Ahead of the Curve
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Super Swag Speaks Rozelle

Vince Lombardi (1913-70): the name is weighty.  So much written, spoken of this man who came to define NFL's decade of the 60s.

His bespectacled face and gap-toothed grin inspired, terrified and could drive big, burly men to tears.  Through perseverance he overcame prejudice (Catholic-Italian) and then quickly turned a history laden but befuddled Packers' franchise back into a juggernaut, then took his game to the nation's capital and restored Redskins' pride.

But while Vince is considered by many the greatest coach in NFL annals, the winner of SBs I & II may not even be best all-time in town where he made his legend.  Earl "Curly" Lambeau, founder, player & coach of six Green Bay title teams just might rule that roost.

Other contenders: NFL founder, Bears player & 6-time champion George Halas, innovators Paul Brown (3 / 4 AAFC) and Sid Gillman (1 AFL), most responsible for today's pass-driven game, Tom Landry (2), Don Shula (2), Weeb Ewbank (2 NFL / 1 AFL-SB), Chuck Knoll (4) and Bill Walsh (3).

After his death from colon cancer the year prior, the trophy awarded each season's Super Bowl winner and NFL Champion was re-named in his honor.  A very fitting choice.

And it's time for a change...because Pete Rozelle's name is more fitting.

And I'm about as likely to affect this change as I am the Folger - de Vere (Shakespeare) Library in Washington, D.C.

On the gridiron, Vince Lombardi symbolizes the 1960s, but for three decades (1960-89) the hand of Rozelle boldly guided the National on a journey of sweeping change that would alter the game, entertainment business and the American sporting landscape forevermore, making football the nation's new favorite sport in the process.

Some of Pete's handy-work:

AFL - NFL merger ('66), that's Rozelle (with some help from recently deceased Titans' owner Bud Adams (1923-13) and Chiefs' Lamar Hunt (1932-06));

Expanded television coverage, including Monday Night Football, that's Rozelle;

The Dallas Cowboys ('60), that's Rozelle;

Giving nod to Ed & Steve Sabol's NFL Films, that's Rozelle;

Breaking ground on football's first labor practice (NFLPA), that's Rozelle;

Readily attainable NFL merchandise, that's Rozelle;

Expanding the franchise and playoff format, that's Rozelle; and

The Super Bowl ('67) , America's biggest party, that's Pete, too.

If you love the 60s, Vince is your man, but if you love the NFL, better thank Pete.

Owner Irsay: Fan's Man

"Operation philosophy:" That's the phrase Colts' owner Jim Irsay used last Thursday when attempting to deflect criticism and clarify comments regarding his former QB Peyton Manning the day prior ("We (Colts) wanted more championships").

NC press (nationally correct) cried foul and deemed Irsay's words un-befitting of his Lordliness from the House of Manning.  To that I say poppycock.  The Colts' owner got a raw deal.

Jim only said what any self-respecting owner should say, and any fan worth his / her weight should want 'em to say.  Irsay likes titles and won't kiss feet of any opposing player who comes into his building to topple his team.  And the sporting gods agree (W7: IND 39 DEN 33).

Cherry Picks W8: Midway Cafe

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) @ Detroit Lions (4-3): 10-27 Fox 1:00 EST

"Time of the Season" when contenders get in focus, pretenders can't close and Zombies (PIT, MIN, ATL, NYG) keep annoying the neighborhood.  NFC looking for a few good teams.  Dallas closing but lacks comp-run.  Detroit stuffs it and takes Turkey-Team Bowl.

New York Jets (4-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-2): CBS 4:05 (GOTW)

Jets flying, who'd a' thunk?  Rexie, of course.  Marvin's cool but team's hot, taking 4/5 (NE & GB) while data trends up: Andy @ 66 Cp%, team 41-3d%, D-R8, only flags irk (423y).  NYJ so-so on Rd, but run, press (24S) & Folk make Cincy work for home win.

Green Bay Packers (4-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-5): NBC 8:36

"East Coast girls are hip" but the media-bias is a drag.  This Midwest bout NFL's topper, even on Vikes malaise.  Favre's ankle should be...ah, forget it, Josh will (gulp) settle-in, if not, Cassel's capable.  GB banged but with Hawk, Lacy, Crosby, Nelson & Rodgers, still Grade A.  Home Vikes hurting too as clock ticks on Leslie whose guys grind out needed win.

Steven Keys

NFL Hunch Line

Photo Credit: Pete Rozelle / 1964 / SI / Ben Rose

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