The last article I did like this was really well received and the NFL news cycle is still slow. So, here are four more great names from the NFL’s past.
Sam Wyche- I begin with a nod to my Cincinnati roots. Sam Wyche is revered in my hometown, and with good reason. The outspoken Wyche led the Bengals to both of the Super Bowls in what is otherwise an underwhelming franchise history. Those Super Bowl teams were fun-loving and had things like choreographed touchdown dances that some Cincinnatians still know today. Wyche is also credited with inventing the now common no huddle offense. In addition to the two Super Bowl appearances in the 80s, Wyche was able to keep the Bengals reasonably competitive throughout his seven year stint as head coach, despite constant battles with owner Mike Brown who took over after his father passed away midway through Wyche’s tenure. However, Wyche became a legend in the 1989 clip below from the 1530Homer YouTube channel. He not so casually reminded fans throwing things on the field that they lived in Cincinnati and not a certain other Ohio city to the north. Wyche was let go by the Bengals following the 1991 season. He headed to Tampa Bay where he drafted future franchise cornerstones in Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. He set the pieces in motion for Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden to take that franchise the next level. His 84-107 career record as an NFL head coach does not do him justice.
Tom Landry- One of the most brilliant and interesting men to ever grace the game of football is Tom Landry. In its first 29 years of existence, Landry was the only head coach the Dallas Cowboys organization ever knew. Known as “the man in the funny hat,” Landry always wore a fedora on the sidelines. Despite always cutting up bridesmaid to Lombardi’s Packers in the 60s, Landry led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles following the 1971 and 1977 seasons. It was said many times that Landry could win a staring contest with Mount Rushmore. This is accurate. His expression never changed on the sidelines, not even when a death threat was made against him during a 1986 Monday night game. The former war veteran simply came back out of the tunnel wearing a bulletproof vest. I cannot give you a funny sound bite or interview when it comes to Landry, they simply don’t exist. He was all business. He also believed that players could come and go, even Hall of Famers like Roger Staubach. He preached the importance of “the system” above all else. Given the fact that he did not have a losing season from 1965-1985, that is kind of hard to argue. Landry was forced out of coaching by new Cowboys ownership after the 1988 season. He invented pre snap motion on offense as well as the flex defense, which everyone uses a variation of today. He coached the same franchise 29 years. Think about that. It is amazing. Landry died of leukemia in 2000.
Joe Namath- In today’s world, almost every NFL quarterback is a major celebrity. The one that started all that was Joe Namath also known as “Broadway Joe.” Despite a Hall of Fame playing career best known for his famous Super Bowl III guarantee, which he backed up, it was off the field where he made the biggest impact. He was the first big-time NFL player to date famous actresses. He also endorsed countless products, everything from shaving cream to pantyhose. You can see one of his god awful pantyhose commercials below thanks to the ikojio YouTube channel. His list of movie and TV credits is longer than that of his football accomplishments. If not for Namath, Tom Brady wouldn’t be married to a supermodel and Peyton Manning wouldn’t know what chicken parm is. He may be the first, and so far only quarterback to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl, but that isn’t the biggest reason why we remember “Broadway Joe” today.
John McKay- After winning four national titles at Southern Cal, McKay was lured to the NFL in 1976 to become the first head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In an era before free agency, expansion teams got the players no one else wanted, and it showed. The Bucs lost their first 26 games before notching the first win in franchise history. As awesome as the orange creamsicle uniforms were, McKay knew he was bringing a knife to a gun fight each week. The way he handled it is what makes him memorable. He was once asked how he felt about the execution of his offense, he responded with “I’m all for it.” Think about it… That is priceless. You can hear more gems from the late John McKay at the link below from nfl.com. He did lead the Bucs to their first playoff berth in 1979, he wasn’t just some buffoon, he could actually coach.