A recent article highlighting for Cardinal, Jim Bakken, was very much enjoyed by me and I hope you Valley fans have seen it. For myself, having followed his entire career it reminds me of how enjoyable his accomplishments became. Look at how many coaches came to rely on him.They were 'Pop' Ivy, Wally Lemm, Charley Winner, Bob Hollway, Don Coryell and Bud Wilkinson. Satisfying that succession of HC's is remarkable in of itself.
Having played QB and done the kicking at Wisconsin, like most football players of that era, a player could contribute more to his NFL team when squad size was about 35 or so. He wasn't going to challenge Charley Johnson as the signal-caller but he could be an emergency QB while handling both kicking and punting. After a couple of years of this, Jackie Smith relieved him of the punting chore and Bakken focused on kicking only.
And focus he did. For over the next fifteen or so seasons his name was all over the Cardinal record book and even established an NFL record. At his retirement he had set the team career longevity record, career and single-season points records, most games played record and some others even I do not recall.
A couple of personal memories of him are how when my father and I would travel up from Chicago to take in the 'two a days' up at Lake Forest College during summer camp how he and other players involved in the kicking game, like Chuck Lauterette, Jackie Smith, Jerry Stoval would use us youngsters to shag their kicks during drills. They would actually talk to us kids and we loved every minute of it, sometimes even managing to catch one.
Also, there was the time he set that NFL record of seven FG's in one game and how my father and I marvelled at the record. The Cardinals needed every one of those points for they failed to score a TD in defeating, I think, the Steelers or arch-rival Philadelphia, I can't remember which now.
In that NFL era, Jim Bakken was 'clutch' a real Mr.Reliable for his teammates and the franchise. While having to wait for the Don Coryell teams' to taste the playoffs, he was always an annual contender for post-season accolades, winning his fair share. Yeah, Jim Bakken is up their with me as an all-time favorite Cardinal.
Thanks for this post. I have many memories of him. I missed the early part of his career ( was too young ) so some of that is new to me. I do remember Jackie Smith punting. I think its really neat that you and others got to interact with those guys back in the day.
The only thing that is even comes close for me, was about 10 years later. I had the opportunity to go to preseason camp and stand just 5 feet from EJ Junior while he gave a interview. Also Dan Dierdorf looked me directly in the eye.....it almost scared me.....lol
It's been a long time, but I do think I remember the game with 7 field goals. If my memory serves me right. It was the Steelers and it was the first game after Charlie Johnson was injured. Terry Nofsinger was the replacement and didn't play well...so it was all on Jim Bakken.
You can't compare Jim to kickers of today. As you pointed out, kickers back then often had to be able to play at another position. Also kickers back then kicked straight on as opposed to an angel.
According to wiki, Jim was voted a 60's and 70's all decade team. That's hard to do for anyone.
There are many all time Cardinal greats. I love them all. I just want to say that Jim Bakken gets mentioned too rarely. What he did in his time....well there are few that can compare.
as an Old Bird, I loved reading your post and the follow up reply.... I became a bandwagon fan back in 1974..... and, apparently, we have shared some bumpy rides. But reading this thread made me proud of the fan base I am a member.... As Bob Hope would say "thanks for the memories".... but we know those memories are the foundation of the team we support, today.... Great Post!
>Victory is SWEET!