Tag Archives: abc sports

“A Football Family Reunion for the Ages; Ken Stabler’s NFL HOF Induction”

 

ken stabler hof bustA family reunion for the ages.

In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.

With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.

With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night.   All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681148/Ken-Stabler-Enshrinement

Brett Favre’s Moment:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681185/Hall-of-Fame-QB-Brett-Favre-shares-a-story-about-Ken-Stabler

Why He’s Loved So Much:

I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.

When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich.   He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.

Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.

 

 

Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:

Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.

If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.

Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules?   Now you understand OUR excitement.   As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room.   The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”

A Leader to the End:

The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way.   He was a leader on the field and off.   Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away.   Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.

“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”

The Closest Team in the NFL:

Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were.   Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.

Jim Jamz:

We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s.   I visited them recently.

Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.

“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us.   Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”

After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”

It sure does Mr. C.   It sure does.

 

“Tyler Summitt’s Affair & Resignation; How The Media & College Basketball Dropped the Ball”

pat & tyler summitt
Tyler & Pat Summitt After A National Championship Win

After Tyler Summitt was fired as head coach of the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team for an affair that he had with a player, the anger and outrage in the media was epic.  Looking back though, they sure didn’t act that way when he got hired.  With rumors of a possible pregnancy also looming, there is much pain to go around.

When Summitt was hired by Athletic Director Tommy McClelland, he called the hire a home run.  The media came to Ruston in droves wanting to know more about the golden child of icon Pat Summitt.  Many praised his maturity, drive and character.  Those same people are now shredding him to bits.

I remember a few nasty comments directed at me when Tyler was hired.  I posted on social media one statement; LOL what a joke.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN W has been very outspoken about the present situation; and rightfully so; but she sure wasn’t that outraged when he was originally hired.  Here is an interview with her and west coast writer Michelle Smith when Tyler Summitt was hired.

http://espn.go.com/espnw/video/10717147/louisiana-tech-hires-tyler-summitt

(Here is another article announcing the rebirth of LTU basketball under Tyler Summitt.  This is from last year.  ESPN W’s Lynn Olszowy wrote it in 12/2014)

http://espn.go.com/womens-college-basketball/story/_/id/12072301/tyler-summitt-trying-turn-louisiana-tech

pat and tyler summitt

When Tyler Was Hired:

Let’s be real; the baby boomer’s love to spoil their kids.  With some parents it’s almost a competition.  But in reality it’s created a very self-absorbed generation who is used to their parents paving the way.

Tyler was hired because his last name was Summitt, but when he was hired, only a handful of reporters were outraged.  Name another 23 year old on the planet that is going to get a head basketball coaching job at a major college university.  Gordon Ramsey will become a vegetarian before that happens again.  Most reporters said all the politically correct things that they could.

It reminds me of the great speech that actor Ralph Fiennes gave in the movie “Quiz Show”.  Even though it was not part of the actual statement from Charles Van Doren who was implicated in the scandal, it is a telling sign of what our society at times has become.

“I’ve been acting a role, maybe all my life, of thinking that I’ve done more, accomplished more, and produced more than I have. I have had all the breaks. I have stood on the shoulders of life, and I’ve never gotten down into the dirt to build, to erect a foundation of my own. I have flown too high on borrowed wings. Everything came too easy.”

 Ralph Fiennes playing Charles Van Doren in “Quiz Show”

A Slap in the Face for Those That Deserve Jobs:

When Tyler was hired I literally was in shock.  What a slap in the face it was to all of the assistant coaches who wait years for their big break.  I’m sure many around the country shook their heads when Tyler Summitt waltzed into this job.

Below is the resume of ex associate head coach for Tennessee’s women’s basketball Kyra Elzy.  After 20 years of being in the college game she has never even been offered a head coaching spot.  Now she is finally being rumored to possibly be hired as head coach of UCF.  She’s been in the game almost as long as Tyler has been alive.

Coaching Experience

Tennessee Lady Vols

  • Associate Head Coach (2015-Present)
  • Assistant Coach (2012-15)

Kentucky

  • Associate Head Coach (2010-12)
  • Assistant Coach (2008-10)

Kansas

  • Assistant Coach (2004-08)

Western Kentucky

  • Assistant Coach (2002-04)

Virginia Tech

  • Administrative Assistant (2001-02)

Collegiate Playing Experience

  • Tennessee (1996-2001)
  • 1997 & 1998 NCAA Champs
  • 1998, 1999, 2000 & 2001 SEC Champs
  • 1998, 1999 & 2000 SEC Tourney Champs

Elzy also has been lauded for her recruiting skills which are huge at the college level.  She’s helped keep Tennessee’s program afloat after Pat Summitt retired.  How in the world can she not get a job but 23 year old Tyler can be the head coach of the Lady Techsters?  Sheer madness.  I watched about 5 interviews back when he was hired and when they started bringing up all the notes he took and how he followed his mom, I looked as confused as Jessica Simpson at a spelling bee.  Who were they kidding?

kyra elzy pat summitt
Pat Summitt & Kyla Elzy

Our Weirdness Towards Cheating:

Cheating among college basketball coaches is not new.  LSU head coach Pokey Chatman had a bizarre situation when one of her ex players; and present assistants; threw her under the bus and said they were in a relationship.  Supposedly even after she did that, they were still close.  The details were never really discussed.  Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino had sex in a restaurant after hours and then paid for the woman to have an abortion so his wife wouldn’t find out.  She then tried to blackmail him into giving her millions.  Newly retired Wisconsin Men’s coach Bo Ryan’s supposed mistress is on the attack.  He mysteriously resigned.  That’s just off the top of my head.  I’m sure there are more stories.  Heck, here in California our Governor (yes we can be dumb) had a baby from one of his hired help and his wife Maria Shriver within a month of each other.

Of course we give ALL of those people a pass; but a dumb 25 year old who is in over his head is the devil.  Give me a break.

I see a lot of self-righteous grandstanding out there in the media about this story, but let’s be real.  Cheating is now a part of many peoples lifestyle.  There are sites now for married people that want to cheat anonymously with millions of people on it.  Celeb’s & athletes cheat all the time but hey they are famous so it’s all good to some.  Over half of American married people have cheated.  We are lauding a great NBA basketball player right now who is retiring and his sexual escapades are of legend.  Glass houses.

Many US presidents had someone on the side, and only God knows about the Senate and the House.  It’s as wrong as could be but we’ve created this mess.  Having morals is uncool to some, especially the younger you are.  If you want a hit  tv show nowadays you need 3 things; Sexy people, sex, and violence.  The Waltons’ isn’t playing anymore.  In fact the worse a character is the more we like them.  From Breaking Bad to Tony Soprano; we eat it up like it’s got the antidote.

The Deeper Pain:

Forget about sports for a minute.  Again, there have been rumors that the girl Tyler had an affair with is pregnant.  I’m not going to say her name or get into the details but I feel beyond sad for Tylers wife.  To realize that the whole world knows about your husband cheating is pretty rough.  Add the fact that they may financially and emotionally now have to take care of a kid that he may have fathered because he cheated, and this is a bad dream for this girl.  The immature comments of one of the girls on the team who was first suspected to be the person he cheated with; along with players parents getting more & more into the drama while talking to the media; leads to even more pain.  And don’t get me started on all the fools that have unprotected sex.  If that was the case for Tyler and this girl, then you can’t get any dumber.

I feel bad for Tennessee fans. They love Pat Summitt like UCLA loves John Wooden.  Tyler was the golden boy and fans already had hopes that he would someday coach the Lady Volunteers.  I also feel bad for Louisiana Tech fans.  They’ve had some lean years and this will set them back again emotionally.  The pain of this disgrace happening to a once proud program has hurt a lot of people.  Recruit signings have been put on hold.

I don’t feel bad for the administration and AD Tommy McClelland of Louisiana Tech though.  What a stupid hire.  If I was in charge heads would straight up roll.  LTU needs to clean house and start anew in my opinion.

And of course we all ache for Pat Summitt.  Inflicted at a relatively young age with an insidious condition that many are saying is hard to watch progress.  The pain that she must feel after she spent so many years creating a program based on toughness, discipline, and character is hard to think about.  She deserved better than this.  I’m sure Tyler feels terrible for the pain his selfish act is causing to the one person that always put light into his eyes.

My Hopes for Tyler:

If I was Tyler’s friend I would say that your resignation was weak.  I’d do another pressor or even a Youtube video turning off the comments section; and tell him to be much more contrite.  I’d also tell him to go back to the drawing board.  I would take a year off and then go to a Division 2 or 3 school and start over.  I would make accountability my goal.  I also would get out of the woman’s game and coach men.  In reality it’s going to be awful hard for him to ever get this opportunity again but it will be a chance for him to get his life back together.  Financially he’s set for life.  He was the sole heir and Pat chose the option for her pension that gives Tyler 14,000 a year for the rest of his life.  He also got her cars and her house that was put up for sale.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/college/ut/2016/08/25/pat-summitts-leaves-personal-property-tyler-summitt/89317990/

He screwed up big time.  If an ordinary person cheats it’s bad enough.  If a son of an icon cheats the pitch forks and torches will follow and it’s out in the open for all to see.  Like most sons he adores his mom, and now he’s brought a shame that has stained their name.  My hopes are that he humbly takes time to take responsibility and mature in a way he hasn’t yet.  He needs to man up and fix this.  And maybe someday; after he has paid his dues; he will stand on his own two feet and no longer fly on borrowed wings.

“Oakland Raiders Defensive Players Who Should/Shouldn’t be in the NFL Hall Of Fame”

 

jack-tatum-the-assassin

Yesterday we looked at Bill King, Tom Flores, and the Raiders offensive players that might or might not be placed in the Hall of Fame.  Today we will look at players on the defensive end who have been overlooked.

I was really happy to see so many eyes opened on social media yesterday and so many discussions on some of the players I put in my article.  It’s great and fun to discuss and many put some very intelligent thoughts into their responses.

 Eye Opening: 

I’ve tried to do my part of showing people about grudges and biases that writers and voters to the HOF may have had on some players who could possibly be inducted.  I never really understood totally just how vicious and deep some biases were, especially with east coast writers.  It was eye opening.

For the last year and a half I’ve researched the stories of Raider players that might get into the hall and seen how clueless or how vengeful writers are to some of them; especially Raiders.  Ken Stabler and Jack Tatum went through hell with them, and others have been black listed and will never see the HOF even though they deserve it.

Let’s also remember too, if a west coast team plays at night, usually east coast writers won’t even see them play.  They read about the game or look at highlights.  They are in bed sleeping.  They won’t admit that but let’s be real.

Without further ado, let’s look into some of these players credentials and make the argument for or against their inductions.

 

 

HALL OF FAME COACHES
Jack Tatum from Ohio State attends the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame class of 2004 induction dinner in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004. (AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel)

Jack Tatum:

When Chris Berman and Chris Collinsworth were talking about players that should be in the HOF a couple of years ago, they both said one guy; Jack Tatum.  And Chris Collinsworth looked like he saw the Headless Horseman while saying it.

The running joke in the NFL in the 1970’s for NFL fans was that when you looked in your closet at night you don’t look for the boogeyman; you look for Jack Tatum.  Just like Dick Butkus, Jack Tatum revolutionized his position.  He was 225 pounds of educated, tough muscle from Woody Hayes University, Ohio St.  He never said much on the field; said less off of it; but wow did he change football and every safety want’s to be him.

“Jack was my guy”, said a proud Ronnie Lott.  “Everything I did I tried to copy from him.  He was the man”.

NFL Bad Boy Conrad Dobler was amazed at Tatum.  “Jack hit people so hard.  It was like when he hit them they would not be hurt but they would be buried”.  Running mate and trash talker of the Soul Patrol George Atkinson said, “Even I could not believe the force he hit people with.  It sounded like a car wreck when he hit someone. His angles and his timing were perfect.  No one wanted to come over the middle because it was like being hit by a truck.  I’ve never seen anything like it”.

Tatum could take on Tackles and stop the run, or eliminate a WR so that they would never want to catch a ball over the middle again.  He was so tough that if he was on the other side of the field and knew he wouldn’t make the play, he would go after anyone in his area just to hit them.  Iconic Dolphins WR Paul Warfield once said, “if you didn’t have your head on a swivel against the Raiders, you would not finish the game.  They were that scary.”

In his famous hit in the Super Bowl against the Vikings, people could not believe Sammy White caught the ball.  Viking great Fran Tarkenton explained the play.  “I was watching this helmet fly by me.  For a split second I literally thought Sammy’s head was in it.  I never heard a harder hit.  How he caught that is beyond me”.

Sadly in a meaningless exhibition game he hit Patriots WR Darryl Stingley in a very legal hit.  In fact the NFL and even the Patriots coaching staff went over the film dozens of times and admitted Tatum did nothing wrong.  Stingley was paralyzed and his family was very angry at Tatum.  Tatum said he tried to reach out to the family but they refused him.  John Madden actually visited Stingley instead and said Jack never got over it.  The east coast media; especially Boston; shredded Tatum in the papers for years and vowed he’d never be in the HOF.  He sadly died at the age of 61.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES YES YES

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

lyle alzado

Lyle Alzado:

Lyle Alzado roamed the field like a volcano ready to erupt.  His Raider teammates called him “Three Mile Lyle” after the explosion of the nuclear plant Three Mile Island.  No one knew when he’d blow up.

He grew up with an abusive father.  Once when a sibling was getting beaten, Lyle at the age of 15 protected them and hit his father and broke his jaw.  Lyle’s father called the police and pressed charges; assault.  He was arrested.  The scars on his soul were deep and unexpressed.

His life was one big tornado.  In an amazing career, this great pass rusher ended with 97 sacks.  Lyle is a hall of famer through and through but there is a saying if you work for or work with the NFL; Protect the Shield.

Just like with police and politicians, they feel you keep your mouth closed and Lyle didn’t.  While he was dying of brain cancer and losing over 100 pounds, he did interviews talking about his immense use of steroids.  Players hated him for it because it tarnished them; the NFL hated him for it because it embarrassed them.  A year after his death, the NFL started testing for steroids, many say due to the backlash of Lyle’s speaking out.

He sadly died at the age of 43.  Many said he was always looking for happiness and peace, but never really found it.  I hope he finally has.

Deserves to be in the HOF: For Sure

Will He be Voted into HOF:  No

Rod-Martin-Dominic-DiSaia-ESPN

Rod Martin:

I remember talking to an east coast writer and asking him what he thought about Rod Martin maybe going into the hall of fame.  His answer?  “Who is Rod Martin”.  See what I’m telling you?

Don’t get me started on how clueless some Americans are in our history. Sports is included.  Why sports fans don’t educate their kids on the history of their teams is beyond me.  We should have more of an appreciation of the foundation of a team and not just live life like we’re 15 year old girls. For the most part as a nation we are clueless if it happened before 1990.  (Rant over).

Rod Martin had a long and illustrious career as linebacker of the Oakland Raiders.  He had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions against the Eagles.  People also forget he played a key role in the Washington win in the Super Bowl too with many key plays including stopping John Riggins on a 3rd and 4th and short, once near the goal line.  He also batted down key passes and picked up a fumble.

He was AFC defensive player of the year one time and a pro bowler twice.  He was a mainstay for the Raiders and in the biggest games he played his best.  One of the forgotten Raiders who should be better remembered.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: No

john matuszak

John Matuszak:

He once overdosed when he was with Kansas City being taken to the hospital while his coach gave him chest compressions on the way to the hospital.  Raider staff members had to sleep in front of his hotel room to make sure he wouldn’t leave at night and party.  Fans saw him as a big ton of fun, but at times players saw him as a big pain.  A nice guy off of drugs, but a whirlwind while on them.

Matt Millen wrote in his book at what a pain John was at times.  He used drugs often.  Qaaludes, Valium, pot, cocaine, pain killers, alcohol.  Nothing was off limits when the Tooz was around.  His partying was of legend.  The night before the Raiders played the Eagles in the Super Bowl he said he would patrol Bourbon Street to make sure Raider players were in at a decent hour.  He ended up partying until 3 a.m. and was fined $1000.  Disciplined Dick Vermeil told the national media, “if that were an Eagle, his ass would be on a plane home by now”.

In the 1970’s the strong man competitions on ABC were extremely popular.  Most trained over 6 months for the events.  Just to pass time, Matuszak entered into one competition; without a day of training.  Most of the competitors kind of laughed at such arrogance.  After the smoke cleared, he placed in the top 10 at 9th.  “He’s super human”, said one competitor.  “I really never saw anything like him”.

Once when the Tooz was arrested, Ken Stabler had to bail him out.  When he got to the Police Station Stabler said, “Drunk, cowboy hat, cowboy boots and no clothes.  Yep, that’s my roomie; I’d know him anywhere”.

On the field John was a great player one minute, and a disappearing act the next.  He was a good guy when sober and he played well, but it was hard to get him when he wasn’t high off the field.  He was an inconsistent but solid player.  No telling how good this 6′ 8″ giant could have been.  Sadly at the age of 38 he died of an accidental overdose of pain killers.  A small amount of cocaine was found in his system.  Sadly 2 years later one of his sisters Dawn passed away suddenly.  Their family went through a lot of pain.

For many he will forever be fondly known as Sloth in the movies Goonies.  The stories of his kindness are of legend.  It took 4-5 hours to put on his makeup.  The kids in the movie adored the Tooz and they constantly played pranks on him.  He never said a word and just laughed.  He said once, “How can you get mad at kids who are just having the time of their lives”.  One of the kids said, “I saw him play football on television and he looked so mean.  But with us he was just our Giant friend; he was Sloth to us”.  He had several acting accomplishments including a memorable scene in North Dallas Forty.  He was well liked by a lot of people on the sets who still talk of him fondly.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

lester hayes

Lester Hayes:

When Hayes came out of college, many said he wasn’t very smart.  What the Raiders found out is that he had a stuttering problem.  Now Hayes will speak to anyone that will listen while showing a great personality.

Hayes was a pro bowler 5 times; all pro once; AFC player of the year once; single season record for interceptions in a year (13), and named to the prestigious all decade team for 1980.

It’s not even worth talking about; just like Branch and Tatum, of course Lester should be in.  I feel embarrassed to even defend it.  Eventually he will be but again, it’s a joke for him to wait so long.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

 

“Which Oakland Raider Players Are Next Into the HOF; Who’s In; Who’s Not”

US PRESSWIRE Sports Archive
Aug 1, 1992; Canton, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks at his induction ceremony to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. FILE PHOTO; Mandatory Credit: US PRESSWIRE

 

Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/276/842/889/induct-oakland-raider-wr-cliff-branch-into-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=14680187&cid=twitter

 

On a warm summer day in Canton, Ohio after the enshrinement ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Oakland Raider owner Al Davis was doing one of his last interviews in public. Looking fragile and using a walker, Mr. Davis was talking to an ESPN reporter when Jerry Jones walked by to say hi and tell people how great Al is.   It was obvious that both men could see that time was not an ally of Mr. Davis and they talked accordingly.

“If I have any regrets in life, one of them is not doing enough to get the great Raiders of the past into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We had so many good ones and that has to be fixed.  We need to do a better job.”

Let’s face it. Every team has a long list of players that fans want in the Hall of Fame.   I think I was reading yesterday that Denver only has 4 players in the HOF. That’s amazing.

I’ve always had the ability to be unbiased about things.  Whether it’s politics or sports teams or anything.  I’ll be honest about it and be secure in the answer.  Let’s face it though; most are very biased and they see what they want.  I need to be objective when I look at things to have integrity.

So without further ado, lets do an unbiased look at Raiders that may or may not make the NFL HOF.  Let’s first look at the coach and the offense today.  Tomorrow we will look at defense.

 

Bill King:

“If Bill King was in New York, Chicago, or Boston, they would have a statue built of him already”.

Gary Radnich, KNBR Radio

(Please Click on watch on You Tube to watch the above video)

Above is Bill King’s amazingly funny call of the Holy Roller.  One of the great calls of all time.  I’m going to write an article on Bill King in the future but he really deserves to be in at least 2 Hall of Fames; NBA and NFL. Another west coast snub. Some east coast sports writers don’t even know who he is. NFL films icon Steve Sabol said Bill was his favorite announcer.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES; A huge one!

Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful; absolute outrage.

 

al-davis-bryant-gumble-tom-flores_pg_600

Tom Flores:

The Raiders didn’t need the Rooney rule. If Al Davis thought you could do the job, he’d hire you. That’s what he felt when he hired Tom Flores to be his head coach.

Tom Flores was a branch off the amazing Sid Gillman coaching tree which is huge and included Al Davis. He won a Championship as an assistant, player (backup to Len Dawson’s 1969 KC Chiefs team) and a coach.

In 12 years of coaching he had 6 winning seasons and 2 Super Bowl wins and was 97-87. He also was 8-3 in post season.   A huge issue with voters is in his last 5 years of coaching the Raiders and the Seahawks, he was only 27-52.

This is a tough one and I think the east coast media bias again is hugely an issue. Weeb Ewbank who was a good coach is 1 game over .500 but is in the HOF.  He did win 130 games though. Where was his biggest coaching stint? NY Jets.

I’m on the fence to be honest.  Tom Flores doesn’t have a lot of wins and he really didn’t do well the last part of his career, but his post season record is stellar.  Tough one.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Still Deciding

Will be Voted into HOF:  50/50; maybe

cliff branch

Cliff Branch:

One of the great deep threats of all time. One of the few players that didn’t lose speed with age. Kenny Stabler said in one interview, “We were great.   I had a great offensive line, great running backs and receivers. I mean Cliff Branch could out run half the cars in the parking lot.”

John Madden would laugh and say, “Cliff in the early years would tell me during the 3rd quarter to throw to him because he could beat his guy.   In about his 6th year we’d be warming up and he’d tell me that Ken needed to throw to him because he knew he could beat his guy. I’d laugh and say Cliff you don’t even know who your guy is yet!”.

When Washington’s Daryl Green hit Cliff in the first Raider play in the Super Bowl to try and intimidate him, Branch smiled and shook his finger back and forth in front of his face. No one could intimidate him or the Raiders.

He has so many clutch catches in big games you can’t count them. His catch and long run for a touchdown in the Sea of Hands game helped turn the game around. It’s almost embarrassing having to prove he belongs in the HOF.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES, YES, YES

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs:  Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Raiders
LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 13: Running back Bo Jackson #34 of Los Angeles Raiders stands on the sidelines during the 1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 13, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won 20-10. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Bo Jackson:

In a genius move, Al Davis drafted Bo Jackson in the 7th round the year after Bo refused to play for Tampa Bay. He told Bo he could play two sports, something the rest of the league refused to do. Bo Played only 4 years. He never ran for 1000 yards and ended his career with only 2782 yards after a hip injury shortened his career. Although a streaking comet, there isn’t a chance he’s a HOF player.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No Way

Will be Voted into HOF: Not a chance

jim plunkett

Jim Plunkett:

If you ask someone does Jim Plunkett deserve to be in the HOF and most will say sure, he won two Super Bowls. But lets look at the facts.

Jim Plunkett was NEVER named as an All Pro. He NEVER made a pro bowl and was NEVER considered any where near the best quarterback of his era. In contrast Ken Stabler was voted to the all decade team, was all pro several times, was an MVP and even his competitors say he’s the best QB of that era.

As a starting QB he was only 72-72. He has only 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. His lifetime passing % was only 52%. Some like to compare him to Joe Namath and some of the numbers are nearly equal but there are others that aren’t close. Namath was an all pro; 4 time AFL all star; two times Player of the Year; two time MVP and also on the AFL all time team.

Plunkett threw for over 2600 yards in his career only one time and never threw for over 3000 yards. Namath threw for over 2600 yards 6 times; twice throwing for over 3000 yards and once for over 4000 yards which was unheard of at the time.

In the two Super Bowl wins that Jim played in, the defense in 8 quarters allowed only 19 points. Against the Eagles he won the MVP and even he’s admitted Rod Martin; who had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions; should have been MVP.   Plunkett completed only 13 passes for 261 yards with 80 of those yards coming on a short pass and long run by Kenny King. Against Washington, the defense, offensive line and Marcus Allen were the kings of that game. He completed 16 passes for 172 yards in that game. Saying Jim Plunkett won these games isn’t true.

There isn’t a better story than the Plunkett family story and wow is he a great guy. I really like him but he’s not a HOF player in my eyes. You can’t vote someone into the HOF as one of the all time greats when he is not even considered that great in his own era. No pro bowls but a hall of fame? Doesn’t make sense.

Deserves to be in the HOF: NO

Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful

Todd Christensen - 1996
Todd Christensen – 1996

Todd Christensen:

Todd Christensen was a son of a scholar and he was extremely smart. Some felt he was arrogant but in reality he was a good guy that just came off as such. Most NFL players didn’t talk like a scholar so he turned people off. It’s sad he’s not remembered more. He died tragically 2 years ago @ the age of 57.

He twice lead the league in catches. In his best year he caught 95 passes for 1153 yards. For a 4 year span he caught 349 catches which at that time was an NFL record. He was the first TE to ever catch 90 passes in 2 consecutive years. Although he didn’t play long enough to be a HOF player, he was an excellent Raider and one of the best in the NFL for a 5 year span. RIP.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

dave dalby

Dave Dalby:

When you replace a legend like Center Jim Otto, you better be good; Dave Dalby was.

If you ask Raider players and the fans that he was around, there wasn’t a kinder person.   If you are a person of faith, Dave’s story is pretty amazing and you can read below.

https://sites.google.com/site/silverblackministry/dave-dave-dalby-double-d-50

He played 14 years without missing a game. He was all pro 1 time and has 3 Super Bowl rings; one as a backup and 2 as a starter.

He died in 2002.   He was only 51. He had become addicted to alcohol and struggled a lot after his career.   His alcohol level was .15 when he floored his van into a tree. A truly sad ending for a kind Raider who always was willing to help others. I see memories from Raider fans and players online even today. He’s very missed. RIP Dave. And I really mean that.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

Steve Wisniwski

Steve Wisniewski:

If there was ever a guy that was born in the wrong decade, it was the “Wiz”. Wisniewski was a rugged player who most considered dirty.   He would have fit right into the Raiders of old.

He was an 8 time pro bowler and voted to the 1990’s all decade team. The problem isn’t really with Steve it’s with the era. The Raiders had some lean years during his time and he also played during an era where there were many all time great guards who played. Steve also had a bad reputation for his dirty play which will take a little time to get over. It took a long time for him to even be nominated but I think he’s a HOF player.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

Ron Wolf enters the Hall of Fame With Tim Brown; The Greatest Raider of Them All

ron wolf Tim brown

The Greatest Raider of them All.

Other than Al Davis, NO ONE ever made an impact on the Oakland Raiders like Ron Wolf did.

When you ask a Raider fan who is the greatest Raider of all time, you will get several different answers. Maybe you will hear Ken Stabler, Art Shell or Gene Upshaw. Some may say Tim Brown or Marcus Allen or any of the other all time Raider greats like Jim Otto. In reality though, the greatest Raider of them all is Ron Wolf. If you are under 30 years old you are saying, “Who is Ron Wolf?”

Ron Wolf was one of the greatest evaluators of talent in the history of the NFL and now takes his place among the games greatest, being voted into the hall of fame. He was in charge of the draft and player personnel moves starting in 1963 for the Oakland Raiders. He was Al Davis quiet right hand man.

Wolf was the perfect fit to team up with Al Davis. He was the strong silent type who didn’t compete for attention with Mr. Davis. It is fairly common knowledge that Wolf was one of the few people that Al Davis actually listened to, and followed. Under Wolf the Raiders scouting team was the best in football. Many of the great Raiders of all time like Stabler, Shell, Upshaw, Tatum and Cliff Branch were all key choices by Ron Wolf. Wolf and Davis had no peers when it came to drafting and picking up castoffs that other teams gave up on.

In 1975 the NFL approached Davis and Wolf and asked if Wolf could take over the GM position for the newly created Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wolf then went to Tampa Bay.

Wolf went on to be the architect of the Bucs. His first 3 drafts included hall of famer Leroy Selmon, the great USC running back Ricky Bell (whose career was cut short tragically by a terminal illness which took his life in 1984) and QB Doug Williams who eventually became the first black quarterback to ever win the Super bowl with the Washington Redskins. With these 3 key players they are still the fastest expansion team in the history of the post merger era to win a division, a playoff game, and host an NFC championship game.

Citing differences with the meddling Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse and head coach John McKay, Wolf came back to the Raiders before the 1980 season. In usual fashion the Raiders soon drafted players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long. Players that other teams said were reaches. Allen was considered a question mark by many because he was considered too slow and Long was thought to be a long shot due to him coming out of Villanova who no longer had football.

Ron Wolf’s mentoring tree is long and talented. He taught Packers GM Ted Thompson, Seahawks GM John Schneider, Chiefs GM John Dorsey, Washington GM Scot McCloughan, and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie.

Unfortunately though, Mr. Davis transformation had begun. He was obsessed with speed and the long ball trading popular Kenny Stabler for strong armed Dan Pastorini. When Pastorini bombed and lost his job to Jim Plunkett, Mr. Davis insisted on drafting another strong armed QB out of BYU named Marc Wilson. A few years later the Raiders drafted speedster Jessie Hester proclaiming him to be the next Cliff Branch.

What changed the NFL and the Raiders forever was in 1982, when Dallas Owner Tex Schramm asked the NFL competition committee to hold an evaluation time for all of the players, so all of the teams can evaluate them at the same time. Before that, teams had the option to share notes, films, and evaluations. Now players would be timed and rated on basic exercises and drills in gym shorts at the NFL combines. Al Davis loved it, especially the speed times. Ron Wolf, considering the Raiders evaluation of players to be superior, hated it. When he was asked once why he doesn’t share information or films with the rest of the league he said, “why would we; we know more than everyone else”. A true Raider.

As time went on in the 80’s their relationship strained. While Mr. Davis was obsessed with speed at wide receiver and defensive back, Wolf stuck to his roots of shoring up the defensive and offensive line. In the 70’s Al Davis coined the phrase, “the quarterback must go down, and must go down hard”. The key to that was a strong defensive front seven but Al Davis had gone away from that formula, obsessing about speedy defensive backs.

In 1991 Wolf left the Raiders to become the general manager of the Green Bay Packers. His first moves were to fire the coaching staff and to hire Mike Holmgren as his new head coach. He also traded for a little known quarterback playing in Atlanta by the name of Brett Favre. The Packers soon signed the biggest free agent on the market, Reggie White as well as Santana Dotson and Sean Jones. Wolf drafted another stud defensive lineman, “the gravedigger” Gilbert Brown. Their defensive line was a nightmare to stop.

In his 9 years as GM of the packers, Wolf had helped lead them to the second best record in the NFL (second only to Bill Walsh’s 49ers) and two Super Bowl appearances with one Super Bowl win.

Every team that Ron Wolf ran became a winner. During his glory days with the Raiders, no one could draft or evaluate talent like he did. The Raiders took players that other teams felt were not fast enough, not big enough or from very small schools that no one ever heard of. Some even had legal problems like WR Warren Wells who John Madden still says is the best player he ever coached, never having a season with less than 20 yards per catch. They cared about two things; can the person play football and can they be a part of a winner.

Last year during his daily interview on CBS sports in the bay area, John Madden said the unsung hero of the Raiders will always be Ron Wolf. Mr. Davis would allow him to draft players that fit the Raider mold. They both were on the same page and it was pure magic. The genius of Mr. Davis at that time was to trust Ron Wolf and the scouts and it helped create a winning formula. Together they lead the Raiders to not only the highest winning percentage in football, but the highest winning percentage of any sports franchise during a two and a half decade span. The first draft choice Mr. Davis made after Ron Wolf left was Todd Marinovich.

Ron Wolf takes his rightful place in the hall of fame. Every Raider fan, young and old, should appreciate the legacy and foundation that was created by Al Davis and Ron Wolf; the greatest Raider of them all.

Grading an Excellent Free Agency For the Oakland Raiders & the 1 Move that can Immediately Make Them a Playoff Contender:

curtis lofton

Excellent Grades for the Oakland Raiders in Free Agency & the 1 Move That Can Immediately Make Them a Playoff Contender:

Smile…….finally.

Much to the dismay of many Raider fans over the years, I don’t write like a homer; I’m real. I’m honest and I don’t over hype things which is done by 99% of Oakland Raider writers. I tell it like it is and in today’s world, that can be a turn off. That being said, when I say you need to be encouraged to be a Raider fan, you need to smile widely and give someone a high five.

In the twitterverse, many NFL fans grumbled when they admitted that I was right about most of the hot free agents not signing with their teams, especially Oakland Raider fans. Many want the sexy moves, but in reality things have slowly improved.  I also told them that there are many solid players still available that can be difference makers who don’t get all the publicity.

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has learned his lesson. Last year he waited way too long to sign players and in the end he literally gave money away to players that had little chance of helping the Raiders.   This year he was more aggressive.  He’s also going for youth, signing young players in the prime of their careers who can help the Raiders right now and in the future.  It takes character to admit and learn from mistakes.

Ron Wolf was a master at building teams and he taught Reggie McKenzie. No way is Reggie a hall of famer like Ron Wolf right now, but even with the hot free agents not signing with the Raiders, they have made great strides in the last 2 days at helping this team. Let’s look at the signings and then at the one move the Raiders can do to really start thinking about playoffs. Wow, did I just say that? Playoffs??? Yes I did.   Where is Jim Mora when you need him.   Let’s break down the signings so far.

Curtis Lofton, LB, New Orleans Saints

GRADE: A +

WOW; I LOVE this signing. Good attitude, toughness and talent. Want to know how good he is? Khalil Mack had 76 tackles last year and some Raider fans were losing their minds over him. Lofton had almost double that with 144 tackles last year. If you don’t know, now you know. This guy is good.

He’s a run stopping machine who has never missed a game since being drafted in 2008 and has been one of the top NFL tacklers since 2009. It’s no coincidence that when he left Atlanta, their defense started to go to pot. He’s still only 28.

Think of a little shorter Harry Carson from New York Giants lore. With Dan Williams and Lofton in the game, don’t expect much running up the middle.

Dan Williams DT, Arizona Cardinals:

GRADE: A

When Ron Wolf left the Raiders to eventually go to the Green Bay Packers, so did the philosophy of having a top defensive line in Oakland. So also went the fortunes of the Oakland Raiders.   Fast cornerbacks don’t build a defense; a good defensive line does. The signing of Dan Williams hopefully has the Raiders going back to what made them good; a defensive line that can rush the passer and stop the run.

It was reported this morning that the Raiders had signed Dan Williams. He is a stud run stopper who helped the Cardinals become an excellent football team. Their defensive line carried this team even when they lost key offensive starters and were down to their 3rd string quarterback.

Dan Williams is a HUGE non sexy signing. The average fan looks at sacks, hype and reputation, but hard core fans know this is a great addition. The Raiders DL last year couldn’t rush the passer or stop the run.   Unless that changes, nothing changes.   This helps a lot.

Roy Helu RB, Washington Redskins:

GRADE: B

This is a solid signing. Helu isn’t an every down back but he’s an excellent pass catcher and third down back.   I think the Raiders do not see Latavius Murray as an every down back so this is a nice addition to the offense.   He averaged more yards in third down situations when he touched the ball than any other player in the NFL.

Malcolm Smith LB, Seattle Seahawks:

Grade: C+

For the money they spent on him, I personally didn’t get this one unless they are going to make him a situational player. With the signing of Lofton, I could see Lofton playing on first and second down and Malcolm Smith playing more on passing downs.

When the Seahawks were healthy he was a backup who struggled against the run but was excellent in pass coverage.

In the famous playoff game against Green Bay last year he barely played and in reality he only played in 28% of the defensive plays for Seattle in 2014.   He’s fast and has great instinct against the pass but Seattle never considered him an every down linebacker.   He will get his chance now to play more and time will tell. A former Super Bowl MVP in 2013 (insert Larry Brown jokes here) who will get his chance to prove he’s an every down player.

Rodney Hudson C, Kansas City Chiefs:

Grade: A-

Wow; 9 million a year for a center? Well that’s what the Raiders paid for Hudson who is considered a very good NFL center.   When you are not a good team sometimes you have to overpay.  Hudson is equally good in pass protection and in the run game.

He’s young and physical and is an expensive signing but the good news is he’s a solid NFL football player who will help the offensive line. Steve Wisniewski is a better guard than center and this is an upgrade. Gabe Jackson is all that and a bag of chips so the left side of the Raiders line looks very solid.

Lee Smith, TE, Buffalo Bills

GRADE: C

He’s a one dimensional run blocking tight end. If he’s in the game you are going to run the ball. That sounds pretty predictable. In 56 starts he has only 20 catches. After watching the Raiders run on first down all the time with no audibles or imagination on offense last year, you’d think they’d sign a veteran that at least can catch the ball more. Not the worst signing though but they could have done better.

What Does All This Mean and What Needs To Be Done Next?

What it means is that the Raiders are going to be a better football team.   A .500 season is very realistic and anything above that would be whip cream on top.

What it also means is that the Raiders are almost for sure picking a WR with their first pick of the NFL draft. Most have Alabama’s Amari Cooper going to the Raiders and that is a probability.

I LOVE Sammy Watkins but I like Cooper. He had massive numbers in a conference with the best college defensive backs (and a shaky throwing quarterback), and I like him over Kevin White; the wide receiver from West Virginia.  White played in the Big 12 where defense is non-existent.

There is a very long list of failed Big 12 wide receivers with big numbers in spread offenses with failed NFL careers which scares me, so I’m not a White fan. Jaelen Strong has NFL written all over him. The big and physical wide out was a stud at Arizona St. and I like him as well.

Let’s face it, the “crack” of the Oakland Raiders is defensive backs with fast 40 yard dash times so expect another one to be chosen in the first 3 rounds for the Raiders. Even when they have huge holes elsewhere they have a 13 year history of drafting defensive backs that fail in the NFL. With every good defensive back they pick, there are several bad ones.   Some like redheads; the Raiders like defensive backs with fast 40 times in the NFL combines.

In the first 3 picks though, expect a defensive lineman to be picked as well.   With another defensive lineman the Raiders can have a 5 man rotation which should work well against pass happy teams like Denver and San Diego.

The Player That Can Immediately Make Them a Playoff Contender:

This isn’t a shocker; it’s Greg Hardy. With all the drama surrounding him, he won’t be as expensive as before but he’ll command a lot of money.   Forget Demarco Murray; forget all the other players; Greg Hardy is the one force that can transform the new Raiders into a possible playoff team immediately.

I will admit; I think he’s a scumbag; what he did was unforgivable and if he didn’t have money to pay off his victim he’d be doing serious jail time.   This isn’t church though, this is the NFL. It’s about winning and this guy is a machine.

If the Raiders can sign him, I think now you have the makings of a stud defense. Look at teams that turned things around quickly; Arizona, San Francisco during the Harbaugh days; Seattle, Carolina even with a terrible offense; these teams had one thing in common;   GREAT defensive line play. If the Raiders can pull off signing Hardy, then you really can lose your mind with excitement. Stop the run and rush the passer with 4 guys is the way to win in the NFL.   The Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl with their DL leading the way and winning their games that way alone.  Seattle is the king of that now.

With a dominating front 7 on defense, your offense just needs to be average for you to win immediately.  It won’t win Super Bowls, but you will improve greatly, and fast.  The next year you can finish your work on the offense.

As we have seen, most of the articles and predictions and rumors about free agency were wrong as they are every year. That stuff bores me to tears to be honest but the actual signings always make things interesting and for the first time in many a moon, Raider fans should actually be happy and encouraged instead of just artificially hopeful. Things are looking up in Oakland. Now get Greg Hardy.

“In 3 Minutes the Two Most Famous Goals in World Cup History Shocked the Soccer World”

Image

While Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rule the soccer world today, if you were to ask historians who the greatest soccer player of all time is, you would probably get two answers.  For many, the majestic and magical Pele’ may be their answer. To others though it would be the great Diego Maradona.  While in today’s soccer world athleticism and speed is a huge tool for players like Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Pele’ and Maradona used their ball handling skills and imagination to delight the world of soccer. They were more than soccer greats, they were artists.

The 1986 World Cup quarterfinal in Mexico between Argentina and England had a deep rooted meaning of anger and bitterness. In 1982 the Falkland War between Argentina and the UK had begun.   It was a 3 month war that created extreme friction between the two countries. This game meant so much to both teams.

Maradona had electrified crowds with his vision, cunning, and amazing ball handling and playmaking skills.   Listed at 5′ 7″ tall, in reality he was only 5′ 5″ tall but he had a strong, stocky build with muscular legs. He led Argentina into the quarterfinals with dominating expertise on the pitch.

The talented England squad had a lot of expectations. They had their only World Cup win in 1966 when they were the host country. England and Argentina were both soccer crazy countries and if you add the Falkland War into the mix, this game meant much more than a World Cup semi final birth.

On June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City was magical. The place was rocking with an amazing 105,000 people jammed into the stadium. Chants, songs, and every noise device known on earth were in full effect from the fans. On a warm, sunny day the electricity in the crowd along with all the beautiful colors would create a once in a lifetime experience.   Half Wizard of Oz, half religious experience, this game would be one for the ages.

The first half was a feeling out period for the most part. Both sides being wary of the scoring talents of the other. England’s star Gary Lineker was watched closely by Argentina. Lineker would later win the Golden Shoe award for the highest scorer in the World Cup.

In the second half Argentina came out more aggressive. In the 51st minute, Maradona went on one of his patented drives.   As he entered the goal box, he attempted a give and go move to his teammate. The English defender intercepted the pass but kicked the ball toward the English goalie. Maradona; who had kept going in the hopes of getting a return pass; jumped up in front of the goalie and hit the ball. GOAL!   But was it? The England team protested wildly saying that he had hit the ball with his hand. The referee said he did not see that and allowed the goal.

Later when he was interviewed and asked about the goal, the Argentine star said that the goal was scored, “A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God”. From then on in sports lore, this goal was known as the “Hand of God” goal.

Diego Maradona had just started. Three minutes later he took a simple pass on Argentina’s side of the field. Maradona then took off like a jet and dribbled through 5 English defenders and went the length of the field. English goal keeper Peter Shilton could do nothing as a rocket shot went past him. The Argentina crowd went crazy and the stadium was electrified. Famous Spanish Speaking announcer from Argentina, Victor Hugo Morales, was going nuts actually thanking God for seeing such a goal. Immediately people knew they had seen something special. In 2002 FIFA and the soccer world voted this goal as the goal of the century and the greatest goal ever scored.

Argentina was up 2-0 now but England was not going to go away quietly. At the 70th minute England substituted in John Barnes.   Immediately his energy and passing skills changed everything. Barnes began to pound the goal area with crosses. England looked like a different team and in the 81st minute a cross was put in the goal by Lineker. It wasn’t over yet. At the 87th minute with the crowd on their feet, another great Barnes cross was sent over the middle to an open Lineker but it was inches out of his reach. A few minutes later the crowd roared when the three whistles of the referee marked the end of the game. The game meant so much that many in Argentina felt this was partial revenge for the bitter military conflict between the two countries.

After the game the media and the soccer world was buzzing. People knew they had seen something special, and the charismatic Maradona fueled that fire on and off the field.

To this day Maradona is celebrated by most fans, especially in Argentina where he has icon status. For Americans to understand what a star Maradona is; especially during his heyday; think Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth; COMBINED. And that isn’t an overstatement.

Some fans though are also disappointed and embarrassed by his lifestyle and mistakes.   He was suspended for 15 months in the Italian league in 1991 when he tested positive for cocaine and he was also sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. for testing positive for stimulants. He owes millions in back taxes in Italy and has had more than a few run ins with the law, the press, and even soccer officials in his own country.

For all the turmoil Maradona has created in his life, the 1986 World Cup will always be his shining moment.  To this day just the sound of his name brings back great memories to Argentina and the soccer world. And in a 3 minute span, he created sports history that will be talked about forever.