Pro Football Hall of Fame (5)

    Nebraska Hall of Fame (1972)

William Lyman, Def. Tackle (1919-21, 1964)

Table Rock, NE

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    In 1922, Guy Chamberlin, the player-coach of the Canton Bulldogs, recruited Roy (Link) Lyman, a 6-2, 233 pound tackle from the University of Nebraska, to play pro football. Lyman was no stranger to Chamberlin, who was also a Nebraska alumnus.

     Chamberlin’s recruit went on to star with the Bulldogs during their back-to-back undefeated seasons of 1922 and 1923. The following season the Canton franchise was sold and several Canton players, including Lyman, moved on to Cleveland, where the Cleveland Bulldogs captured the 1924 NFL title. Lyman split the 1925 season between a new Canton franchise and the Frankford Yellowjackets.

     Following the 1925 season he joined the Chicago Bears during that team’s famous cross-country barnstorming tour that featured Red Grange. Lyman remained with the Bears for the rest of his career that ended almost as it had begun. The Bears won the NFL title in 1933 and a divisional crown in 1934, Lyman’s final season.

     Many pro football historians believe that the constant shifting by defensive players before each play in modern professional football can be traced back to Lyman, who regularly resorted to similar ploys. His sliding, shifting style of defensive line play confused his opponents and made him one of the most respected players of his time. Lyman explained that the idea of shifting was an instinctive move to fool a blocker. He had a unique ability to diagnose a play and many times he would make his move just as the ball was snapped.

     Whether it was luck or a result of his outstanding play, Lyman experienced just one losing season during his 16 seasons of high school, college, and professional football. A contributor to the end, Bears coach George Halas insisted Lyman was stronger and tougher during his last two seasons than when he first joined the team eight years earlier.


All Conference (MVC) (1915)

All-American (1915)

College Football Hall of Fame (1962)

Nebraska Football Hall of Fame (1971)

 

Guy Chamberlin, End (1913-15, 1965)

Blue Springs, NE

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     Guy Chamberlin played and coached in the earliest years of the National Football League when the only meaningful statistic kept was the teams' won-lost record. Winning was a category in which Chamberlin excelled. Of those coaches with 50 or more victories, Guy's 58-16-7 record and .759 winning percentage ranks among the best.

     In his six coaching seasons, five of which were spent as a player-coach, Chamberlin also won four NFL championships for the Canton Bulldogs in 1922 and 1923, the Cleveland Bulldogs in 1924, and the Frankford Yellowjackets in 1926. Although Chamberlin's high school in Blue Springs, Nebraska, was not big enough to field a football team, he became a two-time All-America at the University of Nebraska.

     Jim Thorpe, who had always been Chamberlin’s idol, lured Guy into pro football with the pre-NFL Canton Bulldogs in 1919. Chamberlin was one of the finest ends of his time. When George Halas began lining up players for his first Decatur Staleys team in 1920, Chamberlin was his prime recruit. He was big, tall and fast, excellent on both offense and defense and a 60-minute player.

     After two seasons with Halas and the Staleys, Chamberlin came back to Canton as player-coach of the Bulldogs. Thorpe was no longer with the team but Chamberlin assembled one of the powerhouse elevens of the 1920s. Canton, with undefeated seasons in both 1922 and 1923, became the NFL's first two-time champion. The Bulldogs were sold in 1924 to a Cleveland promoter who added several Bulldogs’ players to his Cleveland team. Chamberlin led the rebuilt Cleveland team to the NFL championship.

     In 1925, Chamberlin joined the Frankford Yellowjackets and a year later won another NFL title with a 14-1-2 record. Guy concluded his player-only career with the 1927 Chicago Cardinals and as a coach only in 1928 with the Chicago Cardinals.


 

All-Conference (1962, 1963)

All-American (1963)

College Football Lineman of the year (1963)

Nebraska Football Hall of Fame (1977)

College Football Hall of Fame (1993)

Bob Brown, Guard/Linebacker (1961-63, 2004)

Cleveland, OH

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      Voted college football’s Lineman of the Year in 1963 by the Washington, D.C. Touchdown Club, Bob "The Boomer" Brown, an All-America guard at Nebraska, was drafted in the first round in 1964 by both the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos of the then-rival American Football League. Choosing the senior circuit, Brown began his impressive pro football career in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Brown, however, never demonstrated any “brotherly love” for opponents on a football field. He once described himself as being “about as subtle as a sixteen-pound sledgehammer.” Defensive linemen, who almost always came away with their ribs aching from the punishment he delivered, agreed. 

     Brown played 10 seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles (1964-68), Los Angeles Rams (1969-70) and Oakland Raiders (1971-73), earning first-team All-NFL honors seven times in his illustrious career. The offensive tackle was a six-time Pro Bowler and was named NFL/NFC offensive lineman of the year three times during his career. Brown, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993, was a unanimous All-American at Nebraska for Coach Bob Devaney in 1963 and was the second player selected in the 1964 Draft.

     Not known as one who would use finesse too often in his blocking technique, Brown’s philosophy was simple. “I beat on people from the opening kickoff. I want to see results in the fourth quarter,” he explained. “I don’t want them to have as much left. I want them to not be sure they want to keep coming. I try to take a toll on them.” An aggressive blocker, the 6-4, 280-pound Brown used his size and strength to neutralize hard-charging pass rushers. He exploded off the ball and into the oncoming defensive player. As one coach explained, “to do what Brown does requires great quickness, great strength, and great self-confidence. Few men have such a combination of assets. Bob Brown does.”

     In 1969, after five consecutive all-league seasons with the Eagles, the behemoth lineman was traded to Los Angeles. That year the Rams offensive line set an NFL record for protecting the passer. “At his best, no one was better than big Bob Brown,” then-Rams’ coach and future Hall of Famer George Allen remarked. Former teammate and Hall of Fame lineman Ron Mix had equally high praise for Brown. “Everything about Brown is bigger than life – his size, his talent, his intelligence, his sensitivity,” he once offered. “He’s one of a kind.” 


Nebraska Football Hall of Fame (1980)

Mick Tinglehoff, Center (1959-61, 2015)

Lexington, NE

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      Mick Tingelhoff was originally signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska in 1962. Tingelhoff earned a starting nod at center as a rookie and never relinquished the role for the remainder of his stellar 17-season career.

     At 6’2”, 237 pounds, he was known for his durability, toughness, and perseverance. He never missed a game and started all 240 regular season games of his career that ended with his retirement after the 1978 season. He also played in 19 playoff games during his NFL career.

     Tingelhoff anchored an offensive line that helped the Vikings claim 10 divisional titles in an 11- season span from 1968 to 1978. Minnesota recorded 10 or more wins during the time of 14-game seasons seven times in an eight-year span. 

     A team leader, he was adept on pass protection for his scrambling quarterback Fran Tarkenton who became the NFL’s all-time leading passer. During two different stints in Minnesota, the Hall of Fame quarterback eclipsed the 2,500-yard passing mark nine times.

     Tarkenton became the Vikings’ first 3,000-yard passer when he aired it out for a franchise record 3,468 yards in Tingelhoff’s final season. A great run blocker, Tingelhoff also paved the way for Chuck Foreman who strung together three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons (1975-77). 

     Tingelhoff guided the Vikings to victories in four of the five NFL/NFC championships in which the team played and helped the club reach four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, and XI). As a center, he had to take on opponents’ middle linebackers and he played in an era and a division that included three notable Hall of Famers in Joe Schmidt of the Detroit Lions, Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers, and the Chicago Bears’ Dick Butkus. 

     Tingelhoff received national accolades by his third season in 1964 that marked the first of seven consecutive seasons in which he was named first-team All-NFL. In 1969, he was named to the 1,000-yard Club as the NFL’s top blocker. He was also elected to the Pro Bowl six straight times from 1965 to 1970. Tingelhoff was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2001.


All-Conference (1990, 1991, 1992)

All-American (1992)

Outland Trophy (1992)

Nebraska Football Hall of Fame (1993)

College Football Hall of Fame (2011)

NFL Man of the Year (2003)

Will Shields, Offensive Tackle (1989-92, 2015) Lawton, OK

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      Will Shields, a 6’3”, 320-pound guard out of Nebraska, was drafted in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was placed into the lineup in his first NFL game after the team’s starting left guard Dave Szott suffered an injury. The next week, the offensive line was shuffled and Shields was inserted as the starting right guard. He started every game from that point through his retirement after the 2006 season. Shields never missed a game during his 14-season career and his 224 games played and 223 starts are franchise records. 

     As a rookie he helped the Chiefs to an 11-5-0 mark and the AFC Western Division crown. It marked the first division title for Kansas City since 1971. In all, the Chiefs won four division titles and made six playoff appearances during Shields’ career. 

     He earned his first Pro Bowl berth following the 1995 season and embarked on a string of 12 straight AFC-NFC Pro Bowl berths that ran through the end of his career. He was named first-team All-Pro in 1999, 2002, and 2003 and picked as a second-team All-Pro choice four other times. Shields was named All-AFC seven times including in each of his final six seasons. 

     Shields was the anchor of an offensive line that helped the Chiefs field potent offenses. In fact, five of the Chiefs best seasons for most net yards came during Shields tenure. He and his linemates helped Kansas City lead the entire NFL in total yards gained in 2004 and 2005. They also topped the AFC in that category in 2003. The team led the NFL in points scored in 2002 and again in 2003 highlighted by running back Priest Holmes’ then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in ‘03. In 1994, he and his linemates established a franchise record by allowing a mere 19 sacks. He is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s. 

     He joined Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1999 as the only active players to be named to the Chiefs’ 40th Anniversary Team.  


Thanks to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, for the images and text for this page.