Daily Dirt: Those 60’s quarterbacks could sling it


People who only look at numbers will never understand Joe Namath's impact on the NFL

Daily Dirt for Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022

The Super Bowl is Sunday, but always remember as good as today’s stars are — and yes, they are truly great — if not for guys like Namath, Jurgensen, Blanda and others the game that we adore would not have evolved into what it has become. We owe a lot to Joe Willie, George, Roman and many, many others. So with that, welcome to today’s three thoughts and Vol. 210 of The Daily Dirt.

1. About this time every football season, with the Super Bowl just hours away, I often think about the stars of the game who first drew me to pro football — the quarterbacks.

For me, it was the quarterbacks of the 1960s, a marvelous — yet frustrating — time for sports fans. Instead of having all games at our remote-control finger tips we we were lucky to see two or three NFL games a weekend. Cable and later satellite TV were years (even decades) away, and the legends of such players as Joe Namath or Sonny Jurgensen grew only in our imaginations.

Still, as a kid of the ’60s, I had my favorites. I may rarely have seen them play, but through newspapers, magazines and football cards I felt I had grown up with them. To this day, my favorite decade of pro football remains the ’60s. There was no merger yet between the AFL and NFL, and it was always fun to argue among friends whether or not the New York Jets could beat the Cleveland Browns if they would ever play. As we get ready for Sunday’s Super Bowl and reflect on the greatness of today’s stars, let’s take a few minutes and look back at a few of the old-timers who laid the foundation for the game we enjoy today.

The following quarterbacks were who drew me to this definitive decade in NFL history (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Teams listed are the ones the players played on during the 1960’s. Let’s try to forget Broadway Joe’s 1977 L.A. Rams season, although the 70’s Rams unis were sweet. JRG):

1. Joe Willie Namath, New York Jets: He was brash at a time that did not welcome such behavior, but when healthy he could back it up.

2. George Blanda, Houston Oilers-Oakland Raiders: The grand old man of the game. My oh my, how he could throw that football. He was the perfect man at the perfect time for the fledgling AFL. He was just a month shy of his 49th birthday when he eventually retired before the 1976 season (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Suck it, Brady! LOL JK JRG).

3. Len Dawson, Cleveland Browns-Dallas Texans-Kansas City Chiefs: Remember that famous picture of Dawson, sitting on the Chiefs’ sidelines, smoking a cigarette? THAT was 1960s NFL football.

4. Frank Ryan, Los Angeles Rams-Cleveland Browns-Washington Redskins: He sliced and diced opponents with a pinpoint precision. He actually did not have to throw much with Jim Brown in the backfield.

5. Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams: He had the perfect name for an NFL quarterback in the ’60s.

6. Don Meredith, Dallas Cowboys: He was at the helm during the rise of the Cowboys as an iconic NFL franchise.

7. Sonny Jurgensen, Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Redskins: I always wished he had been able to play for one of the powerhouse teams in that decade. I think his place in NFL history would have been heightened.

8. Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings-New York Giants: Years later, I felt he would have been a household name if his exciting, scrambling style had been able to have been seen on a regular basis.

9. Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers: Honestly, I was never a huge fan of Starr (or the Packers), but I respected him and them. And it was also entertaining to watch Starr systematically pick apart opposing secondaries.

10. Milt Plum, Cleveland Browns-Detroit Lions-Los Angeles Rams-New York Giants: I always liked his name and the Lions’ uniforms.

2. Here are three more entertaining license plates found in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri. Will any crack our next top 10 list of Great Plates?

Gold medal: YADI LUV. I can guarantee this will be in the next top 10 … could it be a new No. 1? (Let’s hear it, Cardinals fans!)

Silver medal: PINK. Another great plate!

Bronze medal: XRAY 95. This won’t come as a surprise, but I saw this near a Blessing Hospital facility.

3. The most recent gems we found on Facebook:

  • “You know you are getting old when it takes two tries t get up from the sofa”.
  • “If you cannot be positive, be quiet”. (Not necessarily funny, simply accurate.)
  • “They say for every piece of chocolate you eat, you lose 2 minutes off your life. According to my calculations, I must have died in 1630”.
  • “I love God, but some of his children get on my nerves”.
  • “Tripped and hit my head on a snare drum and now I think I have a percussion”.

Steve Fact O’ The Day — Steve has never once considered becoming a Nordic skier.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He should start covering stories wearing panty hose and a fur coat.

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