NFL Hall of Famer passes away at 87

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NFL Hall of Famer passes away at 87

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pete Pihos, a Hall of Fame receiver who helped the Philadelphia Eagles to a pair of NFL championships, has died. He was 87. The team said Pihos died early Tuesday at a nursing home in Winston-Salem, N.C., after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. Pihos was a member of the Philadelphia teams that captured consecutive championships starting in 1948. He made the game-winning catch in the 1949 game against the Rams. Pihos finished his nine-year career with 373 catches for 6,519 yards and 61 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970. Pihos played with the Eagles from 1947-55 after a stellar college career at Indiana. He was a stalwart on both sides of the ball at tight end and defensive end and missed just one game in nine NFL seasons. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Pihos was nicknamed "The Golden Greek." He lacked blazing receiver speed, but relied on pirouettes and pivots to break free from would-be tacklers and was a punishing runner after the catch. "I try to get position on my opponent without him knowing it," the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Pihos told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1955. "I always watch my opponent's feet. When he crosses them or makes a definite commitment, that's when I make my move. I'll do whatever maneuvering necessary to reach the spot where the pass is to come." Pihos still ranks among the team leaders in a number of offensive categories with the Eagles. He's third in catches behind Harold Carmichael and Pete Retzlaff; fourth in touchdowns after Carmichael, Steve Van Buren and Tommy McDonald; and 10th in all-time scoring with 378 points. He was selected to the franchise's 75th anniversary team. A fifth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1945, Pihos didn't start his NFL career until 1947 because his college career was interrupted by World War II, when he served in the military under Gen. George Patton. Pihos' impact on the Eagles' offense and defense was immediate. Philadelphia reached its first championship game in his rookie season, losing 28-21 to the Chicago Cardinals. The tandem of the sure-handed Pihos and Van Buren, a running back and fellow Hall of Famer, gave the Eagles a powerful offense, and Philadelphia claimed consecutive NFL championships in 1948 and '49. Philadelphia beat the Cardinals 7-0 in a blizzard in the 48 title game to claim its first NFL title. In the 49 title game, Pihos caught the eventual game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Thompson, and the Eagles beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 to become the first team to win back-to-back NFL championships in shutouts. Eagles coaches later decided to have Pihos concentrate on offense when the platoon system was instituted. But when the Eagles needed help on defense in the 1952 season, Pihos stepped in and was an All-Pro at defensive end. Pihos' last three NFL seasons were his most productive. In 1953, he had career highs in receptions (63) and yards (1,049) and scored 10 touchdowns. At Indiana, Pihos was a versatile star during the 1942, 43, 45 and 46 seasons. He led the Hoosiers in receiving in 1942 and 43 and in rushing in 1946. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. As a member of the Army, Pihos served 14 months in Europe during World War II. He told the Pro Football Hall of Fame that he had vivid memories of serving under Patton, whom he called "a tough son-of-a-gun." A native of Orlando, Fla., Pihos is survived by his ex-wife, Donna Pihos, who has been his caretaker for the past 12 years; their daughter, Melissa Pihos; and children from a previous marriage: son Peter Pihos Jr., daughters Nikki Pihos Walker and Lisa-Anne Pihos Mann, and stepson John Wesley Poole.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.