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 Post subject: An NFL stat that's hard to believe
PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:22 am 
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I just came across an item that amazed me.

For most of you, the mid-60s are ancient history, but for me they were the years when I began to follow pro football.

The first "soccer-style" kicker in the NFL was a Hungarian immigrant who played for the Giants and his name was Pete Gogolak.

After reading about his predecessor, it's not hard to understand why the Giants were willing to take a shot with an unorthodox kicker.

Before Gogolak, the Giants employed Bob Timberlake, who had been an all-Big Ten QB and was in the mix at that position for the Giants, as well as puntiing, kicking extra points ,and long field goals.

Here's the amazing stat--on October 3, 1965, Timberlake made his first field goal try. It would be the last successful field goal attempt of the season for the entire Giants team. Timberlake alone missed his next 14 tries to finish the season 1-for-15.

Again, it's almost 50 years ago, but even so, it's absolutely inconceivable that kind of a streak would be allowed to go more than two games in these times.

Gogolak, a Cornell grad, was kicking for the Buffalo Bills of the rival AFL, but in much the manner of the original baseball free agents, he refused to sign a new contract and played for a year in Buffalo under the terms of his old Buffalo deal. At the end of the year, he was a free agent and the Giants signed him, marking the first time an NFL team had signed a player who hadn't been released first by his AFL team (and even that was rare since the NFL had such disdain for the level of play in the AFL)

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 Post subject: Re: An NFL stat that's hard to believe
PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:36 am 
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As a followup, the two leagues were already engaged in bidding wars for college seniors and the NFL had what it called free agency, but it was so restrictive that whole offseasons would go by without a player changing teams within the NFL.

Finally, when Al Davis was commissioner of the AFL, he began a policy of going after NFL free agents and it wasn't long thereafter that the merger talks began and the leagues quickly merged, basically resulting in the league we have today.

So, in his own way, Pete Gogolak helped accelerate the growth of the NFL by successfully jumping leagues and making that an option for players, leading the owners to merge in order to protect themselves from each other.

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 Post subject: Re: An NFL stat that's hard to believe
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:25 pm 
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I always thought it was Garo Yepremian who was the first one.


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 Post subject: Re: An NFL stat that's hard to believe
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Steve The Original wrote:
I always thought it was Garo Yepremian who was the first one.


They both made their NFL debuts in 1966, but Gogolak kicked for the Bills in the AFL in 1964 and 1965.

Yepremian actually had a rocky first few years, originally playing for the Lions, but getting cut. Then he played in the minor leagues before resurfacing with the Dolphins, where he was the kicker for their great teama.

From my recollection, neither was as good as Jan Stenerud, a Norwegian who went to college on a skiing scholarship and eventually joined the football team. Stenerud came along a as a pro a couple of years later than Gogolak and Yepremian, but he was the first kicker I remember who was a true weapon for his team (the Chiefs)

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