In 1992, Freeman McNeil was also the named person representing the players' interests in the McNeil vs. NFL case that helped rule against the NFL's efforts to sustain parity among teams by protecting up to 37 players from free agency, aka Plan B. The court ruled in favor of the players headed by McNeil, the man with the historically appropriate name of Freeman. As with Curt Flood, the ruling in McNeil's favor came too late, for that same year McNeil retired.
(at his most calm)
"My wife has a rule," says Freeman, 38. "No smoking in the house, or around the children. So I go outside with my Peterson and a cup of Earl Grey tea with sweet milk. It's very soothing. I'm at my most calm when I'm relaxing with my pipe and my tea."
When are you at your most calm? Are you ever at that point? I don't think I really have an answer to that. There's jogging, yoga, reading, biking, writing, meditation, but I haven't the discipline for any of these as consistently as I'd like. One presumes Freeman McNeil does some of those things in retirement even still. But would you begrudge this man his pipe? Not if you're a fair person. Not by a long shot. He looks too pleased with retirement for you to step in and be just another person to talk to him about the distant possibility of mouth cancer. Hell, no. He can keep smoking. He's Freeman McNeil.
Was the late Johnny Sample really a dirty ball player? Number 24 was certainly confrontational, but in light of the more egregiously gruesome displays put on by Jack Tatum and the like, Sample was more of a trash talker than a "dirty" player, whatever that means. He relentlessly pushes and needles Fred Bilentnikoff after the play is done throughout the 1968 AFL Title Game, but it was Randy Beverly who tried to trip Fred's legs after he caught a Raiders touchdown in the first half. Sample was clearly a character absolutely indispensable to the Jets' morale in Super Bowl III, hectoring his former teammates on the Colts. After intercepting the ball near the Colts' goal line, Sample decorously places the ball on Willie Richardson's head.
Sample passed away last year. In an interview during NFL's Greatest Games discussion of Super Bowl III, done while Sample was still alive, Tom Matte insists that he would never speak to Johnny Sample if he saw him. His reasoning derives, we presume, in no small way from the event that transpired between the two during the game. In pursuing Matte during a 58 yard run, Sample failed to stop himself and apparently stepped on Matte's groin when Matte went down, compelling the offended party to get quickly to his feet and, accidentally, knock a few of an official's teeth out in the ensuing but brief donnybrook.
|Johnny Sample did not step |
on Tom Matte's groin
It was strange for Jim Tiller, too, the second #24 in franchise history - a man with 11 games with the New York Titans to his NFL record, 43 yards rushing, no touchdowns. According to Titans' press material on Tiller, he "worked as a social worker during the offseason." It's not exactly the field of work I see football's toughest players going into, which might explain the terrible Titans that much more. But if Harry Wismer was in charge of dispensing information on his players to the press, can we ever really know the veracity of this information? Henry Ford was right. History is bunk.