I’m developing quite the Newspapers.com habit. The online database of millions of pages from nearly 5,000 old newspapers is the ultimate context provider. I like to start each week by browsing the Nebraska papers just to see what was happening in Husker Nation around this time X years earlier. Oftentimes, I’ll find discussions — changes to the offense, future of the program, etc. — that mirror whatever everyone is talking about now, further proof that “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
Other times something out of the blue catches the eye. Today is one of the latter times.
Forty-five years ago yesterday, a group of former Huskers, seniors who had completed their eligibility by helping Nebraska to a second consecutive national title in 1971, took on the Kansas City Chiefs in a charity game. A basketball game, that is.
“Kansas City Downs Huskers in Basketball . . . Not Football” read the headline to Jim Johnston’s story in the Lincoln Star the next day. The proceeds from the game, held at the Pershing Auditorium, were donated to the March of Dimes.
Charity hoops games like these weren’t, and still really aren’t, all that uncommon. A group of former Huskers played a charity game in Hastings earlier this month. There’s a long history of NFL teams taking to the hardwood in the offseason, too, and that’s still sort of around. A team of current and former Pittsburgh Steelers played a charity game last week, though it’s not nearly as extensive as it once was.
For example, here’s what Chiefs offensive lineman Dave Hill had to say in the Lincoln Star about the the team’s basketball slate in 1972 :
“We play a helluva lot of basketball games (37),” said Hill, “but it’s a lot more enjoyable than just running to keep in shape. Basketball is just like any other sport to me and you always work hard to win.”
Thirty-seven games? That’s not something you just throw together. That’s 45 percent of an NBA regular season.
The Chiefs’ stop in Lincoln represented the halfway mark on that charity swing in 1972. Kansas City’s 90-72 win put the Chiefs’ record at 10-9. Not a bad point total for a Chiefs squad that only had six players in the box score. (Certainly seems more entertaining than the game put on by the actual basketball teams at Virginia and Florida this weekend.) Defensive tackle Buck Buchanan led the Chiefs with 22 points.
Nebraska, which appears to be wearing its white football jerseys in the Star photo, countered with 12 players. The Huskers were led in scoring by a trio of Blackshirts: defensive tackle Larry Jacobson (must have been a great battle in the post with Buchanan), linebacker Bob Terrio and safety Bill Kosch. Each had 13 points.
The Grab Bag
- Great read from Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star on Gale Sayers’ battle with dementia.
- Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald looks at Huskers who may be “making the leap” this season.
- Interesting read on UConn women’s basketball, the class of the sport without major-conference dollars.
- Nebraska staffers have been pumping up the Huskers’ visit list for the spring game. Here’s Erin Sorensen’s running list of expected visitors. (Premium)
Today’s Song of Today