Portal:American football/Selected article archive

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December 2, 2006 to April 12, 2007[edit]

The run-and-shoot is an American football offensive scheme devised by Glenn Ellison for use on the secondary school level at Middletown High School in the eponymous Ohioan city, popularized on the collegiate level by University of Houston Cougars head coach Jack Pardee in the 1987, and ultimately introduced on the professional level in the Canadian Football League—in 1982 with the Toronto Argonauts—and the United States Football League—in 1984 with the Denver Gold—by Mouse Davis and in the National Football League (NFL) by Jerry Glanville in 1986 with the Houston Oilers. By the late 1990s, the run-and-shoot had been abandoned as a a principal offensive strategy on the collegiate and professional levels but continued as the philosophical basis for several common schemes.

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The offense, named for its emphasis on passing and its predicating such passing on the motion and shifting of players parallel to and behind the line of scrimmage prior to the snap of the football by the center, employs multiple formations but most often comprises four wide receivers, five offensive linemen, one running back, and a quarterback (formation at left); neither a fullback nor a tight end is typically featured. The repeated mixing of strategies and the consistent movement of players serves commonly to permit a quarterback to discern in what alignment a defensive team intends to employ and subsequently to audible into plays that allow the exploitation of favorable player matchups and to spread a defensive team across the field in order that space might be accorded running backs who often seek to rush between guards in the middle of the field, as in a plunge or dive play.

The rapid and powerful nature of scoring under the run-and-shoot enables quarterbacks to compile copious passing yards and touchdowns and on the collegiate level was the primary offense practiced by B.J. Symons, the holder of the record for most passing yards by a player in a single National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A season, having tallied 5,833 yards whilst the starting quarterback for the Texas Tech University Red Raiders in 2003; Timmy Chang, the holder of the record for most passing yards by a player across his career, having tallied 17,072 whilst the starting quarterback for the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Warriors (styled until 2001 as the Rainbow Warriors between 2000 and 2003; and Andre Ware, under Pardee in 1989 the winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player amongst those in the NCAA; and in the NFL by Warren Moon, pictured at right, with the Pardee-coached Oilers the honoree in 1990 by the United Press International and Associated Press (AP) as the offensive player of the year.

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Because of its tendency to produce quick scoring drives and thus to oblige a team's defensive unit to return to play routinely and with little rest, its disfavoring by many running backs in view of its common forsaking of running—in view of which just three backs–Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions), Lorenzo White (Oilers), and Gary Brown (Oilers)–earned selection to the Pro Bowl while playing in a run-and-shoot system—and its complex requirement that a quarterback be able to discern with celerity the defensive formation he faces and to select and to direct a play to exploit such formation, the run-and-shoot was disfavored on the collegiate and professional levels in the mid-1990s during the ascendency of the West Coast offense but nevertheless served as the basis for several successful hybrid schemes, most prominently the redgun employed by head coach June Jones and Glanville with the Warriors, the fun 'n' gun employed by Steve Spurrier for the University of Florida Gators in the late 1990s—which scheme focused primarily on the varying of offensive plays and the pre-snap movement of players in order that defensive squads should be confused and the use of shotgun formations to accord quarterbacks more time to appreciate defensive formulations, and with which quarterback Danny Wuerffel led the side to the 1996 AP, USA Today/ESPN, and Football Writers Association of America national championships—the air raid practiced by Red Raiders head coach Mike Leach; and the spread option developed in 2001 by Urban Meyer, then of the Bowling Green State University Falcons, an amalgam of the West Coast, fun 'n' gun, and run-and-shoot systems that, though permitting the rushing of quarterbacks and running backs and occasionally including a fullback, emphasizes the pre-snap motion, use of players across the width of the field, and the read and react themes of the traditional run-and-shoot.

September 24 to December 2, 2006[edit]

The Dallas Cowboys are a sports franchise situated in Irving, Texas, United States, the side of which contest professional American football in the East division of the National Football Conference (NFC) on the National Football League. The team, first owned by Clint Murchison, Junior, and Bedford Wynne and constituted originally as the Dallas Steers and briefly thereafter as the Dallas Rangers, was granted expansion status in 1960 and, holding home games as the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, began play in the 1960 season, when, under general manager Tex Schramm and head coach Tom Landry, each ultimately inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and honored on the team's Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium, the team failed to win a game, losing eleven and drawing one.

Although the team did not post a winning record across its first six seasons, the team finished 10-3-1 in 1966, after the regular season of which the team lost the 1966 National Football League Championship Game, 34-27, to the Green Bay Packers. The team placed first in its division in each of the succeeding five seasons, finally, after the 1970 season, in view of the leagues' merger the first iteration of the NFL playoffs to be contested with American Football League teams, claiming an NFC title by defeating the Detroit Lions in a divisional round game, 5-0, and then, at Kezar Stadium, defeating the San Francisco 49ers, 17-10, in the conference championship to reach Super Bowl V, in which the team lost to the Baltimore Colts—two years thither the losers, favored by eighteen points, of Super Bowl III—16-13, but nevertheless fielded the game's most valuable player award winner, outside linebacker Chuck Howley, who intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.

Having won eleven of its fourteen games in the 1971 season, the Cowboys once more qualified for the playoffs and , having overcome the Minnesota Vikings, 20-12, in a divisional game, once more defeated the 49ers in the conference championship game, conceding just three points to reach Super Bowl VI, played at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Behind quarterback Roger Staubach, who passed for two touchdowns to earn most valuable player honors, the team, featuring seven players—Staubach, offensive tackle Rayfield Wright, offensive guard John Niland, Howley, cornerback Cornell Green, safety Mel Renfro, and defensive tackle Bob Lilly, the latter four of whom were comprised by a unit, styled as the Doomsday Defense, that permitted just one touchdown across 375 minutes of game play prior to the Super Bowl—who would garner selection to the Pro Bowl, defeated the Miami Dolphins, 24-3, to capture the first of what would be five NFL championships.

July 21 to September 24, 2006[edit]

The National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) is the labor union representing the players of the United States' National Football League (NFL), organized in 1956, principally by Baltimore Colts defensive back Don Shula, New York Giants halfback Frank Gifford, and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, in order that players might formally and collectively demand a minimum salary, per diem pay, team-provided and -maintained uniforms and protective equipment, and injury pay.

Players from the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns readily joined with Shula, et al., and the association subsequently presented franchise owners with check cards endorsed by a majority of the league's players, seeking the right to negotiate with owners without formal union certification; owners refused to meet with the players and consider the group's demands. In response, the association threatened to initiate an antitrust lawsuit against the League, a threat treated as credible after the United States Supreme Court, in Radovich v. NFL in 1957, ruled that the NFL did not enjoy the same exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act as Major League Baseball; in view of the prospective action, the league's owners, through commissioner Bert Bell, acceded to most of the players' demands but refused to enter into a collective bargaining agreement or to recognize the association qua union.

The threat of antitrust litigation allowed the Association to leverage gains from the league's owners for several years, with the Association's eventually winning pension and health insurance plans and guaranteed salary for players participating in exhibition games. A formal organizing drive supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was undertaken by several players, most notably Bernie Parrish of the Cleveland Browns, in 1968, but proved unsuccessful; after a brief lockout and strike action, the league and players agreed on a contract, albeit a weak one, in view of its having first been agreed to by the players' union of the American Football League (AFLPA), with which the NFL would soon merge.

The NFLPA, then led by Baltimore Colts tight end John Mackey, and AFLPA, led by Buffalo Bills quarterback Jack Kemp, pictured, overcame certain differences to effect a merger in 1970, and the new NFLPA soon successfully petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for union certification. The new union won small gains as regarded the right of players to employ sports agents to negotiate directly with teams and of occupational injury grievances to be decided by impartial arbitrators but was unable to satisfy its pecuniary goals. The union thereafter elected to file the antitrust lawsuit previously threatened, alleging that the Pete Rozelle Rule, which, as a reserve clause, prohibited players from leaving without restriction their teams, even upon the expiration of a contract, was an unfair restraint of trade. The lawsuit succeeded by the union was unable to attain elimination of the Rozelle Rule until 1977 and even then failed in its attempt to secure 55 per cent of league revenues for player salaries and free agency for players upon the expiration of contracts.

June 18 to July 21, 2006[edit]

The 46 defense (known also as the Bear defense) is an American football defensive scheme popularized by Buddy Ryan when Ryan was defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and later implemented by Ryan as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense, which reached the height of its popularity in the National Football League when the Bears captured the Super Bowl XX title, is employed to varying degrees by several extant franchises, most notably the Baltimore Ravens, for whom Ryan's son Rex is defensive coordinator.

The defense, named for the jersey number worn by Bears strong safety Doug Plank, comprises four defensive linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs, and is thus a variation on the 4-3 defense used primarily by most NFL teams. In the system, the two cornerbacks typically play bump-and-run pass coverage and often blitz an opposing quarterback, playing in a manner not unlike that of the linebackers.

The scheme relies on the ability of the defensive squad, for which two outside linebackers play on the same side of the defensive formation, quickly to reach the backfield, either to disrupt rushing plays or to pressure the quarterback. Though vulnerable to offenses such as the West Coast that feature short, timed passes to wide receivers and tight ends, who take advantage of openings in the defensive secondary, the defense works well against offenses that depend principally on the rushing of running backs, especially where such rushing is feigned in the execution of a play action pass.

The 1985 Bears team that claimed the Super Bowl XX championship led the league in several defensive team statistics, permitting opponents to score just 198 points and to rush for only 1319 yards; each, at the time, was a single-season record for any team since the merger of the NFL and American Football League. The team sent five players—defensive end Richard Dent, who led the National Football Conference in quarterback sacks and won the Super Bowl most valuable player award; defensive lineman Dan Hampton; linebacker Mike Singletary, who won the Defensive Player of the Year Award; linebacker Otis Wilson; and defensive back Dave Duerson—to the Pro Bowl and also featured future Pro Bowl selections defensive back Gary Fencik, linebacker Wilber Marshall, and rookie defensive tackle William Perry. Dent, Singletary, Fencik, Wilson, and Perry partook of the recording of the Super Bowl Shuffle rap song for which the 1985 Bears team became best known;

May 28 to June 18, 2006[edit]

The NFL Europe League is an American football league that operates in Europe. It was founded in 1991 as the World League of American Football (WLAF).

There are currently six teams in the league: five based in Germany and one in the Netherlands. Players in NFL Europe are predominantly assigned by National Football League teams who want these younger, "developmental" players to get additional game experience and coaching. The expenses of these players and their coaches while living in Europe are assumed by the league.

NFL Europe was originally founded in 1991 as the World League of American Football. The original WLAF was an American football league partially backed by the National Football League and, like the current NFL Europe, was a spring developmental league. Originally, the ancestor to NFL Europe had 10 teams playing a 10-game regular season: six teams from the United States, three European teams, and one Canadian team. The two teams emerging from the WLAF semi-final playoffs met at the end of the season in the World Bowl.

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February 26 to May 28, 2006[edit]

San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers (frequently referred to as the Niners) are a professional American football team. The team plays their home games in San Francisco, California, while the club's headquarters and practice facility are located in Santa Clara, California. They currently belong to the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL).

The 49ers began play in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference and joined the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC merged into the older league. The team currently shares the record for most Super Bowl victories (5) with the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The San Francisco 49ers have the distinction of being one of the first major-league professional sports franchise on the West Coast, and the first one based in San Francisco -in fact, they are the only "home-grown" San Francisco sports franchise.