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College Football Hall of Fame coach Darrell Mudra dies at 93

Darrell Mudra, a two-time national championship-winning head coach and 2000 College of Football Hall of Fame inductee, died Wednesday at the age of 93.

Nicknamed “Dr. Victory,” Mudra totaled 200 wins and a 70.9 winning percentage (200-81-4) over a nearly 30-year head-coaching career.

He was well known for coaching all of his games from the press box, breaking from the normal custom of coaching from the sidelines.

Mudra also famously proceeded another College Football Hall of Fame coach at Florida State, coaching the Seminoles for two seasons prior to Bobby Bowden taking over in 1976.

He also served stints at Adams State, North Dakota State, Arizona, Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Northern Iowa. Mudra won his first national title with North Dakota State in 1965, in the Pecan Bowl, and claimed his second with Eastern Illinois in 1978 at the Division II level.

Current Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley addressed Mudra’s passing on social media.

“The @UNIFootball family has lost one of greatest leaders of all time; Coach Darrell Mudra,” Farley said in part. “He guided UNI Football into (an) era that changed UNI forever.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 6, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; A general overall view of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Don Coryell named finalist for Hall of Fame selection

Don Coryell, the offensive genius who was a mastermind behind the modern NFL passing offense, has been named a finalist for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Coryell, who coached the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, was announced as a finalist on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Hall of Fame’s coach/contributor committee met to whittle down the 12 coach/contributor candidates to one. His name advances to a vote of the full 49-person selection committee, who will choose the Class of 2023 in January.

The group will weigh the merits of Coryell, 15 modern-era players and three players selected by the Hall’s seniors committee.

A candidate must be named on 80 percent of the ballots for selection to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Coryell was selected to advance to the final stage from a list of coach/contributor finalists that included Roone Arledge, Mike Holmgren, Art Rooney Jr. and Mike Shanahan.

Coryell had a record of 111-83-1 in 14 NFL seasons with the Cardinals (1973-77) and Chargers (1978-86), and his teams made six playoff appearances. He is best remembered as the architect of the “Air Coryell” offense, which revolutionized the single-back formation, tight ends in motion and receiver option routes.

His Chargers led the NFL in scoring offense three times, in total offense five times and in passing offense in seven seasons.

He died in 2010 at age 85.

This is the sixth time Coryell has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame, which already has welcomed a group of his former players that includes Dan Fouts, Charlie Joyner, Kellen Winslow and Dan Dierdorf.

–Field Level Media

Aug 6, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; Bryant Young speaks during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 enshrinement  ceremony at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bryant Young remembers ‘Colby’ in Hall of Fame induction speech

Bryant Young could have rambled on about former teammates and shared more inside stories, but he carved out 2 1/2 minutes of his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech for a more meaningful reason.

Young, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the San Francisco, provided the most emotional moment of the festivities on Saturday in Canton, Ohio when he paid tribute to his son Colby, who died of cancer at age 15 in 2016.

“I’d like to let you meet Colby,” Young said. “Born in August 2001, Colby loved life. He had an infectious smile, many interests, including football. He was a happy kid. In Fall 2014, when he was 13, Colby started having headaches. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor. … Five days later, surgeons removed a tumor and told us it was cancer.”

Colby Young initially recovered but the cancer later returned.

“Doctors tried immunotherapy, but it had spread too far, too fast,” Young said. “Colby sensed where things were heading and had questions. He didn’t fear death as much as the process of dying. Would it be painful? Would he be remembered? We assured Colby we’d keep his memory alive and continue speaking his name.

“On October 11, 2016, God called Colby home,” said Young, fighting through tears. “Colby, you live on in our hearts. We will always speak your name.”

Young played 208 games over 14 seasons (1994-2007), all with the 49ers. The first-round pick in 1994 out of Notre Dame had 89.5 sacks in his career.

Young was one of six players inducted Saturday, along with offensive tackle Tony Boselli, cornerback LeRoy Butler, defensive end Richard Seymour, the late receiver Cliff Branch and the late linebacker Sam Mills. Coach Dick Vermeil and official Art McNally also were inducted.

Butler called it a long wait for his induction after his standout career. He played 181 games over 12 seasons (1990-2001) with the Green Bay Packers as a second-round draft pick out of Florida State and picked off 38 passes in his career.

“When you play for the Green Bay Packers, a lot of doors open up,” Butler said. “When you win a Super Bowl, all the doors open up. When you make the Hall of Fame, football heaven opens up. Want to know why? It’s rare company.”

Seymour, who played 164 games over 12 seasons with the New England Patriots (2001-08) and Oakland Raiders (2009-12), was the sixth overall draft pick in 2001 out of Georgia. He had 57.5 career sacks and was on seven Patriots teams that won at least 10 games.

Boselli is the first Jacksonville Jaguars’ player to be inducted. The five-time Pro Bowler played 91 games over seven seasons (1995-2001) after he was the Jaguars’ first-ever draft pick, selected No. 2 overall in 1995 out of Southern California.

Branch, who died in 2019 at age 71, was a three-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler in 14 seasons with the Raiders (1972-85). He had 501 career receptions for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns.

Mills, who died from cancer in 2005 at the age of 45, played the first nine seasons of his 12-year career with the New Orleans Saints (1986-94). He finished with the Carolina Panthers (1995-97) and totaled 1,265 tackles with 22 forced fumbles, 20.5 sacks and 11 interceptions.

Vermeil went 120-109 in 15 seasons as head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles (1976-82), St. Louis Rams (1997-99) and Kansas City Chiefs (2001-05). His Rams won the 1999 season’s Super Bowl.

Vermeil’s biggest influence was a college basketball coach. When he coached at UCLA, he got to watch and learn from legendary John Wooden, long considered the best of his trade.

“I took every opportunity I had to spend time with John Wooden,” Vermeil said. “Yes, he’s coaching basketball, but when you watch him practice, the intensity and the discipline and the structure was there of a great football practice and a great football coach and it was so exciting and I learned so much from him.

“A philosophy he implanted in me in conversation, I think about it all the time. One time I was complaining about the players we lost in recruiting. He said sit down. I sat down. When John Wooden says sit down, you sit down. He says, ‘Now listen Coach, don’t worry about those players you don’t have. Just make sure you do a great job of making those who you have the best that they can possibly be.’

“And I’ve operated under that simple philosophy the rest of my coaching career. It is so true. So true. Gosh darn it, thank you John Wooden.”

McNally, 97, became the first official inducted into Canton. He started as an official in 1959, served as referee from 1960-67 and was supervisor of officials from 1968-1991. He oversaw the implementation of instant replay in 1986.

–Field Level Media

Aug 4, 2022; Canton, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Ameer Abdullah (22) runs for a touchdown against Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Shaquille Quarterman (50) in the second quarter in the Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders ease past Jaguars in Hall of Fame Game

Jarrett Stidham and Ameer Abdullah rushed for second-quarter touchdowns Thursday night as the Las Vegas Raiders cruised to a 27-11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Daniel Carlson booted first-quarter field goals of 32 and 55 yards for Las Vegas, which dominated the first half against a Jacksonville team starting over under new coach Doug Pederson.

Neither team’s starting quarterback saw the field except for warmups — Trevor Lawrence for the Jaguars, Derek Carr for the Raiders — but Las Vegas was certainly crisper and sharper during the brief time the teams played most of their projected starters.

Stidham and Nick Mullens took the snaps during the first three quarters for the Raiders. Stidham was 8 of 15 for 96 yards, while Mullins hit on 8 of 11 attempts for 72 yards. Las Vegas’ Zamir White rushed for a game-high 52 yards on 11 carries.

Jacksonville’s Jake Luton played the first half and completed 10 of 17 passes for 94 yards. Kyle Sloter went 13 for 25 for 127 yards after halftime, leading the Jaguars to their only points, a 46-yard field goal by Elliott Fry late in the third quarter and a 5-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Cottrell with 3:26 remaining in the game.

The Raiders tacked on a fourth-quarter touchdown when Austin Walter scored on an 8-yard run with 7:53 left.

The game started 40 minutes late because of thunderstorms.

–Field Level Media

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) works out during day 7 of the Jaguars Training Camp Sunday, July 31, 2022 at the Knight Sports Complex at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Today marked the first practice in full pads.

Jki Jagstrainingcampday7 30

Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence to sit out Hall of Fame game

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence heads to the Hall of Fame game as more of a coach than player on Thursday.

Head coach Doug Pederson said Lawrence is not playing in the preseason kickoff showcase in Canton, Ohio, even with No. 2 quarterback C.J Beathard limited by a groin injury.

Jake Luton will start and go well into the game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Trevor’s been getting a lot of great looks here in practice,” Pederson said.

Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has taken quickly to a new system that requires pre-snap adjustments and constant motion from backs and receivers.

“Like every offense, there’s little things that you just learn and deeper and deeper every time you go through – nuances based on certain coverages, certain checks,” Lawrence said. “You get to the point where it all opens up. And it’s like, ‘OK, this is also something you could check to, if you don’t like this look, and you see you have a matchup here,’ and then it goes off of that. It’s always evolving.

Pederson said Lawrence is in a “good spot” with more than a month to prepare for the NFL regular-season opener against the Washington Commanders.

Beathard’s status could be updated, but he’s not expected to play, Pederson said. Running back Travis Etienne (illness) is also out.

–Field Level Media

A dejected Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Holmgren leaves the field after his team was defeated by the 49ers Sunday, January 3, 1999 at 3Comm Park in San Francisco, Calif.

Mike Holmgren Leaves Field Green Bay Packers Vs San Francisco 49ers

Hall of Fame reveals Coaching/Contributor, Senior finalists

Don Coryell, Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan are among the 12 Coach/Contributor finalists for the Class of 2023, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday.

The Hall of Fame also announced its 12 finalists for Seniors, and that list includes quarterback Ken Anderson, linebacker Randy Gradishar and offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg.

Coryell has been one of 15 overall finalists six times, the most recent occasion in 2020. He was known for his revolutionary “Air Coryell” offenses and compiled a 114-89-1 record over 14 seasons while coaching the St. Louis Cardinals (1973-77) and San Diego Chargers (1978-86).

Holmgren went 174-122 in 17 seasons with the Green Bay Packers (1992-98) and Seattle Seahawks (1999-2008), winning a Super Bowl with the Packers in the 1996 season.

Shanahan won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos (1997, 1998) and went 178-144 in 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders (1988-89), Broncos (1995-2008) and Washington (2010-13).

The other Coach/Contributor finalists are television icon Roone Arledge; front office executives Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Art Rooney Jr., and John Wooten; owners Robert Kraft and Art Modell; and coaches Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves and Clark Shaughnessy.

Among Seniors, Anderson was NFL MVP in 1981 and a four-time Pro Bowl selection while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1971-86.

Gradishar was the leader of Denver’s famed “Orange Crush Defense” and was a seven-time Pro Bowler in 10 seasons (1974-83) with the Broncos.

Kuechenberg was part of the famed unbeaten Miami Dolphins’ squad in 1972 and was a six-time Pro Bowler during 14 seasons (1970-83) with the franchise.

The other Senior finalists are linebackers Maxie Baughan, Chuck Howley and Tommy Nobis; cornerbacks Eddie Meador, Ken Riley and Everson Walls; defensive lineman Joe Klecko, receiver Sterling Sharpe and running back/defensive back Cecil Isbell.

The Seniors committee will meet Aug. 16 and decide on three players for consideration by the full 49-person Selection Committee in early 2023.

The Coach/Contributor Committee will meet Aug. 23 and decide on one coach or contributor to be considered by the Selection Committee.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; A detailed view of the San Francisco 49ers helmet logo at midfield at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny dies at 93

Legendary Pro Football Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, a major star in the 1950s, died recently in Nevada, the Hall of Fame announced Thursday. He was 93.

The Hall of Fame said McElhenny died of natural causes last Friday.

McElhenny was a six-time Pro Bowl running back who played 13 NFL seasons, including nine with the San Francisco 49ers from 1952-60. He was nicknamed “The King,” and is a member of the All-1950s decade team.

A first-round pick by San Francisco in the 1952 draft, McElhenny rushed for 5,281 yards and 38 touchdowns, caught 264 passes for 3,247 yards and 20 scores, accumulated 1,921 kickoff return yards and 920 punt return yards in 143 career games. He returned two punts for scores.

He also played for the Minnesota Vikings (1961-62), New York Giants (1963) and Detroit Lions (1964).

McElhenny was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970. His No. 39 was retired by the 49ers in 1971.

“Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively — rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner,” Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “His all-around talent — obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager — will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton.”

Five of McElhenny’s Pro Bowl berths came during his tenure with the 49ers. He was part of the “Million Dollar Backfield” in the mid-1950 with quarterback Y.A. Tittle and fellow running backs Joe “the Jet” Perry and John Henry Johnson.

Prior to his NFL career, McElhenny starred at Washington from 1949-51 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

He produced a single-game school rushing record that still stands with 296 yards against Washington State in 1950. Overall, he rolled up 1,107 rushing yards for the Huskies in 1950.

His career rushing-yardage total of 2,499 ranks sixth in Huskies’ history.

McElhenny was a first-team All-America selection in 1951.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler sacks Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer during the second quarter of their game Sunday, Jan. 4, 1998 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Leroy Butler Sacks Trent Dilfer

LeRoy Butler among eight selected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Eight inductees were named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday, including former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler, ex-San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young and late New Orleans linebacker Sam Mills.

Others named to the Hall of Fame from the NFL Honors celebration at Los Angeles included late Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch, New England Patriots and Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour, Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli, Super Bowl-winning head coach Dick Vermeil and former referee and director of officiating Art McNally.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is set for Aug. 6 at Canton, Ohio.

Butler played 181 games over 12 seasons as a second-round draft pick out of Florida State. He led the Packers in interceptions five times and picked off 38 passes in his career.

Young played 208 games over 14 seasons, all with the 49ers. The first-round pick in 1994 out of Notre Dame was named to the Pro Bowl four times. Bryant had 89.5 sacks in his career.

Mills, who died from cancer in 2005 at the age of 45, played the first nine seasons of his 12-year career in New Orleans. He finished with the Carolina Panthers and totaled 1,265 tackles with 20.5 sacks and 11 interceptions.

Branch, who died in 2019 at age 71, was a three-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler. He had 501 career receptions for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns.

Seymour, who played 164 games over 12 seasons, was the sixth overall draft pick in 2001 out of Georgia. He had 57.5 career sacks and was on seven Patriots teams that won at least 10 games.

Boselli played 91 games over seven seasons after he was a No. 2 overall draft pick by the Jaguars in 1995 out of Southern California. A first-team All-Pro in three consecutive seasons, Boselli helped the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game in his second NFL season.

Vermeil led the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl title after the 1999 season. As coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs, he went 120-109 in 15 NFL seasons.

McNally is a former official who became supervisor of officials from 1968-90. He worked as an NFL officiating observer and trainer until 2015.

–Field Level Media

Aug 4, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles former defensive end Claude Humphrey acknowledges the crowd during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Grand Parade on Cleveland Avenue. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Hall of Fame DE Claude Humphrey dies

Former NFL defensive end Claude Humphrey died at the age of 77, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Saturday.

The organization did not reveal a cause of death for Humphrey, who passed away Friday, only that it was informed by a family member.

Humphrey was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2014. He recorded 130 sacks during his 13-year career with the Atlanta Falcons (1968-78) and Philadelphia Eagles (1979-81).

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Claude Humphrey,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “Known as a hard worker and a reliable teammate, Humphrey was always willing to help the team out wherever needed and knew success was achieved collectively. His humble spirit guided him on and off the field.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Claude’s family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Claude’s memory.”

The Falcons selected Humphrey with the third overall pick in the 1968 draft out of Tennessee State. He went on to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as well as earn six Pro Bowl selections.

“So Sad to hear of the passing of my Teammate and Friend, Claude (Humphrey). Rest in Peace,” fellow Hall of Famer and former Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael wrote on Twitter.

–Field Level Media

Aug 3, 2019; Canton, OH, USA; Curley Culp arrives during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Famer Curley Culp dies at 75

Pro Football Hall of Famer Curley Culp died Saturday after a battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

Culp’s death was announced on his Twitter feed by his wife, Collette Bloom Culp.

“On behalf of our family and with a broken heart, I announce the passing of my husband, Curley Culp early this morning. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time,” she tweeted.

Curley Culp announced on Nov. 16 that he was battling pancreatic cancer.

Culp was a six-time Pro Bowl selection who anchored the Houston Oilers’ defensive line under Bum Phillips in the 1970s. He has been credited with 68.5 career sacks, though sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982 after Culp’s playing days were over.

Culp played six-plus seasons (1968-74) at defensive tackle with the Kansas City Chiefs before being traded during the 1974 season to the Oilers, who had installed a 3-4 defensive front. Culp became a big-time star at nose tackle in the alignment and earned All-Pro honors in 1975 when he racked up 11.5 sacks in his first full season with Houston.

Culp was a Pro Bowl selection in four straight seasons while playing six-plus campaigns with the Oilers before being released during the 1980 season. He also played parts of two seasons with the Detroit Lions, finishing his career in 1981.

Overall, Culp played in 179 games (156 starts). The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and starting going by Titans two years later.

Culp won a Super Bowl title with the Chiefs, who defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV in January 1970 at New Orleans. It was the fourth and final Super Bowl that pitted AFL vs. NFL. Culp is one of 12 Hall of Famers to have played in that game, seven for the Chiefs.

Culp was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Curley Culp,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “He was a wonderful man of great integrity who respected the game of football and how it applied to everyday life. Curley’s humility and grace were always apparent. He loved the Hall of Fame — always proudly wearing his Gold Jacket as he visited Canton many times following his election in 2013.”

Culp was a second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1968 but was traded to Kansas City during training camp.

Culp is a native of Yuma, Ariz., and played college football at Arizona State. He also was NCAA wrestling heavyweight champion in 1967.

–Field Level Media