Amid all the Packer training camp hoopla the big number 76 in the photo on the Post Crescent sports page caught my attention last month before the Family Night hoopla struck, served with coffee and a smile in the friendly confines of Old Glory Cafe, bastion of patriotism in beautiful downtown Kimberly.
I remembered: Mike McCoy. Big Ol’ 76. Tough son of an Irishman. ‘70’s Packers, ugh.
Quick memories of frustrating Sunday afternoons, the Packers of Dan Devine and Bart Starr; still, in those days from 1970 - 1976, you could count on Mike McCoy to blast somebody into a confused lump of pain, blood and snot. Preferably a Lion or Bear, like Bobby Douglass.
The current 76 in camp, however, is Mike Daniels, a fourth round defensive line pick that fellow Iowa alum Mark Bulaga thinks is some hot stuff, Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette reported on http://www.packersnews.com/ ,and TJ Lang dittoed his props. Daniels worked out with the dime defense Coordinating guru Capers favors and looks to be in the mix for playing time.Heady stuff for the unheralded rookie.
The 76 I remember, McCoy, was the Packer’s rookie of the year in 1970 and led the team in sacks in ‘73 and ‘76 before concluding his career with other teams (www.pro-football-reference.com). He was part of their memorable run to the playoffs in ‘72 before the Redskins ended that season. Mostly I remember him as tough, hard-working and ready to play every game.
Do young players like Daniels ever think about the legacy they carry when they don the numbered jersey handed out by the equipment guy? Ever get curious enough to dig into the film vault and catch how they did it back in the day, old school?
Maybe. Along with all the conditioning, the preparation, the study, all that goes into mastering the incredible complexity of playing defense in the modern NFL, perhaps a player thinks about what it means to be a Green Bay Packer, to wear the uniform of a Mike McCoy and carry on a legacy honored by the Packer faithful of Football Nation.
And makes a name for himself, so that in another 40-some years a green and gold 76 jersey reminds some old fan of back in the day, when Mike Daniels wore it and honorably upheld the legacy.