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Pees hoping two recovering stars give Ravens defense boost down final stretch

Posted on 20 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ranked 26th in yards allowed and ravaged by injuries, the Ravens defense is heading in the wrong direction after allowing 65 points over its last two games.

But could the late-season returns of linebackers Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis provide the emotional spark and improvement the defense needs to put the Ravens in better position for a postseason run? The pair could be on the field together for the first time all season against the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon, which would certainly provide a spiritual boost for a team in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Of course, Suggs returned to action this past Sunday against Denver — two weeks removed from a torn right biceps — but it was difficult to recognize his presence aside from his familiar No. 55 jersey lining up at the rush linebacker spot. Clearly laboring as he employed a four-point stance to keep his body weight off his upper right arm, Suggs appeared tentative at several points and removed himself from the game on a few occasions while appearing to be in pain on the sideline.

He finished with only one tackle, and the performance has left more questions than answers about his impact for the rest of the season.

“He’s coming back. He’s not back full, but he’s back, and he’s playing hard,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think if you ask him, I don’t think he would tell you that he’s playing at 100 percent like he has, but he certainly is giving us a great effort and giving us what we need in there.”

Even before the biceps injury, Suggs wasn’t making his normal impact after a remarkable recovery from a partially-torn Achilles tendon in less than six months. In seven games this season, Suggs has 20 tackles and only two sacks.

Meanwhile, it was just a few weeks ago when many were wondering if Lewis truly deserved to be an every-down linebacker whenever he’d make his return from triceps surgery, but a season-ending injury to Jameel McClain and an ankle injury to Dannell Ellerbe has left the Ravens bare at the inside linebacker position as Josh Bynes, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Albert McClellan have manned the “Mike” and “Will” positions in the last two weeks.

The Ravens are not only hoping for the pick-me-up of Lewis’ impeccable on-field leadership, but they’re now desperate for him to bring an improved level of play to the middle of the field. With Baltimore electing to wait to place McClain on season-ending injured reserve, it’s apparent the organization is hoping to place Lewis on the 53-man roster by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Lewis is just nine weeks removed from surgery, an incredible fact considering the normal recovery time for such an injury is a minimum of four months.

“I’d love to have him. I think it would be a great emotional lift, but more than that, we could use some bodies in there at linebacker,” said Pees with a chuckle. “We’ll just have to wait and see whatever they say is a go. We’d love to have him back.”

The Ravens hope to get back Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard from injuries this week, but the latter’s status appears to be in doubt after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Pollard aggravated a rib injury in the Ravens’ Week 14 loss against Washington and hasn’t practiced ever since.

Only two defensive starters from Week 1 have played in every game this season — cornerback Cary Williams and safety Ed Reed.

“I think if anybody can be fully healthy throughout a season, it’s going to be a great team,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “And with us, we definitely had an injury bug this year, but we had guys step up and make some plays for us. And hopefully, we can get some guys back and see what we can do there.”

As is the case with Suggs, it remains to be seen how well Lewis can hold up physically after such an abbreviated recovery time following surgery. Amazingly, Lewis ranks fifth on the team with 57 tackles despite playing in only six games this season.

The coaching staff isn’t exactly sure where Lewis is at physically due to the light nature of practices, but Lewis’ mental prowess has kept him as sharp while he continues to rebuild the strength in his right upper arm. Whether that can translate to success on the field is the question as Lewis struggled to shed blockers early in the season and has shown declining ability in pass coverage over the last few seasons.

“At this time in the year, I don’t think there are very many teams out there hitting like you do in training camp,” Pees said. “So, you don’t necessarily see the physical part, but the mental part, it’s not going to leave you after 17 years [with] missing a couple of weeks.”

Third corner carousel

With 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith making his return from sports hernia surgery this past Sunday, it was assumed the Ravens had solidified their nickel package with the second-year defensive back playing on the outside opposite Cary Williams while Corey Graham slid inside to the nickel spot to cover slot receivers.

Instead, Pees used a combination of Smith, veteran Chris Johnson, and special-teams standout Chykie Brown as the extra cornerback against the Broncos. Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged on Monday that Smith didn’t show as much speed as they anticipated he would. Smith is just over a month removed from the surgical procedure.

As a result, Smith took only 12 defensive snaps. Johnson took part in 20 defensive plays and Brown was on the field for nine defensive snaps. It’s not a good problem to have with the Giants’ ninth-ranked passing game coming to Baltimore on Sunday, and Pees would like to sure up the role sooner rather than later.

“I’d just like to see someone take the bull by the horns and take the job,” Pees said. “We are just going to have to make that decision at game time on who that is going to be, and who that’s going to be during the course of the game. The good news is that you do have two or three guys there, but yes I would like to see someone step up and take it.”

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Ngata never dreamed of being number nine player in league

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Ryan Chell

When it comes to humility on the Baltimore Ravens, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata may be the leader in the locker room in that category.

And despite his three Pro Bowl nominations and four-time All-Pro selections in his six-year NFL career, Ngata still hesitates to call himself one of the best football players in the NFL.

Too bad now, others said it for him.

Wednesday on NFL Network’s “Top 100” players list-after watching dozens of players fall behind him-the Ravens’ first-round pick in 2006 was finally recognized as the ninth best player in the game.

He came ahead of fellow Raven defenders in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and even his fellow teammate in Terrell Suggs, the reigning defensive player of the year.

And showing up on the national stage yet again-there were few opportunities for Ngata to shy away from the limelight.

It’s ironic because Ngata hasn’t been reserved on the field-making plays all over and showing his athletic ability.

He joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday to talk about the honor.

“I probably would have never dreamed of being the number nine player in the league,” Ngata said. “Being voted that by your peers, that’s pretty awesome.”

Despite playing hurt for half of the 2011 season, Ngata finished with a career-high 64 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles in a full 16 games.

Ngata was the third defender chosen behind Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware.

To be named the best defensive lineman in football and one of the most versatile guys on that side of the ball-it’s pretty neat, he said.

“There are some things that I can do with my athletic ability of mine that people notice,” Ngata said. “God just blessed me with these talents and abilities, and none of this could be done without him.”

Ngata was an integral part of the team that reached the AFC Championship game under coach John Harbaugh-a 23-20 loss to the Patriots-that still rubs Ngata the wrong way.

“That loss was the toughest because I felt like we should have been in the Super Bowl,” he said. “I’ve never felt as good as I did with a group of guys…our camaraderie was so tight-knit that it just felt that we were supposed to be there.”

He said that having the close group of guys in the locker room-with a lot of the same team returning in 2012-that helped get the bad taste out of their mouths.

“There isn’t going to be any hangover,” Ngata said. “We’re all ready to work and are all getting better together and better individually.’

“It’s just that time that we’ll get there…and get ready to roll.”

Unfortunately, Ngata knows that he will “rolling” without Suggs for much of this season-making his role that much important.

Ngata assured Clark and those concerned Ravens fans that he being 100% healthy makes’ Suggs’ absence a little easier to swallow.

“I’m ready to go,” Ngata said. “I’m really excited. Right now at this time, I’m usually ready to get back on the football field and hit some people…I can’t wait to get back.”

And Ngata mentioned that it’s not just on his shoulders to fill that void. Others are there to help him along the way.

“There are so many great athletes that we have behind Suggs with Upshaw, Sergio Kindle, and Chavis Williams. Those guys are so athletic and hungry right now.”

Ngata said a young player like Courtney Upshaw reminded him of his own enthusiasm his rookie season.

“He doesn’t want to do much other than just trying to get better. He looks hungry and ready to step up.”

He hopes that Upshaw, himself, and the rest of the his teammates improve together and continue to play at the top of their games. He says if that happens, that championship is attainable.

“I’m just happy that I can be able to help those guys, and I just hope that I can get better and try to get the Ravens to a Super Bowl.”

WNST thanks Haloti Ngata for joining Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday! To hear more of the interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net! Want a chance to meet and greet Haloti? Head out to “The Ngata Family Foundation Luau” October 1st at Michaels 8th Avenue which benefits wounded soldiers and their families! Tickets are available at www.ngata92.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Your Monday Reality Check-A mountain of misinformation

Posted on 17 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

I honestly still can’t believe some of the things I read/heard/saw last week about Baltimore Ravens OT Bryant McKinnie.

If you missed it, McKinnie was not on the fall last week in Owings Mills during mandatory minicamp at the Under Armour Performance Center. When asked why McKinnie was not practicing, head coach John Harbaugh said “Bryant McKinnie is a guy that we held out just for conditioning purposes. We’re going to probably continue to do that and continue to try and get him in good shape. I think practice-wise, he’s just as well doing the conditioning part of it.”

Let me start this post by saying I fully understand a few things. One is that Harbaugh has never felt the need to share more information than necessary about any of his players. Another is that the information was new to reporters, so asking follow up questions might not have seemed pertinent. I wasn’t present at minicamp (media availability was scheduled during my radio show “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net each day) and was unable to fully grasp exactly what was going on.

With no media availability scheduled before the start of Training Camp, reporters felt it necessary to question Harbaugh later in the week for more information about McKinnie’s status. Unfortunately the coach was again vague, offering “we will leave that between us. That’s something that is an in-house type of thing right now. Bryant has done a good job, he’s worked hard. It’s not as simple as some of you guys want to make it. It’s just a situation where we are going to do what is best for the team, what is best for Bryant. We want him here; there’s no reason he wouldn’t be here. He has worked hard, so you try to do what’s most beneficial for every guy in every situation, and it’s always individualized.”

Now’s the part where I offer some examples of various stories I’ve read about Bryant McKinnie.

Here’s this from SI.com…

“Cut last season by the Vikings, Bryant McKinnie, who sat out Thursday’s practice, may be on the verge of extending an ignominious streak. Here is a player who has a history of being overweight and struggled with the same problem last season. He also reportedly has financial problems, yet can’t get into good enough shape to participate in minicamp. You have to question his commitment and when a team starts signing veteran offensive linemen and McKinnie gets held out of minicamp, it could be a sign of things to come.”

And this from SB Nation…

“The Baltimore Ravens gave veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie a $500,000 roster bonus earlier this spring, but now might be regretting the outlay of cash. McKinnie came to Baltimore after the Minnesota Vikings cut him last summer for reporting to camp overweight. The Ravens rounded him into shape and he had a pretty solid year, allowing the team to shift Michael Oher over to right tackle and solidify that side of the offensive line.

McKinnie reportedly was on his way to getting in good shape earlier this year, but the most recent news was that the team held him out of the mini-camp this past week for “conditioning reasons.” This does not bode well for either the Ravens nor McKinnie.

Bryant is on the short end of a legal case where he defaulted on a $4 million loan he took out during the NFL Lockout last year and seriously needs a full season paycheck to pay it back. If he does not report to the Ravens Training Camp in six weeks in excellent shape, there is a very good chance that the team may decide to cut ties with him and let him go.”

Allow me to be fair again for a second. The SI.com blurb was a clear re-write with no author attached. While SB Nation does have a handful of experienced journalists and columnists, their sites are still largely made up of part-time writers/editors with no actual experience truly covering a team.

So perhaps CSNBaltimore.com’s veteran writer Ray Frager would be a better source.

“Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie’s conditioning issues have been a big part of the Ravens chatter over this week. There is speculation he is around that 400-pound summit that caused him to lose his job in Minnesota.”

Maybe even the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston would be a better option.

“The entire McKinnie episode is strange and you wonder if he is going to be around when training camp opens. Here is a player who has a history of being overweight and struggled with the same problem last season.

He also reportedly has financial problems, yet can’t get into good enough shape to participate in minicamp. You have to question his commitment and when a team starts signing veteran offensive linemen and McKinnie gets held out of minicamp, it could be a sign of things to come.”

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Ravens officially name DeCosta Assistant GM

Posted on 17 May 2012 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Ravens announced several promotions within their personnel department on Thursday: Eric DeCosta has been named Assistant General Manager, Joe Douglas has been elevated to National Scout, and David Blackburn has been tabbed an Area Scout.

DeCosta, 41, who has served as the Ravens’ Director of Player Personnel the past three years, joined the franchise in an entry-level position in 1996. He moved his way up through the personnel ranks, first as an Area Scout, then as Director of College Scouting, and was subsequently promoted to Director of Player Personnel in 2009.

DeCosta works closely with Executive Vice President/General Manager Ozzie Newsome to oversee both the college and pro scouting departments. During his tenure as the scouting director, the Ravens drafted Pro Bowlers OLB Terrell Suggs (’03), DT Haloti Ngata (’06), G Ben Grubbs (’07), G Marshal Yanda (’07), FB Le’Ron McClain (’07) and RB Ray Rice (’08).

“When we extended Eric’s contract earlier this year, we changed his title to Assistant GM,” Newsome said. “As Eric continues to grow in the personnel department, he is becoming a vital part of the decision-making process.”

Entering his 13th season with the Ravens, Douglas, 35, has served as the team’s Area Scout Southeast since 2009. From 2003-07, he evaluated players in the Northeast, and in 2008, scouted the entire East Coast. Douglas played a key role in scouting and evaluating first-round pick QB Joe Flacco – the Ravens’ all-time leading passer – and Rice, the two-time Pro Bowler.

Additionally, Douglas has organized and coordinated the team’s post-draft rookie free agent signing process, which over the past several seasons has produced standout players such as LB Jameel McClain, LB Dannell Ellerbe and WR LaQuan Williams.

“Joe is so deserving of his promotion to national scout,” DeCosta stated. “He’s a top evaluator and communicator, and he’s been loyal to the Ravens over the years. In his expanded role, he’ll be scouting players across the country, which only makes us better. We are very excited for Joe.”

Blackburn, 29, joined the Ravens as a Player Personnel Assistant in 2007 after serving one year as a graduate assistant at Butler University coaching cornerbacks. He has spent the past five seasons working with Baltimore’s scouting staff in a number of roles, including preparing advance scouting reports of upcoming opponents, analyzing free agent prospects for pro personnel, scouting draftable collegiate players at multiple schools and helping coordinate in-season free agent workouts/visits.

In his new position as an Area Scout, the 2004 graduate of DePauw University will scout prospects at schools in the Northwest, Southwest and Midwest regions.

“We are looking forward to working with David in his new role as an Area Scout,” Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said. “He has done a great job the past five years working in both our pro and college departments, and he has received a well-earned promotion. David has a strong understanding of the type of player and person we look for in a ‘Raven.’ We’re confident he’ll give us another good set of eyes and ears to continue identifying the prospects we value.”

The Ravens also announced that Mark Azevedo has assumed the title of Area Scout Southeast, formerly held by Douglas. Azevedo, 30, was named an Area Scout in 2010, focusing the majority of his attention on schools in the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest regions. He originally joined the Ravens as a Player Personnel Assistant in 2005 and will now shift his primary responsibilities to the Southeast.

Additionally, Kenny Sanders, who spent the past two seasons interning in the team’s scouting department, has been hired as a Player Personnel Assistant. A 2004 graduate of Gettysburg College, he was a three-year letterman while playing defensive back. A Baltimore native, Sanders, 30, prepped at the McDonogh School.

Ravens “20/20 Club” Graduates: Current Personnel Staff
DeCosta, Hortiz, Douglas, Azevedo and Blackburn are all current graduates of the Ravens’ “20/20 Club,” which includes members of the team’s personnel staff who started with the organization as young personnel assistants and grew into evaluators with more input. The term “20/20” refers to hiring 20-year-olds for $20,000. According to Newsome, however, “The guys actually started when they were a little older than 20 and for more than $20,000, but that’s what we call them.”

Name                        Joined Ravens       Current Title
George Kokinis (Cle.)      1991                 Senior Personnel Assistant
Eric DeCosta                    1996                 Assistant General Manager
Joe Hortiz                        1998                 Director of College Scouting
Chad Alexander              1999                 Assistant Director of Pro Personnel
Joe Douglas                     2000                 National Scout
Mark Azevedo                2005                 Area Scout Southeast
David Blackburn             2007                 Area Scout

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Former Ravens exec Bailey joins new USFL

Posted on 16 May 2012 by WNST Staff

San Diego, Calif. (May 16, 2012) — The United States Football League (USFL) announced today that Jeff Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback during his 12-year NFL career, has been named to the USFL’s board of advisors.

Garcia will serve on the player development branch of the USFL’s advisory board. The Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. resident joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff and former NFL and San Diego Chargers executive Jim Steeg – Chairman of the USFL board of advisors – along with former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens executive vice president James Bailey and sports consultant/coach Terrell Jones on the board.

“We are thrilled to have Jeff involved and to be able to tap into his knowledge and experience in the professional football world as we look forward to re-launching the USFL in 2013,” USFL President and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Cuadra said. “Jeff’s extensive background and networks with professional football players will undoubtedly help carry out the USFL’s mission of helping our players live successfully and responsibly as positive citizens on and off the field.”

The USFL is planning to field eight teams for its inaugural 14-game season in 2013, kicking off in March and concluding with a championship game in June. The league has targeted a number of U.S. cities for franchises.

The USFL’s board of advisors will be responsible for guiding and advising USFL management on various areas of operations and, eventually, focus on identifying candidates and selecting the league’s commissioner.

Garcia began his NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999 and went on to play with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. He led the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders to the 1998 Grey Cup championship and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, providing his springboard to the NFL.

Garcia, retired from football, is the owner of Beyond Wealth Sports, a company representing professional athletes on and off the field. It is focused on mentoring athletes and helping them prepare for the transition from sports to secondary careers. Garcia’s business practice is directly in line with the USFL’s long-term goals for its players.

The USFL is designed to allow players not drafted by the NFL, or those that have been released by NFL teams, an opportunity to play professional football under the same rules as the NFL. In order to maintain financial responsibility and sustainability, the USFL will structure itself under a single-entity business model. All player and coach contracts will be owned by the USFL, and each team owner will be a member operator of the league.  

The USFL intends to create a working relationship with the NFL by allowing access to its players and personnel. This relationship will be one of respect and collaboration, but the USFL will operate independently with a focus on developing its players and creating the best fan experience possible.

The USFL will also endeavor to prepare players for life after playing football by providing mentorship and counsel to expand the athletes’ awareness of opportunities inside and, especially, outside of football.  Additionally, the USFL wishes to enhance the fan experience by providing greater access to its players and employing technology to enhance the viewing experience for its fans.

Biletnikoff was a six-time All-Pro wide receiver who totaled 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns during his 14-year NFL career with the Raiders. He began his professional coaching career in the original USFL, coaching with the Oakland Invaders and the Arizona Wranglers.

Steeg is a 35-year veteran as an NFL executive and the former COO of the San Diego Chargers. Prior to joining the Chargers, Steeg was instrumental in the growth of the NFL’s Super Bowl, having worked for the NFL for 26 years, where he was Senior Vice President of Special Events.

Bailey was responsible for the management of all business, financial and legal operations in his 21-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise. He facilitated and oversaw the relocation of the franchise to Baltimore.

Jones, CEO and founder of TJones Group, LLC, has been involved in professional sports as a coach and consultant for more than 16 years. He has worked with the NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Jones has successfully negotiated endorsement deals for his clients as well as sponsorship deals with major corporations, and will consult with the USFL on its business operations.

About The United States Football League

The United States Football League, LLC, a Delaware LLC, is a professional spring outdoor football league owned by EndZone Sports Management and is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. Jaime Cuadra is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the USFL. The USFL’s vision is provide a high-level competitive environment to help develop players for the National Football League, while preparing its players for succeeding as professionals and in life on and off of the field during and after their football careers. While the USFL initially operated from 1983-87, the new USFL plans to debut in the spring of 2013 by fielding eight teams nationwide to play a 14-game season, including a four-team playoff tournament, and providing fans with an exciting and innovative brand of football. The USFL plans to adopt all playing rules of the National Football League. For more information on the USFL’s 2013 launch, please visit the USFL online at www.theusfl.net and via social media on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheUSFL) and on Twitter (@TheUSFL).

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Jonathan Ogden to enter College Football Hall of Fame

Posted on 15 May 2012 by WNST Staff

NFF Announces 2012 Football Bowl Subdivision
College Football Hall of Fame Class

14 Players and Three Coaches to Enter College Football’s Ultimate Shrine

NEW YORK, May 15, 2012 – From the national ballot of 76 candidates and a pool of hundreds of eligible nominees, Archie Manning, chairman of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, announced today the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class, which includes the names of 14 First Team All-America players and three legendary coaches.

2012 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS

PLAYERS

  • CHARLES ALEXANDER – TB, LSU (1975-78)
  • OTIS ARMSTRONG – HB, Purdue (1970-72)
  • STEVE BARTKOWSKI – QB, California (1972-74)
  • HAL BEDSOLE – SE, Southern California (1961-63)
  • DAVE CASPER – TE, Notre Dame (1971-73)
  • TY DETMER – QB, BYU (1988-91)
  • TOMMY KRAMER – QB, Rice (1973-76)
  • ART MONK – WR, Syracuse (1976-79)
  • GREG MYERS – DB, Colorado State (1992-95)
  • JONATHAN OGDEN – OT, UCLA (1992-95)
  • GABE RIVERA – DT, Texas Tech (1979-82)
  • MARK SIMONEAU – LB, Kansas State (1996-99)
  • SCOTT THOMAS – S, Air Force (1982-85)
  • JOHN WOOTEN* – OG, Colorado (1956-58)

* Selection from the FBS Veterans Committee

COACHES

  • PHILLIP FULMER – 152-52-0 (74.5%); Tennessee (1992-08)
  • JIMMY JOHNSON – 81-34-3 (70.0%); Oklahoma State (1979-83) and Miami (Fla.) (1984-88)
  • R.C. SLOCUM – 123-47-2 (72.1%); Texas A&M (1989-02)

“We are extremely proud to announce the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Manning, a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss. “Each year the selection process becomes increasingly more difficult, but Gene Corrigan and the Honors Court do an amazing job of selecting a diverse group of the most amazing players and coaches in our sport’s rich history. This class is certainly no exception, and we look forward to honoring them and celebrating their achievements throughout the year ahead.”

The 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 4, 2012, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. They will be honored guests at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 2, 2013 and officially enshrined in the summer of 2013.

Today’s announcement was made from The NASDAQ OMX MarketSite in Times Square, which has hosted the event for the past four consecutive years. XOS Digital produced the NFF web streams for the second consecutive year, and the Orange Bowl and the law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP participated as the supporting sponsors of the announcement.

2012 FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS NOTES

PLAYERS:

  • 11 consensus First Team All-Americans (Alexander – 2x, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Bedsole, Casper, Detmer – 2x, Kramer, Myers, Rivera, Simoneau, Thomas)
  • ONE unanimous First Team All-American (Ogden)
  • THREE multi-year First Team All-Americans (Alexander – 2x, Detmer – 2x, Myers – 2x)
  • TWO members of national championship teams (Bedsole, Casper)
  • ONE Heisman Trophy winner (Detmer)
  • THREE winners of college football major awards (Detmer – Maxwell, O’Brien; Myers – Thorpe; Ogden – Outland)
  • FIVE conference player of the year honorees (Alexander, Armstrong, Detmer, Kramer, Simoneau)
  • FIVE members of conference championship teams (Bedsole, Detmer, Myers, Ogden, Thomas)
  • TWO NFF National Scholar-Athletes (Casper, Myers)
  • TEN offensive players (Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Bedsole, Casper, Detmer, Kramer, Monk, Ogden, Wooten)
  • FOUR defensive players (Myers, Rivera, Simoneau, Thomas)
  • SEVEN first-round NFL draft selections (Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski – 1st overall, Kramer, Monk, Ogden, Rivera)
  • FIVE decades represented: 1950s (1) – Wooten; 1960s (1) – Bedsole; 1970s (6) – Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Casper, Kramer, Monk; 1980s (2) – Rivera, Thomas; 1990s (4) – Detmer, Myers, Ogden, Simoneau

COACHES:

  • TWO national championships (Fulmer, Johnson)
  • SIX conference championships (Fulmer – 2, Slocum – 4)
  • 33 bowl berths (Fulmer – 15, Johnson – 7, Slocum – 11)
  • 28 Top 25 finishes (Fulmer – 13, Johnson – 5, Slocum – 10)
  • 45 First Team All-Americans coached (Fulmer – 19, Johnson – 12, Slocum – 14)
  • SEVEN major award winners coached (Fulmer – John Henderson, Peyton Manning, Michael Munoz; Johnson – Bennie Blades, Russell Maryland, Vinny Testaverde; Slocum – Dat Nguyen)
  • FOUR NFF National Scholar-Athletes coached (Fulmer: Peyton Manning and Michael Munoz. Johnson: Doug Freeman. Slocum: Lance Pavlas)

CRITERIA
1. First and foremost, a player must have received First Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.

2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts ten years after his final year of intercollegiate football played.

3. While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and fellow man. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.

4. Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years*. For example, to be eligible for the 2012 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1962 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.

5. A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage*.

* Players that do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Honors Review Committees, which examine unique cases. 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME FACTS

  • Including the 2012 FBS class, only 914 players and 197 coaches, have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 4.86 million who have played or coached the game over the past 143 years. In other words, only two one-hundredths of one percent (.0002) of the individuals who have played the game have been deemed worthy of this distinction.
  • Founded in 1947, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame inducted its first class of inductees in 1951. The first class included 32 players and 19 coaches, including Illinois’ Red Grange, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle’s Jim Thorpe.
  • 288 schools are represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer.
  • Induction for this class of Hall of Famers will take place December 4, 2012 at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City’s historic Waldorf=Astoria.

CHARLES ALEXANDER
Louisiana State University
Tailback, 1975-78

One of the truly great runners of his era, Charles Alexander dominated the Southeastern Conference in the late 1970’s. He becomes the eighth Tiger to enter the College Football Hall of Fame and third running back in the last five years, following Billy Cannon in 2008 and Jerry Stovall in 2010.

Nicknamed “Alexander the Great”, he left Baton Rouge as the most accomplished rusher in SEC history, holding the league’s career records for rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. He became the first back in SEC history to break the 4,000-yard barrier and record 40 rushing touchdowns. Alexander earned consensus All-America honors and was named team MVP in 1977 by setting school and league records with 311 attempts for 1,686 yards and 17 touchdowns. His carries and yards marks remain single-season records at LSU. Alexander followed that up by again receiving consensus All-America accolades in 1978 by rushing 281 times for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns. His stellar efforts as a junior and senior helped lead the Tigers to back-to-back bowl games, rushing for a combined 330 yards in the 1977 Sun Bowl and the 1978 Liberty Bowl.

The Missouri City, Texas, native was chosen in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He amassed 2,645 rushing yards and 1,130 receiving yards during seven seasons in Cincinnati, helping the Bengals reach Super Bowl XVI.

A former member of the Tiger Athletic Foundation Board of Directors, Alexander worked with the Louisiana State Youth Opportunities Unlimited. He also regularly volunteered with the United Way in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a member of the Bengals. He was named to the LSU Modern Day Team of the Century and is also a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team and the Houston Area All-1970’s Team.

OTIS ARMSTRONG
Purdue University
Halfback, 1970-72

One of the top runners of his era, Otis Armstrong left school owning Big Ten MVP honors, First Team All-Conference accolades and the league’s all-time rushing record. He becomes the sixth Boilermaker to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

The eighth-place finisher in 1972 Heisman Trophy voting and a consensus All-American, Armstrong’s 3,315 career rushing yards set school and conference records and placed him sixth in NCAA history at career’s end. Armstrong’s senior campaign in 1972 remains the best in Purdue history. He earned the Swede Nelson Award for great sportsmanship and team MVP honors by rushing 243 times for 1,361 yards, accumulating 1,868 all-purpose yards (all of which set single-season school records at the time). Armstrong led the Big Ten in rushing that season, and his 276-yard effort versus Indiana remains a school best. His 670 career carries remain a school record.

A first round selection by the Denver Broncos in the 1973 NFL Draft, Armstrong played eight seasons with Denver. He led the NFL in rushing in 1974, earning First Team All-Pro honors and appearing in his first of two Pro Bowls. The Englewood, Colo., native helped the Broncos appear in Super Bowl XII. Armstrong is an active church member, and he frequently helps young children stay out of trouble by teaching football skills. He was inducted into the Purdue Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

STEVE BARTKOWSKI
University of California
Quarterback, 1972-74

Another legend in a long line of prolific Pac-12 passers, Steve Bartkowski becomes the 16th California Golden Bear to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bartkowski earned consensus All-America honors by leading the nation in passing with 2,580 yards in 1974. The gunslinger also set school single-season records during his senior campaign by attempting 325 passes and accumulating 2,387 yards of total offense. He was universally named the best quarterback in the West following his senior year after being named team MVP, First Team All-Pac-10, an All-Coast Team selection and the NorCal Player of the Year. His four 300-yard passing games set a school record and still rank among the top five in Golden Bears history.

The first pick of the 1975 NFL Draft, Bartkowski played 11 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and one year with the Los Angeles Rams. He was named the 1975 NFL Rookie of the Year, appeared in two Pro Bowls and compiled 24,124 career passing yards.

In addition to his football exploits, Bartkowski was an All-American first baseman for the Golden Bears baseball team in 1973. He became a member of the California Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. Bartkowski also hosted the outdoors shows Backroad Adventures with Steve Bartkowski on TNN and Suzuki’s Great Outdoors with Steve Bartkowski on ESPN. The Atlanta native serves on the board of directors for multiple organizations and is a member of the Christian Sportsmen Fellowship.

HAL BEDSOLE
University of Southern California
Split End, 1961-63

Ahead of his time as a long, big-play threat, Hal Bedsole helped College Football Hall of Fame coach John McKay and USC win the 1962 national championship. He becomes the 30th Trojan to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bedsole set school single-season receiving records during his consensus All-America 1962 campaign, corralling 33 passes for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns. He became the first player in USC history to top 200 receiving yards in a single game on Oct. 20, 1962 in a win over California. He capped the record-setting year with a huge game in the 1963 Rose Bowl, leading top-ranked USC over No. 2 Wisconsin with two touchdown passes in a 42-37 Trojans victory. The two-time All-Pac-8 honoree led the Men of Troy in scoring in 1961 and 1962 and set a school record by averaging 20.94 yards per reception for his career. He caught 82 passes for 1,717 yards with 20 touchdowns during his years on campus.

Drafted by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 1964, Bedsole played three seasons in Minnesota. Inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, Bedsole retired after a long career as a radio broadcast sales manager.

DAVE CASPER
University of Notre Dame
Tight End, 1971-73

Cited by College Football Hall of Fame coach Ara Parseghian as perhaps the greatest athlete he ever coached, Dave Casper earned All-America honors on the field and in the classroom. He becomes Notre Dame’s 44th player to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Serving as Notre Dame’s co-captain and offensive MVP during his senior season of 1973, Casper led the Fighting Irish to a national championship while earning consensus All-America honors. He was also named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, and an NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner. Casper was a proficient tight end, catching three passes for 75 yards in No. 5 Notre Dame’s 24-23 win over No. 1 Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. A versatile asset, he also saw action at split end, as an offensive tackle and along the defensive line during his career.

Taken in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft, he played 11 seasons for the Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings. The Alamo, Calif., resident was named a First Team All-Pro performer five times, appeared in four Pro Bowls and was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

A long-time member of the NFF Chicago Metro Chapter, Casper sat on the Ronald McDonald House’s board of directors beginning in 1986. He founded the Dave Casper Celebrity Golf Tournament in 1985 to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Casper also supports the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization and Rotary International. He received the GTE Academic Hall of Fame for Outstanding Career Achievement and Contributions to the Community award in 1993, and he was one of six people to receive an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for living a life of distinction in 1999.

TY DETMER
Brigham Young University
Quarterback, 1988-91

With a Heisman Trophy, a Maxwell Award, two Davey O’Brien Awards and 59 NCAA records, Ty Detmer left BYU as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history. His accomplishments led him to become a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and the sixth Cougar to enter the sport’s ultimate shrine.

Twice named a consensus All-American, Detmer won national player of the year awards from organizations such as UPI, CBS, Scripps Howard and the U.S. Sports Academy. His 15,031 career passing yards and 121 touchdowns were NCAA bests at the time, and the gunslinger still holds nine NCAA records. A three-time First Team All-WAC performer, Detmer led College Football Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards’ teams to three conference championships, four bowl games, three AP top 25 finishes, a 28-21 win over top-ranked and defending national champion Miami on Sept. 8, 1990 and a 37-13-2 overall record. The NCAA Today’s Top VI Award recipient still holds 10 school records, including the season and career marks for total offense, passing yards and 400-yard games.

A ninth round selection of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Detmer played 14 seasons with the Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons.

The founder of the Ty Detmer Charitable Foundation, he regularly holds the Ty Detmer Youth Football League in Grants, N.M. He remains involved in the Davey O’Brien Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network, and he makes yearly appearances at numerous fundraising events for youth organizations. A 2000 inductee of the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame, Detmer is currently the head coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.

TOMMY KRAMER
Rice University
Quarterback, 1973-76

One of only two quarterbacks in college football history to earn consensus All-America honors for a sub-.500 team since 1970, Tommy Kramer proved his worth by finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1976. Kramer becomes the sixth Owl to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

A consensus All-American in 1976, Kramer led the nation with 3,317 passing yards and 3,272 yards of total offense. Both marks ranked second in NCAA single-season history at the time. The 1976 Southwest Conference Player of the Year became the first player in league history to top 3,000 yards of total offense in a single season while also recording four of the top eight passing performances in SWC history. The San Antonio native held every career and single-season school record for passing and total offense for more than 30 years, and he led the Owls in passing all four years on campus.

Chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1977 NFL Draft, Kramer compiled nearly 25,000 career passing and 159 touchdowns yards during 14 NFL seasons. He was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and earned his only Pro Bowl berth during the 1986 campaign.

Kramer was chosen to the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame and also the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He earned the nickname “Two-Minute Tommy” for executing multiple late-game comebacks. A Kiwanis Club member, Kramer is still active with the Rice football program, returning to campus annually for the Huddle Up football reunion and serving as the Owls’ honorary captain on numerous occasions.

ART MONK
Syracuse University
Wide Receiver, 1976-79

The winner of the Lambert Trophy as the top college football player in the Eastern U.S. in both his freshman and senior seasons, Art Monk became the mark of consistency during his remarkable career with the Orange, earning First Team All-America honors in 1979. Monk is the ninth Syracuse player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

As a senior in 1979, Monk hauled in 40 receptions for 716 yards (17.9 yards per reception) with three touchdowns. He set a school record in 1977 for most receptions and receiving yards by a sophomore, catching 41 passes for 590 yards and four scores. With 1,644 career receiving yards in 35 games, Monk set a school record with a 47-receiving yards per game average. He also recorded the greatest game by a receiver in Syracuse history on Nov. 5, 1977 against Navy, catching 14 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. A versatile playmaker who entered college as a running back, he posted 31 kickoff returns for 675 yards and 44 punt returns for 430 yards. Monk ranks sixth in school history with 3,899 career all-purpose yards. The last player to lead Syracuse in receiving for three consecutive seasons, Monk led Syracuse to its first bowl victory in 13 years with a 31-7 win over McNeese State in the 1979 Independence Bowl.

Chosen in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Monk played for the Washington Redskins from 1980-93 and the New York Jets in 1994. He set an all-time single-season receiving mark in 1984 by catching 106 passes. Monk broke Steve Largent’s all-time career receiving record with 819 career receptions, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

An active member of the NFF Central New York Chapter, Monk sits on the board of trustees at Syracuse. The co-founder of the Good Samaritan Foundation, he has worked with the Leukemia Society, Project Harvest and I Have a Dream.

GREG MYERS
Colorado State University
Defensive Back, 1992-95

The personification of “student-athlete” and the winner of the 1995 Thorpe Award, Greg Myers claimed as many decorations off the field as he did for his stellar on-field performance. Myers becomes the second Ram to enter the College Football Hall of Fame, following 1981 inductee Thurman McGraw.

The first player in WAC history to earn All-WAC honors four times, Myers holds the league record with seven all-conference selections, four as a defensive back and three as a return specialist. A two-time First Team All-American, Myers led the NCAA with 555 punt return yards and three punt return touchdowns. He also set the WAC record with 1,332 career punt return yards, and he posted Colorado State records with three punt return scores and a 15.9-yard average. As a defensive back, he totaled 295 tackles and 15 interceptions. Myers helped guide the Rams to back-to-back WAC titles and Holiday Bowl berths.

A 1995 NFF National Scholar-Athlete, he was also named the Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year that fall. Myers was named a two-time Academic All-American and a four-time Academic All-WAC honoree. The 1996 Nye Trophy recipient as CSU’s most outstanding male athlete in academics, he was named to the NCAA Today’s Top VIII. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1996 and a M.D. from the University of Colorado in 2006.

A fifth round pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Myers played five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys. A 2001 Colorado State University Sports Hall of Fame inductee and a 2012 Colorado Sports Hall of Fame member, Myers has sponsored the Greg Myers Scholarship Golf Tournament to raise money for student-athletes. He has worked with Shriners Hospitals; made numerous appearances at inner-city schools; and participated in Doug Pelfrey’s Kicks for Kids. He is a member of the Groupsmart Community Outreach Program.

JONATHAN OGDEN
University of California – Los Angeles
Offensive Tackle, 1992-95

A unanimous All-American and the winner of the Outland Trophy in 1995, Jonathan Ogden was a cornerstone left tackle all four years he spent as a Bruin. He becomes the 11th UCLA player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ogden won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10’s top offensive lineman, the UPI Lineman of the Year award and shared the Henry “Red” Sanders Award as the Bruins’ most valuable player as a senior in 1995. The four-year starter allowed just one sack as a senior.

Ogden experienced success early during his years in Westwood, earning the John Boncheff, Jr. Memorial Award as UCLA’s top freshman and a Freshman All-America nod from The Sporting News. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Terry Donahue, he also helped the Bruins win the Pac-10 title in 1993. Ogden’s No. 79 jersey is one of eight to be retired by UCLA. A two-sport athlete, he earned two top-five finishes in shot-put at the NCAA Indoor Championships and also placed fourth in shot-put at the 1995 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The fourth overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Ogden played 12 seasons for the Baltimore Ravens. He started 176-of-177 games; earned First Team All-Pro honors four times; and appeared in 11 Pro Bowls. Ogden helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV.

He founded the Jonathan Ogden Foundation, which aims to assist inner-city students through athletics, and the foundation supported the NFF’s Play It Smart program at Patterson HS in Baltimore for many years. The Henderson, Nev., resident also established the Ogden Club, which hires tutors to work with Baltimore City high schools, and in turn enlists high school athletes to tutor at local elementary schools. Ogden stages the Jonathan Ogden Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament, benefitting youths in Las Vegas and Baltimore.

GABE RIVERA
Texas Tech University
Defensive Tackle, 1979-82

The most accomplished defensive lineman in Texas Tech history, Gabe Rivera was a consensus All-American as a senior in 1982. He becomes the fourth Red Raider to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Carrying the nickname “Señor Sack”, Rivera averaged 80 tackles per season from his defensive tackle spot. He compiled 62 solo tackles, 43 assists, 10 TFL, five sacks, 25 quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups during his All-America campaign in 1982. He was named an Honorable Mention All-American in 1980 and 1981, and earned First Team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1982 and Second Team All-SWC accolades in 1981.

Chosen with the 21st overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Rivera played six games for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rivera had his career cut short when he was left a paraplegic by injuries suffered in a car accident midway through his rookie season.

Rivera was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a member of the Texas Tech Hall of Honor. He has volunteered as a tutor with Inner City Development in San Antonio, and he has worked with Gridiron Heroes, a nonprofit that aids high school football players that have suffered spinal cord injuries.

MARK SIMONEAU
Kansas State University
Linebacker, 1996-99

A two-time All-American, Mark Simoneau stands as possibly the greatest defender in Kansas State history. He becomes the second Wildcat to enter the game’s ultimate shrine following Gary Spani a decade earlier.

A three-time team captain, Simoneau holds a school record with 251 career unassisted tackles, ranks third in school history with 400 total tackles, 52 TFL and eight forced fumbles. The 1999 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year also notched 15.5 sacks and seven fumble recoveries. A 1999 Butkus Award runner-up and a three-time First Team All-Big 12 selection, he led Kansas State to one of the greatest stretches in school history. With Simoneau on the roster, the Wildcats earned a 42-7 record, a 28-4 record in Big 12 play, a claim to two Big 12 North titles, three AP top 10 finishes, the first No. 1 ranking in school history, and wins in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl and the 1999 Holiday Bowl.

Drafted in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Simoneau played 11 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. He recorded 370 total tackles in 124 career NFL games.

Simoneau has participated in service events with local children’s hospitals, retirement homes and the United Way of New Orleans. Simoneau’s high school was the center piece of the book Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape.

SCOTT THOMAS
United States Air Force Academy
Safety, 1982-85

A driving force in one of the most successful four-year runs in the history of Air Force football, Scott Thomas earned consensus All-America honors his senior year in 1985. He becomes the third Falcon player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Playing for 2011 Hall of Fame coach Fisher DeBerry, Thomas notched 221 career tackles with four TFL, 10 interceptions, 22 pass breakups while averaging 28.8 yards per kickoff return. He returned a punt, kickoff and interception for a touchdown during his 1985 All-America campaign. A two-time All-WAC honoree, Thomas led the Falcons to the first conference title in program history with a 12-1 record and No. 5 final ranking in 1985. He also guided Air Force to a 38-12 overall record, four consecutive bowl wins, four wins over Notre Dame, the first top 10 finish in academy history and three Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies with a 7-1 record against storied rivals Army and Navy.

Thomas also was a four-year letterman for the Air Force basketball team, and he logged more than 4,100 hours of military flight time. He gained national attention during the first Gulf War after his plane went down over enemy territory in 1991. Thomas currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserves while working as a commercial pilot.

A regular keynote speaker for nonprofit organizations, he volunteers with Young Life youth ministries and as a little league coach. He is also a Kiwanis Club member. Thomas served as the guest picker during ESPN’s College GameDay visit for the Army game on Nov. 7, 2009. Thomas is a 2011 United States Air Force Academy Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.

JOHN WOOTEN
University of Colorado
Offensive Guard, 1956-58

Described as a “quick, agile tackle who provided bone-crunching lead blocks” by Colorado historian Fred Casotti, John Wooten blazed a path for others to follow, becoming one of the first African-Americans to earn All-America honors as a lineman. The 1958 All-American will join five other Buffalo players as College Football Hall of Fame inductees.

Wooten paved the way for one of the most powerful rushing attacks in college football, driving the Buffaloes to rank 12th nationally in 1956 with 252.1 yards per game, first in 1957 with 322.4 yards per outing and fifth in 1958 with 249.5 yards per game. In 1957, Colorado finished second in the country with 415.2 yards of total offense per game, and running back Bob Stransky ranked second nationally with 1,097 rushing yards. The 1957 All-Big 7 performer also saw action on the defensive line where he recorded half a dozen fumble recoveries. Wooten aided Colorado to a 20-9-2 overall record with a 27-21 victory over Clemson in the 1957 Orange Bowl.

Chosen in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft, Wooten played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, appearing in 136 games. A two-time All-Pro, he participated in two Pro Bowls. He is a 2010 inductee to the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor.

After retiring from football, Wooten had a long administrative career with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 1998. He was named to Colorado’s All-Century Team in 1989, the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Wooten serves as the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, which works to promote diversity in NFL coaching, front office and scouting staffs.

PHILLIP FULMER
University of Tennessee
Head Coach, 152-52-0 (74.5%)

Tennessee’s head coach from 1992-2008, Phillip Fulmer led the Volunteers to the school’s sixth national championship in 1998. Under Fulmer’s leadership, Tennessee finished in the AP top 25 in 13-of-17 seasons and appeared in 15 bowl games.

The 1998 National Coach of the Year achieved 137 wins in his first 15 campaigns, tying for the fourth-most in a 15-year span in college football history. Fulmer owned two SEC championships, a piece of seven SEC East Division titles, an impressive 5-0 record when playing the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, an 88-19 home record and nine 10-win seasons. He trails only College Football Hall of Fame coach Gen. Robert Neyland on Tennessee’s all-time wins list. Fulmer’s teams appeared in two BCS games, winning the first national title in the system’s history with a victory over Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl.

Fulmer coached two William V. Campbell Trophy winners in Peyton Manning and Michael Munoz. Nineteen players earned First Team All-America honors under Fulmer, and 70 Volunteers were named First Team All-SEC during his tenure. He also coached nine 1,000-yard rushers and six 1,000-yard receivers.

A co-captain of the 1971 Volunteers football team, Fulmer is the national spokesperson for the Jason Foundation, an educational organization aimed at preventing teenage suicide. A member of the board of directors for Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc., he is active with Boys and Girls Club, Team Focus, and Child and Family Services. The 2003 American Football Coaches Association president, Fulmer is the co-chair for the Ride for Prostate Cancer event and the vice-chair for Boy Scouts of America. He contributed $1 million to the University of Tennessee to be split evenly between athletics and academics. Fulmer was inducted to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

JIMMY JOHNSON
Oklahoma State University, University of Miami
Head Coach, 81-34-3 (70.0%)

The Oklahoma State head coach from 1979-83 and Miami head coach from 1984-88, Jimmy Johnson continuously led his teams to victory, earning numerous coaching honors along the way and the national title with the Hurricanes in 1987, capped by a 20-14 victory over Oklahoma in the 1988 Orange Bowl.

Johnson began his head coaching career in Stillwater, Okla., leading the Cowboys to a 29-25-3 mark. He won Big 8 Coach of the Year honors his first year after taking Oklahoma State to a 7-4 record. Under Johnson, the Cowboys won the 1981 Independence Bowl and the 1983 Bluebonnet Bowl. He coached 15 First Team All-Big 8 performers during his five seasons with the Pokes.

At Miami, Johnson enjoyed a 52-9 mark in five seasons with five New Year’s Day bowl appearances. During his final four seasons in Miami, he posted a remarkable 44-4 record, including four top 10 finishes and two national title appearances. He earned two National Coach of the Year distinctions while coaching 12 First Team All-Americans. Johnson’s star pupils included future College Football Hall of Famers Bennie Blades and Russell Maryland as well as the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner in Vinny Testaverde. Johnson’s tenure was the genesis of an NCAA-record 58 home-game winning streak, which lasted from 1985-94.

A member of Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team, Johnson became the only person to win a college national championship as a player and coach and lead a team to a Super Bowl victory when he guided the Dallas Cowboys to victories in back-to-back Super Bowl victories following the 1992 and 1993 seasons. In the NFL, he held the Cowboys head coaching job from 1989-93 and with the Miami Dolphins from 1996-99.

A member of the University of Arkansas, University of Miami, State of Texas and State of Florida Sports Halls of Fame, Johnson supports charities such as The Children’s Health Fund, Malaria No More, City of Hope, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Johnson, who works as an NFL analyst on FOX, has donated his time visiting troops overseas and hosting a fundraiser for the Gridiron Greats Foundation, which raises money for former NFL players in need of medical assistance.

R.C. SLOCUM
Texas A&M University
Head Coach, 123-47-2 (72.1%)

The head coach at Texas A&M from 1989-2002, R.C. Slocum is the winningest coach in Texas A&M and Southwest Conference history. A four-time national coach of the year honoree, Slocum’s Aggies experienced reigns of dominance over the SWC, including a 22-game league winning streak, a 28-0-1 conference record from 1991-94, and three SWC titles. He also led the Texas A&M to one of the school’s landmark victories on Dec. 5, 1998, with a 36-33 double-overtime upset of Kansas State, which gave the Aggies their only Big 12 championship and only win over a No. 1-ranked team.

Slocum led the Aggies to 11 bowl games in 14 seasons, five New Year’s Day bowl appearances and 10 AP top 25 finishes. He retired as college football’s sixth-winningest active coach. Under Slocum’s leadership, 14 players earned First Team All-America status. Linebacker Dat Nguyen submitted one of the finest seasons in school history in 1998, winning the Bednarik and Lombardi awards.

Slocum, a standout receiver and defensive lineman for at McNeese State, holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from his alma mater, and he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. He currently works as a special assistant to President R. Bowen Loftin at Texas A&M.

A Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Texas A&M University Athletics Hall of Fame member, Slocum served as the chairman of the Children’s Miracle Network in Central Texas as well as the Cattle Baron’s Association, which raises scholarship money for young people in ranching. He is active with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Scotty’s House home for abused children. A former AFCA Board of Trustees member, he served as grand marshal at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade. 

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Former Raven, Baltimore Native Foxworth Voted NFLPA President

Posted on 25 March 2012 by WNST Staff

FOXWORTH ELECTED NFLPA PRESIDENT, SMITH RE-ELECTED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Hasselbeck, Light, Moore, Watson join NFLPA Executive Committee during annual meeting

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. (March 25, 2011) – Domonique Foxworth was nominated and elected without opposition as President of the NFL Players Association today at the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives Meeting. DeMaurice Smith was reaffirmed unanimously as Executive Director by the board on March 22.

“One of the most important things I learned from Kevin is about responsibility,” Foxworth, a free agent cornerback, said to the board following his election. “Players like to say, ‘The NFLPA is our organization.’ There is a wealth of experience and talent in this room, and I will reach out to each and every one of you about your interests and passions. If we work as hard as we did during the lockout now in peacetime, we will be the strongest organization in the world.”

Foxworth’s unanimous election to the post follows four years of service on the executive committee. In 2007, he was elected by the Broncos as a Player Representative and was named the Broncos’ Walter Payton Man of the Year. In 2008, he ran and was elected as the youngest Vice President of the NFLPA Executive Committee.

Newly elected to serve on the Executive Committee are Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee Titans), Matt Light (New England Patriots), Brandon Moore (New York Jets) and Ben Watson (Cleveland Browns).

They join current Executive Committee members Charlie Batch (Pittsburgh Steelers), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Brian Dawkins (Denver Broncos), Scott Fujita (Cleveland Browns), Jeff Saturday (Green Bay Packers) and Brian Waters (New England Patriots) who were re-elected by unanimous affirmation. There are also two chairs for former players on the NFLPA Executive Committee, currently held by Cornelius Bennett and Jim McFarland.

With the 2012 election, Kevin Mawae, Sean Morey, Tony Richardson and Mike Vrabel cycle off the NFLPA Executive Committee.

“We don’t take on roles of leadership in order to pad our stats, build our resumes, or strengthen our positions,” Mawae said as he retired from the post of NFLPA President, a spot he held for four years. “We become leaders so that we can serve others who themselves don’t yet have the wherewithal, the knowledge, or the experience to lead. We don’t coerce, manipulate, or force. We simply serve.”

“It’s been a blessing,” Richardson said. “The biggest thing I’m proud of is taking advantage of every opportunity we were offered, from education to development to benefits, because if I didn’t do it, how could I tell the young guys they should be doing it? Every decision we made was for the betterment of our organization. My only agenda, ever, has been to serve the players.”

“We get a chance to play an amazing game and compete on the highest level, and I feel fortunate to have stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest men in this game,” Morey said. “I appreciate our leadership letting me talk, trusting me, helping me understand the negotiation process and keeping me disciplined and focused.”

Hasselbeck, a Boston College graduate, has been playing in the NFL since 1998 and owns nearly every single-season and career record for quarterbacks with the Seattle Seahawks. The three-time Pro Bowler was first elected to the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives in 2008. Off the field, Hasselbeck is involved with numerous charitable efforts, including raising funds and awareness to help provide clean water to those in need.

Light was first elected as a Player Representative in 2008 and has served continuously since. A graduate of Purdue University, his career in the NFL has consisted of four Pro Bowl selections and three Super Bowl championships. A member of the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team, he established the Light Foundation which provides youth with unique outdoor experiences to help them become stronger individuals and better members of their communities.

Moore is an offensive lineman with the New York Jets and graduate of the University of Illinois. He has served as on the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives since 2007 and was a recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2011. The Pro Bowl selection created the Moore Family Foundation to provide disadvantaged youth with positive holiday experiences, school supplies and other important needs.

Watson, a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, was first elected as a Player Representative in 2010. The graduate of the University of Georgia was a first round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. A Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots, Watson created a foundation to support charities that provide educational and enrichment opportunities. He is also a spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteers for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

The 2012 NFLPA Board of Player Representatives Meeting continues through March 26.

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Your Monday Reality Check-I Got A Nice Reminder Sunday

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

It’s been a tough start to National Football League free agency for Baltimore Ravens fans.

Even for the most realistic fan of the Purple And Black (I’d like to think of myself in that group), it’s impossible to be excited about a six day span that has seen five players (LB Jarret Johnson, DL Cory Redding, G Ben Grubbs, S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura) depart, just one free agent (C Matt Birk) return and no free agents added to the roster.

The realistic Ravens fan knew this could be coming. Between them, the five players share just one Pro Bowl appearance (Grubbs was invited to Hawaii this season as an injury replacement) and all were able to cash in on the open market. The Ravens, having spent significant money during the regular season to extend would-be free agent DT Haloti Ngata decided none were “cornerstone” players and wouldn’t overpay to keep them.

The Ravens are instead working to spend a boatload of money to extend QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice, both players they do believe are “cornerstone” parts of the organization.

The realistic fan also knows the Ravens still have work to do in free agency before the process is finished. It was revealed this week that return specialist (and part time Wide Receiver) Ted Ginn Jr. visited Owings Mills last week. The team could still look to find help along the Offensive Line and at Linebacker as well, and could even add another Safety at some point.

Additionally, the realistic fan is aware that the upcoming NFL Draft is likely to help shape the 2012 season for the defending AFC North champs, with some players (like WR Torrey Smith and DE Pernell McPhee) not likely to fully develop into contributors until after the season has started.

AND the realistic fan knows the 2012 season will also be defined in part by the continued development of young players. Entering the 2011 season, the team’s secondary was considered to be one of the bigger question marks about the roster. Just months later, the CB trio of Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith represents one of the more solid units in football.

Yet even the most realistic Ravens fan still agonizes over the thought “can enough be done to get this team over the hump and into a Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years?”

A reasonable level of concern is understandable at this point. In addition to the pre-existing question marks facing the team (uneven O-Line play, lack of a size receiver, age and injury related decline from defensive playmakers, Special Teams issues), there are additional depth issues created by the first batch of free agent departures.

It’s an uneasy time for Ravens fans.

The majority of Ravens fans have not swayed far from reality in how they’ve viewed Week 1 of the actual NFL offseason. As can be expected, some have gone off the deep end entirely. The reminder I got Sunday could serve as a nice “reality check” itself for fans in both groups. It’s probably something you already know about.

I assume you’ve heard that free agent quarterback Matt Flynn agreed to a three year, $26 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. As the deal involved only $10 million of guaranteed money, most analysts agreed it was a particularly fair and perhaps very good deal for a team that is trying to improve on a third place finish in the NFC West last season.

I actually think the deal was a great move for the Seahawks. In fact, just days ago during our weekly “Free Advice” segment on “The Reality Check” (weekdays 2-6pm on AM1570 WNST.net for the one of you that doesn’t listen already) I encouraged the Seahawks to pull the trigger on the move. I can only assume my endorsement was the final approval the team needed to get the deal done.

But the facts about Flynn don’t change. The quarterback was believed to have so little pro talent coming out of LSU that he slid to the seventh round of the NFL Draft. While they’ve been impressive, he’s made only two starts with the Green Bay Packers as is still mostly an unknown commodity.

An unknown commodity who has $10 million guaranteed coming his way.

You see, the Seahawks are in a place where they had to make a significant move that could backfire. Matt Flynn might be more Rick Mirer than Matt Hasselbeck in the Emerald City, which could possibly doom Pete Carroll’s tenure.

Yet if the team didn’t pull the trigger, they could face a reality that involves more Tavaris Jackson. That would almost certainly doom Carroll to a sub .500 record until he was dismissed.

The Seahawks had to pull the trigger partly due to desperation. It’s a feeling the Baltimore Ravens have experienced in the past with mixed results. It’s a feeling that Baltimore Ravens fans should enjoy not experiencing this year.

The Ravens haven’t been able to accomplish much during free agency, but they haven’t had to. They’re not a desperate organization seeking a single fix to exit mediocrity. They’re a superior organization merely looking to make a few moves to reach “the next level.”

The Ravens have a quarterback. The Ravens have talented players at other offensive skill positions. The Ravens (still) have one of the best defenses in the league.

Desperation isn’t a word General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Owner Steve Bisciotti even have to consider. Neither do Ravens fans.

It’s a significantly better place to be. I appreciated the reminder.

Carry on.

-G

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Rice, Suggs In Running For Madden 13 Cover

Posted on 08 March 2012 by WNST Staff

EA SPORTS AND ESPN’S SPORTSNATION KICK OFF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER ATHLETE FAN VOTE

This Year’s Campaign Expands to 64 Players – With Play-In Round Featuring Two Athletes

From Each NFL Team Represented in Head-to-Head Matchups

March 7, 2012 – EA SPORTS™ and ESPN announced today the return of the award-winning Madden NFL Cover Vote campaign, where fans can cast their vote for the next athlete to grace the cover of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises in North America. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast through ESPNSportsNation.com and ESPN mobile in both companies’ most successful cross-platform activation. Tenth-seeded Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis, trucked through the six week competition all the way to the ultimate end zone – the Madden NFL 12 cover.

This year’s competition will incorporate more athletes and more chances to vote as the field has been expanded to 64 NFL players, putting even more control in the hands of the fans. Beginning today through March 21, fans can visit the SportsNation Facebook page to choose among the 64 candidates in a play-in round (each matchup features two players from the same NFL team) to advance to the official 32-player, seeded tournament.  The winners of the play-in round will be unveiled with the official seeded, 32-player bracket on March 21 on ESPN’s “Madden Cover Vote Special” from 5-6p.m. EST.  To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.  Every Wednesday between March 21 and April 25, fans can tune into SportsNation on ESPN2at 5p.m. EST to check out the latest Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote standings.

In addition to the SportsNation Facebook page, fans will be able to vote in the play-in round via the open Web through widgets embedded on blogs, websites and more.  Each widget features an individual match-up for each of the 32 total teams in the league.  For the cover vote from March 21-April 25, all voting must be cast at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

The star-studded list of candidates participating in the play-in round features past Super Bowl winners, perennial Pro Bowlers and some of the most popular players in the NFL including Drew Brees, Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. The full list of matchups featured in the play-in round are:

AFC

Ravens Terrell Suggs vs. Ray Rice Jets Mark Sanchez vs. Darrelle Revis
Steelers Troy Polamalu vs. Ben Roethlisberger Bills Stevie Johnson vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Browns Joe Thomas vs. Joe Haden Dolphins Reggie Bush vs. Brandon Marshall
Bengals Andy Dalton vs. AJ Green Patriots Wes Welker vs. Rob Gronkowski
Texans Arian Foster vs. Andre Johnson Chargers Phillip Rivers vs. Antonio Gates
Colts Dwight Freeney vs. Robert Mathis Broncos Tim Tebow vs. Von Miller
Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Blaine Gabbert Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Derrick Johnson
Titans Jake Locker vs. Chris Johnson Raiders Sebastian Janikowski vs. Shane Lechler

NFC

Bears Jay Cutler vs. Matt Forte Rams Chris Long vs. Brandon Lloyd
Lions Calvin Johnson vs. Matt Stafford 49ers Vernon Davis vs. Patrick Willis
Vikings Percy Harvin vs. Jared Allen Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. Earl Thomas
Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. Clay Matthews Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Peterson
Falcons Matt Ryan vs. Julio Jones Eagles Michael Vick vs. LeSean McCoy
Saints Drew Brees vs. Jimmy Graham Giants Victor Cruz vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Panthers Cam Newton vs. Steve Smith Cowboys Jason Witten vs. DeMarcus Ware
Buccaneers Josh Freeman vs. LeGarrette Blount Redskins Brian Orakpo vs. Ryan Kerrigan

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN’s SportsNation.

Madden NFL 13 is developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon.  For more information about Madden NFL 13, please visit: http://www.ea.com/madden-nfl. To download assets pertaining to the Madden NFL 13 please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com.

All player participation has been facilitated by National Football League Players Incorporated, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers experiences that ignite the emotions of sport through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield™, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS Active, The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd.  Battlefield is a trademark of EA Digital Illusions CE AB.  John Madden, NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA, NCAA, Tiger Woods, and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission.  Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Officially Licensed Product of National Football League Players Incorporated.

About SportsNation

SportsNation is a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.  The show, which has the youngest and most male audience on the ESPN network, features discussions of the day’s hottest sports topics but also smaller stories that generate buzz on the Web but are overlooked by other shows.  Feeding off the theory that if two heads are better than one, 200,000 heads are better than two, SportsNation engages hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country via ESPN.com’s SportsNation page (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/).

About ESPN Games and EA

ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA produces deep brand integrations into console gaming titles such as EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 and Fight Night Champion.  Additionally, the relationship in 2011 produced the biggest ESPN poll vote ever for the Madden NFL 12 cover vote, logging nearly 13 million votes, the most ESPN votes ever for a joint collaboration.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also most recently extended to boxing and golf in 2011.

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PLAY-IN ROUND VOTING THRU FACEBOOK & OPEN WEB

Thanks for your interest in SportsNation’s Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

EA Sports and ESPN’s SportsNation have chosen two players from each NFL team to be included in a social play-in round for the Madden NFL 13 cover.

Starting March 7th on SportsNation’s Facebook page and on voting matchups called ‘sapplets’ or ‘widgets’ embedded across open web (info below), fans will be able to vote on matchups from each NFL team to send one representative into the final bracket of 32 players at ESPN.com/MaddenVote on March 21st.

If you choose to embed one of the 32 individual voting ‘sapplets’, you can use the next page that includes all 32 embed codes for all 32 NFL teams. They post to your site much like a YouTube clip and can increase time spent on your site as well as traffic by generating debate about matchups.

The social Play-in vote launches on Wednesday, March 7th and closes two week later on Wednesday, March 21st. The Facebook tab and voting ‘sapplets’ will be live during those two weeks.

CHEAT SHEET:

WAY TO EMBED:

  • Go to page 2. Find your team.
  • Copy the embed code.
  • Paste the embed code onto your website where you would embed a YouTube clip.
  • The voting platform is ready and interactive on your page!
  • Please Note: do NOT embed on Tumblr and do NOT change the height & width

Canvas

NEW embed Code

49ers Vote

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Chiefs Vote

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Broncos Vote

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Chargers Vote

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Raiders Vote

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Cardinals Vote

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Rams Vote

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Seahawks Vote

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Dolphins Vote

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Jets Vote

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Bills Vote

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Patriots Vote

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Giants Vote

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Redskins Vote

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Eagles Vote

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Cowboys Vote

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Texans Vote

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Colts Vote

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Titans Vote

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Jaguars Vote

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Falcons Vote

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Panthers Vote

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Buccaneers Vote

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Saints Vote

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Browns Vote

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Ravens Vote

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Bengals Vote

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Steelers Vote

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Vikings Vote

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Lions Vote

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Bears Vote

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Packers Vote

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Letters From Sylvia Mackey, Sandra Unitas Address Forgotten Widows

Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Letters Taken From FourthAndGoalUnites.com…

My husband played 18 years in the National Football League – 17 seasons with the Baltimore Colts and one with the San Diego Chargers.

My husband completed 2,830 passes for more than 40,000 yards and 290 touchdowns during his NFL career. He threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games – an NFL record that still stands today.

My husband was honored as the league’s Player of the Year three times. He was named All-Pro six times and selected for the Pro Bowl 10 times.

My husband was the quarterback of the 1958 NFL Championship Game – the first “sudden death” playoff game – that launched the nearly 54-year lucrative partnership between the league and television.

My husband suffered numerous injuries during his NFL career, including a broken nose, punctured lung, damaged knees, a shattered knuckle, ligament and ulnar nerve damage to his right arm, and broken ribs. He played through many of those injuries and, years later, when he lost the use of his right hand due to a football injury, the league he loved and the union he supported denied him disability benefits.

My husband worked diligently to protect not only himself and his family, but also his teammates and their families. A team leader on and off the field, my husband was greatly concerned about those who couldn’t afford health insurance following their NFL careers.

My husband chose the pension option that would continue following his death, to ensure that I would be covered. Recently I learned that I – along with more than 300 other widows of retired players who were receiving their pensions and died prior to August 4, 2011 – am excluded from the Legacy Benefit.

My husband – like so many pioneers of the league – helped build the league and the union. While the league has offered assurances that they will rectify the situation, the union has remained silent.

My husband would be appalled.

Sandra Unitas, widow of NFL Hall of Fame QB John Unitas

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