Aug 1, 2014; Canton, OH, USA; Michael Strahan poses at the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinees gold jacket dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame Game Countdown: One Day Left

Hall of Fame – Michael Strahan

Our Hall of Fame Game countdown is coming to an end, but that’s the point, it’s a countdown. And it was a good one. From the beginning at “36 days left” over a month ago,  all the way down to “two days left“… on the same day Michael Strahan received his gold jacket:

Today, it’s all about the number one. Obviously, many in Giants Nation feel the team and organization are number one for all that they’ve achieved. Literally speaking, “one” is pronounced with the same phonetic sound as “won”. Here’s a “One / Won” example: Michael Strahan is one Giants player that won just one Super Bowl, but recently won (earned) his gold jacket mostly due to his one-on-one NFL skills that won the Giants a lot of games.

Michael Strahan may not have wore number one, but he did wear number 92. 9+2=11, which is actually two ones, side-by-side, making Michael Strahan twice as relevant to this “one” topic. However, in the history of the Giants, the actual number one is retired. What’s that Giants rookie? You want to wear number one? Too bad… why? Because:

Ray Flaherty

Now, Mr. Flaherty isn’t just some leatherhead from the 1920’s New York Football Giants. This is the man that introduced the NFL to the screen pass in the 1930’s as the head coach of the Boston Redskins. Yes, you read that right — the Boston Redskins. At one point, they were even the Boston Braves, but George Preston Marshall changed it after the 1932 season (before Ray joined), so don’t blame ole number one for that one:

Founder George Preston Marshall named the team Boston Braves after the city’s Major League Baseball team. However, after a financially devastating and poorly attended season in 1932, Marshall abandoned the Braves name in favor of the Redskins.

Though this isn’t about the naming issue, we’ve already asked, Will the New York Football Giants ever change their name? And despite people like Hillary Clinton continuing to bring up the issue for the Redskins, remember the Redskins themselves were already once a friendlier Indian name and Boston changed it. So, as with everything else, it’s Boston’s fault, they’re the “one” responsible. Everyone say it together:

Thanks Boston

Back to Ray Flaherty… the Hall of Famer, the Giants Legend. The one responsible for the fact that no one can ever wear Giants number one again. Yes, that one, Ray… if you go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website and look at Ray’s bio, it speaks of his Giants greatness. Check this out:

In 1937, Ray introduced the behind-the-line screen pass against the Bears. Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh threw three touchdown passes against the unprepared Chicago defenses for a 28-21 victory. Later, Ray developed a 1940s version of the two-platoon system. Both units played both ways but one unit emphasized the passing offense while the second platoon featured the ground game. This substitution plan was particularly effective in the 1942 championship year, Ray’s last season in Washington.

When Ray returned to civilian life after World War II, he opted to join the New York Yankees of the newly formed All-America Football Conference and there he won two straight divisional crowns. He closed out his coaching career in 1949 with the AAFC’s Chicago Hornets. For his entire coaching career, Ray’s record shows 80 wins, 37 losses and five ties, for an excellent .676 lifetime winning percentage. Ray was also an outstanding end for nine seasons, most of them with the New York Giants, before he started coaching.

Looking at his Pro Football Reference page, Ray wasn’t just an end, he was also a receiver, and a pretty good one. Many of these players back then played iron man football, they never came off the field. Can you imagine it? What a human being, the man was actually a football New York Yankee and a GIANT at different points in his playing and coaching career.  His .676 winning percentage is ridiculous, consider Bill Parcells: during his best years with the Giants his winning percentage was only .611, and .570 for his career.

Ray Flaherty was a different kind of a man, from a different era. One who lived and died with such greatness that they retired the number one jersey. If you’re good enough to make them put away the number one forever, you might just be one of the best of all-time in anything.

With football tomorrow, will there be one shining moment, one player that stands out amongst the crowd as the best? Is there another Michael Strahan or Ray Flaherty type future Hall of Fame player on this roster? Granted, there will never be another Ray or Mike, but does this team possess that kind of human, someone that encompasses success and win. A player that trumpets this message with their play:

No “one” will ever wear this jersey again.

Is that player on the New York Football Giants roster? We’ll see, football is back!

Tags: Hall Of Fame Michael Strahan New York Giants Ray Flaherty

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