Football Urban Legends Revealed #9

This is the ninth in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.

This installment is a re-format edition, so these legends have already been posted on this site, just not in this format.

Let’s begin!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: Future NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was Georgetown’s career leader in total rebounds and rebounds per game when he graduated.

STATUS: False

Paul Tagliabue was the Commissioner of the National Football League for seventeen years from 1989 until his retirement in 2006 (before becoming Commissioner, Tagliabue was the General Counsel for the NFL).

paul-tagliabue_2

However, what you very rarely hear about Paul Tagliabue (so much so that it is not even mentioned at all on his Wikipedia page, as of May 19th, 2009) is that he was a great BASKETBALL player when he was attending Georgetown University in the late 1950s/early 1960s.

In fact, while looking into the Mets/Red Sox legend from earlier today, I read the following in a book about Mets fans by Rich Wolfe, For Mets Fans Only:

Paul Tagliabue once held the career rebounding record at Georgetown. The mark was broken by Patrick Ewing in 1985.

I found that fascinating – that the future commissioner of the NFL was the career rebounding leader at Georgetown!

However, it’s not true.

Tagliabue WAS a great player for Georgetown, and he was an excellent rebounder.

Here he is in the team photos for his three years at Georgetown (Tagliabue is #32 – on the second photo, he is is the third guy from the bottom of the left column)…

1959-60

1960

1960-61

1961

1961-62

1962

However, he never held the career rebounding record, either in total rebounds or rebounds per game.

That honor went to a player who was just ahead of Tagliabue at Georgetown, Joe Missett.

Here’s Missett on the Georgetown 1955-56 squad (Missett is #22 – the second guy in the front row).

1956

Tagliabue graduated with 584 total rebounds and a 9.2 rebounds per game average.

Both of those were excellent, but both were below Missett’s 688 and 10.8, respectively.

By the way, both men were not even beaten first by Ewing, since well before Ewing, the NCAA began to allow freshmen to play, allowing players FOUR years to amass rebounds rather than three for Tagliabue and Missett.

However, even BEFORE then, Mike Laughna passed Tagliabue and Missett in total rebounds (with 833) while tying Missett for rebounds per game. And soon after that, Merlin Wilson (who DID play all four years) became the all-time leader in rebounds per game with 11.4 rebounds per game.

THAT record, remarkably enough, still DOES remain today, even with some of the amazing rebounders who have played for Georgetown since Wilson graduated in 1976, including Jerome Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Patrick Ewing, who does, indeed, still hold the record for most total rebounds at Georgetown with a stunning 1316.

Again, do note that modern players play more games than the players of the past, and that’s not counting the whole “playing a whole extra season” thing.

Whatever the case, no, Paul Tagliabue never was the career leader in rebounds at Georgetown.

About a BAZILLION thanks to one of the most awesome sports research sites out there, the Georgetown Basketball History Project, for all the information, stats and photos! SUCH an awesome site!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia had holes in the locker room of the Eagles cheerleaders where visiting players peeped through.

STATUS: Tentatively True

As time goes by, pretty much everything that reminds people of the good times they had in the past can cause nostalgia. So with that in mind, Philadelphia fans might think back about Veterans Stadium fondly, particularly Phillie fans who remember it as the place where the Philadelphia Philles won the 1980 World Series. And Philadelphia Eagles fans might remember it for…well, they had plenty of good wins there.

So in that sense, Veterans Stadium is well-remembered for being the home of the Eagles from 1971-2002 and the Phillies from 1971-2003.

smith_veterans_stadium_baseball_1_ph11_large

Now, in every other sense, Veterans Stadium is not going to be missed by anyone, as it was not a great stadium when it began, and by the time it neared its finish, it was a downright awful stadium, due to years of disrepair.

However, one particularly creepy aspect of the stadium was revealed near the end of the stadium’s life.

Visiting players had drilled peep holes into the locker rooms of the Eagles’ cheerleaders!!

f28-eye

From Mike Freeman’s NFL column in the New York Times:

For perhaps as long as 10 years, players from teams using the visiting locker room at Veterans Stadium have spied on the Philadelphia Eagles’ cheerleaders, peering through openings in doors and a window to catch a glimpse of the women getting dressed.

”We’ve been aware of certain rumors and we’ve taken precautions,” said Marylou Tammaro, director of the cheerleading team. ”I can assure you any talk about players as peeping Toms is just that, talk.”

But several current and former N.F.L. players describe the ogling of the women as a sort of macho ritual. Perhaps dozens of players over the years have secretly spied on the Eagles’ cheerleading squad, several players, agents and a team official with knowledge of the situation said.

The cheerleaders have attempted to secure the openings with masking tape and have painted over a small window that players were using to secretly view the women.

But despite those efforts, players say, the peeping continued sporadically into this season. At times, players on visiting teams got into shoving matches to catch a glimpse of the women.

No Eagles players were involved, players and agents said. Players maintain that many of the watchers were from Philadelphia’s division foes in the N.F.C. East; two former Dallas Cowboys players say they observed the women.

I would not think that a former player would lie about something like that.

That’s certainly something that everyone is happy to see gone in Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles’ current stadium.

FOOTBALL LEGEND: A former football Rookie of the Year was involved, without his knowledge, in two separate nationwide scams.

STATUS: True

John Brockington was a star at Ohio State when he helped lead the team to a definitive spot as the 1968 National Champions.

He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the ninth overall draft pick in 1971.

He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award on the way to having a very impressive career in the National Football League, although a relatively short-lived one (he had a lot of wear and tear on his body), making the All-Pro team and the Pro-Bowl his first three seasons, but he was finished with football by 1977.

That’s when things got a little more interesting.

First off, Brockington got involved in the so-called “Captain Money” Ponzi scheme that is quite similar to the current Bernie Madoff scandal.

Brockington was conned by San Diego (which is where Brockington settled down at after his NFL career ended) conman Jerry David Dominelli into thinking the investment scheme was a sound one, and Brockington helped bring in friends of his into the scheme, using his celebrity to draw people in. However, after the scheme fell apart and Dominelli was sent to prison, it was revealed that Brockington had nothing to do with the scam, he just honestly thought that it was a good deal.

Brockington then was involved at the ground floor of a sports marketing company known as USA Nutrition during the mid-80s. Again, the company seemed almost too good to be true, and it WAS, as some of the nutrition products it sold were revealed to be pretty faulty, and a number of people died from using them. Once again, though, Brockington was just an investor and an endorser.

Still, how amazing must it be to be involved so dramatically in two scandals like that?

I guess when you retire from professional sports early, you’re always looking for something to keep yourself busy.

Later on, Brockington’s luck seemed to be going the same direction when his kidneys failed around 2001. However, his girlfriend of the time donated her kidney to save his life and the couple married soon after and are still together today.

So I guess the gray clouds cleared out after all…

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

3 Responses to “Football Urban Legends Revealed #9”

  1. Brad Kasperson on March 27th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I know this posting has been up for awhile, but I just discovered your site. In Football legends #9 the picture you have in the John Brockington story is actually Ahman Green. Not a big deal but to a Packer fan like myself, it was pretty noticeable right away (I was wondering how Green fit into Brockington’s financial troubles!).
    Thanks
    Brad

  2. Thanks, Brad, I fixed it!

  3. Hi there, I read your blogs on a regular basis.
    Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

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