Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/28/12

The NFL Combine is over and we're only a couple of weeks away from what promises to be a very hectic, exciting free agent signing period. Until then, it's time to jump back into the Wayback Machine for our weekly look at the NFL's history.   February 27, 2008
Steelers’ radio color commentator Myron Cope died of respiratory failure at the age of 79.
  When you heard Myron Cope’s voice, you would never mistake it for anyone else’s. Myron Cope started in 1970 when he was 40 years old and spent the next 35 years as the signature voice in the broadcast booth for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cope's career started as a writer. He became a freelancer and was published regularly in Sports Illustrated and The Saturday Evening Post. Cope wrote a profile of Howard Cosell for Sports Illustrated that was selected as one of the 50 best articles ever published in the magazine during its 50th anniversary.

Cope had a unique library of catch phrases and nicknames for players and opponents but his greatest claim to fame was the role he played in the development of the “Terrible Towel”, which took on a life of its own as one of the most recognizable symbols of any professional sports team.

Cope’s 35 years for the Steelers was the longest in NFL history with a single team. His broadcast style was so unique that when he retired, the Steelers went from a three man, to a two man booth. Cope became the first pro football announcer elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame and at the enshrinement dinner in 2005, he was presented by Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris. Eight days after his retirement Cope received the Pete Rozelle Award for “long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”

March 3, 1962
The Birthday of Running Back Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker was a premier running back during his career but his career defining moments came off the football field and those are what he’s still remembered for today.
 
Walker had a highly successful college career with the University of Georgia. In 1980 he set the freshman rushing record as Georgia went undefeated and beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship. In 1982, his junior year, he won the Heisman Trophy.
 
The following spring, the United States Football League was forming and Walker saw it as an opportunity to turn pro and not play his senior year of college ball. He also knew that he wouldn’t have a choice of destinations in the NFL due to the uncertainties of the draft and that would restrict endorsement opportunities. Walker ended up signing with the New Jersey Generals. To get around the league’s salary cap rules, Walker signed a personal services contract with the team’s owner, which Donald Trump took over after he bought the team following the 1983 season. Because of Walker’s name value, no objections to the signing were raised by the league's other owners. He was a success in the USFL, winning the league rushing title in 1983 and 1985.

Not expecting the USFL to ultimately succeed, the Dallas Cowboys acquired Walker’s NFL rights by drafting in the fifth round in 1985. After the USFL lost its anti-trust suit against the NFL when they attempted to move their season from spring/summer to a fall schedule, Walker came to the Cowboys for the 1986 season. On a side note, technically the USFL won but were awarded $1 in damages, tripled to $3 because it was an anti-trust case. Since they were the winners, The USFL couldn’t appeal and the league folded from the heavy losses they sustained.
 
In his first two seasons with the Cowboys, Walker shared time with Tony Dorsett to make the first Heisman Trophy backfield tandem in NFL history. In 1987 he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,606 and broke the 2,000 yard barrier in 1988 with 2,019 yards from scrimmage.

In 1989, after five games, Walker was traded by the Cowboys to the Minnesota Vikings in what was the largest player trade in NFL history. The Cowboys received five players and six draft picks in return for Walker. It wasn’t necessarily the players that the Cowboys acquired that made this the blockbuster it became but the draft picks. After bundling picks in other trades, Dallas finished with Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, defensive tackle Russell Maryland, cornerback Kevin Smith and Safety Darren Woodson. The Cowboys ended up riding that trade to three Super Bowl victories in the early ‘90’s.

In Walker’s Vikings debut, he rushed for 148 yards in 18 attempts against the Green Bay Packers in a 26-14 victory but wouldn’t come near the 100 yards rushing mark the rest of the season and his career slowly went downhill from there. The Eagles signed Walker in 1992 and finished the season losing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. They missed the playoffs the next two years and let him go. The New York Giants tried him as a third down back for in for one season in 1995. Walker played his final two NFL seasons with the Cowboys as a kick returner and third down back before retiring after the 1997 season. Herschel Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999

Other events of the week: March 1, 1941 Elmer Layden, former member of the “Four Horsemen” backfield at Notre Dame, was named first commissioner of the NFL.

February 27, 1959
The Chicago Cardinals traded future Hall of Fame running back Ollie Matson to the Los Angeles Rams for seven players and two draft picks.  

Birthdays this week:
February 27
1933 – Raymond Berry; Colts End 1955 – 1967; 3 time First-Team All-Pro; 6 time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973
1955 – Bob Rush; Chargers/Chiefs Center 1977 – 1985
1965 – David Treadwell; Broncos/Giants Placekicker1989 – 1994
1975 – Duce Staley; Eagles/Steelers Running Back1997 – 2006
1976 – Tony Gonzalez; Chiefs/Falcons Tight End 1997 – Present; 5 time First-Team All-Pro; 12 time Pro Bowler
 
Feb 28
1939 – Roger Hagberg; Raiders Fullback1965 – 1969
1945 – Bubba Smith; Colts/Raiders/Oilers Defensive End 1967 – 1976; 1 time First-Team All-Pro; 2 time Pro Bowler
1953 – Roland Harper; Bears Running Back1975 – 1982
1961 – Reggie Camp; Browns/Falcons Defensive End 1983 – 1988
1962 – Ken Whisenhunt; Falcons/Redskins/Jets Tight End 1985 – 1992; Cardinals Head Coach 2007 – Present
1966 – Ickey Woods; Bengals Running Back1988 – 1991
1966 – Tim Goad; Patriots/Browns/Colts Nose Tackle 1988 – 1996
1973 – Gary Walker; Titans/Jaguars/Texans Defensive End 1995 – 2005; 2 time Pro Bowler
1975 – Mike Rucker; Panthers Defensive End 1999 – 2007
1981 – Will Heller; Lions Tight End 2003 – 2011
1984 – Quincy Black; Buccaneers Linebacker 2007 – 2011
1987 – Brooks Reed; Texans Linebacker 2011 – Present
1989 – Carlos Dunlap; Bengals Defensive End 2010 – Present
1989 – Jason Pierre-Paul; Giants Defensive End 2010 – 2011; 1 time First-Team All-Pro; 1 time Pro Bowler
 
Feb 29
1944 – John Niland; Cowboys/Eagles Guard 1966 – 1975; 2 time First-Team All-Pro; 6 time Pro Bowler
1968 – Bryce Paup; Packers/Bills/Jaguars/Vikings Linebacker 1990 – 2000;1 time First-Team All-Pro; 4 time Pro Bowler
 
March 1
1946 – Elvin Bethea; Oilers Defensive End 1968 – 1983; 8 time Pro Bowler; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003
1950 – Riley Odoms; Broncos Tight End 1972 – 1983; 2 time First-Team All-Pro; 4 time Pro Bowler
1950 – Nick Mike-Mayer; Falcons/Bills/Eagles Placekicker 1973 – 1982; 1 time Pro Bowler
1953 – Thomas Henderson; Cowboys Linebacker 1975 – 1980; 1 time Pro Bowler
1961 – Mike Rozier; Oilers/Falcons Running Back1985 – 1991; 2 time Pro Bowler
1974 – Stephen Davis; Redskins/Panthers/Rams1996 – 2006; 3 time Pro Bowler
1988 – Curtis Marsh; Eagles Defensive Back 2011 – Present
1989 – Mason Foster; Buccaneers Linebacker 2011 – Present
 
March 2
1917 – Lee Artoe; Bears Tackle 1940 – 1948;1 time First-Team All-Pro; 3 time Pro Bowler
1931 – Jack McClairen; Steelers End 1955 – 1960; 1 time Pro Bowler
1954 – Isaac Hagins; Buccaneers Wide Receiver 1976 – 1980
1957 – Earnest Gray; Giants Wide Receiver 1979 – 1985
1962 – Bill Maas; Chiefs/Packers Nose Tackle/Defensive End 1984 – 1993; 2 time Pro Bowler
1962 – Damone Johnson; Rams Tight End 1986 – 1992
1962 – Al Del Greco; Packers/Cardinals/Titans Placekicker1984 – 2000
1977 – Corey Simon; Eagles/Colts/Titans Defensive Tackle 2000 – 2007; 1 time Pro Bowler
1978 – Sebastian Janikowski; Raiders Placekicker 2000 – 2011; 1 time Pro Bowler
1981 – Jacob Bell; Titans/Rams Guard 2004 – Present
1982 – Corey Webster; Giants Defensive Back 2005 – Present
1982 – Ben Roethlisberger; Steelers Quarterback 2004 – Present; 2 time Pro Bowler
1982 – Mike Nugent; Jets/Buccaneers/Cardinals/Bengals Placekicker 2005 – Present
1982 – Sean Jones; Browns/Eagles/Buccaneers Defensive Back 2005 – Present
1985 – Reggie Bush; Saints/Dolphins Running Back 2006 – Present
1985 – William Beatty; Giants Tackle 2009 – Present
 
March 3
1921 – Horace Gillom; Browns Punter/End 1947 – 1956
1951 – Benny Barnes; Cowboys Defensive Back 1972 – 1982
1952 – Randy Gradishar; Broncos Linebacker 1974 – 1983; 2 time First-Team All-Pro; 7 time Pro Bowler; Hall of Fame Finalist in 2003 and 2008
1967 – Calvin Williams; Eagles Wide Receiver 1990 – 1996
1976 – Eric Warfield; Chiefs Cornerback 1998 – 2005
1978 – Yeremiah Bell; Dolphins Safety 2004 – 2011
1980 – Mario Haggan; Bills/Broncos Linebacker 2003 – 2011
1984 – Santonio Holmes; Steelers/Jets Wide Receiver 2006 – Present
1988 – Jason Worilds; Steelers Linebacker 2010 – Present
1988 – Dekoda Watson; Buccaneers Linebac ker 2010 – Present
 
March 4
1913 – Milt Trost; Bears/Eagles Tackle/End 1935 – 1940
1917 – Stan Batinski; Lions Guard/Tackle 1941 – 1949
1918 – Vic Sears; Eagles Tackle/Defensive Tackle 1941 – 1953
1933 – Dick Felt; Jets/Patriots Defensive Back1960 – 1966; 2 time Pro Bowler
1938 – Don Perkins; Cowboys Fullback/Halfback 1961 – 1968; 1 time First-Team All-Pro; 6 time Pro Bowler
1952 – Gary Campbell; Bears Linebacker 1977 – 1983
1953 – Steve Sylvester; Raiders Center/Guard/Tackle 1975 – 1983
1960 – Reggie McElroy; Jets/Raiders/Chiefs/Vikings/Broncos Tackle 1983 – 1996
1962 – Greg Kragen; Broncos/Chiefs/Panthers Nose Tackle 1985 – 1997; 1 time Pro Bowler
1963 – Orson Mobley; Broncos Tight End 1986 – 1990
1963 – Eric Kattus; Bengals/Jets Tight End 1986 – 1992
1963 – Doug Plank; Bears Safety1975 – 1982
1964 – Shane Conlan; Bills/Rams Linebacker 1987 – 1995; 3 time Pro Bowler
1972 – Robert Smith; Vikings Running Back1993 – 2000; 2 time Pro Bowler
1973 – Phillip Daniels; Seahawks/Bears/Redskins Defensive End 1996 – 2010
1986 – Ryan Wendell; Center 2009 – Present
1986 – Quinton Spears; Browns Linebacker 2011 – Present
 
Deaths
March 4, 2009 – George McAfee, Age 90; Hall of Fame halfback for the Chicago Bears

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