Lawrence Julius Taylor, nicknamed L.T., was born on February 4, 1959 in Williamsburg, VA. Taylor played college football for the University of North Carolina. In 1981, he was the first-round draft pick of the New York Giants, and the second player selected overall. That same year, he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Taylor was named first-team All-Pro in each of his first nine seasons. He continued to play for the Giants until 1993. Taylor produced double-digit sacks each season from 1984 through 1990, including a career high of 20.5 in 1986. He also won a record three Defensive Player of the Year awards (1981, 1982, 1986) and was named the league's Most Valuable Player for his performance during the 1986 season, becoming the first defensive player to do so since 1971. He was selected to play in 10 Pro Bowls and in 1994 was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Taylor is also known for being responsible for the career-ending sack to Redskin’s Joe Theismann in 1985. Theismann never blamed Taylor for his injury. The two remain friends and have appeared together on numerous celebrity golf tournaments. “Lawrence Taylor, defensively, has had as big an impact as any player I've ever seen. He changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers.” –John Madden.
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In the late 1940's and into the 50's, the New York Football Giants were struggling financially. They desperately needed to put more bodies in the seats. The team they were putting on the field was okay, but that didn't seem to be the problem. So maybe it was the stadium. The Polo Grounds, where they were playing their home games, was not bringing in the clientele that the Giants felt they needed to survive. They were looking for the corporate folks, the big spenders, the in crowd.
The phone call that would ultimately turn the franchise around came in 1955. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell called Giants owner Tim Mara with news that he had a million dollar offer from an oil mogul to buy the Giants. The only condition on this deal was that the team had to move from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium. The Mara family didn't want to sell, but $1 million was difficult to reject. After much debate Wellington Mara had a revelation - if the Giants are worth $1 million in Yankee Stadium, let's move to Yankee Stadium without selling. So Mara rejected the offer and on January 27, 1956 a deal was finalized to move the Giants to a new home.
Yankee Stadium in the foreground, Polo Grounds in the background
The first game at Yankee Stadium was a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 21, 1956. The crowds came as expected. Their new home was a hit. In fact, it was such a hit that the Giants went on to win the 1956 NFL Championship.
Football in Yankee Stadium
Since that time the Giants have moved to the Meadwolands Complex in New Jersey and another move is coming this year. Anyone think a new stadium bring luck to the 2010 New York Football Giants?
Week 14 was our unofficial barometer as to when we can start speculating on whether or not the Saints and Colts might finish the regular season with perfect records. Now that they both survived this weekend unscathed, let the talking begin.
We always look at things from a historical perspective around here, so let's learn a little more about the previous five teams that made it to 13 - 0.
- 1934 Chicago Bears - In 1934 there were only 13 weeks in the season so this team headed into the championship with a perfect record. Coached by George Halas, and led on the field by Bronko Nagurski, the Bears faced the Eastern Division Champion NY Giants for the Championship. The game was played at the Polo Grounds on an ice covered field. At halftime the Giants changed their cleats and the better footing gave them enough of an advantage to give them the victory. Final score Giants 30 - Bears 13. No perfect season for the Bears.
- 1972 Miami Dolphins - The team that all perfect seasons are measured against. The Don Shula led Dolphins finished the regular season with a perfect 14 - 0 record. Their closest margin of victory came against the Bills when the Dolphins squeaked out a 24 - 23 win on October 22. In the Super Bowl the Dolphins faced the Redskins and took the championship with a 14 - 7 win. The Dolphins finsished the entire season with a record of 17 - 0. The greatest team of all time?
- 1998 Denver Broncos - The Broncos headed into week 15 of the regular season with a 13 - 0 record. On December 13th, Mike Shanahan and the Broncos faced the NY Giants at Giants Stadium. The Giants were struggling with a record of 5 - 8, but managed to put together a solid game and defeat the previously unbeaten Broncos 20 - 16. The losing continued for the Broncos as they dropped another game the next week, this time to the Dolphins, 31 - 21. The Broncos went into the playoffs with a 14 - 2 record and breezed through the playoffs finsishing off the season with a Super Bowl victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Final record, 17 - 2
- 2005 Indianapolis Colts - The Colts faced the same fate as the 1998 Broncos. They headed into week 15 with a perfect record. But on December 18 the Chargers put an end to their pursuit of perfection with a 26 - 17 victory. Like the Broncos, the Colts dropped the next game, 28 - 13 to the Seahawks. The Colts struggles continued and they lost in the first round of the playoffs to eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Final record, 14 - 3.
- 2007 New England Patriots - This one's recent so you should know that the Patriots finished the season wtih a perfect 16 - 0 record. Their pursuit of a perfect season was halted by the Giants in the Super Bowl, when David Tyree made "the catch." Final record, 18 - 1.
So, to really set a new record, the Saints and/or Colts have to win out the regular season and go on to win the Super Bowl. The 1972 Dolphins are still the only ones who have accomplished that feat. We can't wait to see how this plays out, how about you?
The tradition of the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving started back in 1934. G.A. Richards purchased the team in June of '34 and moved them from Portsmouth, OH to Detroit. In their first season in the Motor City they were doing well and had only lost one game prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. However, attendance was poor so Richards scheduled a Thanksgiving Day game against the Chicago Bears, the defending World Champions. Attendance jumped for the game at Detroit Stadium from 15,000 to 26,000. It was a sellout and fans were turned away at the gate. The Lions lost, but a tradition was born.
Since that time the Lions have played in 69 Thanksgiving Day games, with an overall record of 33 - 34 - 2. The only time that the Lions have not played on turkey day was from 1939 - 1944 when the Thursday games were interrupted for World War II. Here are a few more Thanksgiving football facts.
- The Lions and Bears have played on Thanksgiving 15 times, with the Bears leading the series 8 - 7.
- The Lions and Packers have played 18 times, with the Lions leading 11 - 6 - 1.
- Most touchdowns on Thanksgiving - 6 by Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals in a game against the Bears in 1929.
- Most rushing yards on Thanksgiving - 273 by O.J. Simpson in a Bills vs. Lions game in 1976.
- Most passing yards on Thanksgiving - 455 by Troy Aikman in a Cowboys vs. Vikings game in 1998.
- Most receptions on Thanksgiving - 12 by Brett Perriman in a Lions vs. Vikings game in 1995 & by Marvin Harrison in a Colts vs. Lions game in 2004
- Most receiving yards gained on Thanksgiving - 303 by Jim Benton of the Cleveland Rams in a game against the Lions in 1945.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Mitchell & Ness.
With the Saints being the talk of the NFL, we got to thinking about what are some of the greatest moments in Saints history. Certainly coming back to the Superdome after Katrina stands out in recent memory, but this moment by Tom Dempsey might be the winner.
Dempsey's 63 yard field goal is now tied for the longest field goal in NFL history. The Broncos Jason Elam also kicked a 63 yard fg on October 25, 1998 against the Jaguars.
Did you know that Tom Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot? He kicked with a modified cleat as seen here.
At the time there was a debate on whether or not this type of cleat gave a kicker an unfair advantage. In 1977 the NFL added a rule that unofficially became known as the "Tom Dempsey Rule." It stated that "any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe."
But back to the matter at hand, is Dempsey's kick the greatest moment in Saints history? Let us know what you think.