Monday, October 11, 2010

Slapsie Maxie

Maxie Baughan is a head-scratcher. You don't figure the NFL is holding against Maxie Baughan the fact that he slept with an assistant coach's wife when he was head coach at Cornell, do you? Isn't that what assistant coaches (and their wives) are for? But it must be that, because there are a whole bunch of HOFers besides Trippi and Hornung with worse credentials than Mad Max.

Consider that Baughan was All-Something nine times out of 10 in the Decade of the Linebacker, when teams finally concluded that, hey, it's pretty neat to have a guy who runs up into the hole and tackles Tucker Fredrickson for a loss and runs back and nails Aaron Thomas in the ribs when Gary Wood overthrows him.

Nine times out of 10 for Baughan beats Dave Wilcox's seven, which is not the same thing as Baughan being better than Wilcox. If Baughan had laid down these numbers playing the middle instead of the outside he'd have been in Canton 20 years ago, because the Decade of the Linebacker was all about the middle, and arguing middle versus outside -- especially back then -- is like arguing over which Jonas Brother has the most talent and picking the one in the middle because ... well, because he's in the middle. And he wears recycled band uniforms.

Just because Sam Huff was miked and Ray Nitschke had a steel plate in his head and Dick Butkus screamed at people and Tommy Nobis was the most fought-over No. 1 draft pick ever middle linebackers got an aura in the '60s, even though they were playing a position that five years earlier centers played in their free time. That stinks for Baughan, who really was a corker.

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