Deflategate

January 25, 2015

That a football team would stretch the rules beyond the limit to gain an advantage over its opponents is not surprising, especially since such stretching has such a long history. And the ball itself has been central to many stunts. The very first American football game (soccer actually) played between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869 was reputedly played with a crude ball more round than rugby-shaped. The two-game international series played between Harvard and McGill in 1874 featured a round ball in the first game, rugby ball in the first game played under American football rules. The next day, they played rugby with an egg-shaped ball. Harvard switched to rugby after that game. Decades later, coaches manipulated the balls to gain an advantage over their opponent. Perhaps the most famous example was when Pop Warner had leather patches shaped by footballs sewn on his Carlisle players’ jerseys to fool Harvard and Harvard’s coach retaliated by painting the footballs Crimson, the color of his team’s jerseys.

Modern day coaches are more subtle. According to news reports, the New England Patriots have been deflating their footballs, except the kicking balls, to below the NFL’s allowed pressure. Previously, the Patriot quarterback stated his preference for softer footballs. The Patriots’ coach and quarterbacks denials in press conferences raise more questions than they answer, particularly given the team’s history of cheating.

The NFL is now in the unpleasant position of having to deal with this scandal. Either they enforce their rules with harsh penalties or risk becoming a laughing stock. A detailed and specific rule exists, one assumes there is good reason for it. If they minimize the infraction of this rule, they risk making all NFL rules suspect. If this rule isn’t enforced, it must not be important. What other rules aren’t important? Why should a team obey any of them?

Was the Tsunami Based on the Double-Wing?

December 26, 2014

Old friend Tex Noel forwarded me a recent article about a new formation from AFCA Weekly. In that article Leon Feliciano, Head Coach of Tomales (CA) High School, states that his Tsunami formation is based on the double wing and provides photos of both formations (below).

Double-wing Feliciano

Tsunami formation

The first thing I noticed is that Feliciano used a balanced-line configuration with the quarterback directly behind, if not under, center as the basis for his Tsunami. Pop Warner’s fully-evolved double-wing, which he labeled Formation B in his 1927 book, in sharp contrast, uses an unbalanced line and a direct snap to a running back. (below)

Formation B Warner

To me, the Tsunami is more like Warner’s single-wing than his double-wing because it employs only one wingback. Warner’s fully-evolved unbalanced-line single wing as depicted as Formation A (below) in his 1927 book is closer to the Tsunami than Warner’s double-wingback formation, but is different, especially with regard to the positioning of the quarterback. Where Warner moves his quarterback along the line to just behind the tackles and renames the position as blocking back.

400px-Singlewingformation_vs5

Warner’s 1912 book sheds little light on this question because Warner had shifted to running only direct snap formations in 1910. He does include one set of plays with the quarterback directly behind center in what he calls the Regular Formation (an incarnation of the T Formation).

However, in his correspondence course Warner started marketing in 1908, he includes a set of plays run from the End-Back Formation in which the right halfback is placed outside the right end as a wingback without moving the quarterback from behind center. The difference between this formation and the Tsunami is that Warner positioned his left end in the backfield about where he later placed his blocking back. (Rules allowed five men in the backfield at that time.) The extra man in the backfield and the resulting unbalanced line are the chief difference between the End-Back Formation and the Tsunami.

1908 End Back formation

Warner’s next wingback formation, which appears unnamed in play number 8 to 16 in the 1910 or 1911 (the year isn’t clear) Offense pamphlet supplement is a direct-snap single-wing with a balanced line. If Warner moved his blocking back to directly behind the center, it would be very similar to the Tsunami.

1910 Balanced-Line single-wing

I hope this little walk down Memory Lane helps place the Tsunami with its historical predecessors.

 

 

 

 

Eisenhower Was Pro–Just Like Jim Thorpe

December 17, 2014

West Point enthusiast, researcher, and writer Jim Sweeney just made me aware of a July 19 New York Times article by Michael Beschloss titled “The Pro Who Shadowed Eisenhower’s Career.” In this article, Beschloss mused, “One can imagine what modern opposition researchers could have done with this information during the 1952 campaign, had they followed the maxim of attacking your adversary’s strengths.” I think he mulls over the wrong question because, in the immediately preceding paragraph, Beschloss discusses how the issue was made public years earlier. Shortly after V-E Day, Ike explained to an Associated Press reporter that, as a poor boy fresh out of high school, he would have taken “any job that offered me more money” and that he “wasn’t a very good center fielder.” A better question would be “How would voters have reacted to hearing about his youthful indiscretion?”

Beschloss later refers to David Eisenhower’s 1910 book about his grandfather in which the younger Eisenhower revealed that Ike had played under the name of Wilson in the 1909 Central Kansas League. In Baseball’s Most Wanted II, Floyd Conner provided a little more detail: “Eisenhower displayed his baseball ability when he batted .355 for Junction City of the Class D Central Kansas League.” So, Ike and Jim Thorpe started their professional baseball careers in similar circumstances. Both were poor, needed the money (which wasn’t much), and played on bush league teams but in different parts of the country. The difference was that Eisenhower was sophisticated enough to play under an assumed name.

Politics in America have never been a kind and gentle business. If the Democrats thought hammering Ike over participating in college sports after having played for money would have benefitted them, they surely would have used it. Surely someone, possibly the reporter, would have remembered the AP disclosure. However, the sympathetic public response to Jim Thorpe’s professionalism probably persuaded them that attacking Eisenhower this way could easily backfire and eliminate what little chance they had of defeating this war hero.

Montana the Greatest

November 26, 2014

One of the six NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks from Western Pennsylvania that Wayne Stewart writes about in his new book, America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana has been named the best NFL quarterback of all time by none other than his rival.

Yahoo reports that Troy Aikman regards his former rival as the best to ever play the game in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.

“Joe Montana,” said Aikman. “And I don’t care if we’re comparing him against anyone from today’s game or not, or what his numbers may or may not look like. I saw him do it on the biggest stage, in the biggest moments and bring his team back and do the things that I think are required of the position.”

Listen to his interview here: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nbc-yahoo-sports/troy-aikman-admits-rival-was-greatest-quarterback-of-all-time-152244100-nfl.html;_ylt=A0LEV1z6d3ZUpacAkBRXNyoA

Aikman isn’t the only one to think Montana was the best.

Tom Brady

Book Released!

November 23, 2014

ebk_p080c5_8q

America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana by Wayne Stewart has been released and books are in stock. The author’s copies are scheduled to arrive on tomorrow, Monday. Those will go mostly to people who assisted Wayne in some way in researching the book or by loaning him photographs or allowing him to interview them.

Right now, print books can be purchased from Tuxedo-Press.com, at your local bookstore, or the usual on-line resellers. Ebooks can be bought in the Kindle and Epub formats from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, respectively. This is the first major book I’ve put into ebook and well as print. We’ll see how that works out. Amazon.com has a program in which print book buyers get a special discount on the ebook if they want it in both formats.

An advantage of ebooks (on some newer devices) is that they display in color. Printing books of this nature in color is cost prohibitive, meaning the cost of printing a full-color interior would raise the retail price of the book so much that few people would buy it. A limiting factor on color photos in the interior of a book is the ebook file size. Since color photos are typically larger at a given resolution than their black and white counterparts, a publisher can’t go wild with interior color photos in a book.

For more information check out:

www.Tuxedo-Press.com

http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Cradle-Quarterbacks-Pennsylvanias-Football/dp/193616146X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416786003&sr=1-1&keywords=america%27s+cradle+of+quarterbacks

http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Cradle-Quarterbacks-Pennsylvanias-Football-ebook/dp/B00PB0ALP8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416786003&sr=1-2&keywords=america%27s+cradle+of+quarterbacks

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/americas-cradle-of-quarterbacks-wayne-stewart/1120724729?ean=9781936161461

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/americas-cradle-of-quarterbacks-wayne-stewart/1120742362?ean=2940150358102&itm=1&usri=america%27s+cradle+of+quarterbacks

 

America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks

November 17, 2014

I’ve been asked why I haven’t blogged lately. There are two major reasons (besides often not having anything worth saying): volunteer work associated with the Craighead House restoration keeps me pretty busy and I’ve been getting another book ready to publish. I’ve published books of my own before, reprinted out-of-print books, helped other authors get their books in print, but, until now, hadn’t published another author’s new book. Going to press as this is being written is America’s Cradle of Quarterbacks: Western Pennsylvania’s Football Factory from Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana. This is author Wayne Stewart’s 30th book, most of which deal with some topic related to sports.

It’s very different promoting a book written by someone else rather than one I’ve written. I’m more comfortable speaking positively about it than I ever was about my own books. I only felt comfortable talking about how interesting the subject of my books were and, in Lone Star Dietz’s case, how descriptive his illustrations were. Sure, I get to talk about how Stewarts subjects, Johnny Unitas, George Blanda, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Joe Montana, led interesting lives. But now, I get to talk about Wayne Stewart’s writing, how it grabs your attention and keeps you wanting to hear what happens next.

Others who’ve read the manuscript agree with me:

“Stewart has written a fascinating book that belongs on the shelves of football historians and everyday fans alike.” Jeffry J. Miller, author of Rockin’ The Rockpile, Buffalo’s Forgotten Champions, and Game Changers

“Any fan of the Baltimore Colts of my era, any fan of my friend and teammate Johnny Unitas, or, for that matter, any fan of football in general should enjoy Wayne Stewart’s book. It contains great stories, statistics, and information on all of the many great quarterbacks who came out of Western Pennsylvania and much more.” Raymond Berry, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver

9781936161461

Craighead Exhibit at Historical Society

August 15, 2014

Yesterday, Cumberland County Historical Society videotaped an interview of me for their oral history project and for the upcoming exhibit on the Craigheads. The video is to be in conjunction with the artifacts displayed in the two large cabinets in Todd Hall from September through January. I talked about a dozen different topics related to the Craigheads, beginning with their emigrating from Ulster to Boston in the American colonies in 1714 and settling in Cumberland County in the 1730s. The topics selected are related to the various portions of the exhibit visitors will see (if I can fit them all into the cabinets). Jean Craighead George’s writing desk, which Craighead House is loaning for the exhibit, will sit between the cabinets, helping with the space problem a bit.

The backpack Frank Craighead Jr. made for Johnston Coyle fits snugly but is an interesting artifact of which I first became aware when reading an article in a University of Michigan alumni magazine that included the photograph below. Following up on the article, I learned that Frank Jr. and John made a number of these backpacks for their families and friends. I also learned that the canvas portion was made by Maslands—the Craigheads are close friends with the Maslands. Dave Masland informed me that, during WWII when there was zero demand for automobile carpet, his father converted the plant to producing canvas duck and quickly became the country’s largest producer. This fabric was used in tents, jackets, and numerous other products.

We still need some artifacts for the exhibit: a falconer’s glove, an ex, and a ball of cord, all in used condition. If you can lend us any of these, please let me know.

Babies at Big House

Babies in The Big House

 

New Information on William Winneshiek

August 3, 2014

William Winneshiek’s grandson just sent me some interesting information about and a great photograph of his grandfather. Winneshiek reputedly came to an untimely end in an Elkton, MD hotel fire in 1950. His grandson of the same name located his death certificate. That document stated that he died in a September 15, 1949 fire in Minquadale, Delaware fire. Now that I know when and where he died—death certificates are usually fairly accurate about dates and places of death—I can look for old newspapers that might have articles about the fire. I’ll first start with Minquadale, if it had a newspaper then, then try New Castle, the nearby large town, because it probably covered the fire due to there being a death in it. After that, I’ll look at the Philadelphia papers because his home address was listed as Hotel Washington in Philadelphia on the death certificate. From there, I’ll try newspapers that covered Lebanon, Pennsylvania because he lived there for many years, and finally at the Carlisle papers because he was once a Carlisle Indian School student.

Follows is a newly-discovered photograph of the handsome William Winneshiek that may have been used for promotional purposes when he had his own band or played in Wheelock’s band.

Little by little, we’re learning more about William Winneshiek.

WILLIAMPHEADDRESSBIG

Radio Interview

June 19, 2014

PHMC Historic Marker

Prior to the Historical Marker dedication, I was approached by WITF, the local PBS affiliate, for an interview concerning the book I am writing about the Craighead Naturalists. Cary Burkett, who has one of the best radio voices I’ve ever heard and whom I saw and heard sing The Impossible Dream in a local performance of The Man from LaMancha some years ago, met me at Craighead House the Monday before the Historical Marker dedication with recorder and microphone in hand.

He didn’t carry a heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder like the one Bob Wheeler lugged as he hitchhiked across the country interviewing people such as President Eisenhower for his biography of Jim Thorpe or the 40-pounder that left Howard Cossell stoop-shouldered. Burkett carried a tiny—relatively speaking—unit that was probably digital and could easily be slung from his shoulder. Recognizing me immediately from my photo, he introduced himself and began the interview.

Other than taking a couple of minutes to record the background sound of the Yellow Breeches flowing over the Craighead dam and into the mill race, he mostly listened to me recite facts, figures, and historical events related to the family for the better part of an hour. When I’d stop to breathe, he’d ask me another question and off I’d go babbling on and on about all manner of things Craighead related.

To make the interview more interesting, I gave Cary a tour of the home and grounds. Sadly, describing the artwork that adorns the kitchen walls is not easily done on radio and couldn’t be included in the seqment that resulted from interview. The 4-minute piece digested from this rambling interview airs tomorrow, Friday, June 20, 2014 at 6:35 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. on WITF 89.5 fm. Mr. Burkett also wrote an accompanying article about the Craigheads that, along with a podcast of his radio piece, is posted on WITF’s site at:

http://www.witf.org/arts-culture/2014/06/historic-marker-for-craighead-house.php

 

Unexpected Falcon

June 15, 2014

Tom Swift falcon 150 dpi

Life bring a series of surprises, some pleasant, some otherwise. Yesterday’s dedication of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Historical Marker brought a most unexpected and beautiful surprise. I knew Chuck Heywood was coming to speak about distant Craighead cousins who were also interested in nature. I’d invited him, after all. What I didn’t expect was a gift. And what a gift it was.

Chuck presented a breathtakingly beautiful print of a hand-colored drawing of falcon done by the renowned neurologist, Dr. Tom Swift. I won’t bore you by listing his numerous accomplishments in various fields of endeavor; I will simply relate what his wife, Margaret, shared with Chuck about him, “I’m convinced Tom should be diagnosed with attention surplus disorder.” It sure would be nice to have that diagnosis.

Dr. Swift didn’t just donate a print we could hang on the wall to beautiful Craighead House; he donated ten of them to sell to raise money to preserve the house. The falcon he depicted isn’t any old falcon; it is a male hybrid cross between a European and American peregrine falcons Dr. Swift watched go through its paces at Awendaw Raptor Center north of Charleston, SC.

More information about the dedication can be found in The Sentinel article about the event: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/communities/carlisle/historical-marker-unveiled-at-craighead-house-in-south-middleton-township/article_f003d386-f441-11e3-9ac2-001a4bcf887a.html and on the Craighead House Facebook page and at www.CraigheadHouse.com.


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