My summer reading list has been greatly enhanced by a book that officially debuts in September. It’s the latest from Jeff Pearlman, dubbed Football For A Buck: The Crazy Rise And Crazier Demise Of The USFL.
It’s the perfect companion for the annual sliver of slow time in the NFL, allowing me to be consistently on the lookout for anecdotes that may be relevant here.
Here’s one to consider: The Chicago Blitz under legendary head coach George Allen embarked on an aggressive effort to find players, signing 258 after kicking tires on a whopping 3,148. One of the players who received a “no thanks” from the Blitz was a linebacker named Karl Mecklenburg.
Yes, he’s the same Karl Mecklenburg who went on to become a six-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame semifinalist with the Broncos.
Making the whiff on Mecklenburg even more stunning is the fact that the team’s desperation to find competent players included visiting a prison to consider an inmate eligible for work release who wrote to the team, “I love football. I can play.” And the Blitz actually signed a schlub named Albert C. Lynch, a five-eight, 185-pound would-be linebacker who ran a molassesesque 5.7-second 40 and whose only redeeming quality was noticing during the tryout that the chosen few were being directed to then-25-year-old Bruce Allen to sign a contract.
If only Meckenburg had been quite as observant, the Blitz may have had a linebacker much, much better than Albert C. Lynch.