Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Ice Bowl of 1967, Un-appreciated Stars; A Little Outlaws History

Can you name any offensive NFL linemen?  I can name one - Jerry Kramer. 

You're younger than I and you're thinking who is Jerry Kramer.  I remember the game.  in 1967, Packers against Cowboys for the NFL championship. Temperature is 15 degrees below zero - they called it the ice bowl.  Fifteen seconds left on the clock. Dallas leading by 3. Green Bay ball on the Dallas 1-yard-line.  Third down. Green Bay Quarterback  Bart Starr calls a quarterback sneak.  Guard Jerry Kramer blocks Jethro Pugh out of the way and Starr follows Kramer into the end zone to score the game-winning touchdown.

That was over forty years ago.  Certainly there must be other offensive linemen who have done great things.  Yes, there are others.  Look at any team with an outstanding offense and you have to know they have great blockers up front.  But the offensive line  doesn't get much glory.  Not the way the backs and receivers and even defensive line do.  Blocking is a hard and thankless job. 

No one appreciates the offensive line.

Well wait a minute.  Quarterbacks appreciate the offensive line.

I've read that Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady gave his offensive line $50,000 automobiles to show his appreciation for the protection they give him.  Other quarterbacks similarly reward their blockers, but maybe not to the same degree as Brady. 

If you listen to the commentary of experts during football games, you'll sometimes hear praise for the offensive line.  People who really understand the game know how important blocking is.  And blocking is difficult.  In an earlier post I talked about the way the game has changed since my days with a simple T-formation where you just blocked the player who lined up across from you.  Now you may have five offensive linemen facing three defenders.  Whom do you block?  (Notice "whom" - I was an English major you know).

When you look at this photo you see Monica because she has the ball.
 But the outcome of the play will depend on how well
those blockers do their jobs.

I rarely get good shots of the offensive line.  My bad.  I focus on the ball and only accidentally record what the O-line is doing.  This even though I played the line myself and have a natural affection for others who do.

I ended my last posting with a couple photos and suggested they tell a story about the success of the Outlaws.  One of the shots was taken in 2004 when I first started covering Outlaw's games.  The second was in 2009, five years later.  Both photos show Monica Gauck with the ball and #61 Lily Messina blocking.   They continued to play together on the field and they've kept the Outlaws together as a team.

In 2002 the Outlaws were affiliated with the IWFL - Independent Women's Football League.  The Outlaws played in the championship game that year and were totally disappointed with the quality of the league administration.  I won't go into detail - I wasn't there at the time.  The upshot was a decision to leave the IWFL and join the NWFA (National Women's Football Association).  The NWFA looked like they had the vision to make women's football into a profit-making sport.  They had some association with the NFL and many thought they might some day form a WNFL, as there is a WNBA.

But joining the NWFA posed problems.  Biggest among them was money.  The NWFA wouldn't allow loose team structures.  They insisted on team owners.  And there were lots of fees associated with the league.  Until then the Outlaws had been informal didn't have a whole lot of cash.

Lily and Monica were determined to keep the team going.  They put up their own money to satisfy the league requirements.

And the Outlaws are still alive and well and in their eleventh year.  Interestingly the NWFA is defunct as it another league that followed them.  The IWFL is still active but has fewer teams (by far) than the WFA (Women's Football Alliance), the Outlaw's current affiliation. 

Lily and Monica remain best friends and have been responsible for the amazing success of the Austin Outlaws.  Both are outstanding players, Lily doing battle in the line, Monica running, passing, receiving.  I have a lot more pictures of Monica.

When I started this blog I intended to profile Outlaw players.  In soon-to-come posts I'll be profiling Lily and then Monica.  And maybe in those profiles we'll get an idea of just why the Outlaws have out-lived other teams and leagues.

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