Dandy Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, Dak Prescott. Playing quarterback for the Cowboys is awfully close to playing center field for the New York Yankees, the iconic position for the iconic team. Sports Illustrated goes deep on the most important lineage in the NFL, getting access to all the major players, and supplementing the fantastic anecdotes with their top-of-line images.
From Staubach to Dak: An Oral History of the Cowboys’ Quarterbacks
Some of the best-known NFL drafts are the ones that produce a bunch of star-quality quarterbacks, such as 1983 (Elway, Marino, Kelly) and 2004 (Eli Manning, Rivers, Roethlisberger). However, the original “Year of the Quarterback” was 1971 when QBs went 1-2-3 overall and brought a bushload of backfield talent in the league. Jim Plunkett went first overall to the Patriots, followed by Archie Manning to the Saints, and then Dan Pastorini to the Oilers. Also in the draft were Joe Theismann, Lynn Dickey, and Kenny Anderson. All six would have long, productive careers although Manning and Dickey played for consistently awful teams. Sports Illustrated spoke to all six as well as some front office personnel for a fun look back at the beginning of the age of the quarterback.
Oral history of the 1971 NFL draft: The original Year of the Quarterback
The Giants upset the heavily favored Cowboys to win the right to travel to Lambeau Field to face the Packers in what turned out to be Brett Favre’s last game with Green Bay. Anything else make the game special? How about -1 kickoff temperature (that kept dropping throughout the game) and wind chills in the -20s. The Giants pushed around the Pack on the frozen tundra and Lawrence Tynes avenged two earlier misses to win the game with a 47-yard field goal in overtime. Sports Illustrated relives a classic.
‘I was just numb’: An oral history of the epic 2007 NFC Championship Game
There is no debate about the best NFL rivalry of the 21st century: It’s in the AFC North and it’s between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The teams have consistently been among the top teams in the league and each have two Super Bowl wins this century. Both pride themselves on physical play and when they meet the hits are louder, the intensity is higher, and the crowds are rowdier. The names say it all: Ray Lewis, Ben Roethlisberger, Bart Scott, Joey Porter, Terrell Suggs, James Harrison. The MMQB gleefully dives into the history of a nasty rivalry.
‘Pure Hatred’: An Oral History of the Steelers-Ravens Rivalry
I am posting this three days after the Patriots ripped the heart and soul out of the Falcons in their mesmerizing comeback in Super Bowl LI. It’s as good a time as any to pay tribute to the crusty genius who made a name for himself as a young defensive mastermind, crashed and burned in Cleveland, and then built the 21st-century’s first NFL dynasty. ESPN goes all out with images, video clips, and anecdotes from all the major pieces of the Belichick puzzle.
No More Questions
Near the end of their time in Houston the Oilers went on a memorable run, making the playoffs seven straight years on the backs of future Hall of Famers Warren Moon, Bruce Matthews and Mike Munchak. The ’93 season came on the heels of literally the worst collapse in NFL playoff history, as backup Frank Reich led the talented Bills back from a 35-3 third-quarter deficit to stun the Oilers. When they started the next season 1-4, owner Bud Adams threatened to blow up the team. Moon was benched. And then the team came together and finished the regular season on a 9-2 run, overcoming a defensive tackle’s stunning suicide and “Babygate,” when guard David Williams failed to make a Sunday game after his first child was born on Saturday. And that’s not all! Notorious defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan helped his team close out the regular season by punching offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during a game. What a year! The Houston Chronicle recaps the insanity.
‘Oh my God:’ The oral history of the 1993 Houston Oilers