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Gary Cuozzo and the Beginnings of the New Orleans Saints


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#1 26554

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:14 AM

This ties in both to the ongoing series of threads I've been starting on qbs and to the Saints playing in their first Super Bowl after a past history filled with many bad decisions.

I read this article (http://cnnsi.printth...artnerID=289881) by Tex Maule from the 8/14/67 issue of Sports Illustrated (Cuozzo and Jim Taylor were featured on the cover) and, along with what I read about Cuozzo in "The Quarterback Abstract", I came to the conclusion that he may have been the most over-hyped/valued qb in NFL history. First, the Saints gave up Bill Curry and the no. 1 pick in the 1967 NFL Draft (which would be used on Bubba Smith) to acquire the man who had been Unitas' understudy in Baltimore. If the SI article is any indication, apparently quite a few people were convinced that Cuozzo was going to be the next Johnny U., even though he had only started three games (1-2 record though he did throw for 5 tds in the one win) over his four seasons with the Colts. No less of an authority than Clark Shaunessy raved about him. In the article, he's quoted as saying that Cuozzo "has all the moves."

Needless to say, things didn't work out in the bayou for Gary. In 10 starts, he threw only 7 tds while also throwing 12 ints during the '67 season before losing his starting job to Billy Kilmer. Back to the bench for Gary, right? Nope. Instead, the Saints were able to get not one but two #1 picks for him from the Vikings after the '67 season. Cuozzo was then beat out of the starting qb spot with Minny by Joe Kapp and spent most of the next two seasons on the bench while Kapp helped lead the team to, first, a division title and then a Super Bowl. However, after Kapp left the Vikings due to a contract dispute, Cuozzo was a starter once again. As I'm sure JohnH19 will attest, he (along with Bob Lee, who made an occasional start during this time) didn't make anyone in Minnesota forget about Kapp or Fran Tarkenton. In 20 starts over the 1970 and '71 seasons, Cuozzo threw only 13 tds to go with 18 ints and the Vikings failed to reach the Super Bowl during either of these two seasons despite having the best defense in the league.

Gary was finished yet, however. The Vikings were able to ship him off the St. Louis for a #2 pick and bringing things full circle, wr John Gilliam, who, like Cuozzo, was also one of the original Saints and who also became a key reason why the Vikings made it back to the Super Bowl shortly after Cuozzo's departure. Cuozzo was brought in to compete for this starting qb job along with Tim Van Galder, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 1966 but never took a snap in a real NFL game before the '72 season, and the incumbant Jim Hart, who had fallen out of favor with the Cardinals the year before. Van Galder actually got the nod on opening day and helped lead the Cards to a 10-3 upset of the Colts, but, after a subpar performance against the Redskins the following week, he went back to the bench and Cuozzo, not Hart, took his place. How did he do? He threw 4 ints and 0 tds in a 25-19 week 3 loss to the Steelers. Despite that, Cuozzo had five more starts for the Cards in 1972 and the team won only one of them (ironically against the Vikings). Van Galder also started a couple more times before Hart won the job back for good late in the season. Mercifully, Cuozzo retired from football after the '72 season and became an orthodontist before some other poor, unsuspecting team could be fleeced out of draft picks/proven players for him.

So, is Cuozzo the most overvalued qb in NFL history? What did all these teams see in him? Were Bud Grant and co. on acid when they gave up TWO #1 picks for him?

#2 BD Sullivan

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:02 AM

This ties in both to the ongoing series of threads I've been starting on qbs and to the Saints playing in their first Super Bowl after a past history filled with many bad decisions.

I read this article (http://cnnsi.printth...artnerID=289881) by Tex Maule from the 8/14/67 issue of Sports Illustrated (Cuozzo and Jim Taylor were featured on the cover) and, along with what I read about Cuozzo in "The Quarterback Abstract", I came to the conclusion that he may have been the most over-hyped/valued qb in NFL history. First, the Saints gave up Bill Curry and the no. 1 pick in the 1967 NFL Draft (which would be used on Bubba Smith) to acquire the man who had been Unitas' understudy in Baltimore. If the SI article is any indication, apparently quite a few people were convinced that Cuozzo was going to be the next Johnny U., even though he had only started three games (1-2 record though he did throw for 5 tds in the one win) over his four seasons with the Colts. No less of an authority than Clark Shaunessy raved about him. In the article, he's quoted as saying that Cuozzo "has all the moves."

Needless to say, things didn't work out in the bayou for Gary. In 10 starts, he threw only 7 tds while also throwing 12 ints during the '67 season before losing his starting job to Billy Kilmer. Back to the bench for Gary, right? Nope. Instead, the Saints were able to get not one but two #1 picks for him from the Vikings after the '67 season. Cuozzo was then beat out of the starting qb spot with Minny by Joe Kapp and spent most of the next two seasons on the bench while Kapp helped lead the team to, first, a division title and then a Super Bowl. However, after Kapp left the Vikings due to a contract dispute, Cuozzo was a starter once again. As I'm sure JohnH19 will attest, he (along with Bob Lee, who made an occasional start during this time) didn't make anyone in Minnesota forget about Kapp or Fran Tarkenton. In 20 starts over the 1970 and '71 seasons, Cuozzo threw only 13 tds to go with 18 ints and the Vikings failed to reach the Super Bowl during either of these two seasons despite having the best defense in the league.

Gary was finished yet, however. The Vikings were able to ship him off the St. Louis for a #2 pick and bringing things full circle, wr John Gilliam, who, like Cuozzo, was also one of the original Saints and who also became a key reason why the Vikings made it back to the Super Bowl shortly after Cuozzo's departure. Cuozzo was brought in to compete for this starting qb job along with Tim Van Galder, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 1966 but never took a snap in a real NFL game before the '72 season, and the incumbant Jim Hart, who had fallen out of favor with the Cardinals the year before. Van Galder actually got the nod on opening day and helped lead the Cards to a 10-3 upset of the Colts, but, after a subpar performance against the Redskins the following week, he went back to the bench and Cuozzo, not Hart, took his place. How did he do? He threw 4 ints and 0 tds in a 25-19 week 3 loss to the Steelers. Despite that, Cuozzo had five more starts for the Cards in 1972 and the team won only one of them (ironically against the Vikings). Van Galder also started a couple more times before Hart won the job back for good late in the season. Mercifully, Cuozzo retired from football after the '72 season and became an orthodontist before some other poor, unsuspecting team could be fleeced out of draft picks/proven players for him.

So, is Cuozzo the most overvalued qb in NFL history? What did all these teams see in him? Were Bud Grant and co. on acid when they gave up TWO #1 picks for him?


Cuozzo was a solid QB when he came out of Virginia, but wasn't drafted because teams were afraid he was going to medical school (he did become a dentist). He signed with the Colts as a free agent and beat out veteran Lamar McHan in 1963. For the next 2 1/2 years, he was Unitas' backup, and eventually got his first start on 11/14/65 when Unitas was sidelined by a back injury. Cuozzo threw five touchdown passes (16-26, 208 yards) to beat the Vikings 41-21, which presumably started the thinking, "He'd be a starter if it weren't for Unitas." Less than a month later, he hurt his shoulder in a regular season game against the Packers, which led to Tom Matte being used at QB.

By the end of the '66 season, Cuozzo demanded a trade. He got it, going to the Saints in March of '67. Despite being the #1 guy entering training camp, he lost out to Billy Kilmer. One of the main reasons was that Kilmer was able to escape more easily (having a background as a RB) than Cuozzo, a necessity given the Saints' swiss cheese-like offensive line. One report mentioned that during the '67 exhibition season, Kilmer was "thrown" only four times while attempting to pass. Cuozzo, on the other hand, was "thrown" 20 times. During the regular season, Cuozzo saw plenty of action as a starter, finishing with over 1,500 yards in passing yardage.

When the Vikes traded for him in January 1968, they had Kapp who was a mediocre 3-5-3 in his first NFL season. Interestingly, the New York Times assessed the trade by noting that since Cuzozzo was now worth a pair of first rounders (after bringing only one the year before), "would indicate that the worth of the draft has continued to diminish."

Sadly, Cuozzo's struggles on the field were nothing compared to having to deal with his son being murdered in a 1990 drug deal. Soon after, he began going to schools, preaching an anti-drug message.

#3 JohnH19

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:57 PM

As I'm sure JohnH19 will attest, he (along with Bob Lee, who made an occasional start during this time) didn't make anyone in Minnesota forget about Kapp or Fran Tarkenton.

So, is Cuozzo the most overvalued qb in NFL history? What did all these teams see in him? Were Bud Grant and co. on acid when they gave up TWO #1 picks for him?


Ah, yes, what the 1970 and '71 Vikings may have accomplished with a competent quarterback. I thought they had one when they traded for Norm Snead before the '71 season but, for some reason, he was as bad as Cuozzo and Lee. Ironically, Snead went on to lead the NFL in passing with the Giants in 1972. I'm convinced that one or both of those Minnesota teams would have won the SB, especially the 1970 team which was head and shoulders the best team in the league except for that one somewhat important position.

Jim Finks didn't make too many mistakes in his years as the Vikings GM but Cuozzo was definitely one of them. Not re-signing Joe Kapp in 1970 was another.

Another overvalued QB was Jim Ninowski. "Nino" had a long career with several starting opportunities but he was just awful. Teams must have been blinded by his big arm. That's something he had over Cuozzo.

#4 Jeffrey Miller

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 08:16 PM

Ah, yes, what the 1970 and '71 Vikings may have accomplished with a competent quarterback. I thought they had one when they traded for Norm Snead before the '71 season but, for some reason, he was as bad as Cuozzo and Lee. Ironically, Snead went on to lead the NFL in passing with the Giants in 1972. I'm convinced that one or both of those Minnesota teams would have won the SB, especially the 1970 team which was head and shoulders the best team in the league except for that one somewhat important position.

Jim Finks didn't make too many mistakes in his years as the Vikings GM but Cuozzo was definitely one of them. Not re-signing Joe Kapp in 1970 was another.

Another overvalued QB was Jim Ninowski. "Nino" had a long career with several starting opportunities but he was just awful. Teams must have been blinded by his big arm. That's something he had over Cuozzo.


Great discussion, guys! Very Enlightening.

#5 coach tj troup

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 11:05 PM

cleveland, detroit, back to cleveland for jim ninowski. two summers ago, had an opportunity to interview gail cogdill. hoped to get his opinions on a number of topics....and did. cogdill went indepth on the lions qb situation of the early to mid-sixties; so we discussed ninowski. big arm, good chemistry with cogdill since he got open deep at that point in his career. lacked consistency, so back to cleveland, and plum to the lions. then after sitting on the bench behind frank ryan; went to the skins under graham, and then of all places to new orleans. under 50% lifetime, and almost twice as many ints as tds. 64 title game...ryan vs. johnny hightops...and they both get hurt and are carried off the field....thus cuozzo vs. ninowski in the championship, and history is made. first 0-0tie in overtime.

#6 Jay Z

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 12:16 AM

There's a book called "One Step From Glory" by Skip Rozin that contains interviews with players at various levels of stardom or obscurity. It's a multisport book, but Cuozzo is one of those interviewed. Cuozzo himself felt he was better suited to a backup role, saying that he couldn't motivate himself consistently enough to be a starter. Perhaps that's true, or perhaps that's a mediocre player explaining his inconsistency.

I've grown skeptical whether Joe Kapp would have been enough for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl in 1970 or 1971. Kapp really only had decent stats one year out of four in the NFL, and he was the one that chose to walk away from teams two different times. I'm not sure he would have made them a complete team, but there were no complete teams in 1970 anyway, and Cuozzo just seemed like a waste of time. Maybe that's the point, what did they have to lose by trying Kapp.

#7 BD Sullivan

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:46 AM

cleveland, detroit, back to cleveland for jim ninowski. two summers ago, had an opportunity to interview gail cogdill. hoped to get his opinions on a number of topics....and did. cogdill went indepth on the lions qb situation of the early to mid-sixties; so we discussed ninowski. big arm, good chemistry with cogdill since he got open deep at that point in his career. lacked consistency, so back to cleveland, and plum to the lions. then after sitting on the bench behind frank ryan; went to the skins under graham, and then of all places to new orleans. under 50% lifetime, and almost twice as many ints as tds. 64 title game...ryan vs. johnny hightops...and they both get hurt and are carried off the field....thus cuozzo vs. ninowski in the championship, and history is made. first 0-0tie in overtime.


Ninowski came to Cleveland the second time because Paul Brown was in a rush to dump Milt Plum after the latter made the mistake of airing his differences with the coach in the media. Ninowski was the team's starting QB for much of the first half of '62 until Big Daddy Lipscomb landed on Nino's shoulder. In came Frank Ryan, and except for a brief QB change in November of '63, Nino would serve as backup with the Browns the remainder of his years with the team.

At the time of his second return to Cleveland, Ninowski threatened to retire ("I have no intention of going to Cleveland. I'll quit football if I have to.") because of "business interests" in Michigan. Obviously, he changed his mind, but it's telling that in the AP article on this trade, this comment was made about his tenure with the Lions: "One week he would be brilliant. The next, (Earl) Morrall would have to rush to his aid in the second quarter."

#8 NNDman

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 05:06 PM

First off I'm a big Vikings fan and I might be blinded here, but I think if Kapp had stuck around they would've won the SB 5. Their QB play was beyond bad in 70 and 71. Even if Kapp had a drop off (and his stats weren't anything great) in 70 it wouldn't have mattered because the '70 season is probably the worst ever in the history of the NFL. Anyone else agree?

#9 JohnH19

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 05:19 PM

There's a book called "One Step From Glory" by Skip Rozin that contains interviews with players at various levels of stardom or obscurity. It's a multisport book, but Cuozzo is one of those interviewed. Cuozzo himself felt he was better suited to a backup role, saying that he couldn't motivate himself consistently enough to be a starter. Perhaps that's true, or perhaps that's a mediocre player explaining his inconsistency.

I've grown skeptical whether Joe Kapp would have been enough for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl in 1970 or 1971. Kapp really only had decent stats one year out of four in the NFL, and he was the one that chose to walk away from teams two different times. I'm not sure he would have made them a complete team, but there were no complete teams in 1970 anyway, and Cuozzo just seemed like a waste of time. Maybe that's the point, what did they have to lose by trying Kapp.


I have that book buried somewhere! Haven't seen it in 25 years or so. Didn't even remember the Cuozzo chapter.

Kapp wasn't about statistics. He was a tremendous leader and a warrior. He made everyone around him better and he was a better passer than he was given credit for. He threw the ball a helluva lot up here in Canada and he had terrific numbers. I have no doubt that he was good enough to win a SB or two in '70 and '71 with the team that would have surrounded him. Sigh...

I would like to hear the whole story about his departure from the Vikings. I know it was a contract dispute but it must have been a very ugly negotiation for him to leave the team that he loved so much with the job left unfinished.

#10 JohnH19

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 05:29 PM

First off I'm a big Vikings fan and I might be blinded here, but I think if Kapp had stuck around they would've won the SB 5. Their QB play was beyond bad in 70 and 71. Even if Kapp had a drop off (and his stats weren't anything great) in 70 it wouldn't have mattered because the '70 season is probably the worst ever in the history of the NFL. Anyone else agree?


Absolutely agreed. 1971 wasn't a great season for powerhouse teams either. The Vikings, with no offense at all (outside of Bob Grim and Clint Jones' best, though still somewhat mediocre, season), and the Cowboys, once they settled on Staubach as their starter, were clearly the class of the NFC, and the Chiefs were the best team in the AFC despite their OT loss to the Dolphins. Joe Kapp was the missing piece of the puzzle for those two Vikings teams.

#11 Rupert Patrick

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 05:40 PM

First off I'm a big Vikings fan and I might be blinded here, but I think if Kapp had stuck around they would've won the SB 5. Their QB play was beyond bad in 70 and 71. Even if Kapp had a drop off (and his stats weren't anything great) in 70 it wouldn't have mattered because the '70 season is probably the worst ever in the history of the NFL. Anyone else agree?


Not sure what you mean by the "the '70 season is the worst ever in the history of the NFL" comment. I've never considered which was the worst season ever, but I would be inclined to go with 1982 or 1987 because of the strikes, and in the case of 1987, the replacement players.

I've often thought about what was the best season in Pro Football history, and I am inclined to go with 1978 as the greatest season in my lifetime, as far as having the best combination of a great Super Bowl and postseason, great games, great players having great seasons, great new players in the league, and controversial and memorable plays. I thought 1990 was a great season too; I might put it second on the list. I bet one can probably make an argument for 1950 or 1958 or even 1972 or 2004 as best season ever.

#12 coach tj troup

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:28 PM

every season mentioned was excellent, yet due to close division races and classic title games, the seasons of 1951(national conference race), and rams defeating defending champions, 1960...expansion brought about staggered schedule, and again excellent division races...lombardi's pack has to win 3 in a row on the road to win the west, over fast closing sf and detroit, as colts and bears fade, while the high flying eagles find a way to win a division over the talented browns...and then a great championship game, and finally the '65 season, colts and pack continue their rivalry....while the fast finishing bears with two rookies(forget their names)make a race of it going into the last weekend. packers in the mud at lambeau against defending champions in jimmy b's last game. and not to slight the afl in either 60 or 65. chargers at home to play defending champion bills.

#13 Fred

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:36 PM

Six years after the Colts traded Cuozzo and lineman Butch Allison to the Saints for Bill Curry and the No. 1 Draft Pick which they used to select Bubba Smith, the Colts made another draft pick deal with the Saints. The Colts traded Billy Newsome, a defensive lineman to the Saints for the No. 2 pick in the 1973 draft. The Colts selected Bert Jones. But Bill Curry didn't get a chance to center for Jones, becasue he was sent to Houston the same week.

As far as first round draft trades are concerned the Colts are 2-0 against the Saints.

#14 26554

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:55 PM

First off I'm a big Vikings fan and I might be blinded here, but I think if Kapp had stuck around they would've won the SB 5. Their QB play was beyond bad in 70 and 71. Even if Kapp had a drop off (and his stats weren't anything great) in 70 it wouldn't have mattered because the '70 season is probably the worst ever in the history of the NFL. Anyone else agree?


Absolutely agreed. 1971 wasn't a great season for powerhouse teams either. The Vikings, with no offense at all (outside of Bob Grim and Clint Jones' best, though still somewhat mediocre, season), and the Cowboys, once they settled on Staubach as their starter, were clearly the class of the NFC, and the Chiefs were the best team in the AFC despite their OT loss to the Dolphins. Joe Kapp was the missing piece of the puzzle for those two Vikings teams.


Even better, what if Tarkenton had come back a season or two sooner than he did? As you allude to though, John, the Vikings were about as weak at rb and wr in '70 and '71 as they were at qb. The additions of Gilliam and Chuck Foreman were just as important in getting the Vikings back to the Super Bowl as the return of Tarkenton was. I believe Gene Washington was also still with the Vikings through the '71 season, but he fell off pretty quickly after his All-Pro season of 1969. He did make the Pro Bowl in '70, but his td total dropped from 9 to 4. In '71 he finished with only 12 catches for 165 yards and 0 tds. To be fair, the guys throwing him the ball may have had something to do with it, but I'm guessing that the Vikings must have thought he was pretty much finished by '72 or they wouldn't have made the trade for Gilliam.

If Kapp had stayed in Minnesota, I could see them winning the NFC title in '70. Super Bowl V probably would've still been pretty close, but I'll say the Vikes win by a FG. I don't see them beating out the Cowboys in '71 without Tark, Gilliam and Foreman, however.

#15 JohnH19

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:57 PM

Not sure what you mean by the "the '70 season is the worst ever in the history of the NFL" comment. I've never considered which was the worst season ever, but I would be inclined to go with 1982 or 1987 because of the strikes, and in the case of 1987, the replacement players.


NNDman and I meant that 1970 was a "bad" year because of the overall mediocrity/parity in the league. The Colts are acknowledged as one of the weakest SB winning teams. They beat the Cowboys who had a brutal (in the playoffs) Craig Morton at QB in the ugliest SB of all. The Vikes were the best team in the league but had no QB. The 49'ers and Lions were both very good but couldn't overcome the Doomsday Defense in the playoffs. The Cardinals were great for 11 weeks and then totally collapsed with the NFC East firmly in their control. The Giants did it with smoke, mirrors and a guy named Tarkenton, with help from Ron Johnson, until the Rams brought them back to reality in Week 14. The Dolphins were just learning how to win. The Browns, Raiders and Chiefs had down years. The Bengals were Cinderella but not a threat. The Redskins may have been very, very good but their coach died as the season was about to begin.

It was definitely an interesting season, though.

#16 97Den98

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 05:26 AM

Cuozzo almost sounds like Matt Robinson, the guy who Red Miller traded for in 1980 because he had one good game against his team, a 28-24 comeback win in Mile High during the 1978 season. That trade was one of the main reasons Miller was shown the door.

#17 Kelly1105

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 10:56 AM

Ah, yes, what the 1970 and '71 Vikings may have accomplished with a competent quarterback. I thought they had one when they traded for Norm Snead before the '71 season but, for some reason, he was as bad as Cuozzo and Lee. Ironically, Snead went on to lead the NFL in passing with the Giants in 1972. I'm convinced that one or both of those Minnesota teams would have won the SB, especially the 1970 team which was head and shoulders the best team in the league except for that one somewhat important position.

Jim Finks didn't make too many mistakes in his years as the Vikings GM but Cuozzo was definitely one of them. Not re-signing Joe Kapp in 1970 was another.

Another overvalued QB was Jim Ninowski. "Nino" had a long career with several starting opportunities but he was just awful. Teams must have been blinded by his big arm. That's something he had over Cuozzo.


Can someone explain why Snead failed in Minnesota? I know he wasn't a spectacular player but his previous and prior years with the Eagles and Giants and comments from Alan Page and others lead me to believe either he and Grant never got along or they never gave him a chance. It just seems to me looking at it forty years later he should have been more successful in Minnesota.

#18 BD Sullivan

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 12:41 PM

Can someone explain why Snead failed in Minnesota? I know he wasn't a spectacular player but his previous and prior years with the Eagles and Giants and comments from Alan Page and others lead me to believe either he and Grant never got along or they never gave him a chance. It just seems to me looking at it forty years later he should have been more successful in Minnesota.


In his two starts that season, Snead was less than impressive. On 10/3, he threw for only 150 yards, with no TD passes and two interceptions to beat a bad Bills team (at the Met!) 19-0. Going into the final quarter, the Vikings led only 12-0, with five of those points coming on a Fred Cox 40-yard field goal and the other on Alan Page's safety (tackling Dennis Shaw in the end zone.) The following week, Snead was even worse when he threw for only 88 yards and needed help from the Viking defense to help beat the 0-3 Eagles at the Vet by a 13-0 score. The only touchdown of the game came soon after Ed Sharockman picked off a Pete Liske pass and returned it to the Eagle five. In addition, the two field goals were set up by another interception and a blocked field goal.

If any game may have clinched Snead's fate, it was the 11/7 game "revenge" game at the Met against the 49ers that they lost 13-9--all the Minnesota points coming on three field goals from Cox. Cuozzo started and was absolutely brutal (0-10 passing) until Snead took over at halftime. Snead wasn't much better, going 6-15 for 94 yards and an interception. Even worse, he blew four good scoring chances, most notably in the third quarter. The Vikings had third-and-one on the 49er 6, but were stopped. Then, after the Niners' Ken Willard almost immediately fumbled at the six, the Vikings could only manage a field goal. The interception came late in the game--a pass attempt to Gene Washington was picked off at the 49er three-yard-line. From then on, Snead only saw action in garbage time during the 12/5 upset loss at San Diego and the regular season finale (after the Vikes had clinched a playoff spot.)

In doing some research, I did find it highly amusing that before the season started, Cuozzo had asked for a huge salary increase and was planning on playing out his option--for what that was worth in the pre-free agency era.

#19 Todd Pence

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:17 AM

I completely disagree about 1970 being one of the NFL's worst seasons. In my mind, it was one of the best. In addition to the significance of being the first played in the league under the new merger, there were several interesting storylines both on and off the field, exciting divisional races, and interesting and competitive postseason games. Some people may call Super Bowl V an "ugly" game, but it was one of the few Super Bowls in the big game's first thirty years in which there was any suspense whatsoever as to the outcome late in the fourth quarter, and that's gotta count for something.

I haven't really given this topic much thought, but if you're going to make a list of the NFL's worst seasons, 1987 would definitely be up there, as posited before. Also a candidate I would like to offer is 1989. Although the year had some individual good games, mediocrity ruled the AFC, in which just about every team finished either 9-7, 8-8 or 7-9. The conference sent two teams to the postseason (Houston and Pittsburgh) with combined point differentials of -113. And apart from one thrilling wild card and one divisional game, the playoffs turned into a total snoozefest, culminating in the most lopsided Super Bowl game ever.

#20 JohnH19

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:24 AM

I completely disagree about 1970 being one of the NFL's worst seasons. In my mind, it was one of the best. In addition to the significance of being the first played in the league under the new merger, there were several interesting storylines both on and off the field, exciting divisional races, and interesting and competitive postseason games. Some people may call Super Bowl V an "ugly" game, but it was one of the few Super Bowls in the big game's first thirty years in which there was any suspense whatsoever as to the outcome late in the fourth quarter, and that's gotta count for something.


As I clarified, we didn't mean "worst" in terms of interest. 1970 was an exciting season, just not a pretty one.