Tag Archives: NFL

LA Rams Quarterback art painting

LA Rams Starting Quarterback Case Keenum

The start of this Los Angeles Rams season looks like will lead off with Case Keenum number 17 at quarterback.  Keenum, has made a career as backup but has worked hard to hold off the inevitable future of Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.  Keenum did a good job last year Image Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum handing football off to running back Todd Gurley painting artfor the LA Rams of taking away Nick Foles job who was later released.

Back when I was a kid my dad used to take me to the LA Rams games in the Los Angeles Coliseum back in the late forties and early fifties.  At the time I remember there were two quarterbacks fighting for starting quarterback position; NormVan Brocklin who signed with the Rams out of the draft  and joined the Rams who already had a star quarterback, Bob Waterfield. So beginning in 1950, the Rams coach Joe Stydahar solved his problem by platooning Waterfield and Van Brocklin.  Later on, In a few more years they brought in Bill Wade.  So I was fortunate to see all of them play in Los Angeles.  Saw other great LA Rams players also – the great end Tom Fears and the fun running back, “Crazy Legs” Hirsh.

While I mentioned the fabulous nickname of “Crazy Legs”  I should also mention my favorite football nickname of all time.  Los Angeles Rams defensive back Dick “Night Train” Lane.   “Night Train” Lane had gotten the nickname after taking the night trains to away games because of his fear of flying.  Lane had the record for most interceptions in an NFL season (14), a record that has stood for over 60 years. He went from an undrafted football player, who worked in a factory but was good enough to be later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NFL Rookie of the year Todd Gurley

The other player in the LA Rams painting art is running back Todd Gurley. As the NFL football season starts  The Topps Company announced that Todd Gurley, is the cover athlete for theImage LA Rams quarterback Case Keenum handing football off to running back Todd Gurley painting art Topps NFL HUDDLE® 2017 app.  And we all know why he was selected – because he is the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.  That is why.

Gurley had an absolutely great first season and will try to live up to the great Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson who in his second season ran for over 2,000 yards.  That is almost a “Mission Impossible” but hopefully his offensive line will help him with the goal.

About the  Sports Art painting by sports artists John Robertson

The Case Keenum, Todd Gurley NFL football art painting is to honor these two players, one who has had a great beginning and another who has worked hard in his years to become a starting quarterback.  I hope they both have a great season.  The painting is  4 feet by 6 feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas.

Miami Dolphins Dan Marino

Dan Marino Painting Art

Although Dan Marino was one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL he never one a championship.  (But in 1984 he did lead the Miami Dolphins to the Super Bowl, where the club lost to the San Francisco 49ers led Joe Montana win of  38-16).  For example Marino was first rookie to

Image of Dan Marino quarterback for the Miami Dolphins protected by offensive center Tim Ruddy s defensive end Howie Long rushes Dan Marino as he throws a pass.

Image of Dan Marino quarterback for the Miami Dolphins protected by offensive center Tim Ruddy s defensive end Howie Long rushes Dan Marino as he throws a pass.

start at quarterback in the Pro Bowl. That rookie year Marino threw for 20 touchdowns, led the Dolphins to a 12-4 record, and became the NFL’s Rookie of the Year.  That’s not a bad start for a quarterback who had five other quarterbacks in that year’s draft taken before he was drafted.

At the time one of the greatest years any quarterback has had in the NFL was by Dan Marino.  In that 1984 Super Bowl season he threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, both single season records at the time, while also setting new NFL marks for completions with 362.  A quote from Dan Marino and his career says it best, ” I just try to be myself, whatever that is. I don’t think about how I’ll be remembered. I just want to be consistent over a long period of time. That’s what the great players do.”

It is always interesting to hear what a quarterback has to say about his coach and how he mayMiami Dolphin painting art Image of Dan Marino quarterback protected by offensive center Tim Ruddy s defensive end Howie Long rushes Dan Marino as he throws a pass. feel, as a quarterback, about his leadership role.  Marino said this about one of his games.  “We’re not running the ball again until we get ahead. Shula was calling the plays, but I told them, ‘I don’t care what he calls. We’re throwing every pass from now until we get the lead.’ To Shula’s credit, he always gave me that option. ”

Miami Dolphins Offensive Center, Tim Ruddy Number 61

Also in the painting is Tim Ruddy a six foot three inch center who was drafted in 1994.  When listing the all time top one hundred players for the Miami Dolphins Tim Ruddy comes out around number thirty -two.  He spent 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and started 140 games.

Oakland Raiders Howie Long, Defensive End

The other image in the painting is of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long who played in the Super Bowl XVIII with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984. He was an 8-time Pro Bowler and one-time Defensive Player of the Year in his career.  He recorded 91.5 career sacks and became an NFL sportscaster after retirement.

Sports Art Painting by Sports Artists John Robertson

The painting is three feet by six feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas.

Offensive Linemen

Offensive Linemen NFL The “Trucks” of Football

The offensive linemen plays one of three positions, center, guard or tackle, and usually the biggest players on the team.  I can’t think of anything more intimidating in football, or in  most sports, than to have an offensive lineman out in front of a running back.  His job is to makeImage painting art of a NFL Football offensive linemen setting up for a block with sports artists John Robertson in photograph space for the runner.   Visualize a wedge, snow plow train barreling down deep, snow covered railroad tracks.  And with speed and power this huge wedge plow on the front of the iron, diesel engine throws the snow hundreds of feet off the tracks.

Most offensive linemen are just anonymous monsters, part of this wall of other brutes.  But there are some that have stood out in the NFL.  Some had great nicknames like, ” Smash-Mouth” or “Night-Train” or “The Jordon Spreader”.

Green Bay Packers Forrest Gregg

One of my favorites is Forrest Gregg of the old Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers.  Lombardi said Gregg was greatest player that he ever coached. As a Packer, Gregg brought back five championships to the Green Bay “Frozen Tundra.” In the twilight of his career, he won Super Bowl VI with the Dallas Cowboys.  Gregg played in a then-record 188 straight games between 1956 and 1971. Gregg made nine trips to the Pro Bowl and seven appearances on the First­-Team All­-Pro list.

Oakland Raiders Gene Upshaw

There was Gene Upshaw, Oakland Raiders and a Hall ­of ­Famer.  He played 15 seasons at guard between 1967 and 1981. Upshaw started 207 out of 217 career games and was named to seven Pro Bowls. Upshaw was also a two­-time Super Bowl champion­­ with rings in 1977 and 1981.

Oakland Raiders Art Shell

Another great Raider offensive linemen was Art Shell.  At his playing size of 6’5″ and 265 pounds, Shell would  drop his hips and use pounding leverage to clear space for running backs or put up a shield and protect his quarterbacks.

Cincinnati Bengals Anthony Muñoz

And who some considered the best offensive lineman of all time is Anthony Muñoz – left tackle, Cincinnati Bengals.  He was the “real deal”  with size, strength, athleticism, and technique.  He played at six feet six inches and weighted two-hundred and seventy-eight pounds. He could create an alleyway that a truck could drive through – or “wall off ” a blitzing linebacker.  Munoz played in nine Pro Bowls between 1976 and 1985 and named lead guard on the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All­-Time Team.

About Sports Artists John Robertson Painting

The Lineman painting is approximately 48 inches by 70 inches, acrylic on unstretched canvas.  (That means no stretcher bars or frame)  It hangs like a tapestry or banner.

Minnesota Vikings Art

Receiver Painting Minnesota Vikings Art

Over the years the Minnesota Vikings have had some of the great receivers in the NFL – players like Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Steve Jordan, Anthony Carter, Jake Reed, Ahmad Rashad, etc. etc. etc. So when I went to paint this receiver for the new Minnesota Vikings art , US Bank Stadium Painting art of a Minnesota Vikings football player making a catch over his shoulder while flying through the air is eight feet tall with Sports Artist John Robertson standing nect to the paintingArt Collection there was not one particular player I used as a model.  It would be too hard to single out one player for an individual painting.

What I wanted to represent was the flying aspect of a hero or warrior of the Vikings.  The Vikings had the best of the best warriors, and for so many years the Minnesota Vikings have had some great receiver players.  Like the gathering of the very best Viking warriors, the Minnesota Vikings, over the years, have gathered great receivers to play along-side each other. And this painting is a tribute to them.

Receiver Painting in the Valhalla Suites

The Minnesota Vikings have hung the painting in the Valhalla Suites area of the US Bank Stadium.  The painting is hung to the lobby area and the stairway entrance as you descend to the Valhalla Suites.  Here is a description of the suites from the Vikings website:  Located 17 rows from the field and between the 20 yard lines members will have access to the private Painting art of a Minnesota Vikings football player photographed on the US Bank Stadium jumbotron  making a catch over his shoulder while flying through the airOwner’s and Medtronic Clubs featuring elite all-inclusive food and beverages. Suites range between 24-32 tickets and come with VIP parking, other event access, away game trips and much more.

17 rows off the field

Private Medtronic Club Access

All-inclusive Food and Beverages

Situated between the 30 yard lines

Highest End Suite furniture and finishes in the building

12-24 tickets per Suite

Only 12 Suites at this level

About the Vikings Painting by Sports Artist John Robertson

The receiver painting is four feet by eight feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas.

Minnesota Vikings

US Bank Stadium Minnesota Vikings Art Collection

Like myself Jim Marshall created work for the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Art Collection. The Sports Artist John Robertson with Minnesota Vikings lineman defensive end Jim Marshall at US Bank Stadiumphotograph is of me, sports artist John Robertson, with Jim Marshall, defensive lineman, for the Minnesota Vikings  from nineteen sixty one to nineteen seventy nine (1961 – 1979) In the photo
he had just had autographed a page from a book that has one of my paintings of the famous “Purple People Eaters” .  They were the great front four linemen for the Vikings. “The Purple People Eaters” included; Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall.  The painting commission hangs in the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.   I met Jim at the art opening for the US Bank stadium a week ago.

Jim Marshall “Silver Eagle”

Jim Marshall created from the nickname he gave himself “silver eagle”.  He liked to draw an eagle on his football uniform that “became synonymous with the Viking legend,” according toMinnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall with sports artist John Robertson at the Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium opening art show. the Vikings press release.  Jim Marshall said he was inspired by the Odin’s raven on the flags on medieval Vikings’ long ships. The bird’s ferocity held meaning for Marshall, and he began to fashion his own version of the symbol. His creation was a “silver eagle”.

It was really exciting for me to meet Jim Marshall as I was, and still am a big fan of the Vikings.  My wife is from Minnesota and I have been going back with her at least once or twice a year since we have been together.  Marshall is a few years older than me so we are contemporaries.  He is a big, big man standing six foot four and two hundred and forty five pounds.

“Purple People Eaters” painting by Sports Artist John Robertson

The painting you see in the photograph is eight feet by twelve feet, acrylic on canvas.  TheArtist John Robertson standing next to his painting of Minnesota Vikings f the Purple People Eaters defensive linemen Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall projected on the the jumbotron at US Bank Stadium “Purple People Eaters’ painting is in the Gold Suites lobby to Norsemen’s suites in the US Bank stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play. This is a private area for the suite owners but the doors are sometimes left opened so one can see them from the public area.

US Bank Stadium Art Collection

Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium Art Collection

Like myself Jim Marshall created work for the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Art Collection. The photograph is of me, sports artist John Robertson, with Jim Marshall, defensive lineman, for the Minnesota Vikings  from nineteen sixty one to nineteen seventy nine (1961 – 1979) In the Sports Artist John Robertson with Minnesota Vikings lineman defensive end Jim Marshall at US Bank Stadiumphotohe had just had autographed a page from a book that has one of my paintings of the famous “Purple People Eaters” .  They were the great front four linemen for the Vikings. “The Purple People Eaters” included; Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall.  The painting commission hangs in the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.   I met Jim at the art opening for the US Bank stadium a week ago.

Jim Marshall created from the nickname he gave himself “silver eagle”.  He liked to draw an eagle on his football uniform that “became synonymous with the Viking legend,” according to the Vikings press release.  Jim Marshall said he was inspired by the Odin’s raven on the flags on medieval Vikings’ long ships. The bird’s ferocity held meaning for Marshall, and he began to fashion his own version of the symbol. His creation was a “silver eagle”.

It was really exciting for me to meet Jim Marshall as I was, and still am a big fan of the Vikings.  Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall with sports artist John Robertson at the Minnesota Vikings US Bank stadium opening art show.My wife is from Minnesota and I have been going back with her at least once or twice a year since we have been together.  Marshall is a few years older than me so we are contemporaries.  He is a big, big man standing six foot four and two hundred and forty five pounds.

 

Jim Marshall “Purple People Eaters”About the painting

Sports Artist John Robertson’s painting you see in the photograph is eight feet by twelve feet, acrylic on canvas. This is the other page that Jim Marshall autographed for me which shows him Autograph page of Purple People Eaters linemen from Minnesota Viking with Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson, Jim Marshall, rushing the passerin the Purple People Eaters painting.  The original painting is in the lobby to Norsemen’s suites in the US Bank stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play. This is a private area for the suite owners but the doors are sometimes left opened so one can see them from the public area.

US Bank Stadium Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters

Minnesota Vikings Stadium Painting

One of my pieces ( artist John Robertson) In the new Minnesota Vikings stadium is The “Purple People Eaters” which shows the legendary linemen Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall.   The Artist John Robertson standing next to his painting of Minnesota Vikings f the Purple People Eaters defensive linemen Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall projected on the the jumbotron at US Bank Stadiumpainting you see in the photograph is eight feet by twelve feet, acrylic on canvas.  The “Purple People Eaters’ painting is in the Gold Suites lobby to Norsemen’s suites.  This is a private area for the suite owners but the doors are sometimes left opened so one can see them from the public area.

What was fun about the opening is meeting Carl Eller and Jim Marshall who autographed the photograph art book featuring the stadium’s artists.  We also had a chance to meet the great Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant.

US Bank Football Stadium

We went to the art collection opening at the new  U.S. Bank Stadium where the NFL Minnesota Vikings will be playing their football games starting this 2016 2017 football season.  The stadium has a museum-quality art collection.  Both my wife (Lynn Hanson) and I have pieces of art in this collection. Lynn Hanson and John Robertson Minnesota Vikings football stadium painting US Bank, Gold Suites lobby to Norsemen's suites Purple People Eaters and Viking ship.

U.S. Bank Stadium has some unique features in comparison to other NFL stadiums, It has the largest transparent roof in the nation and five 95-feet high pivoting glass doors that will open to a nearly three-acre plaza and the Minneapolis downtown skyline. While the stadium’s roof will be fixed, the transparent 200,000 square feet of glass throughout the building will give fans an outdoor feel in a climate-controlled environment. The stadium seats are just 41 feet from the sideline. Seven levels in the stadium and it has two of the largest and highest-quality HD video boards in the NFL that are located in both the east and west end zones.

Minnesota Vikings Stadium Art Collection

To see a short video of some of the collection you can go to : http://www.usbankstadium.com/about-the-stadium/art-collection/  You will see two of my paintings in the video.  What is an interesting side comment is that my name is not listed on the Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium with painting of the Purple People Eaters defensive linemen Carl Eller, Allen Page, Gary Larson and Jim Marshall projected on the the jumbotroncollection artist’s list although my paintings are in the stadium.  My understanding is that only a couple of artists that were not from Minnesota were included in the collection – me being one of them.  This was intentional as the other artists not from Minnesota were also left off the list.  My wife, Lynn Hanson was include as she is from Minnesota and her sister lives about an hour from downtown Minneapolis.

Artist John Robertson

Painting Green By Packers Linemen Football Art

 Green Bay Packer Linemen Fan

Although my wife is from Minnesota and I should be a Vikings fan I think my favorite team is the Green Bay Packers.  Both teams I follow regularly.  One of my wife’s sisters lives in Wisconsin so I’m not in total conflict with the family cheering  for Green Bay.Green Bay Packeers Linemen painted in Black and white by sports artist John Robertson

The linemen get little glory but the real football battles are fought there, as they say, “in the trenches” My favorite linesmen’s were from the “old school” Green Bay Packers. During late summer of 1963 I spent a couple of weeks in Green Bay and had the opportunity to watch the Packers daily practice. In those days the practices were open and we could actually sit on the player’s bench and talk with them.

Favorite Linemen Players

My two favorite players were Frederick “Fuzzy” Thurston and Jerry Kramer. They were key member of the Packers’ offensive line during the team’s glory years from 1959 through 1967, when they won five NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls. Kramer was an All-Pro five times, and a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969. Thurston was named to the 1961 and 1962 All-Pro teams. Kramer , 6’3″, 250 lb. right guard, (and “Fuzzy” (Fuzzy was at left guard) were an integral part of the famous “Packer Sweep”, a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull out from their positions on the line and lead-block for the running back going around the end.“Fuzzy” is famous for his quote in response to a sportswriter’s question asked of him how he prepared for the famous Ice Bowl game (where the game-time temperature was 15 degrees below zero). Thurston’s response was “about 10 vodkas.”

This photo with me in it gives you a sense of the actual size of the  The Green Backers Lineman painting is 88″ x 60″ (approx. 7 1/2 feet by 5 feet)

Artist John Robertson

large scale black and white painting of the Green Bay Packers linemen in their down stance

Painting of Payton Manning Denver Broncos quarterback handing off football to running back C J Anderson

Payton Manning Football Paintings Denver Broncos

Payton Manning the Mule Driver

Payton Manning is my favorite quarterback. One of the things I liked about it was his work ethic.  I sometimes thought of him as if he were a mule team driver.  He knew every player’s position and where they were suppose to be hitched in the wagon train line-up.

Painting of Payton Manning Denver Broncos quarterback handing off football to running back C J Anderson

The sports painting by John Robertson is 11″ x 14″ ink and acrylic on drafting film. Available

He was like a great artist, who worked constantly on his skills and analysis of the game.  When he stood behind the center you knew he was in command of the team.  He stood behind the center like the mule team driver and lashed out instructions to his offensive line.  He pointed and pulled and yanked at his players to get them in line. And them drove them down the field.

Payton Manning Retires

After 18 years in the NFL the 39-year-old Payton Manning finally gets to retire.   As we all know he won the Super Bowl this year with the Denver Broncos and has one other Super Bowl win with the Indianapolis Colts.

The five-time NFL MVP was a Super Bowl MVP, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and a seven-time first-team All-Pro. His teams made the playoffs in 15 of his 18 seasons, and he reached the 4,000-yard passing mark in 14 seasons.

In the Broncos’ record-setting 2013 season, when they scored a single-season record 606 points — the first time in league history a team topped 600 — Manning set single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdown passes (55). It was the second time Manning threw for at least 49 touchdowns (2004 was the first) — a mark reached only one other time in NFL history (Brady in 2007).

Payton Manning Highly Respected

Payton certainly had the respect of all who played the game.  Tom Brady and Payton Manning, longtime rivals, were always being compared to each other.  Brady congratulated Manning for changing the game by writing on his Facebook page last weekend. “Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It’s been an honor.”

One of my favorite comments that I have read about Manning is the one from Broncos tackle Ryan Harris.  “Peyton Manning is the kind of player, the rare kind of player, where no matter how long you played with him, whether it was a month, a year, 10 years, a week, you’re always going to say, ‘I played with Peyton Manning,'” ….You don’t say Peyton Manning and I played together or that Peyton Manning was on my team. You say, ‘I played with Peyton Manning.’ And people could not know anything about you as a player, or what you did, or if you were any good, and they would immediately know you played with one of the best ever and you were always one of the teams that [had] a real shot at the Super Bowl. He’s forever.”

Football Painting Quarterback Payton Manning Denver Broncos Art

 Image is Denver Broncos Payton Manning.  24” x 30” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NFL/AFC West.  Newsprint attached to 1 ½”  stretched canvas.

Image is Denver Broncos Payton Manning. 24” x 30” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NFL/AFC West. Newsprint attached to 1 ½” stretched canvas.

Payton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) had one of the greatest seasons of his career in 2013.  It will be interesting to see if he can duplicate his success that he had last year – he is thirty-eight years old.

As five-time league MVP, he played for the Indianapolis Colts for 14 seasons from 1998 to 2011. He is a son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and an elder brother of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Payton is about the most competitive player to play the game.  As Adam Meadows said, (who played with Manning with the Colts,) “He lives, eats, breathes, smokes, snorts, chews football. … “He’s just a machine. That’s all he wants to do.”  Meadows was one of Manning’s linemen for a few years as a Colt.  They had a close relationship of one that a quarterback would have with his linemen.  But one time Payton wanted to have Meadows around and talk about plays and watch game films.  Meadows ‘ wife was having their second baby and he needed to leave for the baby’s birth.   Manning wanted to know why why they couldn’t have babies in the offseason.

All that review of films is what makes Manning the great quarterback that he is.  This philosophy can be applied to anyone who wants to be successful in their field – constant review and analysis of your previous actions and decisions.   Manning says,   “If you ever feel like that’s not important — like, ‘Hey, I don’t need to watch last season; I know what we did; I know what I did wrong’ — no, you don’t know,” Manning said. “You need to watch it. Watch the bad plays. It’s not fun to watch bad plays, to sit there and say, ‘That’s a bad decision’ and ‘That’s a really bad decision’ and ‘Horrible read.’ … No matter how old you are, you need to go into that prepared to be constructively criticized and learn how to grow out of the mistakes every year.”

What I always like about watching Payton Manning quarterbacking is when he comes to the line and is checking out the defense – the glancing around, the pointing of the finger, etc.  Dan Patrick in an interview with Payton Manning asked about his eye contact with defensive players.

“Patrick: Do you make eye contact with the defense? Is there a player you look at?

Manning: I check the middle linebacker, kind of come with that eye on him because you can see if he’s cheating one way or the other. And then I’ll find the two safeties.

D Patrick: But you’ll look at them.

Manning: Yeah, I’ll look at their eyes as opposed to their jersey numbers and it’s like a second of staring. My first year, I didn’t really do it quite as much. I was kind of scared they might, like, tell me to quit looking at them. But now I’ve gotten to the point where I look at them. Especially if they’re a young player, I think it might make them a little bit uneasy.”

One of my favorite lines that Payton Manning reportedly said according to writer Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated was prior to a Super Bowl a few years ago.  The Colts had banned hotel-room visits from relatives and friends the week before the game. Manning said during a team meeting, “I don’t want any crying kids next to me while I’m trying to study,”

If you are a football nerd and want some great insightful information and detail (more than any normal fan would want to know) in how Manning has run an offense here is a great article about it by Chris B. Brown …” a return to the simplicity of Peyton Manning…

Football art Chicago Bears running back Gail Sayers painting

“Gail Sayers”  10” x 14” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old newsprint,) Gail Sayers considered one of the great players with the Chicago Bears.  Newsprint attached to stretched canvas.

“Gail Sayers” 10” x 14” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old newsprint,) Gail Sayers considered one of the great players with the Chicago Bears. Newsprint attached to stretched canvas.

Gail also known as “The Kansas Comet” was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons during the 1960s and early 1970s. He played college football for the University of Kansas, and was twice recognized as an All-American. He was a first-round pick in the 1965 NFL Draft, and played his entire pro career for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.  Selected to the Pro Bowl four times (1965, 1966, 1967 and 1969) and five times in consecutive All-Pro (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969), he is part of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1977. His number 40 was retired by the franchise of the Chicago Bears. It is also part of the NFL team of the 1960s and the team’s 75th anniversary of the NFL. His friendship with fellow Chicago Bear Brian Piccolo was the basis for the 1971 movie Brian’s Song. During his seventh season in Chicago, Sayers suffered a career-ending knee injury. He retired from the sport in 1972.

George Halas,was the iconic founder and owner of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears.  Halas didn`t believe in starting rookies, but with Gail he felt a little different and Sayers delivered.  In his first heavy pre-season action, he raced 77 yards on a punt return, 93 yards on a kickoff return, and then startled everyone with a 25-yard scoring pass against the Los Angeles Rams. –Sayers’ records include most touchdowns in a rookie season,  (22 in 1965).  Also in Sayers record book he had the most touchdowns in a game (6, tied with Nevers and Jones), highest career kickoff return average (30.56), and most return touchdowns in a game.

Gail Sayers said, “”give me 18 inches of daylight that’s all I  need”, which meant that all the offensive line had to do was to open up a small hole in the defensive line for him of 18 inches and he could squeeze and zig-zag through for some good yardage.  Mike Ditka, who played for Chicago and later coached the Chicago Bears for 11 years and New Orleans Saints for three years said of Sayers, “if you’re talking about making people miss and cutting back, nobody was ever better than him.”  Dick Butkus, the great linebacker who played with Sayers (and one of my all time favorite players) said of Sayers “He had a great ability to come at you and then…he’s gone.  He was something to play with.  I’m just glad he was on our team.”

Gail Sayers said, “There’s no way I would have made the Hall of Fame or set any of the records I did by myself. No matter how many yards I gained, whether it was three or 300, someone had to be there to make the block,

Here is a portion of Gail Sayers Hall of Fame speech, July 30, 1977, that I like best, “God gave me a great gift and I had a lot of help developing for this occasion. Reaching this point, however, is not as important as striving to get here. This is true in all professions and all of life’s activities. There are doctors, lawyers, schoolteachers, plumbers all who strive to do their very best with their abilities. We hear a lot today about how the American people have lost their dedication to excellence. I don’t believe that is true. Each  of us excels at different things, sometimes in areas that are only a hobby, more often in our life vocation. The most important thing, however, is to strive to do our very best. Nothing is more of a waste than unrealized potential. Sometimes failure to use one’s talents to the fullest is often the fault of the individual. Nothing could be more tragic. I am sure many of you have been to a Special Olympics and if you have, I am sure you have felt the same exhilaration I have felt in watching young people with disabilities strive as hard as they can in various events. The sense of satisfaction they get from striving is to them much more important than where they finish in the competition. As Robert Rawlings said, ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp’. It is describing to reach a goal that is important and if you should reach that goal, set new goals and strive for them.”

A Friend In Deed.  While at his first training camp, Sayers met fellow running back Brian Piccolo. The two became close friends and were the first racially mixed roommates in the history of the Bears. After cancer brought Piccolo’s life to an untimely end, Sayers’ book documenting their friendship became the basis for the TV movie, “Brian’s Song” starring James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. The film won the 1972 Golden Globe Award as the Best Film Made for Television and spawned a cult following that has persisted for almost three decades, and even resulted in a remake by Disney and ABC-TV in 2001.

 

After all is said and done about Gail Sayers, this is my favorite quote of his, “”Football is a very short-term proposition. Football really prepares you for nothing. The only thing I got out of football was the ability to work hard, and that’s it.”

 

Football painting, Cornerback Deon Sanders San Francisco 49ers Dallas Cowboys

Deon Sanders painting  12" x 16"  ink and acrylic on canvas board..The background is newsprint (from old Sporting News, newspaper about baseball) attached to the canvas board.  The paper is then distressed to give it a old and beat-up, used look old.

Deon Sanders painting 12″ x 16″ ink and acrylic on canvas board..The background is newsprint (from old Sporting News, newspaper about baseball) attached to the canvas board. The paper is then distressed to give it a old and beat-up, used look old.

Deon Sanders was a star cornerback who played 14 NFL seasons from 1989-2005.  Here is what I think is the best part of Deon Sanders    – Hall of Fame enshrinement speech of Aug 7, 2011.   Deon Sanders was a star cornerback who played 14 NFL seasons from 1989-2005:

“This game, this game, this game. And I went at this game and attacked this game because I made a promise that I needed this game to fulfill.

I made a promise when I was seven years old to this young woman at the age of 27. She was working two jobs just to see if ends could see one another because they never met. And she was slaving over pots and pans on that precise day. I can remember, it was a little high chair right by the kitchen. In the kitchen there was a high chair right by the stove that she was cooking.

And I said, mama, because I was tired of seeing her go to work and come home all tired. I said I’m going to be rich one day. Mama, “I’m going to make a lot of money, and you will never have to work another day of your life.” My mama said “that’s fine, but until then you get that lawnmower and go out there and cut that grass.”

14 years later, that’s why you can’t give up on your dream, your promise, because 14 years later, this dream, this promise came. That I was able to allow my mama to go into a job and say I’m not doing it anymore. My son has blessed me.

But there is something inside of me, mama, that I never told you. That I never could admit, and I’m going to share it with all of you, because now we’re family. I played for a youth team called the Fort Myers Rebels and they blessed me. They took me all over the country to expose me to things, to expose you to things.

Everybody on their team, their parents owned something. Their parents were doctors or lawyers or the chief of police. It was that type of organization. Me and one of my friends were the only African American kids on that team. It was a very affluent team, and I was ashamed of my mama because my mama worked in the hospital. She cleaned up the hospital, and I was ashamed of my mama who sacrificed, who loved me, who protected me, who gave me everything. I want to make sure I was best dressed in school and I had everything that was laid that came out. I had it first.

I was ashamed of my mama because one of my friends in high school, he saw her in a hospital one night pushing a cart, and he came back and he clowned me, he ridiculed me and he mocked me because of my mama.

So I made a pledge to myself that I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care what it may take, I’m not going to do anything illegal, but my mama would never have to work another day of her life.”

Deon Sanders was a star cornerback who played 14 NFL seasons from 1989-2005.  Sanders Played for a variety of NFL football teams and used both # 21 and #37.   He was sometimes called “Neon Dion” because of his flashy style on the field and in his personal dress code. Sanders once said, “I never wear the same shoe twice.” As a continuation of his thoughts about being flashy he said, ““If you look good, you feel good, If you feel good, you play good, If you play good, they pay good.”

Sanders played football primarily at cornerback, but also as a kick returner, punt returner and occasionally as a running back or wide receiver.  Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back and Sanders’ teammate from 1995-99 said about him,  “You don’t get to this level by not performing. A lot of guys play the game, but when you start looking at his performance and what he’s been able to accomplish in the period of time that he played, you know he shut down one side of the football field. That says a lot about an athlete and a player.

He played for the Atlanta Falcons, the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens, winning the Super Bowl with both the 49ers and the Cowboys.  Sanders was a perennial All-Pro and one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game.   While at Dallas – Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, president and general manager said of Deon Sanders,  “I think he could be, and you can make a good argument, the best to have played the position. I think it’s noteworthy of the impact he made. At one time he had the most touchdowns per touching the ball of anybody in the National Football League. When he got his hands on it, if anybody could, he could take it to the house. I think that’s pretty interesting and that’s why we made him a receiver when he was here. That’s why we started using him on punt returns when he was here as well, just because of his entire career.”