Throwback – Cincinnati Bengals

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Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Black
Orange
White

The Bengals deserve way more credit than they receive for their role in the modern gridiron football.  These things began in Cincinnati before they were cool:

  • (Game Long) No Huddle Offense – No Huddle Offense is normally used near the end of the first half or the end of a game. The offense would huddle quickly (if at all), then the play is called out in coded words or phrases (“audibles”), and finally the snap is done with a “silent count” (the quarterback makes a gesture such as a toe step or an arm wave as a timer for the offense, rather than shouting a countdown).  Ideally this would tire out the defense and give them no time to settle on the quarterback’s snap count. Sam Wyche, head coach of the Bengals in 1988, is credited for using NHO throughout the game.
  • West Coast Offense – Football was almost exclusively a running offense before the West Coast Offense became popular. WCO has the offense make short yard gains or first downs with quick passes to multiple receivers. Ideally this would spread out the defense and improve the odds of a deep throw connecting. Bill Walsh was the Bengals assistant coach in the early 1970s. Bengals game footage during his time there showed a proto West Coast Offense. Bill went on to refine WCO  while coaching at Stanford University, and it thrived during his head coaching days with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s.
  • Zone Blitz – A response to the West Coast Offense. The play assigns defense players to specific players (or zones).  This extra movement is meant to confuse the offense about the defense’s block assignments and their own play positioning. Zone Blitz was rarely used in professional football until it was made over by Dick LeBaeau, Bengals defensive coordinator in the 1980s.

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Throwback – Cleveland Browns

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Team Colors

Note: Names not official
Brown
Orange
White

When the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) merged with the NFL, one of the teams that lived on in the updated NFL was the Cleveland Browns.  For about 15 years (1950-1965), the Browns dominated football.  They had deep playoff runs and multiple NFL Championships in their name.   You can thank head coach and namesake Paul Brown for that.   He is credited as the first for using game film, as in actual celluloid film, to improve his players and scout opponents.  His reputation as a dictator was warranted.  No one brought it up because he crafted a winning team.  When things started going sour in the 1960s Brown’s stubborn pride became prominent. He seemed more concerned with his status as Greatest Coach Forever Amen than how his team was performing on the field. Wait, film your dudes and opponents? An insulated coaching process? Tons of head coaching success and national fame? Someone sweeps the bad stuff under the carpet? This pattern sounds familiar. Makes me wonder if current Patriots coach Bill Belichick looks to Paul Brown the way Napoleon idolized Alexander the Great.

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Throwback – Miami Dolphins

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Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Turquoise
Orange
White

There is a reason why the 1972 Dolphins Perfect Season and Superbowl victory is heralded:  No other team has yet to repeat it.  The Patriots came very close in Superbowl XLII (42) but the New York Giants stomped those hopes.  The number of things that have to go right for your team and wrong for your opponents to get to perfect season and Superbowl victory is mind boggling.  Here is one possible way to simulate the dominance of the 1972 Dolphins:  Completely load up your fantasy Madden team and max out stats for all of your players.  Make sure that you are ranked #1 in offense and defense every week for the entire season.  Your rushers and pass catchers have Hall of Fame numbers.  Finally, you must be a tactical genius on the offensive side of the ball.  We have to use a video game to fathom what actually happened to the 1972 Dolphins.

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Throwback – Denver Broncos

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Team Colors

Note: Names not official
Blue
Orange
White

It is not a secret that former Broncos quarterback John Elway is a douche bag.  But this path to being a bitter, legendary Broncos figurehead really reminds me of Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader in Star Wars.  John was a bright eyed, extremely talented kid hailing from California when he started. Anakin was a bright eyed, extremely talented kid hailing from Tatooine when he started.  As time marched on John was repeatedly given a chance to play in the Superbowl.  Repeatedly he saw the Broncos fall apart.  As time marched on Anakin was repeatedly given a chance to secure victory against the rebellious Sith lords.  Repeatedly he saw these battles end in failure.  John hardened his heart and lost his humanity in order to obtain his coveted Superbowl ring (his fast approaching retirement age may also be a factor).  Anakin hardened his heart and lost his humanity in order to bring balance to the Force (the death of his wife during this period may also be a factor).
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Throwback – Chicago Bears (né Staleys)

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Team Colors
Note: Names not official
Navy
Orange

George Halas, Papa Bear himself, was involved with the Bears (née Staleys) since the team as created in 1919.  Like many founders at the time George did everything.  Coach, president, offensive player (wide receiver) and defensive player (end).  He played football at a time when it was really just a derivative of rugby and brawling.  He literally witnessed the NFL rise from a bunch of corporate sponsored semi-professional clubs to the huge sports league it became.  Even before he did in 1983 (at 88) he made one last significant impact on his beloved Chicago team: He hired Mike Ditka as head coach.

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Throwback – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Team Colors

Note: Names not official
Red
Orange
White

Bo Jackson, one of the greatest athletes in the 20th Century, was a prime 1986 draft pick and the Buccaneers had the #1 draft position.  Hugh Culverhouse, owner of the Buccaneers at the time, took Bo on a private jet to visit the facilities and show Bo around.  The use of the private jet violated NCAA policies, which made Bo ineligible to play baseball for the rest of his senior year at Auburn.

Bo was devastated.  He loved both football and baseball.  He felt Hugh was forcing him to sign with the Bucs by ending all chances of playing baseball in college.  Bo swore to never sign with the Bucs.  He played professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals instead.

[There will be more on the greatness of Bo Jackson when I cover the Los Angeles Raiders eye shadow play.]

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Pro Bowl 2014 Team Rice

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Team Colors
White
Orange
Grey

Official Website

If you haven’t heard already instead of the standard “best players of conference by ‘fan’ votes” format, the NFL changed it up for the Pro Bowl this year.  The “fans” (honestly I think it’s rigged) chose the player pool, and Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders choose the members.  My money is on Team Rice today because Suh and Watt on the same defense frightens me.

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