No. 40 UT player: Tim McGee

Several players played an important role in Tennessee’s “storybook season” in 1985 — guys like Jeff Powell at tailback and Tony Robinson at quarterback. And one of the best was wide receiver Tim McGee.

McGee had already emerged as a serious offensive threat for the Vols, catching 54 passes for 809 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 1984. But his senior season was even more special.

It was obvious that something special was afoot that season when Auburn visited Neyland Stadium. The Tigers were ranked No. 1, featured Heisman Trophy candidate Bo Jackson at tailback, and were heavily favored.

But Robinson upstaged Jackson, throwing four touchdown passes in a sensational performance. And it was McGee who provided the target for a number of those passes. McGee caught six passes for 163 yards. On one of them, he out-raced the coverage to get open for a Robinson deep ball. Walk inside Neyland Stadium when there’s no one else there and everything is quiet and you can almost still hear John Ward’s voice echoing somewhere: “Robinson throws, McGee catches. It was there all the way. McGee had him by five yards and Robinson, Bill Anderson, right on the dollar mark.”

Tennessee dominated the game, winning 38-20. Afterwards, McGee said the Vols were back. And they were.

“We had nothing to lose,” McGee said. “This is Auburn, the No. 1 team with the No. 1 Heisman guy. We could’ve lost 50 to nothing and everybody would have said, ‘Typical Tennessee team.’ Now, we’ve got Tennessee back on the map.”

By the time Tennessee finished the season with a dominating win over highly-favorited Miami in the Sugar Bowl, winning 35-7, McGee had caught 50 passes for 947 yards and seven touchdowns. His career numbers were 123 catches for 2,042 yards and 15 touchdowns — all of them school records. His 18.9 yard-per-catch average in 1985 was a team record that stood for 20 years. He was named a 1985 All-American.

McGee was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the 1986 draft. As a rookie, he led the NFL in kick return yards, with 1,007. Two years later, McGee helped lead the Bengals to an appearance in Super Bowl XXIII.

In nine seasons in the NFL, McGee caught 321 passes for 5,203 yards and 28 touchdowns.

40 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

Chicago: Looking for solution where there’s none to be found

Chicago top cop Garry McCarthy on the city’s latest surge in violence:

“There has to come a tipping point where this changes,” McCarthy said then of the violence. “The illogical nature of what’s happening here — that government can intercede and prevent this from happening is overwhelming. And I refuse to think otherwise in a great country like America that we can continue to allow this to happen — not just on a state, but on a federal level.”

Let’s interpret what McCarthy’s saying: Chicago already has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, second only to Washington D.C. That hasn’t worked, so McCarthy is saying the federal government should enact the same unconstitutional laws so that it might help Chicago.

In other words: We can’t keep our streets safe, so we need the federal government to trample the rights of law-abiding gunowners across America.

McCarthy actually makes Rahm Emanuel look like the sensible one for a change:

“Everybody says, ‘So what are you going to do?’ As if there’s a single thing that’s going to resolve this problem,” Emanuel said. “It is a communitywide problem, which requires a communitywide solution.”

Candidate decisions are best left to the voters

An editorial in this week’s newspaper:

“The Independent Herald will not endorse candidates for political office, but will make every attempt to keep our readers aware of who those candidates are and the office they are seeking. There will be a clear distinction between paid political advertisements and news reports of a candidate’s decision to seek office.”

Those words appeared in an article introducing the Independent Herald in the newspaper’s very first edition — June 17, 1976. It is a principle that has guided us for nearly 40 years since.

Newspapers have long endorsed candidates for political office on their editorial pages — dating back to 1860, when the New York Times endorsed Abraham Lincoln, Republican, for president. For nearly as long, there has been debate over whether the practice is a good idea of a bad one.

The practice of endorsing candidates is one that is generally in decline. The Wall Street Journal, for example, last endorsed a presidential candidate when Herbert Hoover was seeking the White House. In America’s most recent presidential election, there were 17 national newspapers that did not endorse candidates.

Still, there are far more papers that endorse candidates than there are that do not, and each newspaper regularly weighs the pros and cons of doing so.

As for the Independent Herald, we have not endorsed a political candidate in 38 years. We have occasionally endorsed political positions — editorializing in favor of a new tax to help save the Oneida Special School District in 1990 and supporting a wheel tax as a fair means of helping to retire school debt in 2012 — but never a candidate.

Frankly, we feel the issue of who to vote for is an issue that should be decided by the voter. It isn’t the job of an effective newspaper to lecture, but to inform. Our job is to provide information on who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues, not tell you which of them you should consider when you cast your ballot.

We have faith in our readers — faith that they can make up their own minds which candidate is best qualified for the office.

The latest victim of the thought police: Tony Dungy

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, is being taken to the cleaners by the politically correct media crowd over his comments when asked about St. Louis’s decision to draft Michael Sam.

Dungy — who, to be fair, is a noted conservative — said when asked by the Tampa Bay Tribute about the Rams’ decision to choose Sams in the seventh round: “I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

CBS Sports rakes Dungy over the coals for his comments, calling them “shameful” and “disappointing.” SB Nation calls Dungy a homophobe and claims that Dungy — not Sam — is the distraction.

If the thought police will hold on just a sec, here’s the problem: Tony Dungy didn’t say anything against homosexuality. He didn’t say anything agains Michael Sam. Reread his comments. He simply said that, as a coach, he wouldn’t have wanted to deal with the distractions. In other words, he said what the majority of current coaches are thinking but not allowed to say because they know doing so would be career suicide by the time the mainstream media was through vilifying them the same way they’ve vilified Dungy.

Anyone who thinks that Sam isn’t a distraction, as CBS and SB argue, is taking a head-in-the-sand approach to the situation. The very fact that his not being drafted until the seventh round created a media firestorm of criticism is proof enough of that.

Now consider what’s going to happen on down the road. Sam is a borderline NFL talent. There’s a reason he wasn’t drafted until the seventh round. He wasn’t projected highly going into the draft. There were players who were arguably as good as him or even better who did not get drafted.

So what happens when he doesn’t make the grade and St. Louis needs to cut him? Think they’re going to be able to do so without catching a ton of flack from the media? Think they’re going to be able to do so without everyone from their coach to their owner being labeled homophobic bigots? 

Nope. 

So, for St. Louis, things very likely will happen. Either they’ll be vilified by the thought police for cutting the NFL’s first openly gay player, or they’ll be stuck paying dead weight on their roster. It’s a gamble; one that will pay off if Sam makes the grade and contributes on the field, but one that was very much too much for many NFL types to consider. Don’t blame Dungy for saying what no one else is willing to.

Be afraid, America. Be very afraid. There are derringers on the loose.

If I ever wrote an article that garnered as much widespread scorn and ridicule as this Rolling Stone piece from last week, I think my first instinct would be to find a hole to crawl into. It is so silly that even anti-gun zealots are openly mocking it.

According to Rolling Stone, the five “most dangerous guns in America” include:

1.) Pistols
2.) Revolvers
3.) Rifles
4.) Shotguns

As Field & Stream notes, it would be kind of like writing an article on the deadliest bears in America, then listing “big bears,” “little bears,” “bears with fur.”

I left No. 5 off above because it’s so special it deserves its own place. The No. 5 deadliest weapon in America? Derringers.

No, that isn’t a misprint.

Which leads us to some of the most classic comments from the more than 6,000 that have been posted to the Rolling Stones article:

Trying to parrallel a thought here…. Who kills more people than isolated murders and accidents in the U.S.? Guess who?, it’s doctors. 250,000 associated deaths a year; 12,000 from unnessessary surgery,7,000 from medication errors, 20,000 from hospital errors, 80,000 from infections in the hospital and 106,000 from negative effects from medications.

There is an estimated 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. and from a report from 2000, an estimated 776 accidental deaths.

I think the numbers show that doctors are far more dangerous and hospitals are far more dangerous than any murderer packing a dangerous weapon.

Remember, guns don’t kill, doctors do. Oh, and if doctors owned derringers the entire U.S population would be wiped out.

And:

Top 5 Most Dangerous Types of Baseball Bats:
1. Aluminum bats
2. Wood bats
3. Louisville Sluggers – a subset of wood bats. Easilty identified by the large “Louisville Slugger” name and emblem stamped on the sweet spot.
4. Wiffle bat – similar to an aluminum or wood bat, but made out of plastic instead of aluminum or wood. Also much lighter. And bright yellow. Made to hit wiffle balls, not baseballs.
5. Derringers

And:

Top 5 things wrong with this article;
1) the parts with words
2) the parts with sentences
3) the descriptions and explanations
4) the logic
5) Derringers

And:

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those who can do neither, write about derringers.

And:

Top 5 Most Dangerous Things Made From Metal:
1. Radio station towers – 99.9% of murder victims have listened to the radio.
2. Coins – 99.9% of murder victims have touched a coin.
3. Aluminum – 99.9% of murder victims have used something made from aluminum.
4. Chain link fences – 99.9% of murder victims may or may not know what a chain link fence is.
5. Derringers – 99.9% of murder victims were not murdered by a derringer, increasing the odds of those not murdered by a derringer, to not be murdered in the same way.

The list goes on.

No. 41 UT player: Larry Seivers

If Twitter had been around in 1972, Tennessee fans might have caused a couple of servers to explode.

The Vols signed a little-heralded wide receiver from just up the road in Clinton: Larry Seivers. The knock on him was that he couldn’t play at an SEC level. In today’s lingo, fans would’ve burnt up Twitter and the messageboards with things like, “Rivals only gives him two stars! Wasted scholarship!!”

But Bill Battle knew what he was doing. Amid the criticism for signing Seivers, Battle redshirted the white boy for Clinton. And then turned him loose in 1974 to let him do his thing.

In the ’74 season, Seivers quickly emerged as Tennessee’s leading receiver threat. He had 25 catches that season for 347 yards. His game-winning catch against Clemson on Oct. 26 had fans feeling much better about his abilities. But he was just getting started.

His junior season, 1975, Seivers had 41 catches for 840 yards, a 20.5-yard-per-catch average. It was the first time a Tennessee receiver had ever caught for more than 800 yards. He was named an All-American.

As a senior in 1976, Seivers caught 51 more balls, for 737 yards. He was again named an All-American.

Seivers finished his Tennessee career with 117 catches for 1,924 yards and a 16.4 yard-per-catch average — in an era when the ball was thrown much less than it is today. He was the best UT receiver of the era, and his 117 catches and 1,924 yards were both school records.

41 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

 

No. 42 UT player: Bob Suffridge

If there’s an injustice anywhere on this list, it’s probably that “The Suff” isn’t any higher than No. 42. But he was a lineman, and linemen everywhere will tell you how little glory there is in their line of work.

Bob Suffridge was a Knoxville native, a product of Knox Central High School, where he’s revered even today for his athletic prowess and his contributions to both his hometown university and his nation.

Suffridge played on three of Robert Neyland’s Tennessee teams between 1938 and 1940. He was named an All-American every year of his career, becoming Tennessee’s only three-time All-American. The Vols never lost a regular season game while he was there, going undefeated in the 1938, 1939 and 1940 seasons. And Suffridge was a two-way player, dominating on both sides of the ball. That 1939 team remains the last college football team to go an entire season without giving up a single point.

Suffridge was often noted for his quickness. Some still say he was the quickest lineman in the history of football. He was so quick that he was deceiving. At UT, he once blocked an extra point try, but was called offsides. Fans and coaches alike felt he wasn’t. After the penalty was assessed, they lined up and kicked it again. Suffridge again blocked it. He was again ruled offsides — incorrectly, most felt. They lined up and kicked it a third time. Suffridge again blocked it. And, that time, he was not called offsides.

In his autobiography, written with Raymond Edmunds, a story is related about Suffridge’s playing days in the NFL, with the Philadelphia Eagles. Suffridge blocked a punt three straight times, but was called offsides each time. His coach, Greasy Neale, was angry, and told him he was fining him $50. When Suffridge protested, the coach made it $100. When Suffridge continued to insist that he wasn’t offsides, the coach made it $200. After Suffridge shut up, Neale relented and said he would look at the film. “If you were offsides, the $200 fine sticks,” he said. “If you weren’t, I’ll give you $100.” The result? “It was the easiest hundred I ever made,” Suffridge said.

Suffridge’s 29 blocked punts as a high school player is a Tennessee state record that will never be broken.

When war broke out, Suffridge left the NFL and served in the U.S. Navy, serving as a landing craft commander during the campaign in the Marshall Islands.

It has been written that Suffridge’s wit was as quick as his legs. Another story is related in his autobiography. He graduated Officer Candidate School and was being quizzed by superiors about why he should be an officer in the Navy.

“Well, sir,” said Suffridge, who’s full name was Robert Lee Suffridge, “back during the Civil War all of my relatives fought for the South. If we hadn’t run out of rocks we would have beaten those damn Yankees.”

The admiral stared at him for a long minute before finally saying angrily, “Mr. Suffridge, the Yankees won the war and now we are all Yankees.”

“That’s right sir,” Suffridge shot back. “But those damn Rebels gave us Yankees hell for a little while, didn’t they?”

He was named lieutenant commander.

Suffridge returned to the NFL after the war, then coached the offensive line at North Carolina State before returning to Knoxville. Years later, while living in an apartment complex where most of his neighbors were senior citizens, he spent his time serving as a volunteer chauffeur and deliverymen. He died unexpectedly in 1974, at the age of 37.

When asked about his all-time greatest players at Tennessee, General Neyland stopped short of naming an entire team. Instead, he named only two: Gene McEver, the greatest back he ever coached, and Bob Suffridge, the greatest lineman he ever coached.

In 1982, he was chosen by the Football Writers Association as a member of the all-time All-American team, and he is a member of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.

42 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!