This Week in NFL History: May 14 through May 20

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This Week in NFL History
Apr 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) shakes hands with quarterback Tom Brady prior to the Opening Day game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Relive and recapture iconic moments. Discover that you or a loved one share a birthday with a football legend. Recall an event that forever changed the landscape of the NFL and had a profound impact on your life. It’s all here in This Week in NFL History.

This Week in NFL History is a weekly article that will look back at some of the most memorable events that have occurred during this week historically in professional football. Each nugget is a tidbit of information that is connected to the NFL through history.


AROUND COVER32

Around the NFL: Patriots reach three-year contract extension with C, David Andrews

cover32 Exclusive: A one-on-one exclusive interview with new Bears’ OL, Dieugot Joseph

What’s Trending: Super Bowl LI MVP, Tom Brady, to star on the cover of Madden ’18

2017 NFL Season: Miami WR, DeVante Parker, expected to have a gigantic year with the Dolphins

Beyond the Line: Taking a timeout to honor mom’s on Mother’s Day


This Week in NFL History

May 14

1959:  Wide receiver Michael (Mike) Quick (North Carolina State: 1978-81, selected 20th overall by Philadelphia Eagles in 1982 NFL Draft; Eagles: 1982-90) born in Hamlet, North Carolina

Career Stats: 363 receptions for 6,464 yards and 61 touchdowns. Quick was a five-time Pro Bowler (1983-87) and a two-time First-team All-Pro (1983, 1985). He the NFL in receiving yards (1,409) in 1983. Quick caught a 99-yard touchdown pass in a 1985 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

1964:  Sideline reporter/sportscaster Suzanne (Suzy) Kolber born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kolber is the current on-site host of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.

1967:  Defensive tackle Anthony (Tony also known as Goose) Siragusa (Pittsburgh: 1986-89, signed with Indianapolis Colts as undrafted free agent in 1990; Colts: 1990-96, Ravens: 1997-2001) born in Kenilworth, New Jersey

Career Stats: 564 total tackles (487 solo), 22 sacks, 28 passes defended, five forced fumbles, nine fumbles recovered. Siragusa won Super Bowl XXXV with Ravens. He was a sideline reporter/analyst for Fox Sports from 2003-15. Siragusa is currently the host of the home renovation reality show Man Caves on the DIY Network.

1983:  Running back Franklin (Frank) Gore (Miami [FL]: 2001-04, selected 65th overall by San Francisco 49ers in 2005 NFL Draft; 49ers: 2005-14, Colts: 2015-present) born in Coral Gables, Florida

Career Stats: 2,965 carries for 13,065 yards and 74 touchdowns; 414 receptions for 3,427 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gore is a five-time Pro Bowl selection (2006, 2009, 2011-13) and a Second-team All-Pro in 2006. He is one of three running backs in NFL history to have nine consecutive seasons with 200 or more carries while maintaining an average of four yards a carry or better (Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Barry Sanders).

1986:  Linebacker William (Clay) Matthews III (USC: 2004-08, selected 26th overall by Green Bay Packers in 2009 NFL Draft; Packers: 2009-present) born in Los Angeles, California

Career Stats: 310 total tackles (212 solo), 72.5 sacks, six interceptions, 38 passes defended, 13 forced fumbles, four fumbles recovered, one defensive touchdown. Matthews is a six-time Pro Bowler (2009-12, 2014, 2015), a First-team All-Pro in 2010, and a two-time Second-team All-Pro in 2012 and 2014. He helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV. Matthews has a father (linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.), uncle (Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews), and brother (linebacker Casey Matthews) who played in the NFL.

1989:  Tight end Robert (Gronk) Gronkowski (Arizona: 2007-09, selected 42nd overall by New England Patriots in 2010 NFL Draft; Patriots: 2010-present) born in Amherst, New York

Career Stats: 405 receptions for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdowns. Gronkowski is a four-time Pro Bowl selection (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015) and a four-time First-team All-Pro (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015). He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011 (17) and was the 2014 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Gronkowski has won two Super Bowls (XLIX, LI) in his NFL career. His brothers Dan, Chris, and Glenn have all played in the NFL.

1993:  Defensive end Lyle Alzado (Kilgore Junior College: 1965-66, Yankton: 1968-70, selected 79th overall by Denver Broncos in 1971 NFL Draft; Broncos: 1971-78, Browns: 1979-81, Raiders: 1982-85) died at age 43 in Portland, Oregon (b. 1949)

Career Stats: 112.5 sacks, 20 fumbles recovered, three safeties. Alzado was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1977, 1978), a three-time All-Pro Selection (1977, 1978, 1980) and won Super Bowl XVIII with Raiders. He was known for his “violent, combative” style of play as well as his short temper. Alzado attempted a comeback in 1990, saying that he “missed the violence”. He was one of the first high profile athletes to admit to steroid use in a 1992 Sports Illustrated article published 10 months before his death.

May 15

1969:  Running back Emmitt Smith (Florida: 1987-89, selected 17th overall by Dallas Cowboys in 1990 NFL Draft; Cowboys: 1990-2002, Cardinals: 2003-04) born in Pensacola, Florida

Career Stats: 4,409 carries for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns; 515 receptions for 3,224 yards and 11 touchdowns. Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection (1990-95, 1998, 1999), a four-time First-team All-Pro (1992-95) and a Second-team All-Pro in 1991. Smith won three Super Bowls (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX), led the NFL in rushing yards four times (1991-93, 1995), and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns four times (1991-93, 1995). In 1993, Smith became the only running back to win the Super Bowl, the NFL Most Valuable Player, Super Bowl MVP, and rushing title in the same season. He is one of two non-kickers to score more than 1,000 points in a season (Hall of Famer Jerry Rice) and one of four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons (Hall of Famers Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell). Smith was the 1990 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

1970:  Return specialist/wide receiver Desmond Howard (Michigan: 1989-91, selected fourth overall by Washington Redskins in 1992 NFL Draft; Redskins: 1992-94, Jaguars: 1995, Packers: 1996, Raiders: 1997-98, Packers: 1999, Lions: 1999-2002) born in Cleveland, Ohio

Career Stats: 244 punt returns for 2,895 yards and eight touchdowns; 359 kick returns for 7,959 yards, 123 receptions for 1,597 yards and seven touchdowns. Howard was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI, the only special teams player to win the award. He is one of four players to win both the Heisman Trophy (1991) and Super Bowl MVP (Jim Plunkett and Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Marcus Allen). Howard is currently a college football analyst with ESPN.

1970:  Wide receiver Roderick (Rod) Smith (Missouri Southern: 1990-93, signed as undrafted free agent with Denver Broncos in 1994; Broncos: 1994-2007) born in Texarkana, Arkansas

Career Stats: 849 receptions for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns. Smith has more receptions than any other undrafted player except Wes Welker. He was a three-time Pro Bowler (2000, 2001, 2005) and a two-time First-team All-Pro (2000, 2001). Smith won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXII with Broncos. He led the NFL in receptions (113) in 2001.

1975:   Linebacker Raymond (Ray) Lewis (Miami [FL]: 1993-95, selected 26th overall by Baltimore Ravens in 1996 NFL Draft; Ravens: 1996-2012) born in Bartow, Florida

Career Stats: 2,061 total tackles (1,567 solo), 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, 81 passes defended, 19 forced fumbles, 20 fumbles recovered, three defensive touchdowns. Lewis was the 2000 and 2003 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection (1997-2001, 2003, 2004, 2006-11), a seven-time First-team All-Pro (1999-2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009), and a three-time Second-team All-Pro (1997, 1998, 2010). In 2000, Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men. The following season, he was MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis’ final NFL game was a Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl XLVII.

1976:  Quarterback Ryan Leaf (Washington State: 1995-97, selected second overall by San Diego Chargers in 1998 NFL Draft; Chargers: 1998-2000, Cowboys: 2001) born in Great Falls, Montana

Career Stats: 317 completions in 655 attempts for 3,666 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. QB Rating: 50.0. Leaf is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history, especially considering who was drafted ahead of him (Peyton Manning). He had numerous run-ins with the law after his NFL career ended, including a stint in prison for possessing a controlled substance.

2001:  Placekicker Garabed (Garo) Yepremian (no college, signed with Detroit Lions in 1966; Lions: 1966-67, Continental Football League Michigan Arrows: 1969; Dolphins: 1970-78, Saints: 1979, Buccaneers: 1980-81) died at age 70 in Media, Pennsylvania (b. 1944)

Career Stats: 210 field goals made in 313 attempts (67.1 percent); 444 extra points made in 464 attempts (95.7 percent). Yepremian was the first soccer-style kicker in the NFL. He won two Super Bowls (VII, VIII) with Dolphins, was named to the Pro Bowl twice (1973, 1978), a First-team All-Pro twice (1971, 1973), and named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. Yepremian was best remembered for kicking a 37-yard field goal to end the longest game in NFL history (the 1971 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs and a blunder made in Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins. Yepremian was sent to kick an extra point that would’ve sealed the game for the undefeated Dolphins but it was blocked. Instead of falling on the ball to preserve the lead, Yepremian attempted to pass it but the ball slipped from his fingers into the air. It was eventually recovered by Redskins cornerback Mike Bass, who returned it for a touchdown. The Dolphins won 14-7, securing the only perfect season in NFL history. Yepremian remains the second-leading scorer in Dolphins history.

May 16

1966:  Running back Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State: 1984-87, selected 40th overall by Buffalo Bills in 1988 NFL Draft; Bills: 1988-99, Dolphins: 2000) born in Houston, Texans

Career Stats: 2,877 carries for 12,074 yards and 65 touchdowns; 472 receptions for 4,458 yards and 23 touchdowns. Thomas was the NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year in 1991. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (1989-93), a three-time First-team All-Pro (1989, 1990, 1991), and a two-time Second-team All-Pro (1992, 1993). Thomas was an integral part of the Bills’ no huddle offense that played in four consecutive Super Bowls (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII). He was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

May 17

1934:  Quarterback Earl Morrall (Michigan State: 1953-55, selected second overall by San Francisco 49ers in 1956 NFL Draft; 49ers: 1956, Steelers: 1957-58, Lions: 1958-64, Giants: 1965-67, Colts: 1968-1971, Dolphins: 1972-1976) born in Muskegon, Michigan (d. 2014)

Career Stats: 1,379 completions in 2,689 attempts for 20,809 yards, 161 touchdowns, and 148 interceptions. QB Rating: 74.1; 235 carries for 878 yards and eight touchdowns. Morrall is one of the greatest back-up quarterbacks in NFL history. In 1968, as a member of the Colts, he filled in for an injured Johnny Unitas. Morrall led the Colts to the NFL Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl III. In 1973 with the Dolphins, Morrall took over for an injured Bob Griese. He led the Dolphins to 11 consecutive victories before Griese’s return in the second half of the AFC Championship Game. Morrall won three Super Bowls (V, VII, and VIII) and the 1968 NFL Championship. He was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1968, the Comeback Player of the Year in 1972, led the NFL in passing touchdowns (26) in 1968, and named to two Pro Bowls (1957, 1968).

1964:  Tackle/guard Stephen (Steve) Owen (Phillips: 1917-18, Kansas City/Hartford Blues: 1924-25, Cleveland Bulldogs: 1925, Kansas City Cowboys: 1925, Giants: 1926-31, Giants: 1933) died at age 66 in Oneida, New York (b. 1898)

Career Highlights: Owen was a First-team All-Pro in 1927, helped Giants win 1927 NFL Championship and a member of the NFL 1920s All-Decade Team. He was Giants head coach from 1930-53 (Career record: 151-100-17. Postseason: 10-2), winning two NFL Championships as coach (1934, 1938. Owen was a pioneer of the a-formation offense and umbrella defense. He was also head coach of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (1959), Calgary Stampeders (1960), and Saskatchewan Roughriders (1961-62). Owen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966. His 151 victories are the most in Giants franchise history.

1969:  Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to join American Football Conference (AFC) after AFL/NFL merger with AFL franchises Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Houston Oilers, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. The remaining NFL franchises (Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins) formed the National Football Conference (NFC).

1982:  Quarterback Matthew (Matt) Cassel (USC: 2001-04, selected 230th overall by New England Patriots in 2005 NFL Draft; Patriots: 2005-08, Chiefs: 2009-12, Vikings: 2013-14, Bills: 2015, Cowboys: 2015, Titans: 2016-present) born in Northridge, California

Career Stats: 1,546 completions in 2,624 attempts for 17,287 yards, 103 touchdowns, and 79 interceptions; 266 carries for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns. QB Rating: 79.2. Cassel was named to the Pro Bowl in 2010.

1983:  Wide receiver Chris Henry (West Virginia: 2002-04, selected 83rd overall by Cincinnati Bengals in 2005 NFL Draft; Bengals: 2005-09) born in Belle Chasse, Louisiana (d. 2009)

Career Stats: 119 receptions for 1,826 yards and 21 touchdowns. Henry was killed Dec. 17, 2009 when he fell from a moving truck driven by his fiancée during a domestic dispute. A post-mortem study of Henry’s brain showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has been found in the brains of several NFL players who died long after their playing days were over. Henry was an active player at the time of his death. He is believed to be the first active player found to have CTE.

1985:  Quarterback Matthew (Matt, also known as Matty Ice) Ryan (Boston College: 2004-07, selected third overall by Atlanta Falcons in 2008 NFL Draft; Falcons: 2008-present) born in Exton, Pennsylvania

Career Stats: 3,288 completions in 5,064 attempts for 37,701 yards, 240 touchdowns, and 114 interceptions. QB Rating: 93.3; 319 carries for 880 yards and five touchdowns. Ryan is the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) and a First-team All-Pro in 2016. He had the NFL’s highest passer rating in 2016 (117.1) and led the Falcons to Super Bowl LI.

May 18

1924:  Sportscaster John Francis (Jack) Whitaker born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Whitaker was host of CBS’ The NFL Today (1971-74) before being succeeded by Brent Musburger. He was also the play-by-play announcer for Super Bowl I.

1935:  Eagles owner De Benneville “Bert” Bell proposed a draft be instituted to enhance competitive parity on the field and ensure the financial survival of all teams. The measure was passed unanimously.

The first NFL Draft was held Feb. 8, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia.

1963:  Halfback Ernest (Ernie) Davis (Syracuse: 1959-61, selected first overall by Washington Redskins in 1962 NFL Draft. Pick traded to Cleveland Browns, selected fourth overall by Buffalo Bills in 1962 AFL Draft; Browns: 1962) died at age 23 in Cleveland, Ohio (b. 1939)

Career Highlights: Davis succeeded Jim Brown as halfback at Syracuse and won the Heisman Trophy in 1961. He signed the most lucrative contract for a rookie at the time: a three-year, $200,000 deal. The pairing of Davis and Brown at the professional level never came to fruition when Davis was diagnosed with leukemia. Davis died a little more than three months after his diagnosis without playing in a professional game. His condition contributed to the rift between Paul Brown and then-new Browns owner Art Modell.

1964:  Offensive tackle William (Will) Wolford (Vanderbilt: 1983-85, selected 20th overall by Buffalo Bills in 1986 NFL Draft; Bills: 1986-92, Colts: 1993-95, Steelers: 1996-98) born in Louisville, Kentucky

Career Stats: Wolford started in all 191 of his career NFL games. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1990, 1992, 1995), a Second-team All-Pro in 1992, and played in three Super Bowls (XXV, XXVI, XXVII) for Bills.

1983:  Quarterback Vincent (Vince) Young (Texas: 2002-05, selected third overall by Tennessee Titans in 2006 NFL Draft; Titans: 2006-10, Eagles: 2011) born in Houston, Texas

Career Stats: 755 completions in 1,304 attempts for 8,964 yards and 46 touchdowns; 282 carries for 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns. Young was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 and the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2009. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2006 and 2009. Young is currently a quarterback with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

May 19

1949:  Quarterback Elisha Archibald (Archie) Manning III (Mississippi: 1968-70, selected second overall by New Orleans Saints in 1971 NFL Draft; Saints: 1971-82, Oilers: 1982-83, Vikings: 1983-84) born in Cleveland, Mississippi

Career Stats: 2,011 completions in 3,642 attempts for 23,911 yards, 125 touchdowns, and 173 interceptions. QB Rating: 67.1.; 384 carries for 2,197 yards and 18 touchdowns. Manning was a Pro Bowl selection in 1978 and 1979. He is the father of Peyton and Eli Manning.

1975:  Linebacker London Fletcher (John Carroll: 1995-97, signed as undrafted free agent with St. Louis Rams in 1998; Rams: 1998-2001, Bills: 2002-06, Redskins: 2007-13) born in Cleveland, Ohio

Career Stats: 2,031 total tackles (1,380 solo), 39 sacks, 23 interceptions, 87 passes defended, 19 forced fumbles, 12 fumbles recovered, three defensive touchdowns. Fletcher was a four-time Pro Bowl (2009-12) and a two-time Second-team All-Pro (2011, 2012). He played in two Super Bowls: winning Super Bowl XXXIV over Titans and losing Super Bowl XXXVI to Patriots. Fletcher holds the NFL record for most consecutive starts at the linebacker position (215). He is one of four players to play more than 250 career NFL games (Jeff Feagles, Brett Favre, Jim Marshall). Fletcher is tied with Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page and defensive back Ronde Barber for sixth all-time in consecutive games started.

1984:  Tight end Marcedes Lewis (UCLA: 2002-05, selected 28th overall by Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006 NFL Draft; Jaguars: 2006-present) born in Los Alamitos, California

Career Stats: 351 receptions for 4,184 yards and 28 touchdowns. Lewis was named to the Pro Bowl and was a Second-team All-Pro in 2010.

May 20

1927:  Head coach Harry (Bud) Grant (CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers: 1957-66, Vikings: 1967-83, 1985) born in Superior, Wisconsin

Career Record: regular season: 158-96-5 (postseason: 10-12). Grant won four Grey Cups (1958, 1959, 1961, 1962) in CFL as well as the 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1976 NFC Championships. He was the first coach to lead teams to both the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl. Grant was the first coach to lose four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, XI). Grant was also an NFL wide receiver/defensive end (Minnesota: 1947-49, selected 14th overall by Philadelphia Eagles in 1951 NFL Draft; Eagles: 1951-52, CFL Blue Bombers: 1953-56). He was also drafted in the fourth round of the 1950 NBA Draft by the Minneapolis Lakers, winning the NBA Championship in 1950.

1939:  Commissioner Joseph (Joe) Carr (1921-39) died at age 59 in Columbus, Ohio (b. 1879).

Career Highlights: Carr introduced the standard player’s contract and oversaw the expansion of the NFL into major cities like New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. Known as the Father of Professional Football, Carr was an inaugural member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for cover32 and covers the NFL and New York Giants, like and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @TheArmchrAnlyst.

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