Tag Archives: AFL

How ’bout them Chiefs?

OK, here goes my selection for the next National Football League championship.

I am pulling hard for the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Lombardi Trophy at the end of Super Bowl 53 (or is it LIII?).

They play the New England Patriots next weekend for the AFC championship. They’ll play it at Arrowhead Stadium in KC. The NFC championship will be decided between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints; I don’t care about that one, because I have been a long-time AFC fan.

My cheering for the Chiefs stems from the fact that they last played in the Super Bowl in 1970. That was 49 years ago, man!

Those Chiefs defeated the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings 23-7. They manhandled the Purple People Eaters. Their coach was a guy named Hank Stram, who crafted something called the Offense of the 1970s. He was a dapper dresser who strolled the sideline with his plays written on a rolled-up sheet of paper he carried with him.

The KC Chiefs had the misfortune, too, of playing the mighty Green Bay Packers in the very first championship game. The Packers won that game 35-10; it wasn’t even known yet as the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs represented the American Football League against the powerhouse NFL titans from Green Bay. They got thumped, but then in the final game representing the AFL, which merged with the NFL, did their own thumping three years later in Super Bowl IV.

That was too long ago. The Patriots have been to many Super Bowls over the years. They’ve won their share of them, too. Sure, whoever wins the AFC title game must play the NFC winner at the Big Game.

This is the Kansas City Chiefs’ time. At least I hope it is.

Super Bowl III: Was it that long ago?

Can you believe it? Fifty years ago this weekend, Joe Willie Namath allegedly “guaranteed” that a prohibitive underdog football team would win the biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl.

As it turned out, the New York Jets did win that game, 16-7 against the Baltimore Colts. The date was Jan. 12, 1969.

One aspect made this game among the most memorable in pro football history.

It was the first victory of an American Football League team over a team from the supposedly “superior” National Football League. The AFL and NFL had brokered a merger after the two leagues battled over draft picks out of college. The merger took effect the season after the Jets-Colts Super Bowl III game. Three NFL teams — the Colts, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers — moved into what became the American Football Conference, which competed with the National Football Conference in the newly reconstituted NFL.

The AFL had come into being in 1960. The new league proved to be an entertaining venture for football fans. I was one of them as a youngster. I followed the AFL closely during its early years, cheering the exploits of Daryle Lamonica, John Hadl, Len Dawson, Cookie Gilchrist, Paul Lowe, Keith Lincoln, Lance Alworth and, oh my . . . I could go on. But I won’t.

The AFL then landed a prize rookie out of Alabama named Joe Namath. The flashy quarterback became an instant celebrity. He signed a $400,000 contract with the New York Jets.

The leagues met in two prior Super Bowls. The Green Bay Packers defeated in order the Kansas City Chiefs (35-10) in 1967 and the Oakland Raiders (33-14) in 1968.

Then came Super Bowl III. The Colts were favored by nearly three touchdowns over the Jets. Namath wasn’t hearing that. He made some kind of semi-flippant remark to reporters that many of them interpreted as a “guarantee” that the Jets would win.

Then they did. They manhandled the Colts. The AFL had gained “parity” with the NFL.

And Joe Namath had just written his ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Allow me this bit of heresy, which is that Namath’s role in defeating the Colts is the only reason he is enshrined in the Hall of Fame in the first place. His career was otherwise, shall we say, not exactly sparkling. I won’t debate the issue here, except that one game can enable someone to gain athletic immortality.

Joe Namath did on that day 50 years ago. Man, some of us are getting old.

You go, Philly Eagles!

Normally, I might be a bit down in the dumps over the result of a Super Bowl contest that ended the way Super Bowl LII did.

You see, I am a fan of the American Football Conference. I root for the AFC team over the National Football Conference team in the big game. I have rolled that way dating back to the original AFL-NFL Championship Game, in 1967, when the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers.

This year, the Philadelphia Eagles outscored the New England Patriots in a barn-burner.

Why aren’t I saddened by the outcome? The Patriots have won more than their share of Super Bowls. Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady sought their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy together.

The Eagles had been denied the fruit of victory in their previous two attempts: once by the Oakland Raiders and once by, that’s right, the Patriots.

So it was their turn Sunday to bring home the coveted trophy.

It’s hard to feel too badly for a sports franchise that has won so much for so long.

As for the underdog upsetting the favorites, I return to one of my favorite sayings about such things: That is why they play the game.

Super Bowl: Who gets the cheers?

Oh, the quandary I face.

The Super Bowl will occur next weekend and for the first time in about, oh, 52 years I don’t know for which team I should cheer.

Some members of my family know that I am a fairly dedicated American Football Conference fan. I used to watch the former American Football League games over the NFL back in the very old days. When the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, I rooted for old AFL teams every time they played the NFL teams. There was a caveat, though: Three NFL teams — the Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns — moved to the AFC, so I grudgingly rooted for them as well. Let’s not forget that the leagues met in four Super Bowls prior to their merger, with the AFL teams winning two of those games.

This year I am faced with this problem: The New England (formerly the Boston) Patriots are playing the Philadelphia Eagles. Normally I’d root hard for the Pats, except they’ve so damn many of these Super Bowls I am inclined to send good karma to the Eagles, who’ve never won the big game. The Pats beat them years after my beloved Oakland Raiders smoked the Eagles.

I have tumbled off the AFC bandwagon once, when I cheered for the New Orleans Saints to defeat the Indianapolis Colts. Lo and behold, the Saints won and gave the Big Easy plenty to cheer after the misery those folks had endured from Hurricane Katrina less than five years earlier.

It might take some kind of heart-warming story to make me switch my loyalty to the NFC for Super Bowl LII. Then again, perhaps I will simply tire of hearing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tell us how great he is.

I mean, c’mon! Would a sixth Super Bowl victory make him even an greater athlete than he already is?

Oh … the humanity!

Las Vegas Raiders? Oh, puh-leeeeze!

Media coverage of major professional sports these days seems to focus on salary caps, contract disputes, major stars’ holding out … and the relocation of franchises.

It’s the last item that troubles me today.

The San Diego Chargers are moving up the highway to Los Angeles; the St. Louis Rams already have returned to LA, from where they departed for St. Louis all those years ago. In fact, now that I think about it, the Chargers joined the old American Football League as the LA Chargers.

Oh, I know. There have been others: The Arizona Cardinals once played in Chicago, then St. Louis, now in suburban Phoenix; the Kansas City Chiefs once were known as the Dallas Texans; the Tennessee Titans moved from Houston, where they were the Oilers.

Now it’s the Oakland Raiders moving — of all places — to Las Vegas.

The Raiders’ move hurts a little more than the others.

As a teenager, I was a huge Raiders fan. My interest in the team goes back to the era of Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica and moved forward to the time of Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, Warren Wells, Fred Biletnikoff, Jim Otto (yes, I cheered the center, too), Ben Davidson … and a bunch of other guys.

Now the Raiders are moving to Sin City. Might they return — eventually — to the east side of San Francisco Bay? They did it once before; they moved to LA, played there for a time — won a Super Bowl while playing as the LA Raiders — and then returned to Oakland.

Ugh! I hate the idea of them moving yet again. They are stiffing their loyal fans, much in the manner that the old Cleveland Browns did when they moved to Baltimore, or when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis (in the middle of the night, I should add).

Pro sports doesn’t reward loyalty. It rises and falls on money.

I’m an angry Oakland Raiders fan today. I just cannot wrap my arms around the idea of the Las Vegas Raiders — or whatever they’re going to call the team.

Chargers’ owner shows his greed … go figure

I’m not a huge San Diego Chargers fan.

Still, as someone who used to follow the Chargers when they played exciting football in the American Football League, I am dismayed at the news that the team is moving up the Pacific Coast — to Los Angeles.

Greed drove the relocation, in my humble view.

The team’s owner, Dean Spanos, is worth billions. Does he need more money? He thinks so. The city wouldn’t pony up the dough for a new stadium, so he’s taking his football team to LA, he’ll build a new crib for his fellows — and the loyal San Diego fans who filled the Chargers’ stadium for decades will mend their broken hearts.

It sounds familiar, yes?

The Cleveland Browns left the Dog Pound for Baltimore, leaving those fans to mourn their loss; the Baltimore Colts skulked out of town in the middle of the night and made their getaway to Indianpolis; the Oakland Raiders once played in LA, then moved back to Oakland; the St. Louis Rams most recently relocated to the City of Angels; oh, and the Houston Oilers vacated the one-time Eighth Wonder of the World — the Astrodome — for Nashville.

Greed, man! It’s all greed!

My heart usually moans for the fans who are left behind. The owners of these teams — and there have been plenty others — often say the right things while thanking the fans for their loyalty.

However, business is business. Fan support? Who needs it? Now it’s the Chargers’ turn to stiff the fans who’ve ponied up good money over many years to watch their professional team play tackle football.

It saddens me.

‘Legend’ not in football Hall of Fame?

I’ve been reading the word “legend” over the past several hours.

It’s been used to describe the late Ken Stabler, the great quarterback for the Oakland Raiders who, in 1977, led his team to a crushing Super Bowl victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

I’ve known for years a bit of information about Stabler the Snake. He isn’t in the pro football Hall of Fame.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/former-alabama-raiders-quarterback-ken-stabler-dies-at-69/ar-AAcMuiZ

And I’ve wondered all that time: What in the world has kept him out of that shrine?

Young pro football fans today perhaps don’t know that the Raiders weren’t always the doormat they’ve become. They once personified a rebellious attitude. The team owner, Al Davis, himself was the embodiment of the term “rebel.” He was constantly feuding with pro football league brass — whether it was the old American Football League or later with the National Football League.

Stabler took that attitude onto the field, along with many other great players.

He wasn’t just all flash and sizzle. He played in four Pro Bowls; he was the NFL”s most valuable player in 1974; and, oh yeah, he played on that winning Super Bowl team. Indeed, he has as many Super Bowl wins as another player who came out of the University of Alabama, Joe Namath — who’s in the Hall of Fame and who didn’t produce the kind of career stats that Stabler did.

I’m no football expert. I just know when someone’s been robbed of a proper tribute.

Stabler should have been inducted long ago into the Hall of Fame.

Rest in peace, Snake.