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Russell Baxter | NFL Writer/Historian

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
June 19, 2024 6:05 am

Russell Baxter | NFL Writer/Historian

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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June 19, 2024 6:05 am

NFL Writer/Historian for Russell Baxter joins the show to talk and reminisce about the life and career of Willie Mays.

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Download Thumbtack and start a project today. He is a football historian that I've known for years. We were colleagues going back to our previous life and our previous network and on this morning as we're focusing on history and as I'm lamenting the fact that I did not get to see Willie Mays play other than grainy black and white videos. Russell is the perfect guy to join us. Good morning, Russ. How are you? Me, Amy. How have you been?

I'm good. You know, got married and all. Finally. Better late than never. Congratulations.

I had no idea. Thank you. Thank you. So I love your history and your perspective on history and I was just describing to the listening audience this amazing service that you do on Twitter where you take the number of days until the NFL kicks off or the number of days until the Hall of Fame game and you highlight athletes who had incredible careers with what we call nerd alerts, you know, just nuggets of information that really they make me giddy because I'm a history buff. Willie Mays. He had such an impact on history that you could ask 100 people and they have 100 different perspectives or stories. So what about you? Well, I mean, for a long time, I mean, I caught him probably in the middle of his career.

I was born in 1959. I know he ended with the Mets, but as I was just telling your producer, you know, he was in the topic always and you'll hear a lot today of the greatest overall baseball player in history. And obviously those discussions are subjective, but he could hit because it for power, he could run, you know, how many of the over the shoulder catch and my favorite Willie Mays, which more strikes me toward my age and so on is and I was just describing it to your producer.

Candlestick Park, long fly ball to pretty much deep center. Bobby Bonds was the right fielder. Barry's father both go up for the ball at the same time. Willie out leaps him.

And if you go on my account, back football guru, shameless plug, I put the video up there. NBC game of the week with Kirk Gowdy and Tony Kubek, I believe, maybe even Joe Garagiola. Just an amazing catch and in some ways routine for him. And, you know, when you hear when you hear the words Willie Mays, you just think baseball and you think greatness and, you know, 93 years old.

God bless him and so on. And I would say between him and Roberto Clemente, that was really my baseball of my youth. I love that we actually had a call from a gentleman earlier who said that when he was 10 years old, his dad took him to Wrigley Field because he was a Chicago kid, and he couldn't understand he had to ask his dad.

They were playing the Giants. Why is everyone standing up and clapping for a guy from the other team? And I mean, that's that was really the impact is people showed up at a stadium to see him play. And I know even as we transition to football, that's generally reserved for quarterbacks or some of the great wide receivers, maybe defender. There are very few guys that you could say, hey, that's the reason why people show up and we see it now with Aaron Judge, we see it with Shohei Ohtani, but that was Willie Mays. Oh, yeah.

The reverence toward him was amazing because he was he had such a joy watching him play. I mean, you always seem to be smiling. And I think people just gravitate toward that.

Somebody who I'm a person who roots for people for I want everybody in life to do what they want for a living and don't consider it work. And that's how I feel about myself. I you know, you talked about the nerd alert and the countdowns and stuff like that.

Is that really work? I mean, let's let's be honest there. OK, we're fun to do, but it's you know, I'm talking about a kid's game.

That's all. And Willie Mays just always seemed like he enjoyed what he was doing and he was so damn good at it. Made it look easy. That's a great compliment that people give him. Russell Baxter is with us. And he's got a ton of affiliations. He and I go way back to our previous network, but always writing about the NFL, promoting the NFL through its history for fans, cited NFL Spin Zone. And as he says, you can find him on Twix at Backs Football.

Yeah, well, I refuse to just be the shill who starts calling it something else after all these years. So I guess I'm just being a contrarian, but thank you. So we're asking our listeners this morning, who is an athlete? Doesn't matter which sport that you wish you'd seen play live. And honestly, Willie Mays, Ted Williams are my two answers to this question whenever I'm asked.

So what about you? Whether it's football or another sport, who's an athlete you wish you had seen play when he or she was actually dominating? Oh, that's that's that's a really well, I think it would have to be Jim Brown. OK. I mean, Jim Brown played for nine years, ran for twelve thousand yards in nine years.

Wow. You know, I really was much too young to appreciate anything. My first I tell people, my first football game that I remember watching on television was Super Bowl four, which was, you know, two years ago.

No, not really. But, you know, the Vikings and the Chiefs and when New Orleans had Tulane Stadium and it was full of grass and the Chiefs beat up Joe Cap. And the people more know Joe Cap now from the longest yard than they do as a Minnesota Vikings quarterback.

But Jim Brown was a little a little before that. But the video is just mesmerizing to watch him power speed. We all know about his prowess as a lacrosse player as well.

But I mean, to do what he did and basically, you know, basically just run amok through anybody and did it so effortlessly and so on. I wish I had been able to the closest I got to somebody like that. And trust me, I got to see this guy's whole career. I actually when I was freelancing for ESPN at the very beginning of my career there, I got a chance to meet Earl Campbell and Bum Phillips. Actually, was the day they got that Earl went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because one of our producers had done a piece on him and so on. Earl Campbell was I loved watching him play. That's my a big guy who just ran over people and eventually it cost because they just ran him into the ground and so on. But to answer your question, I would say Jim Brown, who I know, of course, because of my affiliation with Syracuse. He's a legend at Syracuse and also with the Cleveland Browns when he was drafted back in 1957. So that's another great answer.

It's after hours with Amy Lawrence and Russell Baxter. I know that you have well, I don't know how many times you've been for the Hall of Fame game, but I know that you make this an annual thing. And it's something that I love hearing your stories about it. Why are visits to the Hall of Fame so important, even as we're talking about history? Well, the first thing is the very first year I went and it was funny you said that, too, because I was telling somebody the other day, I said, I've been going so often that I usually get my credentials done within 24 hours. Because they know I'm going to the game. They know I'm going to the jacket ceremony, which is stirring. And obviously the enshrinement ceremonies, which is now on it's like Saturday afternoon. The Hall of Fame has evolved over the years in the way they do things and so on.

Amy, my very first year was 1989. Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, hard shadow, Willie Wood. At that time the ceremony was held on the steps at the hall in the late morning. You maybe get a bunch of wooden chairs. People sat up on the wall, maybe 400 people.

Hall of Fame game was 2.30 in the afternoon. First one I went to was Bill's Redskins. And then I've been pretty much going every year since then.

This is like my 34th or 35th ceremony that I will be attending. And I've gotten to know a number of voters over the years. It is important because as the game evolves and the game changes. And you have these discussions slash arguments slash debates with people and so on who talk about, well, the league only had this many teams and the league only had that many teams. I don't know about you.

Do you know any startup businesses that just hit the ground running with everything? Understanding how the game used to be played and understanding what the men who played in the early years sacrificed to a degree. It to me is very, very important. And I love one of my favorite things and maybe it's selfishly is when I do these countdowns and there are players who respond. Oh, my gosh. That's awesome. So I did. And I've also been around enough that I like today.

We did 43 days until the Hall of Fame game, which you have a 40 favorite 43. Huh? I would I'd have to think about that, actually. I'm not sure that I do that.

I didn't do that to put you on the spot. No, it's OK. I have a favorite. Thirty three.

Can you go back to me in 10 days? In 78 days until the season opener. Now, I was fortunate enough at the network to work with both Jackie Slater and Anthony Munoz. And a couple years ago when I was back at the hall for the photo ceremony in the morning, I ran into Jackie. I've also run into players who I tweeted out their number and I've met them for the first time. James Lofton last year, I got a chance to meet for number 80. And a lot of these guys follow me on Twitter.

That's awesome. But enough that they appreciate it and so on. And I've got guys who are the modern error and I'll shout them out right now. Randy Cross and Blaine Bishop, who almost retweet what I do every day.

And it's so appreciated because the reason I do it is to show my appreciation for what they've done. Russell, I just saw this and I'm really excited about it because, again, history buff and I feel like I've missed so much. Not to mention, it's impossible to preserve all of the history, right?

In a radio show, even 20 hours a week. There's so much that we can't get to. So I love to read about history. And you've started a five-part series about 50 years ago in the NFL.

Is this new? Because I don't recall seeing it on your social before. This is something I did new and I'm just racking what's a little left of my brain. I said, well, let's just do 50 because I mean, obviously, I have a big passion for history. So I'm thinking about 1974. That was the year the Dolphins got knocked out by the Raiders in the Sea of Hands game. It was also the year the Steelers' dynasty began. And I said, well, maybe even come up with five things per.

So this one was fun to do because it takes me back to really takes me back to when I was in high school and so on. The Patriots had an amazing running back named Matt Karen, who was like five foot five, 170 pounds. And I'm not under exaggerating. And in 74, he had two thousand four hundred and forty four combined total yards. OK, which was an NFL record for all of one year before Terry Metcalf, who is Eric Metcalf's father for the St. Louis Cardinals. Nineteen seventy four. And you'll like this because you're a Broncos fan. The irony of ironies in 1974, the NFL finally began regular season overtime.

What? And in 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos played to thirty five thirty five after four quarters. And the new system worked so well, the game wound up ending in a tie anyway.

So the very first regular season overtime game, which they were hoping to break ties, did not end it in a tie, which I think is hysterical. And then the other one in 74 was the advent of the St. Louis Cardinals winning the NFC East. I'm sure some people remember they were in the NFC East, but they were led by a guy who went to the Hall of Fame last year, Don Coryell.

Brilliant offensive mind. Great years with the Chargers as well and so on. So the next one up is 40 years. So that's 1984. And I think any Miami Dolphins fan will remember where I'm going in 1984, which was the amazing second season. Yes.

Marino, which some people will still consider the greatest season by a quarterback ever. It's a it's a really cool concept in for a guy who's done this for so long. I love that you're keeping it fresh and diving into something new so you can find it on Russell's Twitter at Bax, B-A-X football guru. It's the first of a five part series.

It's out already. People are flocking to it to read it. And it's NFL history. So 50 years ago this season, 74, 84 is coming up. You know, my nieces tell me all the time, Auntie Amy, the 80s and 90s are back. So I I tell them you're welcome and that that'll appeal to a lot of people in the sports world. It's always good to catch up with you.

Thank you so much for your perspective and your memories. Oh, and thank you. And now I'm expecting a call in 10 days for number 33.

Number 33. Let's go. Thank you, Russ. You're welcome, Amy. This episode is brought to you by Progressive Insurance.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-19 12:03:27 / 2024-06-19 12:10:32 / 7

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