- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

Former Redskins trainer Bubba Tyer, a terrific ankle taper and an even better guy, gets inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor today at FedEx Field. In keeping with the occasion, I’ve put together a little pop quiz for you on Great Bubbas in NFL History. See how many you can name:

1. A pass rushing terror with the Colts in the ‘60s, I’m now known for playing the role of Sgt. Moses Hightower in the “Police Academy” movies.

2. I led the Falcons in rushing in 1978 with 707 yards.

3. Mike Strahan’s “record” 22 sacks a couple of years ago don’t impress me. After all, as a rookie with the Lions in ‘78, before the statistic was officially kept, I racked up 23.

4. No Bubba has more Super Bowl rings than the three I won with the 49ers in the ‘80s.

5. In the ‘93 playoffs against the Bills, I returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown early in the second half to give the Oilers a 35-3 lead. And then all heck broke loose.

6. Not only am I a two-time Pro Bowl player, I’m also the last Bubba to be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.

• • •

Answers to quiz: 1. Bubba Smith. 2. Bubba Bean. 3. Bubba Baker. 4. Bubba Paris. 5. Bubba McDowell. 6. Packers tight end Bubba Franks.

No correct answers: Guess you didn’t major in Bubba-ology.

1 or 2 correct: Come on. You can do Bub-bub-better than that.

3 to 5 correct: How ‘bout a glass of the Bubba-ly?

All 6 correct: Un-Bubba-lievable.

• • •

You know that country-western song, “All My Exes Live in Texas”? Well, three of the aforementioned Bubbas come from Texas, too. Bubba Smith is from Beaumont, Bubba Bean is from Kirbyville and Bubba Franks is from Big Springs.

• • •

Bubba Franks on how he got his nickname (as told to Pro Football Weekly): “I called my bottle ‘bubba.’ I would only come to [my mother] when she had my bottle. I would ask for my bottle and say, ‘bubba.’”

• • •

When Bubba Smith came into the NFL — all 6-foot-7, 295 pounds of him — people thought he might revolutionize the game. And he did … in an unexpected way. The story goes like this:

In a 1972 preseason game, Bubba missed a block on an interception return and got tangled up in the first down chains along the sideline. He blew out his knee, missed the entire season and, though he played three more years, was never the same. At the time, the chains were connected to poles that were anchored into the ground by sharp metal points several inches long. They didn’t budge easily. After Smith’s injury, the league mandated that rubber caps would replace the metal points at the bottom of the poles, so they would “give” on contact.

• • •

None of this, by the way, explains why that nut in Illinois recently changed his name to Bubba Bubba Bubba.

• • •

One of the reasons LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels might not be anxious to redo their contracts is that they’d be providing the Redskins with the cap space to slap the franchise tag on Champ Bailey. It’s one thing to renegotiate a deal so your club can sign a free agent. It’s another to do it so your club can keep a teammate from free agency. Delicate situation there.

• • •

Little-known fact: If the NFL decides to schedule two games on Monday nights at some future point, as Paul Tagliabue has suggested, it won’t be the first time it has done it. On Oct. 3, 1949 — the pre-national television days — there were Monday night games at Detroit and Pittsburgh. The Eagles beat the Lions, 22-14, and the Redskins defeated the Steelers, 27-14 (with Sammy Baugh slingin’ three touchdown passes). More than 55,000 fans attended the two spectacles, good crowds for that era. Wonder why the league didn’t stick with it.

• • •

Colgate’s football team was a perfect 14-0 heading into yesterday’s I-AA semifinal against Florida Atlantic. So Alan Tays, an enterprising writer for the Palm Beach Post, decided to call “the most famous person to have played football for the Red Raiders.”

Hall of Famer Danny Fortmann? Nope. (He’s dead.)

Rae Crowther, developer of the seven-man blocking sled? Uh-uh. (He’s gone, too.)

Mark van Eeghen? Marv Hubbard? Eugene Robinson? Ex-Redskin Mark Murphy?

Try Andy Rooney, the “60 Minutes” curmudgeon.

Rooney was a 185-pound walk-on guard for Colgate in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. “I was not a starter,” he told Tays. And the teams he toiled for weren’t nearly as formidable as the 1932 Red Raiders juggernaut that went 9-0 and outscored the opposition 259-0. He did get to block for a pretty good back, though — Bill Geyer, a 9.9 speedster who later played for the Bears.

“We’d do a sweep to the right, and I couldn’t stay out in front of him,” Rooney recalled. “When we played Syracuse he got mad at me for not being able to block the defensive tackle coming in. We had a great rivalry with Syracuse. But that was back in the days when they let the students play at Syracuse.”

Colgate, of course, doesn’t play Syracuse any more. And Andy isn’t sure it should be playing Florida Atlantic, either.

“I’m suspicious of Florida football colleges,” he said. “… I would be surprised if Florida Atlantic’s [educational] standards were up to Colgate’s. I have often thought that one thing they ought to do is put a bunch of desks in the middle of a football field, have both teams take a test before they play, and see how they rank on both scores.”

• • •

In case you were wondering, I filled out my Heisman ballot thusly:

Gold: Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh.

Silver: Darren Sproles, Kansas State.

Bronze: Eli Manning, Mississippi.

• • •

Speaking of awards, Navy’s Paul Johnson would have been my pick for Coach of the Year (if I had such a vote). I mean, did any other major-college team improve from 2-10 to 8-4 this season — with a bowl bid? (Something tells me Johnson will have other chances, though. But will they be in Annapolis or somewhere else? He’s going to get offers now, make no mistake.)

• • •

The Arena League’s Philadelphia Soul struck an unusual bargain with the New Orleans Voodoo the other day so they could select a player in the fifth round of the expansion draft. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Jon Bon Jovi, one of the Soul’s owners, agreed to give Voodoo assistant GM Mickey Lomas, a big fan of his, an autographed guitar.

Still, that’s not the best football trade I’ve ever heard of. The best one was a deal in 1941 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Americans, who actually played in another league (the AFL of 1940-41). The Eagles got running back Jack Hinkle, and somebody in the Americans’ front office got — are you ready? — a date with Lana Turner. (Eagles owner Lex Thompson, who ran with the Hollywood crowd, could arrange these things.)

• • •

Stat of the Week: Through Friday’s games, all seven teams in the NBA’s Midwest Division were 12-10 or better. The best record in the Atlantic Division, meanwhile, was 12-11.

• • •

And finally, oft-sued Don King finally lost one, settling out of court with former boxing champ Terry Norris for $7.5 million. What that means, folks, is that Rocky Marciano is once again the only man in the history of the heavyweight division to finish undefeated.

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