(by Ed Agner and Phil Rippa)
EA: Dean threatened to put on his Tom
Landry hat, go into his Randy White four-point stance and bore us to
death with endless tales of The Doomsday Defense if we didn’t feature
William Andrews as a Forgotten Player of the Moment. I’ve had the
misfortune of hearing my Dad wax poetic about Golden Richards far too
often so I know the pain a Cowboy fan can bring all too well.
PR: I was more fearful of him
going on and on about how Robert Newhouse never got his proper respect.
Which I am sure would have sequed into seeing Dick Murdoch when he was
I was always confused by the whole AFC-NFC deal when I got into
football in the late-70’s and early-80’s. They were supposedly
different and separate yet they all seemed the same to me AND they all
played one another during the regular season - unlike the American and
National Leagues...used to be. As far as I could tell, there
really was no discernible difference between the conferences aside from
the playoff divisions (and the fact that the AFC won the Super Bowl
most of the time. Ahhh, the ‘70’s!). But stylistically even
a moron like me could figure out that they were distinct - the AFC was
mostly a pass-friendly league full of QB’s and WR’s putting up CFL-like
stats; while the NFC was a defense- and run-oriented league full of
most of the best of the best in young running backs - Walter Payton,
Otis Anderson, Billy Sims, Tony Dorsett, George Rogers and William
PR: While I grew up on and I still
love me some NFC football, the AFC’s Earl Campbell was better than
every single running back on the list Ed just wrote. There I said it.
Okay, we are getting side-tracked. Must talk about the Andrews and
Steve Bartkowski and Wally Francis.
EA: I was intrigued by Andrews via
his football cards since: A) I liked those old mostly-red uni’s with
the black trim that the Falcons wore back in the pre-Deion era; and B)
William Andrews was the only Falcon player Topps used to give All Pro
designation to, leading me to believe that he was all the Falcons
had. For the most part he was.
PR: Topps was all sorts of goofy
with the All Pro thingy. I mean who did Tommy Nobis or Jeff Van Note
ever piss off? Oh, I’m sorry. They didn’t throw the pretty spiral.
EA: Andrews was a third-round pick
out of Auburn where he was mostly used as a big blocking back.
Given a chance and the ball with the Falcons, he quickly became an
instant NFL stud. Big, tough, durable, versatile and deceptively
fast; there seemed to be little that Andrews couldn’t do - which was
fortuitous given that Andrews HAD to do EVERYTHING in his power to keep
the chains moving to prevent Steve Bartkowski from throwing yet another
PR: How the Falcons got to the
playoffs with Bart throwing more picks than TDs is beyond me. Oh yeah,
it helped that Alfred Jenkins was able to haul in everything tossed his
way. Getting sidetracked again...
EA: Looking over Andrews’ stats,
he was the ultimate multi-purpose back when Roger Craigs’ voice was
still cracking - able to serve as a punishing back to rush for four
1,000 yard seasons, while also bringing the finesse to compile three
500-plus receiving yard seasons in an era when dumping the ball off to
a RB was mostly a novelty. Racking up over 8,300 total yards from
‘79-’83, Andrews certainly seemed to be on the straight path to the Pro
Football Hall of Fame.
PR: 1980 (a pro-bowl year for
Willie) is my favorite Andrews year, just because he almost got
overshadowed by another running back on his team. Andrews rushed for a
shade over 1300 yards and 4 TDs to go with a respectible 456 yards.
What is often forgotten is that year, Lynn Cain had 914 rushing yards
and 8 TDs. Seriously, the Falcons had a great great team that year,
they were the #1 seed (12-4 record).... and choked it all away in the
divisional round of the playoffs to the winner of the wild card game...
Dean’s beloved Cowboys. Now I get the request. Aww.... I can picture
Alantians weeping now.
EA: And then... According to
football lore, Andrews suffered the most hideous knee injury EVER in a
Falcons practice prior to the start of the ‘84 season - in an era when
arthroscopic surgery was not yet completely mastered and repairing
ACL’s was unheard of. Andrews got the knife and missed all of the
‘84 and ‘85 seasons before attempting a comeback in ‘86 where he did
little - leaving Andrews as yet another in a long line of early-80’s
NFC RB cripples who shoulda-coulda-woulda been.
PR: This is so another one of
those “what would have been” situations because Andrews crippling
himself paved the way for Gerald Riggs who ended up being the all-time
leading rushing in Falcons history. I picture the RB controversy ending
with Andrews punching Dan Henning in the face when Henning says he is
going to start David Archer at QB. And then Andrews and Herschel Walker
having the greatest “Who is the better running back” feud in the USFL.
Auburn Hall of Fame Page
Buy the William
Andrews 80 Rookie Card for 8 times its worth