Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers

Here are the 1972 Steelers. This is just before they won 4 Super Bowls in 6 years. Except for Preston Pearson, Andy Russell, and John Rowser, all these players have only 2 or 3 years of NFL experience.

#150 Terry Bradshaw - The Steelers spent their #1 pick in 1970 on Bradshaw, 1 year after drafting QB Terry Hanratty. Bradshaw assumed the starting QB job as a rookie, taking over for the departed Dick Shiner. It was a few years until he led the Steelers to 4 Super Bowls. Until then, he was considered by many to be too dumb to quarterback a contending NFL team.

#77 John "Frenchy" Fuqua - Frenchy joined the Steelers in 1970, after a rookie season with the Giants. He teamed with Preston Pearson to form the Steelers' starting backfield in 1970 and 1971, and with rookie Franco Harris in 1972. In 1973 Fuqua shared a running back position with Pearson, until they were both replaced by Rocky Bleier in 1974.

#306 Preston Pearson - Pearson was the Colts' 12th-round pick in 1967. After 3 seasons in Baltimore, he came to the Steelers in 1970. A starter for 2 seasons, he was relegated to a part-time role when Franco Harris arrived in 1972. After 1974, he moved on to Dallas, and played 6 seasons with the Cowboys before retiring after the 1980 season.

#37 Ronnie Shanklin - Shanklin was the Steelers' top wide receiver from his rookie season of 1970 through 1973. In 1974, he was thrown into the wide receiver mix with Frank Lewis and rookies Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. After missing the 1975 season, he wrapped up his career in 1976 with the Bears.

#173 Dave Smith - Like Shanklin, Smith earned a starting wide receiver spot as a rookie, but held it for only 2 seasons. In 1972, he lost his starting job to Frank Lewis, and was shipped to the Oilers in mid-season. He finished his career in 1973 with the Chiefs.

#101 L. C. Greenwood - Greenwood was the starting left defensive end for Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain". He played his entire career (1969-81) with the Steelers.

#230 Joe Greene - Greene was probably the Steelers' best player during the 1970-72 seasons, as Bradshaw had not yet developed, and Harris, Swann, Stallworth, and Jack Lambert had not arrived yet. Joe was a fixture at left defensive tackle, making the Pro Bowl 10 times. Like Greenwood, Greene played his entire career (1969-81) with the Steelers. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987.

#330 Andy Russell - Andy was a 16th-round pick in 1963 by the Steelers. He parlayed that lowly start into a 12-year career (1963-76) as the Steelers' starting right linebacker, playing in 7 Pro Bowls and 2 Super Bowls. He missed the 1964-65 seasons while in the Army.

#198 John Rowser - Rowser spent 4 seasons in Green Bay before joining the Steelers in 1971. John was the Steelers' starting left cornerback from 1971-73. In 1974, the Steelers added their final 2 Super-Bowl-era defensive starters (MLB Jack Lambert, LCB J. T. Thomas), so Rowser played with the Broncos in 1974-76.

Also check out the 1967 and 1968 Steelers.

Next time: Washington Redskins

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were one of the better teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, usually finishing first in their division (after the post-1967 collapse of the Packers). The Vikings appeared in Super Bowls 4, 8, 9, and 11, but lost all of them.

#225 Fran Tarkenton - Tarkenton quarterbacked the Vikings from the team's inaugural 1961 season (as a rookie) through the 1966 season. He spent the next 5 seasons as the New York Giants QB, before being traded back to the Vikings for QB Norm Snead and others prior to the 1972 season. Here, Tarkenton is pictured in his Giants' jersey from the 1971 season. (In the early 1970s, the Vikings jerseys had a much more bluish tone than the bright purple jerseys of the 1960s, so they look similar to the Giants' blue jerseys.)

#71 Bob Lee - Lee was the Vikings punter and backup quarterback. Bob's rookie season was 1968. He spent much the 1970s shuttling back and forth between the Vikings and the Falcons.

#166 Clint Jones - Jones led the Vikings with 9 touchdowns in 1970. He was also a top kick returner for the Vikings. Clint was a rookie with the Vikings in 1967.

#218 Gene Washington - Gene's rookie season was 1967, and in just 4 years he became the Vikings' all-time career leader in TD receptions. He made the Pro Bowl following the 1970 season. In the 1970s there were 2 wide receivers in the NFL named Gene Washington. The other more accomplished and better known Gene Washington played for the 49ers.

#290 John Gilliam - John began his NFL career in 1967 with the Saints. After 2 seasons in New Orleans and 3 with St. Louis, he joined the Vikings in 1972. He played in Minnesota for 4 seasons, starting every game and making the Pro Bowl each year. He played with the Falcons in 1976 before finishing his career in 1977 with the Saints and Bears.

#104 Ron Yary - Yary was an All-American lineman at USC, and won the Knute Rockne award in 1967 as the top college lineman. 1972 is his 5th season with the Vikings.

#194 Fred Cox - 1972 is Fred's 11th season with the Vikings. After not playing during his rookie season of 1962, he scored over 100 points in 4 of his next 8 seasons.

#20 Carl Eller - Eller's card is somewhat unusual in that he's the only Viking wearing the white jersey, and he's one of only a handful of players to be shown wearing a helmet. If Topps was going to use a helmeted photo, you would think they could at least not airbrush out the Vikings horns!

Eller was a regular for the Vikings since his rookie year of 1964, and made the Pro Bowl for the last 4 seasons. Back in the day, there were a few teams with "named" defensive lines. In the mid-1960s, the Rams had the "Fearsome Foursome" (ends Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy, tackles Merlin Olsen and Rosie Grier). In the mid-1970s, the Steelers had the "Steel Curtain" (ends L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White, tackles Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes). Between those 2 eras was Minnesota's "Purple People Eaters" (ends Carl Eller and Jim Marshall, tackles Alan Page and Gary Larsen).

#336 Jim Marshall - Jim Marshall started EVERY game during his 20-year career (1960-79). After playing with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie, he went to the Vikings for the team's inaugural season. (I'm surprised to learn that he's not in the Hall of Fame.)

#300 Alan Page - Alan Page was the Vikings' #1 pick in the 1967 draft. He played 11 1/2 seasons for the Vikings, and 3 1/2 seasons for the Bears. During his 15-year career (1967-81), he started every game except for 3 games in his rookie season. He made 9 Pro Bowls, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

#53 Charlie West - West was a rookie with Minnesota in 1968. On the back of his card, instead of an interception record, it has his punt return record. Charlie had a 98-yard punt return in his rookie season. Later in the 1970s, he played more as a defensive back.

Also check out the 1967 Vikings.

Next time: Pittsburgh Steelers

Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome to my 1972 football cards blog!

Welcome to my new 1972 football card blog. I collected football cards in 1967-68, and 1971-73. (You can read my football card back-story here on my 1967 football card blog.)

There are 4 changes since last year's set:
1. Topps expanded their football set to 3 series.
2. League leaders cards and post-season highlights cards are added.
3. Some players are featured in separate "in action" cards.
4. The 3rd series includes "All-Pro" cards.

The 1972 set consisted of 351 cards. Some of the teams have all their players on horizontal cards, while most have all their players on vertical cards. I have all 263 cards from the first 2 series, and some from the 3rd series.

In each post, I will include all the players for one team. I will not be scanning the card backs, but in this introductory post, I am including a sample card back:

You think Johnny Unitas played a long time? Occasionally, someone hangs around long enough so that Topps can't fit any commentary on the card back:

First up: Minnesota Vikings