A Football Assortment … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Take a look at the tattooed arm above. It’s amazing at this point what that garish tat and others that were given in Columbus, Ohio have done to bring down one of college football’s most successful coaches and one of the best players in Ohio State history.

That human canvas belongs to Terrelle Pryor, former Ohio State quarterback, a guy who traded Buckeyes memorabilia for tattoos, and various other items. The QB who led OSU to plenty of major victories, including three straight against State’s most hated rival Michigan.

This week, Pryor announced that his time in Columbus was finished. It became clear almost immediately that he did not have plans to transfer to another program, even a Division 1-AA program where he would not have to sit out a transfer season. Pro football was on the horizon.

Stepping to the plate first was the Canadian Football League. The north of the border rights belonged to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In just a few days, they put together an offer for Pryor. He’s not said so publicly, but his attorney said he’s not interested in going to the CFL.

That leaves the NFL and a possible supplemental draft, or the United Football League. Pryor obviously would prefer the established league, but the NFL has some other issues that it’s trying to settle these days. One of those would be whether it can hold another draft this year. The league says it can, the group formerly known as the NFL Players Association has said it’s not a given that a supplemental draft can be held in 2011.

Pryor’s skills need work, especially if he’s determined to play quarterback. What he did on the field over three years with the Buckeyes was pretty impressive, especially in the areas where quarterbacks must show improvement – victories and fewer turnovers. But he’s far from a polished product, although he’s a very talented athlete. His future might be at another position.

That makes the UFL the spot where he may land. Whether the league can scrape together a necessary contract would be in question; the UFL has had all sorts of money problems in the last six months. But there are a host of veteran NFL coaches in the league that could help his development. In Las Vegas it’s Jim Fassel, a former NFL head coach and a guy with offensive credentials. In Sacramento the head coach is Dennis Green, another with an offensive history.

And then there’s our old friend Marty Schottenheimer with the Virginia Destroyers. Working for the team is offensive coordinator Terry Shea, a guy who has worked with offense and quarterbacks for the last several decades. Plus, Marty has the type of patience and strength as a head coach that could corral Pryor’s abilities and make him productive.

On Thursday, Schottenheimer indicated he wasn’t interested in Pryor at this time. “With all due respect, we’ve got a quarterback, and we’re ready to move forward with him,” Schottenheimer told a sports talk radio station in Virginia.

Over the years much was made of Marty Ball and its penchant for relying on a hard-nosed running attack on offense. But one area where Schottenheimer has never gotten enough credit is the development of quarterbacks, specifically veteran quarterbacks who were molded into very productive performers.

Consider two – Steve DeBerg and Steve Bono. In 1990 at the age of 36, DeBerg had the best season of his lengthy career, with a 96.3 passer rating and 23 TD passes and 4 INTs in 16 starts. The Chiefs made the playoffs in that ’90 season. Five years later, Bono started 16 games for the only time in his 14-year career, leading the Chiefs into the ’95 playoffs with a career high 79.5 passer rating thanks to 21 TD passes and 10 INTs.

Pryor needs a chance to play and the UFL would be a good spot for a one-year visit.


The league released its schedule for the coming season. The five teams will all play each other in a home-and-home for a regular season of eight games.

Chiefs fans have a chance to see Schottenheimer’s team when the Destroyers will play their second game against the Omaha Nighthawks on Sunday, August 21st.

The Nighthawks will be christening football in the new Omaha venue, TD Ameritrade Park. The stadium opened this spring and will host the College Baseball World Series that begins next week.

Here’s the whole UFL schedule.


There was a lot of talk about Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and his personality and temperament heading into April’s NFL Draft. Nobody doubted his physical skills, but it was the intangibles that worried some evaluators.

Not that anybody had the chance to draft him after Newton was taken with the first choice by the Carolina Panthers.

And while it’s very early in the Newton-NFL story, so far the guy impresses his veteran teammates during player-arranged workouts in Charlotte.

“He showed up every day early; he’s working hard,” Carolina LB Jon Beason told the media on Thursday. “He’s interacted well and he’s shown some great leadership.”

And he’s trying to prepare for his first NFL season without the benefit of coaching from the Carolina staff because of the lockout. The day he was drafted, Newton got an offensive playbook from the Panthers, so he’s not completely lost. He’s also had to pick the brains of last year’s Carolina QBs Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen who have been taking part in the workouts over the last two weeks.

“Preparing as a quarterback in the NFL is completely different,” Newton said. “The terminology, the blitz schemes, and at the end of the day, you’re not playing freshmen anymore. You’re playing grown men.

“I think I’ve got a grip on who we are as an offense.”


As a kid growing up in western Pennsylvania in the 1960s let me assure you that football was in the bloodstream, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were a joke. Any ‘Burger from that era knows what S.O.S. means – same old Steelers.

There were not many superstars at the time. Generally, any big names playing for Rooney U. were guys at the end of their careers. The first name I can clearly remember paying attention to with the Steelers was FB John Henry Johnson.

He was a beast of a runner at 6-2, 220 pounds. His willingness to deal out punishment made him a feared player among opponents, and once even a teammate. Johnson broke another Steelers’ jaw in a pre-season scrimmage.

“What do you want me to do?” Johnson asked at the time. “Kiss the guy or tackle him”

Once part of the so called “Million Dollar Backfield” with the San Francisco 49ers, he played several years with another Hall of Fame RB Joe Perry.

“He was a wild man, legs and arms and elbows and knees going every which way when he was running,” Perry said of Johnson in a California newspaper story five years ago. “John was tenacious at all times. If you want to label him, you would say he was one of the meanest SOBs that got on the football field.”

Playing behind suspect offensive lines with the Steelers, he turned in the best years of his career that started in the CFL and ended up in the AFL. In 1962, Johnson ran for 1,141 yards and two years later racked up 1,048 yards. Before that ’62 performance, only nine other backs in the previous 28 years of the NFL had topped the 1,000-yard mark.

In Steelers history he was the first running back to gain over 1,000 yards in a season and 200 yards in an afternoon. That game came in October 1964 when he ran for 200 yards on 30 carries against the archrival Cleveland Browns.

What’s most remarkable about those performances is that they came when he was 33 and 35 years old. As he was closing out his career with the Chiefs, RB Marcus Allen used to use Johnson as an example of what older backs were capable of producing.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet JHJ at the Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. He was inducted in 1987 and made a few visits back in the years afterwards. It was obvious then that the years of football had taken a hard toll on Johnson’s body and mind. The faraway look in his eyes did not show any spark of life.

Johnson passed away last Friday in California at the age of 81. On Thursday it was announced that JHJ’s family was donating his brain to Boston University where they have identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as damage to the brain that may be related to the physical toll a player takes when he takes blows to the head.

One Response to “A Football Assortment … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 12, 2011  - Dan says:

    Wrong! I love Marty but he stunk at developing qb’s in KC. Just ask Mike Elkins, Matt Blundin, Steve Mathews, Stever Stenstrom, and Pat Barnes. He did everything he could to get rid of DeBerg (Jaworksi, Vlasic, Pelluer) and finally did (Krieg). Not just motivational– really tried. As for Bono,he is right behind the _He who shall not be named –kicker we had that year. And, Marty was part of the Grbac over Gannon decision.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News