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Dec. 9, 1984 – Eric Dickerson breaks the NFL rushing record

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Eric Dickerson was selected second overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. An immediate success, he established rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18), including another two receiving touchdowns. His efforts earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.

In his second season, Dickerson continued his onslaught on the NFL record book becoming a member of the 2000 rushing yards club. Twelve times in 1984 he gained more than 100 yards rushing, breaking the record of 100-yard games in a season held by O. J. Simpson. His 2,105 total yards rushing beat Simpson’s 1973 NFL season record of 2,003 yards (Dickerson having reached 2,007 yards after 15 games), but since the NFL expanded the regular season from 14 to 16 games in 1978, Dickerson had the benefit of playing in two additional games. No one has since rushed for more yards in a single NFL season. Dickerson’s 5.6 yards per carry led the Rams to a playoff berth in 1984.

Dec. 8, 1940 – Bears beat the Redskins, 73-0, in the 8th NFL Championship Game

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The game was played at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., and broadcasted on radio by Mutual Broadcasting System, the first NFL title game broadcast nationwide. The Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 73–0, the most one-sided victory in NFL history.

The Redskins had beat the Bears 7–3 in a regular season game three weeks earlier. After the contest, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall told reporters that the Bears were “quitters” and “cry babies” when the going got tough. As the Bears prepared for the rematch, Chicago head coach George Halas fired up his team by showing them newspaper articles of Marshall’s comments.

Less than a minute into the game, the Bears’ running back Bill Osmanski ran 68 yards to score the first touchdown. After the Redskins narrowly missed an opportunity to tie the game, the Bears clamped down and began to dominate, leaving the field at halftime with a 28-0 lead. Things only got worse for the Redskins, and by the end of the second half officials were asking Halas not to let his team kick for extra points, as they were running out of footballs after too many had been kicked into the stands.

The Bears followed their history-making win with two more consecutive championships, including a game against the New York Giants just two weeks after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Many great football players were subsequently drafted into World War II, and Halas himself would leave in 1942 for a tour of duty in the Pacific. In 1946, after the war ended, Halas and a number of former players returned to the team, and the Bears won their fourth NFL Championship in seven years.

Dec. 7, 1939 – Lou Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Lou Gehrig was the first player to have the rule waived that required a player to be retired one year before he could be elected. At age 36, he was the second youngest player to be so honored (behind Sandy Koufax). He never had a formal induction ceremony. On July 28, 2013, he and eleven other deceased players including Rogers Hornsby received a special tribute during the Induction Ceremony, held during “Hall of Fame Induction Weekend”, July 26–29 in Cooperstown, New York.

Did You Know:
Gehrig was the first baseball player to have his uniform number retired?

Dec, 6, 1992 – Jerry Rice set a new NFL record by catching his 101st touchdown

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Jerry Rice’s 101st career touchdown catch, breaking the record for most career touchdowns previously held by Steve Largent, came on a rainy afternoon in San Francisco, during only his eighth season with the NFL. (By contrast, Largent made his 100th TD reception in his 14th season.) With 8:56 left in the game (a 27-3 rout of the Miami Dolphins) Rice made a quick move to get open in the middle of the end zone, where he caught a 12-yard pass from Steve Young. Mobbed by his teammates, he ran off the field in triumph. Two years later, Rice became the NFL’s all-time touchdown leader (127), passing the great Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown.

Dec. 5, 1947 – Joe Louis defeated Jersey Joe Walcott to retain his heavyweight title

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After trouble finding another suitable opponent, on December 5, 1947, Joe Louis met Jersey Joe Walcott, a 33-year-old veteran with a 44–11–2 record. Walcott entered the fight as a 10-to-1 underdog. Nevertheless, Walcott knocked down Louis twice in the first four rounds. Most observers in Madison Square Garden felt Walcott dominated the 15-round fight. When Louis was declared the winner in a split decision, the crowd booed.

Louis was under no delusion about the state of his boxing skills, yet he was too embarrassed to quit after the Walcott fight. Determined to win and retire with his title intact, Louis signed on for a rematch. On June 25, 1948, about 42,000 people came to Yankee Stadium to see the aging champion, who weighed 213½, the heaviest of his career to date. Walcott knocked Louis down in the third round, but Louis survived to knock out Walcott in the eleventh.

Louis would not defend his title again before announcing his retirement from boxing on March 1, 1949. In his bouts with Conn and Walcott, it had become apparent that Louis was no longer the fighter he once had been. As he had done earlier in his career, however, Louis would continue to appear in numerous exhibition matches worldwide.

Dec. 4, 1997 – The NBA suspended Latrell Sprewell for physically assaulting coach, P.J. Carlesimo

Though a four-time All-Star, a significant mark on Latrell Sprewell‘s career was an incident which took place on December 1, 1997, when he attacked head coach P.J. Carlesimo during a Golden State Warriors practice. When Carlesimo yelled at Sprewell to make crisper passes (specifically asking him to “put a little mustard” on a pass), Sprewell responded that he was not in the mood for criticism and told the coach to keep his distance. When Carlesimo approached, Sprewell threatened to kill him and dragged him backwards by his throat, choking him for 7–10 seconds before his teammates and assistant coaches pulled Sprewell off his coach. Sprewell returned about 20 minutes later after showering and changing and again accosted Carlesimo. He landed a glancing blow at Carlesimo’s right cheek before being dragged away again by the assistant coaches.

Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. The next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him for one year. Sprewell took the case to arbitration, and, as a result, the contract voiding was overturned and the league suspension was reduced to the remaining 68 games of the season. He sought to vacate the arbitration contract under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. His case went through all appeals, and was remanded.

Dec. 3, 1956 – Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points in his first college basketball game

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In his first varsity game, Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds, breaking both all-time University of Kansas records in a 87–69 win against the Northwestern team of future NBA team mate Joe Ruklick.

Teammate Monte Johnson testified to his athleticism: “Wilt … had unbelievable endurance and speed … and was never tired. When he dunked, he was so fast that a lot of players got their fingers jammed [between Chamberlain’s hand and the rim].” By this time, Chamberlain had developed several offensive weapons that became his trademarks: his finger roll, his fadeaway jump shot, which he could also hit as a bank shot, his passing and his shot-blocking. Leading a talented squad of starters, including Maurice King, Gene Elstun, John Parker, Ron Lonesky and Lew Johnson, the Jayhawks went 13–1 until they lost a game 56–54 versus Oklahoma State, who held the ball the last three and a half minutes without any intention of scoring a basket, which was still possible in the days before the shot clock (introduced 1984 in the NCAA).