The national football League is over 100 years old, and in that time, football fans have enjoyed some breathtaking games, spectacular plays, some of the most colorful athletes we’ve ever known, and more than a few moments of spectator sport agony.
In 1994, The NFL participated in publishing a huge coffee table book reflecting on the first 75 years of the league. And to write the forward to that book, they chose legendary Chicago bears, middle linebacker Dick Butkus.
Now I grew up in the Chicago area, so I knew the name Dick butkus very well — and his reputation. An opponent once said that when he was tackling you, Dick Butkus was aiming not to put you in the hospital but the cemetery.
But when I met him to talk about that book, I found him to be a very warm and personable guy with lots of fun stories.
So here now, from 1994, Dick Butkus
Dick Butkus celebrated his 79th birthday last week. He’s active in several charities through the Butkus Foundation.
Last week the National Football League and its fans lost a truly iconic figure, Don Shula, the all-time winningest NFL coach, died at the age of 90.
I met Don Shula in 1995, just a few months before the start of what would be his final season coaching in the NFL. He had written a book on coaching and leadership, along with Ken Blanchard, the prolific author who [s best known for his book “The One Minute Manager.”
Here now, from 1995, Don Shula and Ken Blanchard:
To this day, the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that Don Shula coached is still the only team that’s ever put together a perfect, undefeated season.
The Kansas City Chiefs are meeting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs were also in the very first Super Bowl, in 1967.
But it was their misfortune that year to be playing the Green Bay Packers, who are led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, as well as MVP of Super Bowl II Ithe following year.
I met Bart Starr in 1987, when he wrote a memoir of not just his years with the Packers, but his college career, his childhood, if you supposed to Green Bay career.
So here now, from 1987, Super Bowl 1 MVP Bart Starr:
Now the NFL hands out the Bart Starr Award, to a player of outstanding character.
Very few professional athletes are best remembered for the game, or the play, that ended their career. But Joe Theismann maybe one of them.
It was on this date, November 18th, 1985 — 35 years ago — that Joe Theismann sustained a gruesome, career-ending injury before a national TV audience.
It was the second quarter of the Monday night game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants, at Washington’s RFK Stadium. Theismann, the Redskin quarterback, called a a “flea flicker” play, and seconds later was tackled by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants.
The impact snapped Theismann’s lower right leg in half.
He never played football again.I met him two years later, after he had written a book about his football career an d the play that ended it..
So here now, from 1987, Joe Theismann:
Joe Theismann is 71 now. You can still see him as an analyst on the NFL Network, and he’s a popular motivational speaker.