Your Host

Ken Crippen
Founder and Lead Instructor at the FLA

Ken Crippen was in a leadership position within the Professional Football Researchers Association for 15 years and is now the founder and lead instructor at the Football Learning Academy. He has been researching and writing about pro football history for over 30 years and has been a sought-after interview for publications like the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone magazine, and a sought-after guest on podcasts and radio shows, namely The History Channel, ESPN Radio, and Fox Sports Radio. He has written two books, been the managing editor of two other books, and a contributor to yet two more books. He has also written hundreds of articles on pro football history, has won the Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing (which is now called the Lesley Visser Enterprise News/Features Award) from the Pro Football Writers of America, as well as the Professional Football Researchers Association’s Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research.

Episode 135

Interview with Hall of Fame Linebacker Brian Urlacher

Today’s special guest is Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, who played with the Chicago Bears from 2000 through 2012. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. In this episode, we talk about something that is important to both Brian and me, and that is helping retired players in need. Brian is on the board of directors for the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, and we spend time talking about that organization in this interview. We also talked a little Hall of Fame and the current state of the Chicago Bears.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about the lineage of great linebackers for the Chicago Bears.

To learn more about the Grisiron Greats Assistance Fund, go to: Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 134

Interview with Former NFL Quarterback Heath Shuler

Today’s special guest is former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler, who played with Washington and the New Orleans Saints. After his football career, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives for three terms. We talk about all of this and more in this episode.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss George Taliaferro, the first Black player to be drafted by the NFL.

This episode brought to you by the PowerPlus Mouthguard, a device whose data shows that it reduces concussions by over 99%. To learn more, go to: PowerPlus Mouthguard


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 133

Interview with Former NFL Linebacker Reggie Williams

Today’s special guest is former Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker Reggie Williams. He played with the team from 1976 through 1989, was named NFL Man of the Year in 1986, The “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year in 1985 and the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 1987. After his football career, he became an executive in the World League of American Football and with Disney. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the Freezer Bowl.



Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 132

Archival Interview with Former NFL Linebacker Andy Russell

I sat down with Andy Russell back in 2012 to talk about his life after football. Russell passed away February 29, 2024. This episode contains snippets of my interview with him. It was a pleasure to get to know him and he will be deeply missed.



Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 131

Interview with Historian Mike Richman

This week’s special guest is historian and author Mike Richman, who just wrote a book titled “George Allen: A Football Life.” He has also authored “The Redskins Encyclopedia,” “The Washington Redskins Football Vault,” and “Joe Gibbs: An Enduring Legacy.” Finally, he has written thousands of feature articles for such publications as The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and Sports Illustrated. This episode focuses on Mike’s new biography of Hall of Fame coach George Allen.

This episode brought to you by the PowerPlus Mouthguard, a device whose data shows that it reduces concussions by over 99%. To learn more, go to: PowerPlus Mouthguard


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 130

Archival Interview with Harold Jackson

Today’s special guest is Harold Jackson, whom I interviewed back in 2013. Jackson was a wide receiver for the Rams, Eagles, Patriots, Vikings, and Seahawks from 1968 through 1987. After playing, he went into coaching and had various stops in college and the pros.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about the history of scouting and the combine. How did it get the name “combine?” Why is it held in Indianapolis? Find out in this episode!

This episode brought to you by the PowerPlus Mouthguard, a device whose data shows that it reduces concussions by over 99%. To learn more, go to: PowerPlus Mouthguard


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 129

Interview with Emerson Martin

Today’s special guest is Emerson Martin, who played offensive guard for the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, then the Barcelona Dragons in the World League of American Football, and the Mobile Admirals of the Regional Football League. He was on the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl team in 1995, won a championship with the Barcelona Dragons, and won a championship with the Mobile Admirals. After his playing days were over, he went into coaching.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the first ever NFL draft, which occurred February 8th through 9th, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia.

This episode brought to you by the PowerPlus Mouthguard, a device whose data shows that it reduces concussions by over 99%. To learn more, go to: PowerPlus Mouthguard


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 128

Interview with Former NCAA Strength Coach David Kitchen

Today’s special guest is David Kitchen, former NCAA strength and conditioning coach who now runs Edge Leadership Academy. He has spent the last ten years coaching teams and developing culture.

In this episode, we discuss:
· His life journey
· His career in the NCAA (Division I, II, and III)
· Edge Leadership Academy
· How he applies his leadership techniques to athletes, sports programs, and corporate cultures.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the Green Bay Packers returning their franchise back to the NFL in 1922. What really happened and how are the Chicago Bears involved?

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 127

Interview with Filmmaker Allen Farst

Our special guest this week is award-winning director, filmmaker, producer, and photographer Allen Farst. Prior to his current film “Triangle Park,” which is the subject of our interview with Allen today, Farst released a documentary called “Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man” on the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones. His is a founder of PalMar Studios, an independent, award-winning creative company, and his work has been featured by Panasonic, Maxim Magazine, USA Today, Drone360, Billboard, and Nikon Cinema to name a few. His photography is syndicated via Contour by Getty Images.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we are going to discuss the formation of what is now the NFL, and the history of the Dayton Triangles. We also discuss the NFL lineage of the Dayton Triangles. Are they now the Indianapolis Colts? Find out by listening.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 126

Interview with Former NFL CEO Amy Trask

Today’s special guest is Amy Trask, former CEO of the then Oakland Raiders. She can now be seen on “That Other Pregame Show” on CBS Sports Network, as well as her podcast “What the Football” with co-host Suzy Shuster. This is her second visit to the Football Learning Academy. To hear her first interview about her career with the Raiders, go to Amy Trask Interview

In this episode, we focus on leadership and how she applied leadership lessons to her time with the Raiders. Get inside the Raiders organization to hear about the inner workings of the franchise, and how you can apply those concepts to your company.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the career of Sandra Douglass Morgan, the current president of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 125

Interview with Dr. Jeff Donatello

Today’s special guest is Dr. Jeff Donatello. Dr. Jeff is passionate about guiding people along life’s journey by improving their Healthspan and Longevity. He does this through cutting-edge Regenerative Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Stem Cell Therapies. Balancing life, family and business are what truly have made him a success, as he and his wife Kelly are the Co-Owners of the Center for Wellbeing with three locations north of Boston. An inspirational, entertaining speaker and author, he has filled up his 54 years on the planet with a relentless pursuit for new adventure and knowledge.

In this episode, we talk about the various therapies that he offers and how those therapies help his patients. There are several current NFL players and former players who are clients of his, which is why we at the FLA wanted to feature his practice.

Learn More About Dr. Donatello
Dr. Jeff Donatello


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 124

Interview with Former NFL Wide Receiver Mark Clayton

Our special guest this week is Mark Clayton, who played with the Baltimore Ravens from 2005 through 2009, then the St. Louis Rams from 2010 through 2011. He currently owns Livv Headphones, a high-quality headphone company for athletes. In this episode, we talk about his football career, the current Ravens season, and what he has been doing since he retired.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about the long list of quarterbacks that Mark played with during his career.

Learn More About Mark's Headphone Company
Livv Headphones


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 123

Interview with Dr. Michael Hutchison

Today’s special guest is Dr. Michael Hutchison, who markets the PowerPlus mouth guard. This mouth guard is revolutionary and has shown to reduce the G-Force produced in a collision (reducing concussions), increased strength and balance, and increase performance and agility. This is important for athletes of all ages. We discuss how it works and the data produced from the research.

For the Pro Football history Nugget of the Week, we discuss the history of the mouth guard.

Dr. Hutchison's Website
PowerPlus Mouthguard


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 122

Interview with Buffalo Football Historian Jeff Miller

Today’s special guest is award winning author and historian Jeff Miller. He is the author of seven books focusing on the history of American football. Jeff has appeared as a featured commentator in two documentaries focusing on football history. In 2009, he was featured in the NFL Films production “History of the Buffalo Bills,” which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the franchise. And in 2015, Miller appeared in Time Warner Sports Network’s “Before The League” documentary, which told the story of the evolution of professional football prior to the founding of the National Football League in 1920. He has also been featured in multiple episodes of the NFL Network’s “NFL Top 10” series.

We will not have a pro football history nugget of the week as this entire episode is focused on pro football history.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 121

Interview with Chicago Bears Historian Jack Silverstein

Today’s special guest is noted Chicago Bears historian Jack Silverstein. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame analyst and the Chicago Bears historian for Windy City Gridiron. If you want to know about Chicago Bears history, Jack is your guy.

We will not have a pro football history nugget of the week as this entire episode is focused on pro football history.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 120

Interview with Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah

Today’s special guest is Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah, who played with the New England Patriots from 1973 through 1985. Arguably the greatest offensive guard in NFL history, and some consider one of the greatest offensive linemen of all-time, John Hannah made two All-Decade teams (1970s and 1980s), earned trips to nine Pro Bowls, was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In this interview, John gave us a list of some of the toughest defensive players that he faced throughout his career. We discuss those players in the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 119

Interview with Former NFL and CFL Head Coach Marc Trestman

Today’s special guest is Marc Trestman. He has a long coaching career, starting with winning a national championship as an assistant coach with the University of Miami. After multiple stops as various position coaches and coordinators, Trestman earned his first head coaching job with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. While there, he won two Grey Cups. After a stint as head coach of the Chicago Bears and as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, he became head coach of the Toronto Argonauts, winning another Grey Cup. He finished as head coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Miami’s School of Law.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we take a look at some of the great players that came out of the University of Idaho, Marc's alma mater.

In this episode, host Ken Crippen talks to Marc Trestman about translating leadership and culture from football to the corporate environment.

For our Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we focus on head coaches who have won three or more major professional football championships.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 118

Interview with Former NFL Kicker Mike Hollis

Today's special guest is Mike Hollis, kicker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, and New York Giants. Also, after a 19-year hiatus, he came back to play a season for the Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League. He currently runs ProForm Kicking Academy.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we take a look at some of the great players that came out of the University of Idaho, Mike's alma mater.

Mike's Website
ProForm Kicking Academy


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 117

Interview with Lindenwood University Football Coach Jed Stugart

Today's special guest is Lindenwood University's head football coach Jed Stugart. Prior to being at Lindenwood, Stugart coached in various capacities at the University of Northern Colorado, MidAmerica Nazarene University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), and the University of Sioux Falls. He also had a country music career, which we discuss in this episode.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the players from Azusa Pacific (Jed's alma mater) who made it into the NFL.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 116

Interview with Former NFL Executive Michael Lombardi

Michael Lombardi is a former NFL executive who has worked with some of the greats of the game, like Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, and Al Davis. In this interview, we discuss his latest book Football Done Right and touch on his previous book Gridiron Genius.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about Clark Shaughnessy, someone who should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 115

Interview with Former NFL Player Steve Wright

Host Ken Crippen sits down with former NFL player Steve Wright to talk about his time with the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL, as well as his time with the Oakland Invaders of the USFL. They also talk about his new book, his time on the reality show Survivor, and other activities that he has been doing since he retired from football.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, We talk about the Oakland Invaders of the USFL.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 114

Archival Interview with Tommy Nobis

Back in 2013, host Ken Crippen interviewed "Mr. Falcon" Tommy Nobis. This is the audio from that interview. We discuss his college and pro careers and his life after football.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we focus on the linebackers selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 113

Interview with Former NFL Player Marques Ogden

Host Ken Crippen sits down with former NFL player Marques Ogden, who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, and Tennessee Titans. We talk about his football career, what he has been doing after he retired from football, and his thoughts on coaching and leadership.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about the World League of American Football and the Scottish Claymores, the team that Marques played for in 2004.

Marques' Websites
https://marquesogden.com

https://marques360.com

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 112

Interview with Former NFL Player Reggie Walker

Our special guest this week is former NFL linebacker Reggie Walker. In this interview, we talk about his football career, the struggles that he has faced throughout his life, and what he's been doing since he retired from football. You're not going to want to miss this episode!!

There will be no Pro Football History Nugget of the Week. We want Reggie's powerful message to stand on its own.

Reggie is on the National Advisory Board for 1in6.org
1in6.org


Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 111

Interview with Former NFL Player Richmond Webb

Our special guest this week is former NFL offensive tackle Richmond Webb. In this interview, we talk about his football career and what he has been doing since he retired from football. Find out what he enjoys doing to relax!!

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we will talk about some of the great players that came out of Texas A&M, Richmond's alma mater.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 110

Interview with Former NFL Player Marlon Kerner

Our special guest this week is former NFL defensive back Marlon Kerner. In this interview, we talk about his football career and what he has been doing since he retired from football.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we will talk about some of the great players that came out of Ohio State, Marlon's alma mater.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 109

Interview with Author and Historian Greg Tranter

Author and historian Greg Tranter joins host Ken Crippen to discuss Buffalo sports history.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we will discuss the Providence Steamroller, one of the early teams in the NFL and the subject of Greg's next book.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 108

Interview with Former Player J.J. Birden

Our special guest this week is former NFL player J.J. Birden, who played for multiple NFL teams. In this interview, we talk about his football career and what he’s been doing since he retired from football. We get into his podcast, blog, and leadership keynote speeches.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we will talk about J.J.’s coach in Cleveland and Kansas City: Marty Schottenheimer.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Bonus Episode

A Tribute to Former NFL Player Eddie Meador

In this episode, we’re going to do something a little different. A few weeks ago, Los Angeles Rams’ great Eddie Meador passed away at the age of 86. This was only a few weeks after Eddie made it to the final six for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 senior’s finalists list but did not survive the final cut to three. The senior’s finalists selected were Denver Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar; defensive tackle for the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers Steve McMichael; and Art Powell, who was an end for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Titans (who are now the New York Jets), Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings.

Eddie has an excellent case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He still holds several team records, even though he retired after the 1970 season. He has the record for most interceptions in franchise history with 46. He blocked 10 kicks, which is a team record. He had 18 defensive fumble recoveries, another franchise record. He also had five interception returns for a touchdown, which is tied for first in team history. According to the late Merlin Olsen, a long-time teammate and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Meador was “one of the finest defensive backs I have ever seen. Outstanding in coverage and a fierce tackler, he had a remarkable nose for the football that allowed him to come up with big plays again and again during his career.” Only the Hall of Fame selectors know why Eddie didn’t make the cut.

FLA founder Ken Crippen was fortunate enough to have interviewed Eddie back in 2012 for an article he wrote for National Football Post. He also talked to two members of the Meador family, and they have agreed to allow us to release the audio from that interview, and that is what you are about to hear.

The difference with this episode is that we will intersperse Eddie’s commentary throughout this narrative. As a result, there will be Pro Football History Nuggets of the Week scattered throughout the episode as we tell Eddie’s story.

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Episode 107

Interview with Former Player Ben Troupe

This week’s special guest is Ben Troupe. Yes, he played in the NFL. Yes, he is a successful author and podcaster. But what truly makes Ben Troupe remarkable is how he selflessly gives back to others. Combine that with his overwhelmingly positive attitude, and you can’t help but love him. He is truly an inspiration, and we’re glad to have him as part of the FLA family.

This week, there is no Pro Football History Nugget of the Week. Ben’s powerful message of giving back and having a positive mindset is admirable and we want that message to stand on its own.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 106

Interview with Former Player Jeff Nixon

Today’s special guest is former Buffalo Bills safety Jeff Nixon. He was drafted out of the University of Richmond by the Buffalo Bills in the 1979 NFL Draft and played for the team from 1979 through 1984.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the week, we talk about TWO special aspects of the 1980 Buffalo Bills: The end of the 20-game domination that the Miami Dolphins had over the Buffalo Bills in the 1970s, and the top-ranked Bermuda Triangle defense.

NOTE: We were having technical difficulties with Jeff's microphone. We apologize for any audio issues.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 105

Archival Interview with “The Mad Bomber” Daryle Lamonica

Daryle Lamonica played for the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders, as well as a short stint in the World Football League.

Back in 2013, Host Ken Crippen interviewed Lamonica for a “Where are they Now” article for the National Football Post. The audio in this episode was from that interview.

For our Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we talk about the World Football League of 1974 and 1975, where we mentioned that Lamonica played for a single season.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 104

Interview with Female Trailblazer Shannon Eastin

Today’s very special guest is Shannon Eastin, the NFL’s first female on-field official.

To Purchase Shannon's Book: Purchase Shannon's Book

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the historic accomplishments of Terri Valenti. Shannon and host Ken Crippen briefly discuss her during the interview, and this is an opportunity to dive deeper into Terri’s career.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 103

Interview with Hall of Fame Selector Clark Judge

For this episode, our special guest is Pro Football Hall of Fame selector Clark Judge. Clark is a writer, co-host of the “Eye Test for Two” podcast with fellow Hall of Fame selector Ira Kauffman, and now co-runs the Talk of Fame Two website.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we go into more detail on the players, coaches, and administrators that Clark and host Ken Crippen discussed during their interview.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 102

Archival Interview with Gino Marchetti (Part 2)

Gino Marchetti is considered one of the greatest defensive ends in pro football history.

Back in 2014, Host Ken Crippen interviewed Marchetti for a “Where are they Now” article for the National Football Post. In this episode, you will listen to the second part of the audio from that interview.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the 1952 Dallas Texans, the first team that Marchetti played for in his professional career.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Episode 101

Archival Interview with Gino Marchetti (Part 1)

Gino Marchetti is considered one of the greatest defensive ends in pro football history.

Back in 2014, Host Ken Crippen interviewed Marchetti for a “Where are they Now” article for the National Football Post. In this episode, you will listen to the first part of the audio from that interview.

For the Pro Football History Nugget of the Week, we discuss the Atom Bowl, played on January 1, 1946 in Nagasaki, Japan.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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Trailer

Each week, the official Football Learning Academy podcast will take you deep into the history of this great game. Through interviews with players, coaches, or administrators in the NFL, as well as interviews with Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors, authors, and historians, you will learn about how the game evolved and important moments that shaped the sport into what it is today. You will also get first-hand accounts from the people who have made history in pro football.

Music By:
Jeff Nixon, Safety for the Buffalo Bills from 1979-84.

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