Ron McDole labored for 18 years in the trenches of first the American Football League and then the NFL. He was a standout defensive end in both, winning two AFL titles with the Buffalo Bills on one of the best defenses in football history before being traded to the Washington Redskins in 1971 to become part of George Allen’s “Over The Hill Gang.’’
McDole helped Allen resurrect the long dormant Redskins and in 1972 found himself starting in Super Bowl VII against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. Washington had not allowed a touchdown in playoff wins over the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and felt sure it would do the same to the Dolphins. To this day, McDole tells Talk of Fame Network this week, “It’s still hard to believe we lost that game.’’
McDole has penned a new autobiography, “The Dancing Bear – My 18 years in the Trenches of the AFL and NFL’’ and visited Talk of Fame Network this week to discuss a career so prolific he was named both to the AFL’s All-Time team and as one of the 70 greatest Washington Redskins of all-time.
McDole recalls his days in Buffalo, where Lou Saban built a defense that allowed less than 11 points per game in 1964 and 1965 despite the pass happy nature of the AFL at that time. Although the merger that created the Super Bowl was still several years away McDole believes those teams would have been competitive with the then reigning NFL champion Green Bay Packers.
Despite his success in Buffalo, McDole claims “one of the biggest breaks of my career was getting to George Allen’’ as part of the “Over the Hill Gang’’ in 1971. Allen hated rookies, or at least rookie mistakes, so to avoid them he put together a team whose starting lineup averaged 31 years old, when McDole arrived. At 32, McDole fit right in.
“He paid us well and he was the type of coach who listened to us,’’ McDole said of Allen. But he points out Allen was also a stern taskmaster and an obsessive guy whose life revolved around one thing – defensive football.
McDole negotiated his own contract with Allen and it was filled with over a dozen incentive clauses, including one for interceptions. It was an odd thing for a defensive end to have included but McDole made it pay off big at $5000 per interception. By the end of his career, McDole had 12 pass interceptions, a record for a defensive lineman that still stands.
“I was paid very well for those,’’ McDole tells Talk of Fame Network. “It was something I just had a knack for.’’
The other thing he had a knack for was showing up. He played 18 seasons of pro football between 1961 and 1978 and missed only one game in the final 15 years of his career. His 240 games is fourth longest by a defensive lineman in pro football history and proof that “The Dancing Bear’’ seldom went into hibernation.
Green Bay Packers’ historian and former long-time beat writer Cliff Christl also joined our TOFN hosts Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge to recall the life and times of Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, who passed away this week at the age of 83.
Christl points out that although he was the first of the Lombardi Era Packers to gain admittance to the Hall of Fame, he always felt overshadowed by his teammate Paul Horning and perhaps the greatest running back who ever lived, Cleveland’s Jim Brown.
“Lombardi said Horning was the best all-around back he ever coached,’’ Christl recalled. “(Hall of Fame cornerback) Herb Adderley always said Horning should have been the first to go into the Hall not Jim Taylor.’’
Despite that, Taylor had five 1,000 yard rushing seasons between 1960 and 1965 and in 1962 became the only back other than Brown to win the rushing title during Brown’s nine NFL seasons. His running style, Christl, recalled, was far different from Brown’s however even though both played fullback.
“He’d seek out contact,’’ Christl said of Taylor. “He always rose to the challenge. He always rose to the occasion against Jim Brown. He out-rushed him in two of the three games they faced each other.
“He was critical to winning four of their five championships. They were built around a power running game. He ran like a man possessed.’’
Speaking of a man possessed, Talk of Fame Network also paid a visit to long-time ESPN senior writer and Hall of Fame voter John Clayton to talk about one of his favorite subjects – who is the most deserving Seattle Seahawk not in the Hall of Fame.
In John’s opinion it’s a tossup between Steve Hutchinson and Kevin Maewe but he also believes several members of the Legion of Boom will one day also need to be discussed. Earl Thomas? Richard Sherman? And what about BeastMode, Marshawn Lynch? To hear John’s assessment of their Hall of Fame chances dial up your local SB Nation Radio network station Wednesday nights between 8-10 p.m. or simply get our free podcast at iTunes or on the TuneIn app and listen whenever you’d like.
This week’s show and all our past shows and interviews can also be found on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.