Monday, November 14, 2011

Runners - BIG

William "The Fridge" Perry was big.  BIG.  At 6' 2" and around 335 pounds, he was a formidable defensive lineman for the 1985 Chicago Bears.  If you're older, you'll remember that that Bears team won Superbowl XX over the New England Patriots, 46-10. 

We're in a series of posts on running the football.  Why this discussion of a huge defensive lineman?

Because, for a few plays in Superbowl XX, the Fridge was a running back.  He even scored a rushing touchdown. 

The Bears had the ball on about the three yard line.  Bears coach Mike Ditka put the Fridge in and defied the Patriots to stop him.  Some sources say the Fridge actually weighed 385 pounds. Patriot defenders could believe that.  The giant just powered his way into the end zone.  In his career the Fridge scored two rushing touchdowns and one as a pass receiver.  Google "William Perry Chicago Bears" and you'll get all kinds of hits, including a UTube video of his pass reception. 

Imagine being a defender and having a refrigerator charging toward you. 

KJ Smiling after scoring her first
touchdown as a running back.
The Outlaws have tried a page from Ditka's book.  A few years ago our coach took two of the Outlaws' strongest linewomen and tried them as runners. 

One was one of my favorites, KJ Scheib, 5' 10" 220 pound center for the Outlaws.  She was one of the bigger players and was respected as one of the strongest.  We've profiled her elsewhere in this blog.  She was a team leader, a scholar on all things football.  And big.  And strong.

Coach figured that strong as she is, she'd be difficult to tackle.  So he tried her one season as a running back.  My game photos of her charging into the line aren't good enough for my blog.  But I do have a few shots of KJ in practice. 

Big.  Strong.  Intimidating.

You'll notice in the photos below that she never did hit the ground.  I suspect she was tackled from time to time.   I know she scored at least one touchdown.  But I believe the experiment lasted just a season or two.  In running backs speed is generally more important than power.  An KJ wasn't all that fast.

Do you think one tackler is going to bring KJ down?  Nope.

How about two tacklers?  Nope.  But help is coming.

How about a host of tacklers.  I think they must have brought
her down but I don't have that photo.  KJ was (is) a big
strong young woman. 

Velma Pickens

We had another big strong linewoman on the same team with KJ, Velma Pickens.  Velma declined to be one of my featured players so I never got her stats.  I just know she was highly regarded for her physical strength and she was big.  Must have been 5' 8" and over 200 pounds.  An outstanding linewoman. 

And a pretty good running back.  I remember one play where Velma was running up the right side. Suddenly she was confronted with a defensive tackler, one-on-one.  She didn't try to evade the tackler, didn't try any fancy fakes to throw the tackler off target.  Velma just lowered her shoulder and drove into the defender.

Have you ever been on the sideline listening to the sounds of football?  The popping of pads when big collides with big.  I'll never forget the sound of the impact.  My kinda player.

Velma with the ball and heading this way.  She was
pretty fast for a larger lady. 
I searched my archives for action photos of Velma.  Found none in practice and only a bad one in a game.  I'll post the bad one because it suggests something that I observed on the field - she was a pretty good runner.  Pretty fast for a large linewoman. 

As I recall Velma played more than one season as a running back.  Seems to me she powered the ball into the end zone with seconds to go in one nail biter of a game. 

Another team tried using a plus-sized lady as a running back, and gave me one of my all time favorite action photos.  The team was Dallas.  I don't recall the runner's name.  She wasn't as tall as KJ or Velma but she was big.  Bulky.  Stout.  The theory in putting a big runner on the field is that she will be difficult to bring down.  She may power out a few extra yards. 

Lots of Outlaws trying to bring this big woman down.  She is strong.  Using her strength to grind out
maybe on more yard.  What made this picture special for me is the runner grasping the jersey of
her teammate, Newkirk, and hoping to get a little help.  I've never seen anything like this before.
The scientists among us may be able to supply a formula for calculating mass times speed equals how much force at impact.  I haven't the faintest idea of the impact when a really big runner hits a defensive line.  Apparently it isn't quite as effective as it sounds because there aren't many really big linewomen being converting to running backs.

But there is a certain Outlaws linebacker who has worked a season or two as a runner.  We'll talk about her in a near-future posting.

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