A WEEK IN HISTORY
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Heading into week 6 means we are more than 1/3 of the way into one of the most interesting NFL seasons in history. It will be a season that will most likely get its own “30 for 30” documentary special on ESPN. In the future, it will be studied over in countless college classes from the practical ones like Business and Sports in the 21st century to the freebie ones like Football’s Impact on America in the 21st century. You know, that special breed of class that happens every year where you see it in the catalog while looking up your actual classes and are like damn, that looks like a fun class; how is this a class? There’s no way this can actually be a class, but you’re going to try and take it anyway because your friend somehow scored a seat in it. You want an easy class with them, and you need a ride to school every Tuesday and Thursday because it’s an 11:20AM class, so the parking lot will be full already, naturally. Of course, it’s he flies, you buy, which fits because it gets out during lunch time but just after the major rush. You try to add it, but it’s already filled up with dozens on the waitlist. Why wouldn’t it be; it is the perfect class after all. You don’t want to be one of those desperate students who drops in and stands against the wall the entire class for the first day in the hopes of talking to the professor afterwards. No, you spend more time planning how you will get into the class than focusing on your actual responsibilities, so you do research and find out where the professor likes to eat his lunch. You casually sit next to him one day just as he sits down on an isolated table while he eats the bland egg salad his wife made for him, as he grades papers. He balks at first but because he is a cool professor, he lets you plead your case. The two of you come to a fair arrangement where you will get his car washed every week of the semester and not the cheap $7 wash either. He starts at the $30 service with the waxing, interior buffing and free air fresheners, but you haggle down to the $17.50 one without the no free air fresheners or interior cleaning. Despite the highly legal and moral questionability of the arrangement, you are able to get in the class. Of course, that’s all in the future. We’re here to focus on the past, so let’s take a look at the milestone moments that took place in the NFL from 10/15-10/21. We’re going on an adventure!
*Games not played in the sixth week of that season but between 10/15-10/21 as a result of the schedule changing over time.
#7* Oct. 15, 1995: Panthers win their first game ever. In a contest between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets, the Panthers pounced all over the Jets and ripped them to pieces in a 26-15 victory. After a rough 0-5 start to their first season as a team, the Panthers finally pulled out a win. It was their first in a four-game win streak, but the team ended up at 7-9, ultimately not making the playoffs. However, in terms of expansion teams, they were the most successful in their initial season. They have the best record of any expansion team in its first year by at least three wins, they had the best home record of any first-year team at 5-3 and were the first expansion team to win its first game (Preseason Hall of Fame game). The Panthers have since gone on to two Superbowl appearances but no victories.
#6* Oct, 16, 1973: Brian Schottenheimer is born. Once again, we face the predicament where no major events can be found by my time traveling gerbils, so I must focus on a figure in the NFL world who happened to be born on this day. This day happens to be the birthday of a Mr. Brian Schottenheimer. He is the son of famous NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, and he is the current Offensive Coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. He has coached for numerous teams including the Chargers, Jets, Rams and Colts as well as Washington for one year. Throughout that time, he has coached both as an Offensive Coordinator and a Quarterbacks coach. His current team has the best record in the league at the time of writing this article at 5-0, and if they keep up, he may achieve something his father never could: a Superbowl appearance or even better, a win.
#5* Oct. 17, 1920: Decatur Staleys play first NFL game. The Decatur Staleys won their third game of the inaugural season against the Rock Island Independents in a 7-0 contest. Although it was their third game of the season, the first two opponents they played (the Moline Universal Tractors and the Kewanee Walworths) were not members of the AFPA (American Professional Football Association). The Staleys went on to a 10-1-2 record and “lost” to the Akron Pros for the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup due to some scoring/voting shenanigans. The Staleys would eventually become the Chicago Bears and of the 1920 team, five went on to become inducted into the Pro Football hall of fame.
#4* Oct. 18, 1953: Willie Thrower becomes first black quarterback of modern era. With such a name as Thrower for a quarterback, it’s almost as if he was a character out of a Charles Dickens novel. The quarterback technically wasn’t the first black player to play quarterback, but he was the first to solely play the position. In a game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chicago Bears head coach, George Halas took out George Blanda and put in Thrower who had been given a one year, $8,500 contract with the Bears in 1953. Thrower connected on three of his eight passes for 27 yards and an interception. Although he had unfortunate numbers, his legacy inspired many African American athletes including the only black hall of famer at the position, Warren Moon and the first black quarterback to win a Superbowl, Doug Williams. His importance to the league and black athletes in general will live on way past his stats.
#3* Oct. 19, 1975: Don Cockroft kicks five field goals in a game. For an at the time franchise record, Cockroft scored all the points for his Cleveland Browns team in a 16-15 losing effort against the Denver Broncos. The franchise record would last for another 30 years until Phil Dawson kicked six in a game against the then San Diego Chargers in 2006 (a 32-25 loss). Cockroft would finish his career with 216 field goals and scored the third most points in Browns history behind fellow kickers Phil Dawson and Lou Groza.
#2* Oct. 20, 1946: Frank Seno runs for 105-yard kickoff return. In a game between the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants, the running back/defensive back returned the ball for more than 100 yards, the first time that had been done in NFL history. The Cardinals would end up losing that game 28-24. The next time anyone else came close was actually a week later when Spec Sanders rushed for 103 yards against the Los Angeles Dons. The longest kickoff return in NFL history is held by Cordarrelle Patterson who ran it back for 109 yards in 2013, which is the longest possible for such a feat.
#1 Oct. 21, 1973: Fred Dryer scores two safeties in a game. In a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Green Bay Packers, Dryer set a new NFL record for most safeties in a game. On back to back possessions by the Packers, Dryer took down Scott Hunter and his backup Jim Del Gaizo in the endzone. Dryer holds the record for most safeties in a game by an individual player and the Rams hold the record for that same game with three total safeties. Not only was it bad enough for the Packers that they let the same player get back to back safeties, but they also let the get another one at some other point in the game. Despite this, they still probably looked better than the 2020 Jets team.