Orange Ya Glad…

(top half) A snapshot of the Brown’s helmet history—details below. (bottom half) Fans are passionate as evidenced by the efforts put into developing new helmet graphics. I do like that first one with the “Dawg” graphic. But I’m pretty partial to the one at the bottom right.  😉

 

Wow.  My beloved Brownies did it right this past weekend.  In KHT terms, they overcame adversity, did some problem solving, and emerged victorious solving their PIA (Pain In The @%$) Jobs! – by winning over the Baltimore Ravens.  How fun to see them click and really show what the team is capable of.  Afterwards, I went to my closet and moved all of my old orange shirts to the front, realizing it’s “ok” to wear orange again. During the game, I got to thinking about the Brown’s helmets – to some they are plain, almost boring – to me they scream of tradition, simplicity and harken back to the early days when the glitz and glamour of football was more about mud and guts.  I found this great website about the history of the helmets (thanks dawgsbynature.com).  Enjoy the story, and know our Brownies are doing it right and honoring the past, while attacking the future.  One color, no embellishments, just good old orange.  Boring for some – classic for others.  Love it or hate it, here is some of the background that makes it great.  Enjoy!

The Cleveland Browns have arguably the most iconic helmets in the National Football League (NFL). Why? Because they are the only club that is devoid of any logo on the helmet’s sides.  Every single NFL team has their own look and design and sports it proudly on the helmet side.
Some teams even go further and feature some assemblage on their uniform as well. The LA Chargers have lightning bolts across their jersey shoulders and also down the pant legs. The Cincinnati Bengals continue the tiger stripe design with the familiar black and orange streaks on the sleeves and also down the pant legs. The other LA team, the Rams, display a ram head design o their sleeves. The New Orleans Saints display another Fleur De Leis on their sleeve or as an alternate the outline of the State of Louisiana.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offer another iconic helmet design in that their logo is only displayed on one side of their helmet while the other side is vacant. The reason? The answer is: because of luck. From their inception in 1933 and into the 1960s, the Steelers were perennial losers. In the early 1960s NFL and American Football League teams were experimenting with helmet designs. Steelers’ owner Art Rooney asked his equipment manager Jack Hart in 1962 to attach one decal as a test to the side of the then-yellow helmets only to see how they would look. Pittsburgh went 9-5-0 that year to which Rooney called the single decal a sign of good luck. The following season the helmet color was changed to black with the lone decal now a mainstay.
The Browns are famous for their obscure vacated helmet space. And except for those two brown stripes that bookend the center white stripe, it seems that Cleveland has always sported the atmosphere of helmet nothingness forever. Which, isn’t true. In fact, that empty space has been filled several times with several different designs.


1946-1949 – The Browns were a charter member of the upstart All American Football Conference, an eight-team new rival to the NFL in which Cleveland won all four years of the AAFC’s existence. During this time period, the Browns wore solid white leather helmets. The facemask, invented by Browns’ head coach Paul Brown, had not been conceived yet so these hats were devoid of any facemask.


1950-1951 – The Browns along with the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts were merged into the NFL for the 1950 season and all other AAFC clubs were disbanded with a player dispersal draft. The NFL used a white ball for night games and instituted a rule that prohibited the use of white or light-colored helmets for games under the lights and because of the use of the solid white football. So, the Browns played in the white helmets for day games and changed to a solid orange helmet for the evening contests during these two seasons.


1952-1956 – During the 1940 season, plastics were being experimented with different applications including the usage in sporting equipment by the Riddell Company. Leather helmets were heavy especially when they got wet and had a tendency to lose their shape and even rot. The plastic application was lightweight and could have color molded into the shell. The first plastic helmets had a flat top which would break the ear hole with sufficient force, which of course the game of football could provide. Next, a round top was adapted which seemed to work much better. But initially, the plastic helmets were simply not strong enough to sustain a full game of impacts.
During the 1951 season, a new design appeared complete with inner webbing and ear hole padding which was then approved by the league. The Browns ordered orange helmets and installed a single white stripe down the center without any facemask.
That changed in 1955 when Coach Brown invented a facemask for his injured QB Otto Graham who had broken his jaw and was now healed. However, Brown’s design was made of Lucite, which would crack sometimes and even broke in several games which sent shards of the material onto the playing field. Using Brown’s initial design, Riddell produced a facemask labeled the BT-5, a single bar device made of a composite of rubber and plastic, whose original intention was to protect the player’s jaw area.


1957-1959 – Along the way, the Browns added the player’s jersey number to the side of the helmet and added a gray single bar facemask to the solid orange helmets with a single white stripe.


1960 – For a single season, the same helmet configuration that Cleveland wore from 1957 to 1959, two brown stripes first appeared on either side of the single white stripe. Most players now adorned a double-bar gray facemask which was designed to close the opening where the face was visible while the player numbers were still attached to the helmet sides.


1961-1974 – The solid orange helmet would become a mainstay for the Browns as beginning in 1961 the player jersey numbers were eliminated. The two brown stripes with the center white stripe remained that has been a mainstay since that same 1961 season. The facemask remained the standard gray that all NFL clubs were using, although the design of the facemasks included other situations such as a center vertical bar used mostly by offensive and defensive linemen. In 1974, the Kansas City Chiefs painted their facemasks white so that the referees could easily see when an opposing player had latched onto the frame.
For the 1962 season, the NFL developed the rule making it illegal for one player to grab another’s facemask.


1965 – Blanton Collier had languished in the shadows of Paul Brown for many years as his top assistant. When Brown was fired prior to the 1963 season, Collier was named head coach. The Browns captured the NFL Championship in 1964 with a 27-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts. Fresh off the championship banner, the NFL asked the franchise to add a logo of some sort in 1965. Owner Art Modell commissioned a “CB” design that was crafted and added to the sides of the helmets to correspond with the duo brown stripes that encased the single white stripe. Products were made, but the helmet design never saw the playing field. The reason for the scraped project remains a mystery.


1975-1995 & 1999-2005 – With the Chiefs’ invention of the colored facemask the Browns followed suit and added a white facemask color-keyed to match the uniform design. Everything else remained the same.


2006-2014 – The Browns celebrated 60 years as a franchise in 2006. As part of the celebration, they still used the traditional orange shell with two brown stripes and a center white stripe, but ditch the white facemask for the 1974 gray facemask.

2006-2008 (alternate) – For three seasons, Cleveland opted for an alternate throwback uniform scheme and chose the 1959 design which featured the solid orange helmet, single white stripe, brown jersey number on the sides plus a gray facemask.


2015-present – The 2015 season brought into the fold a brand new set of uniforms including something added to the helmet design. The orange shell was a mainstay but was now enhanced and with a brighter color, the width of the brown and white stripes were widened a bit and utilized a carbon fiber texture. Also new were brown facemasks – a first.


2020? – The uniform authority website Uni-watch.com broke a story in 2017 that the Browns might be looking at re-introducing a white helmet. The NFL has a five-year rule where clubs cannot make a change and wanted either to re-do the current uniforms altogether or add to what they already have. There aren’t any details on the potential white helmet and the picture shown is for display purposes only.   ALL I KNOW IS THAT THIS WOULD BE AN UGLY CLEVELAND BROWNS HELMET!!!

 

 


 

Da Da Da Dahhhhhhh

(top) This Jan. 1972, photo provided by ABC, shows, from left, Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, the broadcast team of “Monday Night Football.” (the next nine photos) The very first Monday Night football game in Cleveland! Look at that hulk of a video camera!  The Browns kept scoring, the fans loved it and Joe Namath left depressed.  (the last three photos) This year’s MNF game saw the new Browns beating the Jets again!!!  So, crank-up the sound and  click here   for what is probably the most iconic theme song for a show in American television history, “Heavy Action” written by British composer, Johnny Pearson. If you want a Monday Night Football music history lesson click HERE. You’ll hear the very first MNF theme music.

 

I think it’s imbedded in my brain – forever.  The opening theme music to Monday Night Football.  This past Monday, Cleveland fans enjoyed a real treat – seeing their beloved Brownies play …. and ready for it …. WIN – on Monday Night Football. They actually scored touchdowns that were not called back, made some nice running plays, threw a couple long passes and even sacked the opposing quarterback. (it’s been about 20 years since I’ve witnessed this).  Some Steve trivia – did you know, the first Monday Night Football game was between Cleveland and the Jets … and Cleveland won, beating the famous Broadway Joe Namath – remember Homer Jones and Billy Andrews?  As I reflect back, I don’t remember a time when MNF wasn’t a part of my Fall ritual. So, I jumped online and dug up some fun information and trivia for you on how it got started (talk about solving a PIA (Pain In The @%$) Job! Can you believe it – it’s been on TV for almost 50 years – Wow.  Special thanks to Wikipedia for the “early days” insights.  (see how many guys from the shows you remember).  My Browns will be on MNF and SNF a few times this Fall – go Baker and OBJ – IT’S ABOUT @$%$&%^%$@^%$ TIME!!!!!!!!!!!  GO BROWNS!

 

  1. During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time that could be viewed by a greater television audience. An early bid by the league in 1964 to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school footballgames. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 spectators to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
  2. Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in prime time on CBS during the 1966 and 1967seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving American Football League teams.
  3. During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in 1970 (coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL), Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.
  4. Despite the network’s status at the time as the lowest-rated of the three major broadcast networks, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. It was only after Rozelle used the threat of signing a deal with the independent Hughes Sports Network, an entity bankrolled by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have pre-empted the network’s Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.
  5. After the final contract for Monday Night Football was signed, ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge immediately saw possibilities for the new program. Setting out to create an entertainment “spectacle” as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte, who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three, and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.
  6. Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York City sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson. Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the MNF play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break their respective existing contracts with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jack Buck was also considered, but when Arledge assistant Chuck Howard telephoned Buck with the job offer, Buck refused to respond due to anger at his treatment by ABC during an earlier stint with the network. Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the trio, Frank Gifford, was unavailable since he was still under contract to CBS Sports. However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laid-back Meredith.
  7. Monday Night Football first aired on ABC on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Browns in Cleveland. Advertisers were charged US$65,000 per minute by ABC during the clash, a cost that proved to be a bargain when the contest collected 33% of the viewing audience. The Browns defeated the Jets, 31-21 in a game which featured a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns’ Homer Jones to open the second half, and was punctuated when Billy Andrewsintercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown. However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV, because of the NFL’s blackout rules of the time (this would apply for all games through the end of the 1972 season; beginning in 1973, home games could be televised if tickets were sold out 72 hours before kickoff).
  8. One of the trademarks of Monday Night Football is a music cue used during the opening teasers of each program, a Johnny Pearson-composition titled “Heavy Action”, originally a KPM production library cue (and also used as the theme music for the BBC program Superstars), which MNF began using in 1975.
  9. That success would continue over the course of the season, helping establish a phenomenon on Monday nights in the fall: movie attendance dropped, bowling leagues shifted to Tuesday nights and a Seattle hospital established an unwritten rule of no births during games.
  10. Cosell’s presence initially caused Henry Ford II, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, the program’s main sponsor, to ask for his removal. ABC refused, and Ford had a change of heart once the show’s ratings were made public.
  11. In 1971, Frank Gifford became available after his contract with CBS Sports concluded; Arledge brought him to ABC to serve as play-by-play announcer, replacing Jackson (who returned to broadcasting college football for the network, which he continued to do for the next 35 seasons). The former New York Giant had been an NFL analyst for CBS during the 1960s but had never called play-by-play prior to joining Monday Night Football. In that capacity for Monday Night Football from 1971 to 1985, Gifford was often criticized for his see-no-evil approach in regard to discussing the NFL, earning him the dubious nickname “Faultless Frank.” Regardless, Gifford would have the longest tenure of any broadcaster on the show, lasting until 1998.
  12. Cosell’s abrasive personality gave him enough recognition to host a live variety show on ABC in the fall of 1975. That show is remembered today only as a trivia question, as its title, Saturday Night Live, prevented a new late-night sketch comedy program on NBC from using that title until the ABC show was canceled. That seeming popularity was in contrast to the repeated criticisms in the media, as well as bar room contests in which winners were allowed to throw a brick through a television image of Cosell.
  13. ABC Broadcast teams: Play-by-play announcersKeith Jackson (1970),Frank Gifford (1971–1985),Al Michaels (1986–2005,Gary Bender (1987),Mike Patrick (1997 and 2005)  Color commentatorsHoward Cosell (1970–1983),Don Meredith (1970–1973, 1977–1984), Fred Williamson (1974), Alex Karras (1974–1976),Fran Tarkenton (1979–1982), O. J. Simpson (1983–1985),Joe Namath (1985),Frank Gifford (1986–1997),Dan Dierdorf (1987–1998),Lynn Swann (1987),Joe Theismann (1997 and 2005), Dan Fouts (2000–2001),Boomer Esiason (1998–1999), Dennis Miller (2000–2001),John Madden (2002–2005), Paul Maguire (2005)
  14. Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006 – for its debut on ESPN, (see trailer link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01hLEJ7sn44) Hank Williams, Jr. re-recorded the MNF opening theme with an all-star jam band that included among others Brian Setzer, Little Richard, Questlove, Joe Perry, Clarence Clemons, Rick Nielsen, Bootsy Collins, Charlie Daniels and Steven Van Zandt.

 

 


 

“16, 24, 9 – Ready, Set….”

(top) Cleveland Brown Stadium; (row two) The Ancient Greek’s version of football called Episkyros. Hmmm, not much padding on THAT uniform; An 1878 photo of Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football” was the captain of the Yale University football team; And a 1930s Spalding Leather Football Helmet. Not much padding there either. (row three) The great quarterback Otto Graham signed this football. And the great Jim Brown signed this helmet. (row four) This 1893 Harper’s Weekly illustration by Frederic Remington shows the early idea of blocking for the runner. What a concept! (row five) The 1904 Vanderbilt football team suited-up and ready to play. I wonder how many head injuries there were that year? (row six) Otto Graham took Browns to league championships every year between 1946 and 1955, winning seven of them; Bernie Kosar was with the Browns from 1985 to 1993 finishing his career with Dallas and Miami. He won Super Bowl XXVIII with Dallas (DARN, DARN, DARN!!!), beating the Buffalo Bills, on January 30, 1994 (DARN!!!); And Baker Mayfield waiting his turn. (row seven) Here’s a couple ideas I had to spruce-up the ball and the Browns helmets. What do you think? (bottom) Go Get ‘Em, Baker!!!!!!!

Yep, it’s that time of the year when we put away the sunscreen and trunks and pull out the face paint and jerseys.  Football season.  Kids are running around fields all over Northeast Ohio – (love the little ones with the giant helmets and shoulder pads).  Two-a-days, Friday night fever, tailgating, marching bands and get-togethers on Saturdays for our favorite pastime.  I saw on television that this year marks the 100thanniversary of professional football, which started not long from here in Canton Ohio.  Going back in history, I wanted to see what’s been captured on the early days of the game since we  all know the current status of the game. Here’s some fun trivia and knowledge about this great game – enjoy, and of course, Go Browns,(it has been decades since we can say that!  Go, Bucs, and Go Rockets!

  1. In Ancient Greece, men played a similar sport called Episkyros where they tried to throw a ball over a scrimmage while avoiding tackles. Forms of traditional football have been played throughout Europe and beyond since antiquity. Many of these involved handling of the ball and scrummage-like formations.
  2. These archaic forms of football, typically classified as mob football, would be played between neighboring towns and villages, involving an unlimited number of players on opposing teams, who would clash in a heaving mass of people struggling to drag an inflated pig’s bladder by any means possible to markers at each end of a town. By some accounts, in some such events any means could be used to move the ball towards the goal, as long as it did not lead to manslaughter or murder. These antiquated games went into sharp decline in the 19th century when the Highway Act 1835 was passed banning the playing of football on public highways -penalty was forty shillings.
  3. Each school played its own variety of football. Princeton University students played a game called “ballown” as early as 1820. A Harvard tradition known as “Bloody Monday” began in 1827, which consisted of a mass ballgame between the freshman and sophomore classes, played at The Delta, the space where Memorial Hall now stands. (A poem, “The Battle of the Delta,” was written about the first match: “The Freshmen’s wrath, to Sophs the direful spring / Of shins unnumbered bruised, great goddess sing!” In 1860, both the town police and the college authorities agreed that Bloody Monday had to go. The Harvard students responded by going into mourning for a mock figure called “Football Fightum”, for whom they conducted funeral rites. The authorities held firm and it was a dozen years before football was once again played at Harvard.
  4.  Dartmouthplayed its own version called “Old division football“, the rules of which were first published in 1871, though the game dates to at least the 1830s. All of these games, and others, shared certain commonalities. They remained largely “mob” style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, and violence and injury were common. The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860.
  5. The game began to return to college campuses by the late 1860s. Yale, Princeton, Rutgers University, and Brown Universitybegan playing the popular “kicking” game during this time. In 1867, Princeton used rules based on those of the London Football Association. A “running game”, resembling rugby football, was taken up by the Montreal Football Club in Canada in 1868.
  6. Walter Camp is widely considered to be the most important figure in the development of American football.
  7. Following the introduction of rugby-style rules to American football, Camp became a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where rules were debated and changed. Dissatisfied with what seemed to him to be a disorganized mob, he proposed his first rule change at the first meeting he attended in 1878: a reduction from fifteen players to eleven. The motion was rejected at that time but passed in 1880. The effect was to open up the game and emphasize speed over strength. Camp’s most famous change, the establishment of the line of scrimmage and the snap from center to quarterback, was also passed in 1880. Originally, the snap was executed with the foot of the center. Later changes made it possible to snap the ball with the hands, either through the air or by a direct hand-to-hand pass.
  8. Camp was central to several more significant rule changes that came to define American football. In 1881, the field was reduced in size to its modern dimensions of 120 by 53​ 1/3 yards (109.7 by 48.8 meters). Several times in 1883, Camp tinkered with the scoring rules, finally arriving at four points for a touchdown, two points for kicks after touchdowns, two points for safeties, and five for field goals. Camp’s innovations in the area of point scoring influenced rugby union’s move to point scoring in 1890. In 1887, game time was set at two halves of 45 minutes each. Also in 1887, two paid officials—a referee and an umpire—were mandated for each game. A year later, the rules were changed to allow tackling below the waist, and in 1889, the officials were given whistles and stopwatches.
  9. The last, and arguably most important innovation, which would at last make American football uniquely “American”, was the legalization of interference, or blocking, a tactic which was highly illegal under the rugby-style rules. Interference remains strictly illegal in both rugby codes. The prohibition of interference in the rugby game stems from the game’s strict enforcement of its offside rule, which prohibited any player on the team with possession of the ball to loiter between the ball and the goal.
  10. At first, American players would find creative ways of aiding the runner by pretending to accidentally knock into defenders trying to tackle the runner. When Walter Camp witnessed this tactic being employed against his Yale team, he was at first appalled, but the next year had adopted the blocking tactics for his own team. During the 1880s and 1890s, teams developed increasingly complex blocking tactics including the interlocking interference technique known as the Flying wedge or “V-trick formation”, which was developed by Lorin F. Deland and first introduced by Harvard in a collegiate gameagainst Yale in 1892. Despite its effectiveness, it was outlawed two seasons later in 1894 through the efforts of the rule committee led by Parke H. Davis, because of its contribution to serious injury.
  11. From its earliest days as a mob game, football was a very violent sport. The 1894 Harvard-Yale game, known as the “Hampden Park Blood Bath”, resulted in crippling injuries for four players; the contest was suspended until 1897. The annual Army-Navy game was suspended from 1894 to 1898 for similar reasons. One of the major problems was the popularity of mass-formations like the flying wedge, in which a large number of offensive players charged as a unit against a similarly arranged defense. The resultant collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death.
  12. Meanwhile, John H. Outland held an experimental game in Wichita, Kansas that reduced the number of scrimmage plays to earn a first down from four to three in an attempt to reduce injuries. The Los Angeles Times reported an increase in punts and considered the game much safer than regular play but that the new rule was not “conducive to the sport.  Finally, on December 28, 1905, 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make the game safer. As a result of this meeting, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed. One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass. Though it was underutilized for years, this proved to be one of the most important rule changes in the establishment of the modern game.
  13. As a result of the 1905–1906 reforms, mass formation plays became illegal and forward passes legal. Bradbury Robinson, playing for visionary coach Eddie Cochems at St. Louis University, threw the first legal pass in a September 5, 1906, game against Several coaches emerged who took advantage of these sweeping changes. Amos Alonzo Stagg introduced such innovations as the huddle, the tackling dummy, and the pre-snap shift. The division III championship game si called the “Stagg Bowl” today.  Other coaches, such as Pop Warner and Knute Rockne, introduced new strategies that still remain part of the game.
  14. Besides these coaching innovations, several rules changes during the first third of the 20th century had a profound impact on the game, mostly in opening up the passing game. In 1914, the first roughing-the-passer penalty was implemented. In 1918, the rules on eligible receivers were loosened to allow eligible players to catch the ball anywhere on the field—previously strict rules were in place only allowing passes to certain areas of the field. Scoring rules also changed during this time: field goals were lowered to three points in 1909and touchdowns raised to six points in 1912.

 

 


 

The Big Game = Big Food

Have the essentials on hand:
Remote? Check.
Plenty of napkins? Check.
Add food from these starter recipes and your favorite beverage. Now sit, watch, eat, cheer!! 

 

This weekend, we get to watch “the big game” – a tradition in our house.  And with it, of course, is what I like to call “big food” – and lots of it.  It’s a chance for me to go off my regiment a bit, and enjoy pretty much everything Jackie, the girls and I put out in the kitchen – old favorites, new flavors and new dishes.  Aside from the traditional chips, dips, snacks, chili, vegies, desserts, and of course, my favorite (any meatball variation on the end of a toothpick or in a bowl!) I like to go looking for some recipes we may have not seen or tried before.  Touchdown!! – I found a great website called delish.com with a link titled “108 Amazing Super Bowl Party Foods That Are Guaranteed to Score” (HERE) and a perfect teaser line: If your eats aren’t touchdown-worthy, your team might lose. It was tough, but here are a couple of my favorites – with over 100 ideas, I’m sure you’ll find some to try – (the Reese’s peanut butter ball just made me laugh out loud).  Enjoy!


TATER TOT SKEWERS
(come on, just not fair – bacon, cheese and tater tots … should be outlawed!)
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. frozen tater tots, defrosted
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chives
  • Ranch dressing, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 425º. Place a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Place a metal rack inside a large baking pan. On a skewer, pierce one end of a strip of bacon. Pierce and place a tater top on top of the bacon, then pierce the same strip bacon again (to top the tater tot) to form a weave. Repeat with two to three more tater tots, depending on the size of your skewers. Repeat to finish the rest of the bacon and tater tots. Place on wire rack and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until bacon is cooked through.
  • Sprinkle cheese over the cooked skewers and bake until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes more. Garnish with chives and serve with ranch dressing, for dipping.

JALAPEÑO CORN FRITTERS
(these are made with corn … so I figured they must be healthy, right?

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cup fresh corn
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided
  • Sour cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, combine corn, cornmeal, cheddar, cream cheese, scallions, bacon, eggs, the juice of half a lime, and jalapeño. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, form the mixture into small patties.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the patties until they’re golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Garnish each with sour cream and a squeeze of lime, if desired.

WAFFLE FRY SLIDERS
(OMG – fries and burgers and waffles – just shoot me!! – pickles too!!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag frozen waffle fries
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of cheddar, quartered into small squares
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Bread and butter pickles, for serving
  • Lettuce, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • Bake waffle fries according to package instructions. Pick out 16 large, round waffles to act as the buns.
  • Meanwhile, make the sliders. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, yellow mustard, garlic powder and onion together with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir gently to combine. Form the mixture into small patties. You should end up with about 8 patties.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef patties and cook for about 3 minutes, until the bottoms develop a nice seared crust. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the cheese slices to the tops of the patties. Cover the pan with a large lid and cook until cheese melts.
  • Assemble the patties. Place 8 waffle fries (or however many patties you have cooked) on a serving platter. Top with cooked sliders. Then garnish with tomato slices, pickles and lettuce. Top with waffle fries and serve immediately.

If you have a family favorite, I’ll share it with the gang – just email me at skowalski@khtheat.com.

 

 


 

The Sounds of Fall

football-768-blog

(Top L to R) Contrasts: A leather football used in a 1932 college football game and the Wilson X Connected Football that, with an iPhone app, will give stats about your throw, such as distance, velocity, spiral efficiency, spin rate, and whether the pass was caught or dropped. Released to stores yesterday.
(Bottom L to R) Leather football helmet from 1917. The Vince Lombardi trophy. And, well, you know.

 

The other day, while working in the yard, I heard a familiar sound – the high school marching band music was loud and clear. It immediately made me think of Friday night football games and also back to my HS days – old friends, teammates, and best of all, playing football. I was lucky enough to play football in HS – at a pretty competitive school named St. Ed’s (current D-1 State champions – brag, brag – yeah!). For me, football had so many fun and memorable moments – plus, the absolutely thrill of watching my four daughters perform on the Bay High Rockettes dance drill team or the marching band, and yes they could hear me cheering from the stands!

So, like I normally do, I thought I’d do a little digging, and see where that funky football shape, this crazy game and everything “Friday Night” came from, along with some fun trivia – enjoy.

Where did the football come from? American football may have evolved from soccer and rugby, but it turns out that the football was never truly designed, it just sort of happened. Nicknamed “the “pigskin”, it’s not made of pig skin at all, but is, in fact, made from cowhide. Of course, popular speculation has it that the leather exterior of the football was once made from the tanned skin of a pig, but it’s more likely that the football was made from a pig’s bladder. We may never know.

What about the football shape? Equally mysterious is the shape of the ball. If the sport evolved from soccer and rugby, how and when did the football gain its distinct shape – technically known as a prolate spheroid? Well, it turns out that the football was never truly designed, it just sort of happened. According to Henry Duffield, a man who witnessed a game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, largely considered to be the first intercollegiate game:

“The ball was not an oval but was supposed to be completely round. It never was, though — it was too hard to blow up right. The game was stopped several times that day while the teams called for a little key from the sidelines. They used it to unlock the small nozzle which was tucked into the ball, and then took turns blowing it up. The last man generally got tired and they put it back in play somewhat lopsided.”

Where did the game start? Initially, football was a very different game – or perhaps I should say games. There were kicking games and running games, but as those two games began to merge together, as rules began to standardize, the ball began to slightly stretch out in order to accommodate more types of use, when the forward pass was introduced to football in 1906.
As the game continued to change, the ball evolved to accommodate new rules and new plays. Most notably, in the 1930s, it became longer and slimmer as the forward pass became a more dominant–and more encouraged–part of the game. –

Where did the ball get its white stripes? In 1956, the white balls traditionally used in night games were replaced with a standard daytime football circled by two white stripes. Though advancements in stadium lighting have made night balls unnecessary, NCAA games still use the white-striped ball.

Where did the ball name “the Duke” come from? In 1941, the official football used by the NFL was nicknamed “The Duke,” after the Wellington Mara, whose father named him after the Duke of Wellington. That name played a key role in establishing the relationship between the NFL and Wilson Sporting Goods, the company that has for more than 70 years produced the official football of the NFL. “The Duke” was in play until 1969 when professional football reorganized. In 2006, National Football League owners decided to return the name of the official game ball to “The Duke” in honor of Wellington Mara’s passing the previous years.

What are the specs on a regular football? An NFL ball shall consist of a urethane bladder inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 pounds and enclosed in a pebble grained, tan leather outer shell designed to provide a good grip – even in the rain. The ball must be 11-11.25 inches long, have a long circumference between 28- 28.5 inches, a short circumference between 21-21.25 inches; and it must weigh 14 to 15 ounces. The variation in the measurements is due to the fact that all NFL footballs are made by hand. Since 1955 every NFL football has been made at Wilson’s 130-person factory in Ada, Ohio, which produces up to 4,000 footballs a day.

These NFL footballs are born on the backs of Midwestern cows from Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, which are brought to a tannery in Ada and treated with a top secret football-weather-optimizing tanning recipe. Each football is composed of four separate pieces with a single cowhide producing ten balls. The construction of the bladder is also a secret process, with each synthetic bladder produced by one man. From pigskin to cowhide, organic bladder to synthetic rubber, the ball has changed and the game itself has evolved into a completely different animal.

What happened in “deflategate”? The official rules of the National Football League require footballs to be inflated to a gauge pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (psi) or 86 to 93 kPa, when measured by the referees. Per the pressure-temperature law, there is a positive correlation between the temperature and pressure of a gas with a fixed volume and mass. Thus, if a football were inflated to the minimum pressure of 12.5 psi at room temperature, the pressure would drop below the minimum as the gases inside cooled to the colder ambient temperature on the playing field. While footballs deflate naturally in colder temperatures, a deliberately under-inflated football may be easier to grip, throw, and catch, or inhibit fumbling, especially in cold rainy conditions. The 2015 AFC Championship Game football tampering scandal, commonly referred to as Deflategate, was a National Football League (NFL) controversy involving the allegation that the New England Patriots tampered with footballs used in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18, 2015.

What is the longest recorded football punt and field goal? The longest punt is the 98-yard punt by New York’s Steve O’Neal in 1969. The kick began from his team’s 1-yard line and was downed at the Broncos’ 1-yard line. It is the longest possible punt to be recorded that is NOT a touchback. The longest field goal in NFL history is 64 yards by Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos in 2013. The longest field goal in NCAA history is 67 yards, accomplished four times, most recently by Tom Odle for Fort Hays State in 1988. The NCAA record for longest field goal without a tee and with the more-narrow modern goal posts is 65 yards by Martin Gramatica of Kansas State in 1998. Nick Rose, a senior kick for the University of Texas obliterated all of those with an 80-yard field goal in practice.

Are signed footballs worth much? While original football player cards can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, most signed footballs carry lower value. Some collector favorites are Johnny Unitus and John Elway.

If I’m a cow, what are my odds? It takes about 600 cows to make one full season’s worth of NFL footballs. At Wilson Sporting Goods Company, they make more than 2 million footballs of all sorts every year. A cow has only a 1 in 17,420,000 chance of becoming an NFL football that is used in the Super Bowl.

Just fun trivia:

  • Only two players have caught, rushed, and thrown a touchdown against the same team in the same game: Walter Payton in 1979 and David Patton in 2001.
  • Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is the only player to rush for a 99-yard touchdown, in 1983.
  • Just two years after finishing their careers, approximately 78% of NFL player go bankrupt.  In 1892, former Yale star William “Pudge” Heffelfinger became the first recognized pro player when he accepted $500 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association.
  • Though football games usually last around 3 hours, the ball is typically in play for only 11 minutes. Around 56% of the game on TV is devoted to replays.
  • In an NFL game, as many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of total TV air time (excluding commercials), is spent on shots of players standing on the line of scrimmage, huddling, or just walking around between snaps.
  • The average age of an NFL cheerleader is 25 and NFL cheerleaders typically make $50–$75 a game. However, by the time they spend money on makeup, hair accessories, dance classes, etc., they end up losing money. During broadcast NFL games, cheerleaders are on TV for only about 3 seconds.
  • Coaches and referees receive around 7% of the face time in a game.
  • Instant replay became commonplace in the mid-1960s, which helped fill the idle moments of the game. By the 1990s, some football broadcasts showed about 100 replays per game.
  • There are nearly 3 million sports industry jobs in the U.S, which is approximately 1% of the population.
  • Contrary to common opinion, the “G” on the Green Bay Packers helmet doesn’t stand for Green Bay. Rather, it stands for “Greatness.”
  • The huddle was invented by Paul Hubbard. A legally deaf quarterback from Gallaudet University, he “huddled” other players together so he could hear them better and to protect them from the other teams’ prying eyes.