From the 55 Yard Line
Summary: From CFL America Radio, sports journalist Scott Adamson, along with fellow enthusiast and armchair historian Greg James, take a hot read with guests on the history, remembrances, culture, lore, legends and meaning of pro football around the world. Every few weeks the pair will sit down with authors who, through their books, have given all of us a close up look and perspective at the game we have grown up with and enjoy no matter where on the map we may call home, be it in Tokyo cheering for the Roughriders, in America's south rooting for the J E T S, or in Chicago cheering for Da Bears. What has brought Scott and Greg together has been their love of professional football not just in America, but in Canada where Americans make up many of the players and who for too long have gone unrecognized in their native land. In their podcast they will take on a global view of the game and seek to entertain and educate on what the game means to those who have the same passion as they do and also in the larger context of history and sports economics in the 21st Century. Host- Scott Adamson Scott Adamson hails from Birmingham, Alabama, known as the "Football Capital of the South" and a place that has hosted more pro football teams than just about any other city, none of which have been in the NFL and all that have failed. Quickly. As veteran sportswriter he can attest that being a fan, no matter the brand of team is the triumph of hope over experience. Having decided at an early age that tackle football was the greatest sport man had yet to invent, Scott took on a fan's-eye view of life with Brand X football in his book "The Home Team: My Bromance with Off-Brand Football," which is a funny, somewhat tortured, journey of a fanatic's lifelong quest for a hometown team of his own. Host- Greg James Greg James hails from Chicago, Illinois, which he describes as the "Pro Football Capital of America" as it was where the NFL's oldest teams were birthed on the dirt infields of Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field. Unlike Scott, Greg is far from a professional sportswriter, but he is an armchair pro football historian who aspires in his retirement to be a sports journalist and tell the stories yet untold of gridiron football around the world. Greg is a big fan of Howard Cosell who in his own 25 year career as a navy intelligence officer made a concerted effort to emulate Howard in "telling it like it is." Additionally, Greg is an avid computer simulation football enthusiast who has found in the game a way to keep the past truly alive.
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Scott and Greg are joined by https://twitter.com/blitz_turner (former CFL All-Star Bryant Turner, Jr.,) who talks about his love for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, his best memories from his playing days and how important fan/player relationships are in professional football. From 2011 through 2015 Bryant spent five seasons in blue and gold, followed by two seasons in with the British Columbia Lions. During his time in Winnipeg, as a defensive tackle, he appeared and started in 71 games, in which he recorded 26 sacks, five forced fumbles and 75 total tackles. He also appeared in three playoff games for the Bombers, including the 2011 Grey Cup.
Scott and Greg are joined by fellow Sports History Network member, Dana Auguster, of the https://sportshistorynetwork.com/podcasts/historically-speaking-sports/ (Historically Speaking Sports podcast) to talk about the important role African Americans have played in Canada, both on the field, as well as in the front office. Beginning with Robert "Stonewall" Jackson and continuing to the present with Clarence "Pinball" Clemons, the three talk about their contributions and look back at the greatest players many Americans may never have heard of or seen play.
Scott and Greg are joined by retired New York firefighter and Vietnam veteran http://bronxbilly.com/ (Billy O'Connor), and television producer (four time Emmy nominee) https://amickamookandamic.com/about/ (Frank Pace), co-hosts of the https://amickamookandamic.com/ (A Mick A Mook and a Mic podcast) to talk about their new book, https://www.amazon.com/Lamars-Gamble-Tale-AFL-Merger/dp/1948901765 ("Lamar's Gamble: A Tale of the AFL-NFL Merger.") The authors discuss, in addition to their book and podcast, their thoughts and perspectives on the NFL of today vs. the time period in which their book is based. They also leave room for a discussion with Scott and Greg on New York vs. Chicago style pizza, the football cathedral that is Wrigley Field, as well as somber moment of Billy's firsthand recollections of September 11th.
Scott and Greg discuss with Joe Ziemba, noted author of https://www.amazon.com/When-Football-Was-Chicago-Cardinals/dp/1572433175 (When Football Was Football: The Chicago Cardinals and the Birth of the NFL) and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T9GKC77/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0 (Cadets, Cannons and Legends: The Football History of Morgan Park Military Academy), the impact of Chicago in the formation of American professional football, and how it was the Cardinals and not the Bears who were the city's original entry into the NFL. We then follow the story of the Cardinals from their birth on the South Side to their eventual departure from the city, but not before they played the Toronto Argonauts during their last season in Chicago.
On the cusp of the long awaited 2021 CFL season, Scott and Greg sit down for a lengthy conversation with Canadian football legend, two time Grey Cup champion, author, hall of famer and all around great guy, Matt Dunigan. We talk about his long and storied career, his first years in Edmonton, his time in Toronto, and the challenges facing the league. Additionally, he regaled us with his story of the fajita incident with Bruce McNall.
On what is our tenth interview show (remember, the first 55 Yard Line show was just Scott and Greg, so that doesn't count) on the Sports History Network and CFL America Radio, from Vancouver, Jim Mullin, the president of Football Canada, host of Gridiron Nation on TSN, and member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame selection committee, joins us to talk not only about the upcoming season, but also Canadian football, CFL and British Columbia Lions history. As to what we learned, among the many things is that the CFL does not own the Grey Cup!
For those of us over a certain age, who have loved professional football, be it in Canada or America, we have come to it through two primary means- books and film. For those of who truly love books we have gained a deeper understanding of the game through the words and literary artistry of writers like https://twitter.com/cdwillis83 (Chris Willis), who is the resident historian at NFL Films, where he oversees all aspects of research for the company and their producers. In 2002 he was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the HBO documentary- The Game of Their Lives: Pro Football in the 1950's." He is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) since 1993 and writes for the Pro Football Journal. In addition to his work with NFL Films, he has https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Willis/e/B001JSA4U8%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share (authored many fine books). His first, Old Leather: An Oral History of Early Pro Football in Ohio, 1920-1935, was published in 2005 by Scarecrow Press. Old Leather was given the 2005 Nelson Ross Award by the Professional Football Researchers Association for recent Achievement in Football Research and Historiography. His second book, The Columbus Panhandles : A Complete History of Pro Football's Toughest Team, 1900-1922, was published in 2007 by Scarecrow Press. His third book was released in September of 2010, The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr is a biography of the former NFL president from 1921-1939. His fourth book, Dutch Clark: The Life of an NFL Legend and the Birth of the Detroit Lions, is about the man who played seven seasons in the NFL and was the first big star for the Lions. His fifth book, A Nearly Perfect Season: The Inside Story of the 1984 San Francisco 49ers, and contains over 30 interviews from that team that went 18-1 and won Super Bowl XIX and is considered one of the NFL's greatest teams. In 2017, he wrote Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe and the Oorang Indians, another story about the early days of the NFL, and in 2019 he completed his full-scale biography, Red Grange- the Galloping Ghost, which was published in conjunction with the NFL's 100th season. Currently Chris is working on a biography of Bronko Nagurski, former Chicago Bears Hall of Fame fullback, which is scheduled to be published in August of 2022. In this episode, Chris joins the show to talk about his career as an author and as part of the team of creative geniuses at NFL Films. He tells us about his approach to his writing and research, how many of his books came to be, and he also shares with us personal stories of the man your hosts and guest continue to idolize and be inspired by- Steve Sabol.
As the 2021 CFL season approaches, https://twitter.com/TSNDaveNaylor (Dave Naylor of Canada's TSN) takes time with us to talk about where the league is headed using history as a guide. In particular we talk in-depth about the American expansion of the 1990s when the CFL first sought to expand its reach south.
In this episode, https://twitter.com/dj_charabin (Don Charabin) from the https://twitter.com/thirddowngamble (Third Down Gamble) podcast, and https://twitter.com/robvanstone (Rob Vanstone) of the https://leaderpost.com/search/?search_text=rob+vanstone (Regina Leader-Post) join us and reminisce about growing up in the prairie towns of the province of Saskatchewan where one team symbolizes what makes the Canadian Football League so special. We recall the heroes of the game whom they idolized in the 60s and 70s, and talk about the era when the wheat grew tall and the Chinook wind blew cold, in a community where only two TV channels were on the air, and as a young football fan you got your sports news and box scores from the newspaper.
For our seventh episode on the https://www.sportshistorynetwork.com/ (Sports History Network), CFL fan and Grey Cup attendee https://www.uptonbell.com/ (Upton Bell), joins us. Upton is the former director of personnel of the Baltimore Colts, general manager of the New England Patriots, and owner of the New York Stars and Charlotte Hornets of the World Football League. After football, Upton transitioned into sports broadcasting in the New England area where he was the host of "Calling All Sports", "Sports Nightly", "Sports Line", and "Sports Beat." Upton was also the color commentator for the Boston Breakers, Boston Celtics, Boston College and Ivy League football, as well as an interviewer for the Patriots pregame show. He also served as co-host of the first nationally televised NFL draft on PBS in 1977. In the 1980s Upton transitioned to talk radio in Boston where he interviewed three presidents and countless other national figures. Upton is the son of former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell, and, in 2017, he, along with Ron Borges, authored "Present at the Creation: My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America's Game."
In the first of what we hope is many https://sportshistorynetwork.com/ (Sports History Network) and http://www.cfpodnetwork.ca/ (Canadian Football Podcast Network) crossover events, https://twitter.com/56Parkies ("Super Fan" Mike Smith-Knutsen), the https://twitter.com/EdmHistorEE (unofficial Edmonton Elks historian) and co-host of https://turfdistrictpod.podbean.com/ (The Turf District) podcast, joins Scott and Greg to talk the history of the legendary franchise from its early days to its 21st Century rebranding. We talk about legends and barrier breaking players like Normie Kwong and Warren Moon, the history of Commonwealth Stadium, the new name of the team, and much more! And though the old team name is retired, we could not but help at the end to share with you one of the catchiest football marches ever heard in North America.
On a football Sunday morning on what should have been the start of the CFL preseason for Scott and Greg, the pair sit down with Jack Gilden to discuss his book, "Collision of Wills", about the relationship of Johnny Unitas and Don Shula and the times they lived in. They discuss Jack's interviews with the Unitas family, Don Shula, Joe Namath and Earl Morrall, as well as the history of Baltimore football from the Colts, through the Stallions and Ravens, and the legacy both have had on football history.
Scott and Greg sit down with professional football historian and co-host of http://www.theworldoffootball.com/ (The World of Football) podcast, Randy Snow and talk about the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League moments he has shared with his children, and showing us how football has the power to bring families together with memories to last a lifetime. They also discuss Randy's love and long suffering fandom of the Detroit Lions and some of the best books about the team, as well as his love and admiration for the Canadian brand of professional football.