Outside Looking In
Super Bowl connection
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who recently won his second Super Bowl, was a California State Punt, Pass & Kick finalist when he was 13 years old.
Reid was nearly twice as big as the other kids in the competition, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 220 pounds. As a 13-year-old!!
The state finals were held during halftime of the Monday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Dec. 13, 1971. The two finalists from each of the age groups between 8 and 13 competed. The kicking and punting portion had already been completed prior to the Monday night game, so competitors only did the passing portion before a national TV audience.
Organizers had youth jerseys on hand for all the participants to wear during the competition. Figuring no one competing would be the size of Reid, organizers did not have a jersey big enough to fit him, so one had to be retrieved from the Rams' locker room.
The jersey Reid was given was an extra one that belonged to Minneota native Les Josephson, then a running back with the Rams. Josephson was 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds.
Warming up on the field, Reid played catch with Redskins' starting quarterback Sonny Jurgenson. Both Reid and Jurgenson had red hair at the time and one of Jurgenson's teammates jokingly asked him if that was his younger brother.
In the photo (see below), the boy standing behind Reid is an eight-year-old competitor, but it still shows the significant size difference.
When it was Reid's turn to pass, the TV flashed his misspelled name as Ried, not Reid, across the screen.
Reid went on to play offensive tackle at Glendale Junior College in California and then transferred to Brigham Young University. He was listed at 6-3 and 233 pounds, only slightly bigger than he was as that 13-year-old competitor.
Josephson was recovering from an injury and had just one carry for seven yards, and caught two passes for 19 yards in that Monday night game. He played for the Rams from 1964-75. He played in the 1967 Pro Bowl and scored a touchdown in the first quarter of that game.
Josephson, who played eight-man football for Minneota High School, died on Jan. 1, 2020 at age 77.
Sibling’s Hall support
Les Josephson’s older brother, Chuck, who lives in Arizona, recently gave his reasons for why his sibling belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. He sent this email out to several members of the Josephson family. With his approval, he allowed me to print it in my column.
“Most of you know that our brother, Les Josephson, was an outstanding professional football player who played as the game was just becoming the behemoth it now is. He was a star with the Los Angeles Rams from 1964-75.
“Les has, I believe, the unique distinction of playing pro ball while he was recovering from a broken jaw. He was outfitted with a special helmet (and) his jaw was wired shut. They pulled a tooth so he could get food through a straw as he played that season. He didn’t talk about that, nor any other of his injuries, after he retired.
“Les had an ankle injury, probably caused by many tackles in previous games, but the Achilles tendon broke as he was running into the stadium in 1969, I think. It turned out to be one more remarkable achievement as he was given special treatment to repair the break. I still recall he called me from the hospital when I was teaching in Essexville, MI, and for several minutes we didn’t converse; he merely kept repeating ‘It hurts, it hurts’. The ankle was patched up and he returned to his beloved game.
“The remarkable point is that, unique among Achilles ruptured players, he recovered well enough to continue playing for five or so years after that.
“As you can tell, I continue to be proud of his achievements. I also was there during his last year of life when the concussions of his playing finally affected his brain and he needed someone who understood.
“To me, it is a shame that Les was never properly given the permanent recognition he deserved, a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for example. Maybe the powers that look back on the early stars will someday give Les his deserved accolades.”