How important is a dominant center in the NBA? No team knows the answer to that question better than the Lakers. When they traded for Wilt Chamberlain, they showed immediate positive results. When they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they showed immediate positive results. But they apparently had a lapse of memory. When they traded Shaq, they showed immediate negative results. There are several Kobe-types throughout the NBA, but without that dominant center, it’s easy for a team to become mediocre, and mediocre is precisely what the Lakers have become. And I'm still convinced that Jerry West would have found a way to keep Shaq and Kobe together on that team.
Story of the Week
When Tony Dorsett tucked the football into his muscular 5’-11", 192-pound body, he destroyed game plans with exciting consistency over a most memorable 12-year NFL career. "Touchdown Tony" was
a yardage-eating machine for the Dallas Cowboys, living proof that great things, running backs included, can come in comparatively small packages. Would you believe.......he weighed all of 155 pounds as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh!
Dorsett was a four-time All-America at Pitt. He won the 1976 Heisman Trophy, and set a NCAA career rushing record. His 6,082 yards were the most in college football history; that record held up for 22 years. Tony was blessed with amazing balance and acceleration, qualities that allowed him to stop and start while searching for a hole in the line. The defense that allowed him to wander along the line of scrimmage looking for running daylight paid the price dearly. Nobody I’ve ever seen could rev up to top speed any faster than Dorsett. The same can be stated regarding his ability to cut against the grain with spectacular results.
Tony was the Cowboys’ first-round draft choice in 1977. His finest pro season was 1981, as he rushed for 1,646 yards, and added another 325 yards as a receiver. Of his 77 career rushing touchdowns in the NFL, five came on runs of 75 yards or longer. One was a record 99-yard burst against the Minnesota Vikings in 1983; that record may be tied one day, but can never be broken.
Tony Dorsett consistently defied skeptics who marveled at his durability. He rushed for 100 yards in a game 46 times, and in those games, the Cowboys were 42-4. He rushed for 12,739 career yards in regular-season play, second all-time when he retired. Those 12,739 yards equated to an average of 4.3 yards-per-carry. He added 1,383 more yards as one of the top post-season rushers in NFL history.
Dorsett, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was also a competent receiver with 398 career receptions and 13 receiving touchdowns. A willing blocker and a team player, Tony helped the Cowboys reach five NFC championship games and two Super Bowls, one of which, Super Bowl XII, produced a victory over Denver. He later would play one season for those same Broncos, posting 703 injury-riddled yards in 1988 before retiring.
Tom Landry was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1994, "Tony Dorsett’s ability, speed and quickness put a new dimension in our offense. Here we had a guy that every time he touched the ball, anything could happen. He just blended with Roger Staubach very well."
Tony Dorsett was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
Last Week’s Trivia
I fooled no one with my suggestion that the Manassa Mauler was a football player. He, of course, was legendary boxing champion Jack Dempsey.
Trivia Question of the Week
What player owns the lowest MLB batting average while leading his league in home runs in the same season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.