NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle owned the coin: the 1921 silver dollar.
Dan Rooney of the Steelers asked Bears executive Ed McCaskey to call it on the air.
McCaskey picked up the Chiefs.
As the coin tossed in a New Orleans hotel ballroom a few days before Super Bowl IV, the Steelers and Bears had a lot at stake. Both had finished 1–13 in 1969, forcing the NFL to decide which team had the right to draft first in 1970.
Steelers founder and Dan’s father, Art Rooney, believed in letting his opponent flip the coin. Later at dinner, he told McCaskey that his calling heads was a “sucking game”.
Reason: The coin fell on the table cloth, bounced and came up.
The Steelers received the first pick and selected Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who would go on to win four Super Bowls and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Bears, who spent most of the next 50 years searching for a quarterback, traded the No. 2 pick to the Packers for linebacker Leroy Caffey, running back Elijah Pitts and offensive lineman Bob Hyland. The Bears would cut Pitts that year; The other two played one season each for them.
Fifty-three years later, the Bears have their next, best opportunity to draft first. They need to lose to the Vikings at Soldier Field on Sunday and the Texans to win in Indianapolis to get to 2-13-1.
If they and the Texans lose, the Bears will move to second. If the Bears win, they cannot draft lower than fourth.
In 1970, there was a huge gap between the first and second picks. Bears have felt its waves for half a century.
But how much more is number 1 really worth than number 2 this time?
Historically, it’s a toss-up. Since the draft was shortened to 12 rounds in 1977, six No. 1 overall draft selections have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So have the six players drafted second.
Of the eight players selected overall in the final 10 drafts – not counting the 2022 pick – eight have reached the Pro Bowl. Combined, they made 19 Pro Bowls. A total of six players picked No. 2 in the last 10 drafts have made the Pro Bowl and gone a combined nine times.
In further detail, however, 15 of the last 20 No. 1 overall picks made the Pro Bowl for a combined 37 appearances. Of the 20 No. 2s in total, 11 made the Pro Bowl but achieved it a combined 38 times.
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A top draft pick is worth more when there is a quarterback to select. Whether anyone really qualifies or the teams convince themselves that’s the case is another question.
The quarterback has found himself at the top of the draft 16 times since 2000, including six of the past eight years. But a quarterback has gone on second only five times overall in that span.
Lesson: In most years, the only way to guarantee a team wants to get a quarterback is to draft first overall.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young could go first this year. If it would be good news for the Bears if they end up with the first pick. Assuming they are convinced that Justin Fields is their answer at quarterback, they could auction off the No. 1 spot for a quarterback hungry team.
He would be much more attractive to the acquiring team than the No. 2 pick.
The real value of drafting No. 1 is the option.
Moving the No. 1 is generally rare, as in the modern era, a team with an established quarterback is often not the worst team in the league. But teams that have historically had a quarterback have instead landed a Hall of Famer.
In 2016, the Titans traded the No. 1 pick to the Rams along with picks in rounds 4 and 6 for the No. 15, 43, 45 and 76 picks in 2016 and No. 5 and 100 in 2017. Drafted Jared Goff.
In 2004, the Chargers drafted Eli Manning first overall and – because he said he refused to play for them – drafted him minutes later with the Giants’ No. 4 overall pick, a third-rounder in 2004 and first and third overall. Traded for a rounder. in 2005.
jimmy johnson chart
The Jimmy Johnson trade value chart was developed nearly 30 years ago by former coach of the Cowboys. The chart became a handy short-hand way for teams to exchange business ideas, although no club followed it precisely.
How much more is number 1 worth than number 2?
The chart awards 3,000 points to the first overall pick, 2,600 to the second, 2,200 to the third and 1,800 to the fourth. To go from No. 2 to No. 1 using the chart, a team would also have to trade the No. 18 pick in Round 2.
However, tell that to a team desperate to draft a quarterback. Overall No. 1’s value skyrockets when a passer is at stake.
The Texans would be happy to draft one first overall. But Bears general manager Ryan Poles will likely begin strategizing how to best use the pick — and whether to trade it.
Both subjects are more interesting than anything they’ve put on the field this season.
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