Joltin Joe hitting in 56 straight games, Cal's 2,632 consecutive game streak and Wilt's 100 points are just three modern day sports records that I believe have little chance of being duplicated or broken. The game of football also has records and feats, some dubious, that I truly believe will stand the test of time.
Steve O'Neal was a combination punter, wide receiver drafted by the Jets in the 13th round of the 1969 player draft out of Texas A&M and quite frankly never came close to achieving the things many scouts had anticipated of him, but in his rookie season (his best in his five year pro career) he accomplished a feat that I believe will never be duplicated. In just his second game of his professional career, O'Neal from his one yard line launched the football over seventy yards in the air with the ball coming to rest amazingly on the Broncos one yard line for a truly amazing 98 yard punt! Twenty years later former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham got a very favorable bounce on one of his 20 career quick-kick and recorded a 91 yard punt. Could O'Neal outstanding feat be duplicated? I'd say it's possible, but it would take a Herculean act and a great deal of luck to accomplish.
In keeping with the punting theme, Sammy Baugh, who passed away this week at the age of 94, was not only one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history, but he also holds the record for the highest punting average in a season (51.5). The record was established in 1940 and has held up for an amazing 68 seasons. Back in 2007 Raiders Shane Lechler, came the closest to breaking the record when he averaging 49.1, a full 2.4 yard per kick difference.
The 1934 Chicago Bears featured a rookie running back from the University of Tennessee by the name of William Beattie Feathers. Not only did he become the first back in league history to rush for over a thousand yards, he also set a record for yards per carry (9.94) for a back that ran for more than a thousand yards in a season. In 2006 (his last season with the Falcons) Michael Vick, came close when he totaled 1,039 yards on 123 carries (8.4), but still finished a yard and a half shy of Feathers' 74 year old record..
The late Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins, joins our list of records that will never be broken for the second time with a feat that I'd bet my life is certain to live on forever. In 1943 he not only led the NFL in passing and punting, but just for good measures he also led the league in interceptions! Just what do you think he'd be worth today on the open market?
I'm not totally certain this next feat qualifies for a record, but unless a player were to die or suffer a debilitating injury before his first season of play, I'm certain it will never be duplicated. In 1936, Bert Bell of the Philadelphia Eagles in the first draft in NFL history selected Jay Berwanger, a running back from the University of Chicago with the leagues first ever draft selection. After trading his rights to the Chicago Bears, Berwanger, who was also the first recipient of the Heisman Trophy, decided to forego a professional football career in order to become of all things, a sportswriter! I can promise you that if the league (NFL) were to be around for another hundred years, this scenario will never be duplicated.
All right, our next record actually doesn't come close to the fifty consecutive seasons coached by one Cornelius McGillicuddy, or as he was more commonly referred to as Connie Mack, but I think it's safe to say that George Halas' forty years as head coach of the Chicago Bears, will never be challenged in the NFL. First and foremost, Halas not only coached the Bears, but was also the team owner. Secondly "burnout" has become a real buzzword for coaches who remove themselves from the game after a certain period of time citing pressures and workload placed on the modern day coaches. Thirdly, some successful coaches and in many cases other non-successful coaches, through the exposure they receive through the media, are able to parlay their coaching experience into a big money offer from other clubs within the league. Other coaches might not meet the expectations of management and are quickly replaced by demanding owners and general managers. And let us not forget the prospect of a career in television as an analyst. Regardless of the reason you choose, the same results will follow, make no mistake about it, no head coach will ever hold the position for forty year again.
In 1965, the New York Giants drafted an outstanding all purpose quarterback from the University of Michigan by the name of Bob Timberlake. A former running back turned QB, Timberlake as a senior led the Wolverines to a Big Ten title and convincing victory over the U of Oregon in the Rose Bowl. He was an outstanding athlete with size, running, throwing and placekicking skills. Well thing didn't exactly go as planned for Bob as a professional; He struggled at the quarterback position and when thrust into the place kicking job due to an injury to regular kicker Andy Stynchula, Timberlake on his first attempt kicked a 43 yard field goal versus the Steelers and then proceeded to miss on his next fourteen attempts, a modern day record for futility. Easily the worst kicking percentage in professional football history, a player today in this highly specialized age, would have found himself on the waiver wire and replaced eight to ten attempts sooner.
On April 3rd 1983, Chicago Blitz safety and former Notre Dame safety, Luther Bradley picked off an amazing six passes versus the Tampa Bay Bandits. Even with Spurgeon Wynn or myself at the control, I just don't think you are going to see this record broken in our lifetime.
The next time you criticize your teams' offensive coordinator, consider this next dubious record. In 1923, the NFL was made up of 20 member clubs. In the ten games played on October 7, seven losing teams all failed to score a single point. When one adds to the fact that three other games ended in scoreless ties, that meant an amazing 13 teams failed to score a single point. Thank God for no television! With today's high-powered offenses, not to mention overtime periods and poor tackling, I think it's safe to say we'll never see a day like that again.
A friend recently phoned me from his home in Florida and contributed the following two dishonorable records.
In 1974, the Detroit Wheels were the least accomplished team in the new World Football League. After 14 weeks of the 20-game season, in which Detroit won just one game and more importantly lost all of its cash, the team was mercifully taken over by the league office. During their brief existence, the Wheels distinguished themselves in a very dubious way. Hoping to find their niche in the football world, the WFL scheduled games in virtually every day of the week. Thus the Wheels managed to lose games on six different days - Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; every day except Saturday! Unless Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday games are added to the schedule don't look for this one to be duplicated any time soon.
The 1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in my opinion easily the worst modern day National Football League team in history. Not only did the club finish 0 and 14 on the season, but through the first 12 games of that ill-fated season, the Buccaneers managed to score just 50 points and even with a 33 point outburst versus the Saints and 17 against the Rams (both loses) the John McKay led club still managed to score just 103 points on the season.
Amazingly the club was shut out six times in 1977, produced just 3 touchdown passes, while throwing 30 interceptions. The offense accounted for only 7 TD's, just 3 more than the defense. Former University of Georgia kicker Allan Leavitt was the teams leading scorer with just 20 points on the season; talk about the 1962 Mets!
The good news is I don't think we will ever see a club this bad in our lifetime, or at least I hope not.