By Joe Platania
As interest in and support for our armed forces remains high, it's important to remember that many NFL players have connections to the military.
Most fans are aware that new Ravens running back Mike Anderson served a four-year hitch in the Marines after high school. Remember the Mile High Salute when he played for Denver?
Also, backup center/guard Jason Brown was one of the first to experience the heartbreak war can sometimes bring when he lost a brother in Iraq three years ago. Running back Musa Smith's brother lost a leg in the same conflict.
Tight end Daniel Wilcox attended Georgia Military School for a time during a transfer between colleges, eventually ending up at Appalachian State.
One of the lasting legacies of late commissioner Pete Rozelle is the league's annual USO tour, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Even in the turbulent '60s, Rozelle wanted the public to know that the league supported the troops, so he began goodwill tours to Vietnam. The most recent tour brought Atlanta's Patrick Kerney, Pittsburgh's Max Starks and Seattle's Air Force Academy graduate Bryce Fisher to troops in the Balkans and Persian Gulf.
Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, son of a career Army man, also took time out to lead a group of players to Fort Campbell, Ky., home of the 101st Airborne Division.
These visits are important to troops around the world, who have watched more than 186,000 hours of NFL-related programming over the years through various services provided to 233 countries.
One reason the NFL is so popular is that it reveres its past so frequently. This year, in its "Kickoff 2006" brochure, it lists the top 10 influential African-American moments in league history.
Most recently, in 2002, former Ravens pro personnel director and senior football operations vice president Ozzie Newsome became the first African-American general manager in the history of the league.
Other key moments include the 1919 Akron Pros' signing of Fritz Pollard and the 1983 elevation of former Oakland guard Gene Upshaw to president of the players' union.
Pollard, a recent Hall of Fame inductee, would go on to become the first black quarterback and head coach in league history.
We've heard it all the time: teams need a good backup quarterback in case the starter gets injured. But what about the backup's backup?
For those still confused about the league's third-quarterback rule, it goes like this. If the team's third-string quarterback, who must be designated as such before the game, is inserted into the game before the fourth quarter, the other two cannot enter the game at any position at any time.
But what if a third quarterback is the holder on placekicks? That is an exception, but teams are trying to avoid any possible confusion by using punters, tight ends and number two quarterbacks as holders.
Often wonder which NFL team your favorite celebrity cheers for?
It's common knowledge that former "SportsNight" star and fantasy football fanatic Josh Charles is a Ravens fan. Here are a few other celebrities and their preferences:
Actor Ben Affleck, New England; Former President George H.W. Bush, Houston; comedian Robin Williams, San Francisco; Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela, Dallas; musician Paul McCartney, Pittsburgh; golfer Phil Mickelson, San Diego; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Cleveland; and U2 guitarist The Edge, Miami.
An easy trivia question to answer would probably be, "Which two teams have the most total wins -- regular and post-season -- in league history?"
That would be the two teams that have been around the longest, the Chicago Bears (671) and Green Bay Packers (640). But a few teams are approaching some milestones in 2006.
If the New York Giants win 12 games, they will become the third team ever to register 600 regular-season wins (Chicago, 657; Green Bay, 616).
Pittsburgh needs 10 victories to get 500 regular-season wins. However, due to their rather pitiful history from 1933-72, the Steelers' all-time record is a middling 490-470-20.
The Rams need ten wins to get 500 regular-season victories and several teams are close to 400: Oakland needs six to get there, Dallas needs eight and the Indianapolis Colts need 10 (yes, the league neglects Baltimore again).
Issue 1.20: September 7, 2006