hunt, got together with several of his very rich friends and colleagues, and they formed the American Football League as a direct competitor to the National Football League.
The two leagues battled for audience share and for talent. Players’ salaries sky rocketed. A few curmudgeons scoffed at the upstarts, but most fans who watched the AFL games on nationally televised broadcasts, were delighted by faster, wide open style of play. The executives at ABC who had signed the AFL to a five year contract had to have also been pleased.
By 1966, the owners of the NFL teams decided that they preferred monopoly t0 competition, so on June 8 of that year, they signed a merger agreement with the AFL. That led to the first Super Bowl (Everybody called it that from the start, but officially it was called the NFL-AFL Championship Game.) The game was played on January 15, 1967, between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. To the surprise of no one, the Packers manhandled the Chiefs, 35-10. Green Bay delivered an encore performance the following year when they won “the big game” against Oakland 33-14.
In 1969, the NFL decided to officially call the championship game “The Super Bowl.” (Now days, they fiercely protect their trademark of this “brand”, to the point of absurdity.)
Joe Namath of course, delivered on his outrageous guarantee that the New York Jets would defeat the Baltimore Colts. The owners of the old NFL teams were embarrassed all the way to the bank. Namath’s brash personality and lifestyle set off a media frenzy, and won the league more attention and free publicity than they could have ever dreamed of prior to the merger.
Bye bye AFL. Hello AFC.
Beginning in 1970 the AFL ceased to exist. There was now one league, the old NFL. It had two conferences the NFC and the AFC. In order to maintain the old rivalry, the NFC was stocked with all but three of the old time NFL franchises. All of the AFL teams played in the AFC along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Colts, and the Cleveland Browns.
Back to Boston – September 1960
It’s hard to believe that before the Pats, Boston and the rest of New England could not support a major league football team. Prior to the opener, John Ahern, wrote in the Boston Globe, “Four times professional football has been tried in our town, four times it folded. Huge sums were lost and Boston was consigned to the sticks, the limbo of broken football dreams. Friday night at Boston University (old Braves Field), the town’s fifth pro venture breathes new life. It’s as welcome as the flowers in May and it will be greeted enthusiastically by a populace that has not seen good football since Boston College’s Sugar Bowl team of 20 years back.”
The four previous attempts that Ahern referred to were:
• The Boston Bulldogs 1929
• The Boston Braves 1932
• The Boston Redskins 1933-1936 (Yes, before Washington they were the Boston Redskins.)
• The Boston Yanks 1944-1948
During the 1960 pre-season the Patriots compiled a 4-1 record that included a 43-6 drubbing of the Broncos. The Broncos lost all five of their pre-season games. But that was practice. In front of 21,597 fans (How many saved their programs?) and a large local radio audience on Boston’s WEEI, the Broncos defeated the Pats in a squeaker, 13-10.
16 years and 64,964 passing yards ago, Peyton Manning was making his NFL debut, on September 6, 1998. (If you’re reading this after the start of the 2014 NFL season, add more yards, and whenever you read this you can also add at least 6,589 yards for post season play.)
Manning played in his first game a little less than three years before 9/11. It was also before you had a cell phone or a Facebook account, and you probably didn’t know what Wifi was.
Expectations for Manning were high. His father was NFL Hall-of-Famer, Archie Manning. Peyton had won the Heisman Trophy playing for the University of Tennessee, and he was the number one draft pick. By some measures his debut was not a disappointment. He completed 21 of 37 passes for an impressive 302 yards. One of his throws was a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
Then again, Manning was intercepted three times, including one that Terrell Buckley ran back 21 yards for a touchdown. And more importantly, Manning and his Colts lost to Miami 24-15. Indianapolis went 3-13 for the season
After the game Harrison told the Philadelphia Tribune (Harrison graduated from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia.) “Peyton Manning is going to be a good quarterback. Right now he is still learning the game. He should have a big impact on our team. I know a lot of people will have a chance to see him play.”
At the Orange Bowl on January 30, 1983, John Riggins rushed for a Super Bowl record 166 yards (on 36 attempts, also a Super Bowl Record). He scored a touchdown (a 43 yard rush) and caught a pass for 15 yards. His 181 yards for the game were five more than the whole Miami Dolphins team was able to muster that day.
Super Bowl XVII was the culmination of a strike-shortened season that saw the Red Skins successfully working their way to the NFL championship by surviving a four-round 16-team tournament.
For Washington, it was their first Super Bowl championship and only their third title in the history of the franchise. The Boston Redskins lost the NFL championship game to the Green Bay Packers (21-6) in 1936. The following year, the Red Skins, having moved to Washington, delighted their new host city with championship win against the Chicago Bears (28-21).
In 1940, the Bears mercilessly avenged that loss when they defeated Washington 73-0. The Red Skins got over though. They faced the Bears again for the championship in 1942 and won the game 14-6. Washington and Chicago were back at it again the following year and this time it was the Bears turn to be champions (41-21). Prior to their 1983 Super Bowl win, the Red Skins made one last appearance in a championship game, a 15-14 loss to the Cleveland Rams.
Want to start an argument or at least spirited discussion in San Franisco? Just say Steve Young or Joe Montana. That’s all you have to say. Then prepare yourself to hear “the talking points.” Montana won more games. Young had a higher quarterback rating. Montana was better in the post season. Young was a better runner. It goes on and on.
Before Super Bowl XXIX on January 29, 1995, there was no argument. Even though Young had just won his second MVP award, he was considered to be a good quarterback, maybe a great one, but he was not Joe Montana.
Then, against an over matched San Diego Chargers team, Steve Young completed 24 out of 36 passes (no interceptions) for 325 yards. And, he completed six touchdown passes, breaking Montana’s Super record.(The 49ers won the game 49-26.)
With Young at the helm, the 49ers ripped through the postseason, totaling 131 points in three games. He finally can enjoy the silence of the naysayers who said he would never measure up to Montana. In the one game that counted, Young was as good as Montana ever was. Read more Washington Post
Even the naysayers can’t deny that in Super Bowl XXIX, for a fleeting moment, Young was no longer the guy who replaced Joe Montana. He was Steve Young: Super Bowl MVP. Read more NYDailynews.com