Tag Archives: Halls of fame

NFL at 100: How school soccer turned the pipeline to NFL


Jay Berwanger received the inaugural Heisman Trophy in 1935 for the College of Chicago and have become the No. 1 participant taken within the first NFL draft just a few months later.

He selected to work at a rubber firm and be a part-time coach for his alma mater moderately than attempt to make a residing taking part in .

Greater than 5 a long time later, Oklahoma State Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders threatened to sue the NFL if it didn’t permit him to be drafted whereas he nonetheless had school eligibility.

Within the early days of the NFL, school was king and taking part in professionally was not one thing most gamers aspired to do. By planting its flag in giant cities, embracing tv publicity and taking part in a extra entertaining fashion, the NFL surged in reputation in the midst of the 20th century and turned school into a way to an finish for a lot of gamers.

Now school groups brag about sending gamers to the league, even whereas NCAA officers and school sports activities leaders attempt to downplay what has turn into apparent.

“I positively assume school is type of the minor leagues in a means. Like a breeding floor for the NFL,” stated Eric Winston, who performed 10 years within the NFL as an offensive lineman and is at present the president of the gamers’ affiliation.

Faculty soccer was already entrenched in American tradition when the NFL was established in 1920 with most of its groups in small Midwestern cities.

“Baseball was the nationwide pastime, however school soccer was the best sporting spectacle,” stated Mike Oriard, a Notre Dame graduate and former NFL participant who has written a number of books on the historical past of soccer.

Video games matching Notre Dame and Military packed Yankee Stadium in New York within the 1920s and ’30s, even through the Nice Despair. The Rose Bowl recreation was a yearly occasion on the West Coast on New 12 months’s Day. Faculty soccer was seen as a worthy and noble enterprise: amateurs taking part in for college satisfaction. The NFL was an abomination so far as the school soccer world was involved,” Oriard stated.

When College of Illinois star Crimson Grange joined the NFL in 1925, a deal scandalously deliberate whereas he was nonetheless taking part in in school, he drew scorn from these in school soccer. Not solely was skilled soccer thought-about barbarian, it was considered a lesser model of the game. Certainly, the NFL champion performed a yearly exhibition recreation in August in opposition to a group of school all-stars in Chicago, beginning in 1934. The school gamers received six of the primary 17 video games and there have been two ties.

Grange turned certainly one of America’s most well-known sports activities stars, however he was extra a phenomena than a pattern setter.

“Skilled soccer was on the market as an possibility for former school gamers who did not have something higher to do,” Oriard stated. “It was the Despair and if you happen to did not get a job proper out of school you may play professional soccer for a few years.”

After the league reorganized within the early 1930s and moved groups to huge cities, it established a school draft. Berwanger was the primary participant chosen, taken by the Philadelphia Eagles. His rights had been later traded to the Chicago Bears. However the group by no means may meet his wage calls for.

Davey O’Brien received the Heisman Trophy in 1938 and was the primary winner to play within the NFL. He lasted two years earlier than becoming a member of the FBI. That was typical all through the 1940s and into the ’50s. Dick Kazmaier, a working again for Princeton, received the Heisman in 1951 and was drafted the by the Bears. He determined to go to Harvard enterprise faculty.

Regardless of all that, the NFL was gaining traction amongst working-class followers in locations equivalent to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland that did not instantly compete with school soccer. Salaries had been rising and a profession in soccer was changing into extra interesting. Faculty soccer considered the NFL because the opposition and tried to maintain it at a distance.

“Initially, after I got here into the league within the late ’50s and particularly with the Cowboys within the ’60s there have been a number of faculties that did every little thing however ban you from their campus,” stated Gil Brandt, the longtime Cowboys govt inducted into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame final weekend.

Faculty groups feared dropping gamers with eligibility remaining to the NFL, Brandt stated. He credit NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Cowboys proprietor Tex Schramm with assuring faculties the NFL wouldn’t take gamers into the league till their school careers had been over.

Within the 1960s, the emergence of the AFL introduced competitors for gamers and escalated salaries. Whereas the school recreation was nonetheless principally run-based, skilled soccer groups had been pushing the passing recreation. Joe Namath threw virtually as many passes (340) in his first season with the New York Jets of the AFL than he did in his 30-game profession (374) at Alabama.

“Finally the NFL turned a lot extra enjoyable to look at,” Brandt stated.

Whereas the NCAA had guidelines in place that restricted how usually the highest groups may seem on TV, fearing it could be a recruiting benefit and draw followers away from attending video games, the NFL needed as a lot tv publicity as potential.

By the mid-1960s, prime school soccer gamers had been assumed to be heading to the NFL. It was clearly a step up in competitors. The final time a school all-star group beat an NFL champion was 1963, a loss Inexperienced Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi held over his gamers for years. The sport was discontinued in 1976.

Within the 1970s and ’80s, NFL methods turned extra pervasive in school soccer, most notably within the elevated reliance on the cross. As the 2 variations of the game turned extra related, school gamers had been getting into the NFL higher ready to play skilled soccer.

Essentially the most vital growth within the college-to-NFL pipeline within the 1980s got here in 1989, when Sanders determined to leap from Oklahoma State to the NFL after a record-setting junior season in 1988.

The NFL stated it was making an exception for Sanders, who was drafted No. three general by the Detroit Lions and went on to a Corridor of Fame profession, however in actuality it completely opened the door to underclassmen. As NFL salaries soared, getting via school rapidly turned extra fascinating.

This yr a document 135 gamers gave up school eligibility to enter the NFL draft as soon as they had been three years faraway from highschool commencement.

In the meantime, as school sports activities come beneath assault by critics who consider gamers ought to get a bigger minimize of the billions of {dollars} generated by soccer, directors want to see extra various paths to the NFL.

“Perhaps in soccer and basketball, it could work higher if extra youngsters had an opportunity to go instantly into the skilled ranks. If they are not snug and wish to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish,” Large Ten Commissioner Jim Delany stated in 2013. “I believe we should work terrible laborious with the NFL and the NBA to create a possibility for these of us.”

Six years later, in soccer, nothing has modified.

Large-time applications — not simply the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State — wish to be seen as a quick monitor to an NFL payday. They proudly show to recruits the names of former gamers who’ve moved on to the NFL on the partitions of soccer amenities, within the pages of media guides and on social media.

Mike Lombardi, a former NFL govt who has labored for Al Davis, Invoice Walsh and Invoice Belichick, stated the message from school coaches is: “You come right here, you recognize we’ll develop you into a professional participant. It sells that program.”


Observe Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and pay attention at https://podcastone.com/AP-Prime-25-Faculty-Soccer-Podcast


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Kacey Musgraves’ museum exhibit allows her time to reflect


Kacey Musgraves’ career has been moving and changing fast over the last couple of years, leaving little time for reflection until she saw her life chronicled behind museum glass.

Musgraves is the subject of a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that opens Tuesday and runs through June 2020. The exhibit follows the critically acclaimed “Golden Hour” in 2018 that earned Musgraves four Grammys this year including country album of the year and album of the year, beating fellow nominees Drake, Cardi B and Brandi Carlile.

“I think a lot of people that night were like, ‘Who is this girl?'” Musgraves said. “Which is a funny conundrum to be winning album of the year, and to have people saying, ‘Who are you?’ But in a way, I kind of love that.”

The exhibit called “Kacey Musgraves: All of the Colors” comes as the 30-year-old Texas singer has blossomed into a cross-genre star whose emotional and clever lyrics and inventive style, blending country with electronic, disco and spacey pop sounds has earned her plenty of new fans.

“Too often I can just speed onto the next thing without really soaking in what just happened,” Musgraves told The Associated Press after seeing her memorabilia on display for the first time Monday evening. “It really did hit me in an emotional way and I didn’t think it would.”

The exhibit starts with photos of Musgraves as a child performer singing and yodeling classic Western songs and dressed in jeans and cowboy hats, through her early years in Nashville as a songwriter penning songs with Miranda Lambert and to her Grammy-winning major-label debut album in 2013, “Same Trailer, Different Park.” Early in her career, Musgraves established herself as a unique artist willing to challenge radio programmers with songs like “Merry Go ‘Round” — which won a Grammy award for best country song in 2014 — and “Follow Your Arrow,” song of the year winner at the 2014 Country Music Association Awards.

Musgraves has also become one of modern country music’s new style icons, mixing country and Western embellishments into her red carpet outfits, stage wear and music videos. The exhibit features a rhinestone studded dress designed by Enrique Urbina for the 2014 Grammys and a Western-inspired black pantsuit designed by Atelier Versace that she wore at the 2018 CMA Awards. The exhibit has her Moschino Barbie-inspired pink leather outfit complete with a blonde wig from the 2019 Met Gala that Jeremy Scott helped design.

“I didn’t grow up with anything designer ever, not once. Nothing luxurious like that of any kind,” Musgraves said. “There’s also this other side of me that is like really enthralled with all of that.”

Musgraves’ stylist Erica Cloud said the singer’s style is a mix of nostalgia and playfulness.

“Kacey’s style is unique because she stays grounded in her roots & is classic but we add playful, elevated elements to keep it current,” Cloud said in a statement. “She’s nostalgia with a modern twist. She’s relatable meets aspirational.”

Lyrics that she wrote with Lambert, Shane McAnally, Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian are interspersed between the awards and outfits, alongside a letter she wrote to one of her songwriting heroes, John Prine.

“I love that you can pretty much dress anyway you want, but if you strip it away and there are real songs there, that’s what matters to me,” Musgraves said.

Even though “Golden Hour” won album of the year at both the CMAs and the ACM Awards, country radio programmers haven’t been spinning her songs much, though she’s been getting more airtime on Americana and adult contemporary radio. Musgraves said she’s not measuring her success by any one format.

“I am very grateful for radio kicking off my career and giving ‘Merry Go Round’ a chance when a lot of people said it wouldn’t work,” Musgraves said. “And beyond that, you know, all I can do is make the music that I love, put it out there. And the fans are amazing with spreading it, giving it wings.”

She recently bought a house with husband and fellow singer Ruston Kelly, although she hasn’t been home much. She traveled the world last year opening for Harry Styles, headlined her own European tour and will be on tour in the United States through September. And she’s still writing out the next steps of her story after “Golden Hour.”

“That’s what I want to figure out,” Musgraves said. “Like what’s the next thing going to sound like?”


Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: http://countrymusichalloffame.org


Follow Kristin M. Hall at Twitter.com/kmhall


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The humble Hupmobile lends support in start of NFL


So there they were, 15 men ready to launch the 10 charter teams of the in 1920. They gathered in Ralph Hay’s car showroom in Canton, Ohio , and got down to business.

Except for one problem: There weren’t enough chairs for everyone.

A few of the future owners of NFL franchises instead sat on the running boards of the modest Hupmobile in Hay’s dealership. And when they were ready to sign the papers to establish the league, they leaned on the hood of the car to finish up.

While the fate of that actual Hupmobile — some have compared the quality of that brand of automobile to the Nash Rambler — isn’t known, another vehicle of that model has become something of a mascot, if you will, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It serves two purposes,” said Joe Horrigan, the executive director of the hall. “We’ve had it displayed as a temporary exhibit for a couple of years, so it was the first thing visitors saw when they entered the Hall of Fame. We’d have a video story with it explaining why Canton is the site of the hall.

“Also it’s there for the first play of the induction weekend; we do a symbolic start,” he added. “We’ll have a human chain of kids from underserved neighborhoods line the street from downtown Canton and they pass a football the 2 1-2 miles to the steps of the Hall of Fame. Later (in the week) it starts the parade with the Hall of Famers (on induction day). It’s like the grand master of the parade.”

The Hupmobile has had, among others, Hall of Fame President/CEO David Baker and Hall of Famers Ron Yary and Paul Krause as passengers.

The car makes its home these days at the Canton Classic Car Museum. There simply wasn’t enough room at the hall; it also took an hour to get it in and out of the doors. Horrigan said there was no way they were going to store it with other artifacts that aren’t always on display to the public. So the “Hup” headed to the museum, whose director originally had helped the hall find the car in upstate New York to purchase it.

Gary Hussar of the museum is the current “cartaker.”

“I am the keeper of the keys,” he said with a laugh, looking respectfully at the red bodywork and impressive grille.

“It only goes on the streets, no highway.”

During the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, he gave a rundown of the memorable vehicle which features:

—a convertible top that opens and closes by hand;

—no side windows, making it a touring car;

—leather seats;

—a three-speed transmission;

—windshield wipers operated by a vacuum pump;

—old-fashioned brakes, as in very old, with no hydraulics.

“But it stops well,” Hussar explained, noting the car’s max speed is 35 mph.

“The engine has been restored,” Hussar added. “The electrics have been upgraded; it didn’t have a fuel pump so an electronic fuel pump was added.”

Asked the biggest challenge driving the Hupmobile, Hussar smiled widely and mentioned he’s in charge of driving it into its display areas.

“It’s 67-inches wide,” Hussar said. “And the doors are 68 inches.”

Yet there’s not a scratch on this old classic.

It’s very likely the Hup will have a significant role in the Centennial Celebration the Hall of Fame is planning in September 2020. Maybe someone might even sit on the running boards.


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