The Great Football Characters of Yesterday
With the NFL still in somewhat of a dormant period, I wanted to do another fun article. I was the easiest kid in the world to look after when I was younger. All I needed was a remote and NFL Films. I have always been drawn to the names, faces, and moments of the NFL’s past, including things from long before I was born. Here are a few colorful characters of the gridiron from days gone by. These may not be the most familiar names in the world to people, but they are all worth checking out.
Hank Stram- Long before Jon Gruden and Rex Ryan made sideline antics famous, there was the late Hank Stram. Stram coached for 17 years with the Chiefs and Saints in the 60’s and 70’s. He became the first coach to wear a sideline mic during a game in Super Bowl IV in 1969. The result was one the most interesting and entertaining pieces of video you will ever see. Stram was the perfect guy for the experiment. His Chiefs beat the heavily favored Vikings 23-7. However, the video below from the Kansas City Chiefs YouTube channel did much more for football than the actual game.
Jerry Glanville- Despite an underwhelming 60-69 mark as an NFL head coach, Glanville may be the most interesting man in the history of football. He has many claims to fame. He left a pair of tickets at will call for Elvis Presley before every game he coached. Glanville did not become a head coach until 1986, almost a decade after Presley’s death. His victory dances are legendary. He would also mingle with musicians like Travis Tritt and MC Hammer during games. His most memorable moment is the clip below from the Love Lee YouTube channel where he comes up with a new meaning for NFL. Since leaving the sidelines, Glanville has worked as a TV and radio analyst and launched a failed NASCAR career.
Vince Lombardi- I realize everyone knows who he is, at least I hope so. To people my age though, he is viewed as some kind of robot who was all about football all the time. To some extent this was true when it comes to the man behind the NFL’s first true dynasty. Despite that, Lombardi had more personality than most people realize. His passion for the game remains unmatched. If clips like the one below from the NFL’s YouTube channel do not get your blood flowing, there is something wrong with you. If you are a real football nerd like me, I suggest finding the video where he teaches the famous Packers power sweep. Lombardi is truly deserving of being the namesake of the NFL’s greatest prize.
John Facenda- He did not coach, play, or analyze. He was simply a voice, one of the best ever. Facenda served as the narrator for NFL films until his death in 1984. He was replaced by equally great voice in Harry Kalas. I would guess that most fans have heard his voice before, and just did not know his name. His voice means it is football season to so many fans even today. What may be his best work is “Autumn Wind” from the Save Oakland Sports YouTube channel below. It gives me chills.
John Madden- Again, I would hope everyone reading this knows who he is. However, before the multi-million dollar video game empire, he was a Hall of Fame coach and one of the most entertaining color analysts ever along with his good buddy Pat Summerall. Here is another guy whose passion for the game busted through whatever screen he was on. Below is a taste of why the two worked so well from the RGL Video Vault on YouTube. They sounded like two friends just talking football because they were. Madden has been away from the booth for many years now. However, we are so fortunate to still have people like him around the game of football.