Bits ‘N Pieces

Booth Lusteg was a place kicker in the embryonic AFL of the early 1960s with the Buffalo Bills. He cut his teeth as it was with the Hartford Charter Oaks of the even more fledgling Eastern Semi-Professional Football League. His determination was legendary. He carried a set of home made goal posts in the back of his pick-up truck which he would quickly set up whenever he saw an open field. So distraught was he once upon missing a game winning field goal, he asked the driver to stop the bus soon after getting on heavily travelled Interstate 95, and walked home, fully in uniform, the remaining fifteen miles to Hartford, in shame. When stopped and questioned by State Police, he said, “I didn’t belong on that bus. I let my teammates down.” That’s what is known as a team player.

Rule blocking, a concept taught to linemen so they may correctly target an opponent who is most likely to stop a running play, can sometimes get tricky. A defensive lineman might line up head on but then slant away on the snap. Or a defensive end might leave the line of scrimmage and drop back ten yards to defend against the pass. Some down linemen might loop or go around a fellow mate to surprise the offense. Offensive linemen will sometimes get terribly confused and rattled, often commenting to a fellow lineman during the next huddle, “I thought ‘you’ were supposed to block him!” The best advice I ever heard a seasoned line coach give to a guy missing his block was: “Here’s what you do. You hit the fattest, closest guy to you who has on a shirt of a different color. And if you are color blind, you hit anybody who is not wearing a striped shirt.”

Garo Yepremian, an Armenian soccer style place kicker with four different NFL teams, is best remembered for two incidents during his career. He once kicked a field goal with no time left to win a game for the Detroit Lions and ran off the field yelling, “I keek a touchdown. I keek a touchdown!” Another time during a Super Bowl, he had a field goal blocked and tried to throw a forward pass. Watch the result in the YouTube clip.

The Pinstripe Bowl, so named because it is played in Yankee Stadium, the home of the legendary Babe Ruth, had a weird ending. Indiana kicked a game tying field goal in overtime that went so very high over the right upright that the referee looking straight up called it wide and no good. Instant replay showed he was wrong. Solution: Having uprights that reach 100 feet high is impractical but a Go Pro camera sitting astride the uprights can extend vision into outer space recording the ball’s flight path, clearly showing whether the football was inside or outside an imaginary extended upright. For $250 total, every stadium can get two such cameras at Best Buy. Spring for it, Commissioner.

By the way, the pinstriped uniforms the Yankees wear were not intended to further the impression of the business-like way they went about winning so many World Series, as is commonly thought. Back in the 1920s, Yankee ownership thought vertical pinstripes on the Babe’s uniform would give the high living and corpulently besotted Bambino a slimmer look.

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4 responses to “Bits ‘N Pieces

  1. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach, Great advice from a seasoned line coach. And a great suggestion on the Go Pro cameras. Poor Garo. I just read that after the draft the FSU Seminoles could have 4 kickers playing in the NFL this year and that is 13%. That is in stark contrast to the kickers of years gone by with wide rights and wide lefts thus losing additional attempts at National Championships. Are the pinstripes on the Yankees uniforms really so that it made the Bambino look slimmer? I think I need to try that. Maybe that will be my New Years resolution stripes from head to toe. Happy New Year!

  2. Indeed the pinstripes were worn to address the Babe’s proclivities toward the good life. And who could forget the wide rights of yore? Be well.

  3. Coach…

    With the stories you tell… and the stories I hear out of the goofs that play in the NFL these days… I’m guessing they just don’t make ’em like they used to.