Tim Rossovich was a cross between legendary Bears linebacker Dick Butkus and professional wrestler George “The Animal” Steele.
The late and former defensive end/center linebacker was aggressively scary during his four years with the Eagles from 1968-71. I mistakenly missed signing him up as a member of the Philadelphia Bell last week when he played center linebacker for the World Football League franchise. for two seasons.
This final episode of my YESTERDAY throwback – a journey back in time to the late 1960s, 1970s and early 80s – is a reminiscence of some of the “flakes”, free spirits or “quirky” gamers. of Philadelphia’s most memorable. of that era, while highlighting some quirky events, pop culture situations, and things that made the news at that time.
Rossovich certainly beat a different drum. He was a Southern Cal first-round pick in 1968 and made the Pro Bowl his second season when he moved to linebacker. He was a solid player, but his antics off the field earned him national recognition.
Rossovich frequently set his hair on fire, also bit off bottle caps, and ate glass. Some of his other feats include diving headfirst into the hot tub, wearing tie-dye capes and listening to Gregorian chants on the stereo, catching a spider on a dressing room table and eating it, and diving naked into a birthday cake.
He played a year with the San Diego Chargers before his two years with the Bell. He retired after a year with Houston in 1976 and went to work in Hollywood as an actor and stuntman.
However, Rossovich was not the only free spirit in Philadelphia at this time.
The Phillies team of the mid-70s had its share of characters.
Steve Carlton rewrote the Phillies’ record books, but he stopped speaking with reporters in 1978 after an alleged incident with longtime AP sports editor Ralph Bernstein. Carlton had some quirky training rituals with rice and sand that worked, and apparently had a chip on his shoulder before he shut up.
Relief pitcher Tug McGraw was one of the Phillies’ free spirits, or perhaps the most vocal. He still had a nervous glove flap on his thigh, but was a master of mayhem in the clubhouse. Like Carlton though, McGraw got the job done.
Jay Johnstone was another player who wasn’t afraid to push the limits either. He was famous for having a brilliant shine of his cleats before games and for wearing a range of varied hats. In the event of delayed rain, Johnstone would often don a hat with a propeller on top. He earned the nickname “Moonman” for his bizarre antics. Johnstone was a solid left-handed bat for the Phillies who hit above 300.
You can also add Arnold “Bake” McBride from this unit. McBride had a huge afro and was the epitome of “cool” during that decade. His long arms and legs created a long looping swing that was effective. McBride gave the Phils a legitimate base stealing threat.
Prior to the Phillies’ divisional races, Willie Montanez was a showboat at the turn of the decade. The left-handed first baseman flipped his bat with both hands, made the sign of the cross and had a punch trot. He also flipped his glove during takedowns.
The late Richie “Dick” Allen broke through barriers in the 60s and 70s. Allen was a budding star in the mid-60s, but he was aloof and often had trouble with authority. Allen had all the tools necessary to be one of the greatest and is often underestimated, but his troubles dating back to a clubhouse fight in 1964 continued to haunt him.
During his second stint with the Phillies in 1975 and 1976, Allen reportedly had a problem with his teammates that stemmed from racial issues. The Phillies traded him to Oakland in the offseason.
The Flyers’ “Broad Street Bullies” of the mid-’70s were a rare breed.
Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Bob “The Hound” Kelly, Andre “Moose” Dupont, Don “Big Bird” Saleski, Bobby “The Chief” Taylor and “Cowboy” Bill Flett were cartoonish in nature, and the perfect actors for two-time Stanley Cup champions.
Head Coach Freddie “The Fog” Shero, who truly lived up to his nickname, was the perfect coach. Broadcaster Gene Hart – remember broadcast partner Don Earle started games by saying “Let’s Go Flyers, and Let’s Go Gene Hart?” – made us all feel good with his larger than life personality.
The Sixers also had a few unusual characters on their teams in the ’70s.
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant could ignite the crowd when he came off the bench with his variety of moves and dunks.
Lloyd Free changed its name to “World B”. He was known for his slow jumps and flamboyant style on the floor. Free was an instant attraction when he came off the bench, and he was effective.
Along with Bryand and Free, Darryl Dawkins was a dominant character. His size, strength, and brutality as a recent high school graduate created the role of enforcer for the team. But “Chocolate Thunder” also claimed to come from the planet “Lovetron”, where all was well. He later played and coached the Lehigh Valley-based Pennsylvania Valley Dawgs.
George ‘The Animal’ Steele stole the show… Steele was arguably one of, if not the most unique wrestler of the era. His growls and scrambled shouts to fans were legendary, as was his turnbuckle growl.
Managers such as the “Grand Wizard” with his turban and wide-rimmed sunglasses and the fuming and animated “Captain Lou Albano” also made headlines.
Quirky, groundbreaking comedies… You may remember ‘The Benny Hill Show’, a British television comedy starring Benny Hill that aired in various guises between 1955 and 1989 in over 140 countries. The show was classic slapstick with sexual overtones and scantily clad women.
Starring Benny Hill, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ debuted as a British comedy in 1969 and hit the US airwaves on a regular basis some 10 years later. Ironically, the show aired on PBS in the late 70s before eventually making its way to other channels. The overtones were similar to Hill’s, but it was a more intellectual comedy.
We all probably remember Monty Python skits and songs that can’t be easily linked in print.
Songs that broke the norm… There were plenty of songs in the 1970s that could have fallen into this category, but here are some of the most recognizable.
In 1973, Edgar Winter released the instrumental hit “Frankenstein” which mixed current sounds with those that would truly fit the title of the film. It included a long drum solo.
A year later, Ray Stephens shot to the top of the charts with “The Streak” in which a TV reporter interviewed people who saw others in “the streak craze.”
CW McCall had a one-hit wonder in 1976 with “Convoy,” which hit the CB craze at that time.
Rick Dees made history with “Disco Duck,” an original jingle with a Donald Duck-sounding character outlining the scene.
Final Thought… This weekend won’t be the first time the Los Angeles Rams have had “home court advantage” for a Super Bowl.
The 1980 Super Bowl between the Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers was played at the Rose Bowl, 10 miles from Los Angeles. It was the last of Pittsburgh’s four straight Super Bowl wins.
Do you remember Vince Ferragamo? He was the starting quarterback for the Rams in that game.
And the singer of the national anthem? It was ex-Charlie Angel Cheryl Ladd.