From the mouths of Hall of Famers
This past weekend I went to support Larry Little at his golf tournament event in Miami, Florida. Larry's charity helps raise money for the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park which served as the only waterfront space in South Florida during his childhood where the Black community was allowed to gather. This is one of the many great charities which our Hall of Famers support. The event was a huge success with a great turnout and a lot of money was raised for Virginia Key Beach Park. There were a bunch of Hall of Famers at the event to support Larry.
One of my favorite things to do at events like this is to talk to the older Hall of Famers about their experiences and what is was like when they played. One of the most entertaining and spirited conversations I had took place on the morning before the tournament while we were eating breakfast. I was sitting with Paul Krause (safety with the Redskins from 1964-67 and Vikings from 1968-1979), Elvin Bethea (defensive end with the Houston Oilers from 1968-1983), Ken Houston (strong safety with the Oilers from 1967-1972 and Redskins from 1973-1980), and Bobby Bell (linebacker/defensive end with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1963-1974).
The discussion was regarding Cover 2 pass coverage and wide receivers coming across the middle of the field on passing routes. Keep in mind I was sitting with four of the best defensive players to ever play the game so they did not like offensive players very much. Paul was telling us how bad a defense Cover 2 was. He said there were way too many holes in that style of defense where the wide receivers could get open. There was almost always a hole between when the defensive back passes off his coverage to the safety which the safety cannot make up in time. The other guys all agreed. When they played in the 1960s and '70s everything was man-to-man. There was much more contact as the receivers went down the field. There was not any five-yard contact rule in play for most of their careers.
As for the receivers coming across the middle, they all said that did not happen very often when they played. The defense ruled the field and if a receiver came across the middle he would be crushed before he even had a chance to go for the ball. Receivers in the '60s and '70s ran north and south, not east and west. These guys told story after story about some young guy making the mistake of running a pattern across the middle just one time because they would get crushed and never do it again. The guys also believed this was a major reason for all the concussions going on today since guys run full speed across the middle of the field.
These four guys were laughing and having a great time telling stories. It was truly a different game when they played. One thing is very clear and has carried over to today's game, defensive guys do not like offensive guys- even on their own team!
Here's a shot of Bobby Bell (right) with our President/Executive Director Steve Perry at the tournament dinner that we Tweeted that night. Apparently, Bobby left his Hall of Fame gold jacket at home!!
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