Quick Takes


    See HBO’s two-hour special “The Ghosts Of Flatbush.” HBO is running it thru September 1. It details in-depth history of the Brooklyn Dodgers including the move to L.A. It’s excellent, even if Walter O’Malley wasn’t.


    Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick and friends have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Virginia for sponsoring a dog-fighting operation since 2001. According to the indictment, they tortured, electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot the losers. If it’s true, sick Vick and his buddies should endure the same punishment. Now that's justice!


    The AL nosed out the NL in the recent All-Star Game, 5-4. NL manager Tony LaRussa could have called on Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in the land, to hit for the NL in that crucial ninth inning. He didn’t and his team lost. Shouldn’t LaRussa know Pujols’ talents better than anyone after managing this great player for 6˝ years in St. Louis? LaRussa wasn’t the manager of the NL All-Star team; he was the mis-manager.


    With David Beckham arriving in the United States, the question lingers among soccer fans. Will the English superstar be the man who will make MLS a major attraction on the U.S. sports scene? In one word or less, never!


    The NFL will move beyond just playing games in other countries, and will have franchises permanently based in foreign cities within the next 10 years, this according to Mark Waller, who heads the league's efforts at gaining international popularity. "Ten years from now, I hope the NFL will have teams in London, Mexico and Toronto,” stated Waller last week.

    My thoughts: I personally have pitched Mexico City for some time, any Canadian city now in the CFL would be a complicated and costly buy-out, and London is just too far away. But who am I to question the brilliance of the NFL?


    Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss pleaded not guilty last week to two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. Buss, 74, was stopped May 29 after he was seen driving his car on the wrong side of the road in Carlsbad, according to the California Highway Patrol. According to a criminal complaint filed by the district attorney's office, Buss was under the influence of an unspecified drug but refused to take a chemical test. He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test. Buss was charged with one count each of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater.
    No doubt about it; it’s the most exciting thing the Lakers have done this entire off-season.


Story of the Week



    After all this time, it is time that I post a feature story about the legendary Paul Brown. The following e-mail was sent me months ago by my very learned reader, Jonathan Krost. I’ll print it just as he wrote it.


Paul Brown is indeed the father of modern football.  He was the first to use classroom techniques, to use spread formations and a disciplined passing attack, a year-round coaching staff, position coaches, sending in plays (messenger guards, one of whom was Chuck Noll), broke the color barrier by signing Bill Willis and Marion Motley, etc.  However, his greatest influence was on producing winning teams and winning head coaches.


In the 1950's Paul Brown himself coached 7 teams to make it to the NFL Championship game (1950-55, 57).  Add in Weeb Ewbanks (former assistant) taking the Colts twice (1958-59) and Sid Gillman (former assistant) taking the Rams in 1955 you have either Paul Brown or a former assistant being the head coach in the NFL Championship game 10 times out of a possible 20 and winning 5 times (1950, 54, 55, 58, 59) out of a possible 10. 


During the 1960's former Brown players and assistants continued the dominance.  In the NFL Blanton Collier (former assistant) took the Browns to the NFL Championship game 4 times (1964, 65, 68, 69), Don Shula (former player) took the Colts twice (1964, 68) and Bud Grant (former player on the Great Lakes team and he credited Brown with helping become a great head coach) took the Vikings once (1969).  That's 7 out of a possible 20 and they won three times (1964, 68, 69) out of a possible 10.  In the AFL the dominance was more telling.  Lou Rymkus (player) took the Oilers once (1960), Sid Gillman took the Chargers 5 times (1960, 61, 63, 64, 65), Lou Saban (player) took the Bills 3 times (1964, 65, 66) and Weeb Ewbanks took the Jets once (1968).  That's 10 out of a possible 20 and they won 5 times (1960, 63, 64, 65, 68) out of a possible 10.  Combine those two and you get 17 League Championship appearances out of possible 40 times with 7 wins out of a possible 20.


In the 1970's former Brown players were the Head Coach in a Super Bowl 10 times out of a possible 20.  Don Shula made 3 appearances with the Dolphins, Bud Grant made 3 appearances with the Vikings and Chuck Noll made 4 appearances with the Steelers.  Shula and Noll racked 6 wins out of a possible 10.


In the 1980's former Brown players and assistants continued the tradition but the influence began to wane and the torch was ready to be passed onto the next generation of Brown's :offspring".  Bill Walsh (assistant) led the 49ers to 3 Super Bowls, Sam Wyche led the Bengals to one Super Bowl and Shula led the Dolphins to 2 Super Bowls.  Only Walsh won but he did win all three.  So for the 80's there 6 appearances out of a possible 20 and 3 wins out of a possible 10. 


Final tally for 1950-89 is 43 League/post-merger Super Bowl appearances out of a possible 100 (an amazing 43% success rate) and 21 League/post-merger Super Bowl wins out of a possible 50 (that's a 42% success rate).  That is unprecedented success and dominance.


    I’ll now add my thoughts on Paul Brown. As aptly stated above, the resolute Brown changed the game through his innovations. He introduced player intelligence testing and film evaluation. He made scouting a full-time, year-round profession. He was the first to keep extra players on “taxi squads.” He was the first to shuttle plays to quarterbacks. The two-minute drill was his brainstorm, as were the draw play, sideline and screen passes, and the face mask. He turned the kicking game into an important offensive weapon.


    Led by quarterback Otto Graham, Brown’s Cleveland Browns carved out four straight All-America Football Conference championships from ’46-’49 with a record of  47-4-3 in the regular season. He then took his act to the NFL, and won three titles there before leaving Cleveland in 1962, then returning to the game as owner and coach of the AFL expansion Cincinnati Bengals in 1968. He retired in 1975.


    What is typically overlooked about Paul Brown is the fact that, prior to pro football, he directed the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 1942 national championship at the age of 34.


    Paul Brown is enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame in Canton.


Last Week’s Trivia


    Who is the youngest MLB player ever to win the MVP award in the AL? The NL? They were the same age, 22.
NL. Cincinnati. Johnny Bench. 1970.
AL. Oakland. Vida Blue. 1971.


Trivia Question of the Week


    Who is the only player in MLB history to win the MVP Award on a last place club? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.