(Kellen Winslow photo courtesy San Diego Chargers)
Talk of Fame Network
The final Talk of Fame Network show of 2016 recalls two of the longest and most exciting playoff games in NFL history from the point of view of two men who were there, Hall-of-Famer Kellen Winslow and record-setting Kansas City Chiefs’ jack-of-all trades Ed Podolak.
On Jan. 2, 1982, Winslow did everything in a 41-38 double overtime playoff win over the Miami Dolphins in 90 percent humidity, catching a playoff-record 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, blocking a field goal and being dragged off the field several times as a result of a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, cramps and a gash on his lower lip that required stitches to close.
“It was a different feeling being that tired and in that much pain,’’ Winslow tells our Talk of Fame hosts, Hall-of-Fame voters Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge.
So what kept him coming back, even after two teammates at one point had to carry him off because of the cramps in his body?
“I didn’t want to lose,’’ Winslow said. “We’d been up 24-0 at one point. This had epic failure of a team written all over it. I didn’t want to be part of that.’’
Winslow wasn’t, and he tells you why. The Hall-of-Fame tight end also recalls that a week later the exhausted Chargers flew to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in temperatures nearly 100 degrees colder in a battle for the AFC championship.
If there is anyone who can relate to what Winslow went through in Miami it’s Podolak, who on Christmas Day, 1971, set an NFL playoff record with 350 total yards in a double-overtime loss to Miami. That game raged on for 82 minutes and 40 seconds, a record that stands 45 years later, before Miami kicker Garo Yepremian hit a 37-yard field goal to end Christmas in sad fashion for Podolak’s Chiefs.
But no one would ever forget what he did that day when he carried 18 times for 85 yards, caught eight passes for 110 yards and returned three kickoffs for 155 yards, including a fourth-quarter return of 78 yards after Miami tied the score with 82 seconds left in regulation.
Yet for all his heroics, one of the memories that has stuck with Podolak through all these years was a brief conversation with Dolphins’ Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti late in the game.
“I think Nick tackled me 25 times,’’ Podolak recalled. “In the fourth quarter he was on top of me, and I asked him, ‘Do you think this will ever be over?’’
So why did Podolak push himself to the limit and beyond? He cited the same reason as Winslow.
“You wanted to win,” Podolak said. “If you’re not in any activity to win you’ll never win. I could not accept not winning, and my teammates couldn’t either. They (the Dolphins) had a team of people who wanted to win, too.’’
Speaking of winners our Talk-of-Fame guys also visit with Hall-of-Fame semi-finalist Hines Ward. The Steelers’ receiver is one of 26 semi-finalists for the Halls Class of 2017 and someone who learns next week if he makes the cut to the final 15. Those candidates will be debated and voted on the day before Super Bowl LI in Houston.
To hear Ward’s thoughts on his chances or Ron make the case for San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, also a semifinalist for the Class of 2017, tune in on any of 75 SB Nation radio stations or on Sirius Radio Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. or Sunday mornings at 7 a.m. A podcast of the show can be downloaded for free at iTunes, found on the TuneIn app or you can go to talkoffamenetwork.com and listen simply by clicking on the helmet icon.