What were they thinking?
If there ever was a model of ineptitude in sports franchise history, it was the New York Football Giants from 1963-1978. The storied franchise went from a league staple to a league punchline almost overnight.
Many can be blamed, but I'll play it safe and just blame former coach/GM Allie Sherman.
Sherman took a championship (but aging) team and dismantled it. Then, he nor anyone else could not put it back together again. The Giants' ownership team of Wellington and Tim Mara was in constant feud and the franchise felt the impact—especially at the draft table.
Sherman (57-51-4) was fired in 1969 and replaced by former Giants' star Alex Webster, who also had little success (29-40).
In 1974, the Giants hired Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Bill Arnsparger to be their head coach. Arnsparger would only coach 35 games during his short tenure, winning just seven. He was fired and replaced by an assistant, John McVay.
McVay was at the helm during the infamous "fumble" game, which led to fans burning tickets and carrying signs "15 Years of Bad Football is Enough".
Before examining the post-merger (1970) drafts, allow me to first lament about the draft transgressions of the 1960s.
- 1964 - the Giants drafted an obtuse character named Joe Don Looney, a fullback from Oklahoma. He never played a down for the Giants. He was traded to the Baltimore Colts before the season began.
- 1965 - the Giants had the No.1 overall selection in the draft. They chose Auburn RB Tucker Frederickson, passing on Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Jack Snow, Donny Anderson, Mike Curtis and Joe Namath. They did, however, luck into Carl "Spider" Lockhart in the 13th round.
- 1966 - they chose Missouri T Francis Peay in the first round. Peay only played two years with the Giants. They let him go. He then went on to play eight more seasons with Green Bay and then Kansas City. Good call.
- 1967 - was the first year the NFL and AFL held a "common draft". The Giants did not draft until the fourth round, partly due to the Fran Tarkenton deal with Minnesota. They basically ended up drafting no one of significance in a draft that contained Bubba Smith, Bob Griese, Mel Farr, Willie Lanier, Alan Page, Lem Barney, Floyd Little and Gene Upshaw. Yikes!
- 1968 - again without a first rounder, the team took T Rich Buzin from Penn State and Bobby Duhon, RB from Tulane in rounds two and three. To be frank, it was a good year to not have a top pick since the draft was not very deep one. The Giants didn't plan it that way, I assure you.
- 1969 - have you ever heard of Fred Dryer? Sure you have. He was taken out of San Diego State in the first round by the Giants in 1969. He was a solid DE, who led the team in sacks every year he was here. The Giants ended up parting ways with Dryer, too, sending him to New England in 1972 for draft picks. Unreal.
- 1970 - the Giants had a first rounder but not a second or third round pick on this draft. They did not use that top pick wisely taking Oklahoma LB Jimmy Files 13th overall. The only thing Files is remembered for is the game where the clubhouse guys misspelled his name on the back of his jersey. He played the entire game with "Flies" on his back. Hilarious.
- 1971 - perhaps the worst draft choice in team history was made in this very draft. The team took Rocky Thompson (pictured) - a wide receiver from West Texas State. Thompson would go on to be primarily a kick returner before getting cut in 1973. Still on the board when the Giants took Thompson: Jack Tatum, Jack Youngblood, Jack Ham, Julius Adams, Phil Villapiano and Dan Dierdorf.
- 1972 - more of the same...with two choices in the first round, the Giants took DB Eldridge Small and DT Larry Jacobson. Both would be out of football by 1975. The Giants did strike gold in the third round, though, taking Grambling NT John Mendenhall. Mendy would end up anchoring the defensive line for the remainder of the decade.
- 1973 - finally a pick to be proud of. Brad Van Pelt of Michigan State was chosen by the Giants in the second round. BVP would become a perennial Pro-Bowler and an all-time NYG favorite. Notes: The Giants did not have a first round pick. It was dealt to Cleveland. LB Brian Kelley, who would play 11 seasons for the Giants was drafted in the 14th round. 1973 was the Giants' last season at Yankee Stadium.
- 1974 - a disaster...not only did the fans have to drive to the Yale Bowl to see games, their top three picks were John Hicks, Tom Mullen and Rich Dvorak. Ouch! This is where the wheels start to come off for the Giants.
- 1975 - another nightmare...the Giants traded their first round selection to Dallas (of all places) midway through the 1974 season in exchange for QB Craig Morton. The season and the trade were horrific. Morton was ravaged by opposing defenses and the winds at Shea Stadium. The Giants' first round pick ended up being No.2 overall. The Cowboys chose Maryland DT Randy White with that selection. White would end up in Canton, Morton would end up leading Denver to a Super Bowl appearance and the Giants would end up with absolutely nothing to show for any of this—again. Rounds 2-10 yielded nothing, until George Martin was taken in the 11th round salvaging a miserable day at the draft table.
- 1976 - the first year at the Meadowlands. The team was still a mess. This draft did manage to reap some benefits, however. The Giants drafted Colorado DE Troy Archer in the first round and LB Harry Carson in the fourth round. Carson became a Giants legend and was elected the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame in 2006. Archer had become one of the league's top linemen by 1979, when he was tragically killed in an auto accident before the season.
- 1977 - brought USC DE Gary Jeter to the Meadowlands. A likable guy and a decent player, Jeter was known more for his passion than his play. Not to sweat, though. There really wasn't much to choose from in this draft. There are no Hall-of-Famers from this class.
- 1978 - was actually a productive draft. It would be the last one before the Maras handed the reins over to George Young in 1979. The Giants chose useful players such as T Gordon King, DBs Odis McKinney and Terry Jackson and RB Billy Taylor. Still, for a team that needed so much, this wasn't anywhere good enough at the time.
published from blogNYG.comNext: Part 2 - The George Young Years ('79-'00)