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  • If someone proposed it today http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/jamize-olawale-jersey , they’d get laughed out of the room. But there was a time when one of the major events of the American sports year was a game between the reigning NFL champions and a team of college all-stars. And it all came to an end 42 years ago today.

    Known as the Chicago Charities College All-Star Game, the contest was played every year from 1934 until 1976, with the exception of 1974, when it was canceled by an NFL players’ strike. Soldier Field hosted every game except the 1943 and 1944 games, which were played at Northwestern’s Dyche Stadium.

    Could a ragtag group of 22-year-olds who had barely had time to practice together really compete with the best team in the NFL? Amazingly, in those days, they could. In the 1930s and 1940s, the best college players didn’t always choose to play pro football, and pro players weren’t necessarily better than college players. The first five College All-Star Games featured two wins by the college players, two ties, and only one win by the NFL team. (That one, in 1935, was the only year when the NFL’s runner-up, rather than the reigning champion, represented pro football.)

    By the 1960s and 1970s, however, pro football had become America’s most popular sport, and the money that came with playing pro ball meant all the best college players wanted to turn pro http://www.officialducks.com/authentic-adidas-antoine-vermette-jersey , and many of the top pro players were training year round, rather than finding offseason jobs. As a result, in the last couple decades of the College All-Star Game, the pro teams were beating the college teams consistently, and often easily: The pro teams won 16 of the last 17 College All-Star Games, and few of those games were even close.

    The last game the College All-Stars won came in 1963, when the Green Bay Packers fell to the College All-Stars 20-17. Packers coach Vince Lombardi felt humiliated.

    “We used to have a social get-together after a night game,” former Packer Boyd Dowler recalled in 2013. “Lombardi came in, and he looked visibly upset — like death warmed over. He wasn’t real kind when we got together for training camp again.”

    Packers great Willie Davis added that Lombardi “would always bring it up to us when we weren’t playing well. Believe me, we never would forget it.”

    On July 23, 1976, the Super Bowl champion Steelers played what would become the last College All-Star Game. A horrific thunderstorm broke out in the third quarter, and video of the game has to be seen to be believed: Not only was the storm like something out of a disaster movie, but when the college team’s coach, Ara Parseghian called a timeout to try to get his players organized in the monsoon, the fans took the opportunity to storm the field. Eventually the game was called off in the third quarter, both because of lightning and because those fans on the field had torn down the goal posts and showed no signs of being willing to vacate. The Steelers led 24-0 at the time the game was called.

    And that was the end of the College All-Star Game, for that year and forever. The game had come to seem pointless Sven Baertschi Jersey , as the college players really couldn’t compete with the NFL players anymore, fans were losing interest, and players were more concerned about avoiding injuries than winning the game. The plug was pulled, and what had once been a major part of the American sports year came to an end.

    A salary-cap squeeze threatened to slam the Washington Capitals‘ Stanley Cup window shut. Instead, it busted it wide open.

     

    When the dollars didn’t add up to be able to keep a handful of key contributors to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning teams, the Capitals went bargain hunting to sign bought-out winger Devante Smith-Pelly, who general manager Brian MacLellan termed a ”project.” Up against the cap at the trade deadline, they acquired lightly used defenseman Michal Kempny from Chicago.

    ”Some of the best acquisitions are ones that are under the radar, ones that fit almost seamlessly,” coach Barry Trotz said. ”Some of the best deals that we’ve made are those ones that, even myself I’m like, `Hmm, that’s a little bit of an upgrade, not a big one.’ And they ended up being the biggest upgrades because they’re not sexy names.”

    Kempny said ”probably nobody knew my name when I came here or played in Chicago,” and Smith-Pelly had his name on the back of three other NHL teams’ jerseys before this season. Now they’re key pieces for a team one win from the Stanley Cup after the Capitals hit on exactly the kind of moves every championship contender is looking to make.

    All it cost was a one-year deal at the league minimum to sign Smith-Pelly after he was bought out by the Devils, and a third-round pick to get Kempny from the Blackhawks. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby have led Washington to this point, up 3-1 on the Vegas Golden Knights with the chance to raise the Cup after Game 5 on Thursday night. But they wouldn’t be here without the contributions of Smith-Pelly and Kempny.

    After a seven-goal regular season http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/aaron-rodgers-jersey , Smith-Pelly has six goals in the playoffs, including potential series daggers in Games 3 and 4 of the final. This isn’t exactly where the 25-year-old thought he’d be just under a year ago when he found out a minute before the buyout deadline that the Devils were cutting him.

    ”You only get so many chances to stick,” said Smith-Pelly, a 2010 second-round pick who bounced from Anaheim to Montreal to New Jersey, never putting up more than 17 points in a season. ”I knew that this could be my last one, so I kind of took the buyout personally and listened to what the coaching staff had to say and what they wanted, and just went out there and did it.”

    Smith-Pelly wasn’t even guaranteed a roster spot when he signed. He developed into a teammate on and off the ice that helped propel the Capitals to another division title despite losing forwards Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson and Daniel Winnik, and defensemen Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk last summer. He was the Capitals’ Masterton Trophy nominee for perseverance and dedication to hockey after taking an incident of racist ”basketball, basketball, basketball” taunts and turning it into a positive when he facilitated money be donated to Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Washington.

    ”What happened was obviously pretty negative,” Smith-Pelly said. ”But for the people of Chicago to feel that they needed to donate money and for me to give it to Fort Dupont I thought turned a pretty bad thing into something that could change many kids’ lives in that area.”

    Smith-Pelly always seems to find the positive. He brushed off a puck to the face at the morning skate Monday and scored a back-breaking goal that night.

    Kempny has done the same. Stepping on a puck during pregame warmups led to a spill and stitches across the bridge of his nose, but the 27-year-old missed no time. He then pumped in a Game 4 goal that helped put the Capitals on the verge of winning the Cup.

    It’s the latest impact Kempny has made on his new team after fitting in as a top-four defenseman alongside John Carlson.

    ”He played big minutes against top players, be it the (Evgeni) Malkins and the (Sidney) Crosbys, and he’s done a really good job,” Trotz said.” He’s just one of those players that is effective – efficient, effective Jason Zucker Jersey , gets it done. You’re not going to see a lot of offense. He’s got some great looks, though. You talk about a guy who’s developing maybe from more of a stay-at-home type of defenseman to a guy who recognizes opportunity.”

    This is the opportunity Kempny had been waiting for after being a third-pairing defenseman with the Blackhawks, and sometimes a healthy scratch. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t a fan, so the Capitals made a deal arguably more meaningful than Evander Kane to San Jose, Paul Stastny to Winnipeg, or Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to Tampa Bay.

    ”Adding Kempny helped a lot,” MacLellan said. ”I think we had him projected right. He’s a good skater, a good puck mover. I know he was not always in the lineup in Chicago, but he was our No. 1 target going into the trade deadline.”

    Carlson watched video of Kempny’s games to get an understanding of his new defense partner. Kempny had to regain his confidence after feeling like the ”last warm body on the bench.”

    ”When you are not playing, you can’t be a better player. It’s impossible,” Kempny said. ”I never played in Chicago against top lines. I didn’t know if I could play against them or not. But I got a chance here, so I proved to myself that I can play against top lines.”

    The Capitals have shown they can play against and beat anyone, with Smith-Pelly and Kempny proving to be perfect pieces for a team eying a championship.

    ”Everything’s worked out very well,” Smith-Pelly said. ”If we end up winning, that would b Womens Houston Texans Jerseys 

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