Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

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?

A thought on a punishment belatedly came to me:

For the Super Bowl, the NFL could have the Patriots deflate each of their 11 non-kicking game balls by two pounds each. Then they would replace that air with air from the kicking ball (the only one that was still in the legal range) until they could get no more air to transfer out of the kicking ball. They would play the game with these twelve balls and would be forced to use the kicking ball for kickoffs, punts, extra points, and field goals, should they choose to do any of these. Kicking off (or punting if chosen after a safety) is the only kick a team is required to make. All the others are discretionary.

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Lonestar Played in the NFL

October 19, 2009

Not long ago, I learned that some Carlisle Indians other than the ones on the Oorang Indians also played in the NFL. Chris Willis’s book, The Columbus Panhandles, tells the story of one of the charter members of the NFL (called the American Professional Football Association when it was first formed in 1920). The 1920 Panhandles’ roster included one player that claimed Carlisle Indian School as his alma mater. That was Frank Lone Star. John Steckbeck’s classic about the Carlisle Indian School football teams, Fabulous Redmen, makes no mention of him playing football. An appendix to Willis’s book lists Frank as having played guard and tackle in three games in the 1920 season. A search of newspaper coverage for these games confirms Willis’s data.

Unfortunately, Carlisle’s school records don’t indicate that Frank Lonestar ever played football there—at least not on the varsity squad. Frank Lonestar, Chippewa from Shell Lake, Wisconsin, first arrived at Carlisle in August 1903. After completing the five-year term, he re-enrolled for a three-year term. Just before the end of that term of enrollment, he ran away but re-enrolled in September 1911. He ran away again, returned in March 1912, and left for good in May 1912. While at Carlisle, he learned the printing trade and could have played on the Printers’ shop football team. Shop teams received little press, so it’s not known for sure if he played for them. He kept in touch with the school while working in Cleveland, Ohio. He died at his brother’s home in Shell Lake on October 30, 1915.

Frank’s untimely death made it impossible for him to play for the Columbus Panhandles in 1920. Playing under assumed names was common in the early days of professional football, especially by people whose employment might be jeopardized if their employer learned they were playing football for money.

One possibility is Lone Star Dietz because he was looking for a coaching job at that time. He went by the name William Lone Star at Carlisle. That name is close to Frank Lonestar. Also, Dietz would have likely known that Frank was dead because his death was announced in The Carlisle Arrow. In addition, Frank’s hometown was in the county immediately north of Dietz’s. Tackle was his natural position, too.

In 1920, Lone Star Dietz was 36, an advanced age for an athlete in that era, a factor that would explain him playing only three games. Of course, it may not have been Dietz, but if it wasn’t, who was it?

Bezdek NOT Only Man to Manage MLB & Coach NFL Teams

April 10, 2009

Baseball-Reference.com attributes states the following about former manager Hugo Bezdek to The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia:
“In 1937, he was hired by the NFL’s Cleveland Rams to be their head coach. This made him the only man ever to coach a NFL team and manage a MLB team. Cleveland only went 1-13 under his reign.”

HogNation.com made a similar claim. RizzoSports.com echoes that statement. Brendan Macgranachan stated it differently when writing about Bezdek: “The story of the only man to manage in the Major Leagues and coach a professional football team” on SeamHeads.com</as does his claim http://seamheads.com/blog/2008/11/29/the-legend-of-hugo-bezdek/.

They are all wrong. Not only were they wrong when they wrote, it was wrong when Bezdek coached the Rams. It was even wrong when he managed the Pirates. In the very early 1900s, the Philadelphia major league baseball teams were competing fiercely with each other, especially for players. Professional football was beginning to develop a following and, in 1902, David Berry, a football promoter from Western Pennsylvania, founded the National Football League. He succeeded in convincing both Philadelphia baseball teams to sponsor teams. The third member of the league was from Pittsburgh and may have been sponsored by that city’s big league baseball franchise. The Phillies’ manager also managed the football team but did not coach it. However, Connie Mack, the Athletics’ manager did coach the NFL team becoming the first man to manage a major league baseball team and to coach an NFL team. Hugo Bezdek did not manage the Pirates until 1918 and the Rams until 1937. Connie Mack also made his star lefthander, Rube Waddell, play on the football team, thus likely becoming the first person to play both major league baseball and pro football.

The NFL disbanded after its World Series that was played over the New Year holiday in Madison Square Garden. However, none of the three NFL teams participated. The winning team was a Syracuse squad that featured Carlisle Indians Bemus and Hawley Pierce on one side of the line and the Warner brothers, Pop and Bill, on the other.