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Story Archives: Fugler slighted again
|Fugler slighted again|
Call it an obsession. Call it stubbornness. Call it frustration.
Each year for the past six years I have written almost the same column, hoping each one would be the last.
But once again I am having to voice my disapproval with an injustice that has been going on for way too long.
Former Ferriday and LSU great Max Fugler was once again looked over for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
I do know Fugler is still on the ballot.
And, once again, my ranting is not to slight the latest selections, especially Deuce McAllister and Warrick Dunn. Terry Robiskie, Roger Carr, Aaron James, Eddy Furniss, Pete Richardson and Mark Guidry - if you have to have a jockey - certainly belong in this prestigious class.
But so does Max Fugler, who belonged in the past several.
The latest selection was announced late Saturday. They will be officially enshrined Saturday, June 23, 2012 in Natchitoches to culminate the June 21-23 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.
A 30-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2012 inductees. The panel considered a record 142 nominees from 24 different sport categories on a 25-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.
I don't envy the voters. There are so many great athletes from this great state. And, I realize some of the voters now may not be old enough to remember Fulger. Probably some of them never had to dim their car lights by stepping down on a button by the brake pedal.
But they would have been enamored watching Max play football at Ferriday and at LSU.
Members of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association began planning a Hall of Fame to honor the state's outstanding athletes and coaches as far back as 1951, but the first election to the hall was not held until 1958.
The three charter members of the organization — Gaynell Tinsley, Tony Canzoneri and Mel Ott — were inducted during the Ark-La-Tex Sports Award Banquet in Shreveport in 1959.
Three honorees were selected annually for several years and were inducted during the Shreveport banquet. Later inductions were held in different areas of the state, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Several members of the Hall of Fame were inducted at LSU football games and televised basketball games, and others were taken into the shrine during the VFW Sports Awards Banquets in New Orleans.
The current Hall of Fame collection includes color portraits of the 277
members and a continually growing of items such as baseballs, footballs, bats, gloves, jerseys, golf clubs, helmets, shoes and other memorabilia contributed to the shrine by Hall of Fame members and their families. It also includes the Grits and Mary Gresham Collection showcasing hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
Items representative of major events in state sports history, such as the 2007 LSU football national championship and the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XIV title, have also been donated to the Hall.
It has everything a state sports fan could ask — except Max Fugler.
Fugler was part of Ferriday High football teams of the 1950s that lost only four games over four years and won four state championships.
Fugler and Frank Brocato were the lone Bulldogs to letter five years as both played as eighth-graders.
Fugler was part of a 54-game streak without a loss still stands today as the longest in the state.
Fugler was also a big part of LSU's 1958 national championship team, earning the Iron Man Award in the 1958 championship season, leading the team in minutes played, averaging more than 35 minutes of playing time a game.
Fugler played on high school and college teams that combined to go 68-8-0 while he was a member of those teams.
Fugler was the first high school All-American at Ferriday High. He had the fortune of playing under Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame coach Johnny "Red" Robertson, who was deservedly inducted in 2003.
Fugler was the 10th pick in the eighth round, being selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 94th overall player taken in the 1960 Draft. He was also drafted by the Boston Patriots of the AFL.
Fugler's NFL career ended in his rookie year when he tore cartilage in his knee while making a block against Cleveland. That was a much more serious injury back in the 1960s.
The New Orleans Saints began their franchise in 1968 and Saint head coach Tom Fears offered Fugler a contract four different times. Fugler turned him down because he didn't want to take the chance of injuring his knee permanently.
Not only should Fugler be in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, but former LSU great Jerry Stovall, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, thinks Fugler should also be a member of that hall of fame.
"Oh my goodness,!" Stovall exclaimed, when I asked him if Fugler should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. "Max certainly deserves to be in there. It's hard to believe Billy (Cannon) is the only one from that championship team in the College Hall of Fame."
Fugler's head school coach, Johnny "Red" Robertson, was fittingly (although a little late) inducted in 2002.
Fugler earned the Iron Man Award in LSU's 1958 championship season, leading the team in minutes played, averaging more than 35 minutes of playing time a game.
Fugler did play fullback a bit as a freshman and even scored a touchdown on a short run."
I can say I scored a touchdown before Billy Cannon," he said with a laugh.
But Fugler also showed his athleticism on the line.
Against Tulane, in the 62-0 romp of the Green Wave to close out the 1958 regular season, Fugler cut in front of the Tulane left end to intercept a Richie Petibon pass at the Wave 40 and returned it down to the 30. He had great speed and range," former LSU football coach Paul Dietzel told me. "When he got to a running back he knew what to do. He was a fierce tackler and competitor."
Fugler is best-known at LSU for making all four tackles on a goalline stand against Ole Miss on Nov. 1, 1958 in a 14-0 Tiger win. It was five tackles if you count the fact Fugler tackled quarterback Bobby Franklin on one play when he pitched the ball to Charlie Flowers.
Fugler added he and Billy Hendrix had a scheme called "music and lightning" when if he said music it meant Hendrix was going hard from the outside and Fugler would take the middle. If he called out lightning it meant Fugler was blitzing.
"If we didn't say anything, then neither one of us would crash in.," he said.
On third-and-a-foot, Flowers tried the middle and was stopped just short of the line of scrimmage by Fugler, who was named National Lineman of the Week for his efforts against the Rebels that night.
On fourth down, Ole Miss opted not to try the field goal, but sent Lovelace off tackle where Cannon hit him first and Fugler dropped him for a one-yard loss.
I guess the kicker in all of this is that it doesn't bother Fugler near as much as it bothers me. Sure, he would be honored to be in the state Hall of Fame. But he looks at it the same way he looked at everything, he was part of a team and never wanted to be singled out.
Fugler is just one of several successful stories in the state of Louisiana.
Here's hoping another year doesn't pass without him getting recognized for that success.
And hopefully next year we can be talking about how they finally got it right.
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