Raymond Berry is one of the greatest wide receivers ever to play the game of football. Playing split end for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 to 1967, Berry won two consecutive NFL Championships and was selected to six Pro Bowls. He led the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards three times, and in receiving touchdowns twice. As a 20th round draft pick in 1954, Raymond Berry was not expected make the Colts roster. However, he went on to have perhaps the most successful career of any wide receiver thanks to the impact he made in his era as a player. In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, "the Greatest Game Ever Played," Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He ended his career as a player with 631 receptions, 9,275 receiving yards, and 68 receiving touchdowns, legendary numbers for a player in the 1950s and 1960s. Berry was a versatile, durable player who didn't miss a single game until his 8th year in the NFL. Raymond Berry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.
What made Raymond Berry great was not simply athletic talent; Berry was also one of the hardest working players ever to play the game. He constantly worked with Johnny Unitas after practice to prepare for games and to improve his craft. Off the practice field, Berry regularly squeezed Silly Putty to strengthen his hands, and constantly studied both his own craft and also his opponents. His hard work and dedication on and off the field helped him to form the greatest QB-WR duo of all time with Johnny Unitas, and also prepared him for a successful career as a NFL head coach, highlighted by a trip to Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season with the Patriots and a 51-41 career record. We were fortunate enough to have a chance to interview Mr. Berry here at Matt and Mike Sports, and here it is. Questions in red, Raymond's replies in blue.
Mr. Berry, you were the best receiver of your era. How did your preparation outside of practice prepare you for a dominant NFL career?
In the off season I took 2 months off, then went back to work; running, push ups, sit ups, catching, ball carrying drills, film study, pass route practice.
You played for the Colts in what was the franchise's best era. What are some of your favorite memories as a player?
-Having the good fortune to play for Weeb Ewbank, who was a master of simple fundamental football.
-Having the opportunity to play with John Unitas; No receiver ever had a better deal.
-The Colts defense featuring Gino Marchetti always got us the ball.
Who was the toughest opponent you faced (or teammate you had), and why?
-Toughest Opponent? Abe Woodson, 49ers and Irv Cross, Philadelphia Eagles then LA Rams. They knew how to cover man to man.
-In practice Lenny Lyles. I was glad when the game came.
One of your teammates with the Colts was Gino Marchetti, a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. What impact did the Second World War have on the NFL and its players?
World War II impacted my life since I had 2 older cousins die-one in Europe, one in the Pacific. As a young boy I saw the devastating effect this had on my aunts and uncles.
Gino said the Battle of the Bulge was in the coldest winter in European history. "I've never been so cold," he said.
One lesser-known fact about your career is your use of custom sun-goggles to protect your eyes during games. Where did you get the idea for the goggles? How were they made?
Playing in the LA Coliseum and San Francisco's Kezar Stadium in December, the sun set on the rim of the stadiums and blinded me. Dr. Joshua Breschkin, an eye specialist in Baltimore, designed the goggles which fit on the helmet.
Tell us about the 1958 NFL Championship Game. For you, what was the defining moment of that game?
The 1958 Championship game's defining moment: When Unitas hit me on 3 straight inside routes to move the ball into field goal range for the field goal that put the game in overtime (an NFL first).
How did your experiences as a player prepare you for success as a coach?
Playing for my Dad (a Texas high school coach) taught me my first lessons on basic fundamentals like blocking and tackling and the kicking game. Playing for Weeb Ewbank (a disciple of Paul Brown) re-emphasize the power of simplicity; very few plays, mastering the basics, not confusing the players, letting the players play at full speed with no hesitation. Let their natural athletic ability flow...get great athletes; they make a great coach. As a matter of fact great athletes make people think you are a great coach whether you are or not!
What coach or player had the greatest impact on your career, and why?
-My Dad, due to his example of combining simplicity with soundness.
-Weeb Ewbank because:
1) he recognized talent in me before anyone else.
2) he recognized talent in a free agent named John Unitas.
3) He combined simplicity with soundness.
Tell us about your preparation for games as a player and coach. What specific things helped you prepare to make plays and win games on a regular basis?
As a player:
-Physically worked out in March, April, May, and June in preparation for July training camp.
-Studied films of opponents and other receivers, in season and during the off season.
-I learned opponents' tendencies, their strengths, their weaknesses, how other people beat them, what to avoid.
As a coach:
-Film study to learn strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies to plan strategy, plays, and what to avoid.
What are some of the most significant changes in the NFL since your retirement as a player?
Holding. I call it the National Holding League.
How has the NFL Draft changed since your time in the league? What about NFL scouting?
The main thing I see is that there used to be 12 teams; now there are over 30! Spreading the talent thin.
What players today do you especially enjoy watching?
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Your faith has had a huge impact in your personal development. Tell us about your conversion. What was your personal Road to Damascus moment?
When I was playing in the NFL I began to realize there had to be more to life than chasing a football. I also had reached a realization that I had no piece; I had guilt. Then my best friend on the Colts, LB Don Shinnick, said to me: "Raymond, I don't think you have ever accepted Christ as your savior." That went over my head since I had gone to church all my life and believed Jesus was the Son of God. I had been baptized when I was 12. Don persisted, so I said "how do you do this?" He told me what to say: "God, I'm trusting Jesus as my Savior. I don't really know what I'm doing but I mean it." "Raymond," Don said, "If you trust Christ He will come and live in you. He's the power to live the Christian life. Your job is to let Him and when you screw up tell Him." So that's what I did. After that I started seeing my sin nature for the first time. I also began to be aware of Him for the first time. I experienced forgiveness. The Bible started becoming alive to me. I realized all my athletic ability and the opportunity to use it was no accident. My life changed forever. Now I'm writing to you about it.
What advice would you give to young people today who want to pursue a career as an NFL coach or player?
Check with God first to see if that's what he wants you to do or if He has other plans for you.
Mr. Berry, thank you for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. Here at Matt and Mike Sports, we consider you to be the greatest receiver ever to play the game, and it is a privilege to have an opportunity to discuss the game with you. Your career is a truly inspiring one, and you are one of the few players who's approach to the game redefined a position. We look forward to continuing to follow your legacy both as a player and a coach. Thank you again!
-Mike Bertasso and Matt Koontz, Matt and Mike Sports.
Bye weeks begin this week, with the Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams all taking a week off. A few surprises going into this week; the Bengals are 3-0 and the only undefeated team in the AFC. The Texans and Bills are starting out strong with 2-1 records. The Jaguars, Bucs, and Raiders still have yet to win a game. Will that change this week? Keep reading to find out!
Packers at Bears. Green Bay has a solid team, but they're struggling this year so far. Chicago's run defense has been weak as of late, however, and expect Eddie Lacy to have a big game this week (that's right, get him into your lineups this week if you play fantasy). However, Chicago prevails at home. Bears 35, Packers 28.
Bills at Texans. The Bills and the Texans are the top teams in their respective divisions at the moment. Who would have predicted that?! This is going to be a close game, and could go either way, but I like the Texans defense against a young Bills offense. Foster could play this week, and that will help the Texans out. Texans 21, Bills 14.
Titans at Colts. The Bengals exposed a very sloppy Titans team last week, and injured Jake Locker in the process. Charlie Whitehurst is not the QB you're looking for. Colts win, and Andrew Luck has another big game. Colts 42, Titans 14.
Panthers at Ravens. Tod Heap is getting inducted into the Ravens ring of honor (since the Ravens are continuing to hide their Cleveland Browns roots of course), and the Ravens roll, 28-24.
Lions at Jets. Anyone know what the acronym "JETS" stands for? Just end the season. Once again, the Jets begin to implode, and the Lions take advantage, 35-27.
Buccaneers at Steelers. The Buccaneers might chase Lovie Smith into an early retirement this season. The Steelers, however, look competent at least. Steelers take advantage of a weak Buccaneers team and win, 45-14.
Dolphins at Raiders. The Raiders have to win a game eventually. However, Miami's defense is solid, and Oakland's offense has some major question marks still. Miami pulls this one out. Dolphins 24, Raiders 21.
Jaguars at Chargers. Upset Special, because this one is too easy to pick...the Jaguars will beat the Chargers 24-14. Someone's gotta stand by Jacksonville, might as well be me this week! The Bengals aren't playing, so I need someone to cheer for. Let's go Jacksonville!
Falcons at Vikings. A rookie QB, a weak run game with no AP, and little-to-no hope for success? I'll take the Falcons in this one, 35-28. Cordarelle Patterson has a breakout game.
Eagles at 49ers. This is going to be a hard-fought divisional battle, and the 49ers are due to start getting hot. The 49ers will hand the Eagles their first loss of the season, beating them 24-21. The 49ers also find a way to stop the Chip Kelly offense!
Saints at Cowboys. This game is tough to call. Both teams are showing weaknesses. The Saints offense has woken up, the Cowboys, not quite as much. I think this is the game that Romo finally pulls it together and performs at a high level. This game will be a shootout, but Dallas prevails, 35-28.
Patriots at Chiefs. A tougher schedule this season is exposing the Kansas City Chiefs for what they truly are...an average team. The Patriots are still dangerous with Tom Brady. However, New England has come back down to earth a bit since Brady's prime. I think this becomes a close game, with New England winning in overtime, 24-21.
Ok so I will admit I got the Larry Donnell and Eli Manning show 100% wrong. its bye week for teams starting now which sucks fantasy wise and not as many game to watch.
Packers @ Bears: WHY IS THIS NOT A SUNDAY OR MONDAY NIGHT GAME. OR AT LEAST A 4:15 game?!?. But anyway Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler. Eddie Lacy vs. Matt Forte. Cobb and Nelson vs. Marshal and Jeffery. Peppers vs. former team this game just has so much going for it. Plus its BEARS PACKERS like that's rivalry football. Anyway the packers need a win and the bears have looked sloppy as anything in their two wins. Plus they haven't played a QB as talented as Aaron Rodgers yet with their terrible D. Rodgers told fans basically to shut up and stop throwing hissy fits. They made it to post season past 2 times they started 1-2. Packers win this one yes on the road in Soldier Field. Packers 34 Bears 28.
Bills @ Texans: I gotta admit my love for the bills is so huge its hard to call their games even. But I will say this I was disappointed in how both teams performed last week. I had them both winning and instead they both fell on their faces. Texans being at home is the only reason I have the Texans winning this one. Texans 24 Bills 20.
Titans @ Colts: Titans where did you go after week one seriously its time to wake up. Colts they are a better team then 1-2. They have had a really tough opening schedule. I think the colts at home will continue the murder of the Titans. Colts win this thing big. 31 Colts 17 Titans.
Panthers @ Ravens: Ravens at home doesn't mean what it used to. Baltimore fans don't even talk about the ravens like they used to with the Orioles doing what they are. Its nice to hear no Ravens are the best talk now a days. Joe Flacco has been nothing more then average again they shouldn't have beat the browns. Cleveland beat themselves they had opportunities to clos the door and left it open. Don't see the ravens as good enough to win this one. Carolina beat themselves senseless last week. Ron Rivera wont allow that to happen again. I feeling some Cam Magic in a 2 minute drive. Panthers win this one 21 - Ravens 17
Lions @ Jets: Stafford is Matt Stafford and Calvin will be Calvin. The Jets have no one I can say they can rely on to be dominant. The only thing Jets can rely on is Geno throws INT and Rex will sound like a moron after the game as always. Heck he might even mention Tom Bradys wife just for fun. Lions win this thing. 29 - Jets 20
Bucs @ Steelers : I don't have much to say about this game except Lovie and company slide to 0-4. Steelers are good and set for another win. Steelers win this one 30 - Bucs 17.
Dolphins@ Raiders: Dolphins shocked me last weekend. I think Joe Philbin will get them back on course here and that's not hard when you are playing Oakland. Oakland doesn't have much going for them this year to win a game. Dolphins win this thing in a boring matter. 24 - 10
Jags @ Chargers: I am actually going to agree with Mike on this but I have one reason I have stood behind my if Blake Bortles starts they win and I know this is a game I still have a hard time picking them. But I will regardless that its San Diego. Jags behind Bortles win this one 31- 23.
Eagles @ 49ers: Eagles win I don't want to go into detail. Let me just say this Kaepernick is worse then Foles and Jordan Matthews is going to explode again if they open up the passing game again. If not Sproles and McCoy are a deadly duo. I got the Eagles winning this one 28 - 24 for the Niners.
Falcons @ Vikings: Oh Matt Ryan will just continue to roll to being talked about as one of the best in the league now. Julio will show why he might just be better then Calvin YES Calvin. Bridgewater is exciting to have finally playing and if AP was in I would truly have a hard time picking this. But Atlanta wins this thing big due to their incredible offense and team chemistry. Falcons 34 Vikings 18
Saints @ Cowgirls: Jerry Jones and Co. would love to win this game and as a hater of the Saints I would too. But the Saints and Drew Brees know they can't afford to fall 1-3 with Atlanta and Carolina in their division so they will come to play. The Cowboys pitiful Defense will be destroyed by Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks and Jimmy Graham. I got the Cowboys beating the terrible Saints defense up too but its not enough. Saints will win this one. Saints 38 Cowboys 34.
Pats @ Chiefs: Defensive showdown with Tom Brady in the game who would think those words would be uttered. But Tom hasn't showed up yet this season. So far I have been completely let down by the lack of offense that the Pats have shown. I will take the Patriots because they don't want to fall behind the Bills any further you give a young team hope and the reality they can do it they will and the bills will. Patriots D will hold and the Pats will win this thing against a boring Chiefs team. Patriots 27 Chiefs 21.
My picks for last week were sloppy. Lots of upsets, and rather than go with my gut and pick the Browns over the Saints, I picked the "safe" upset pick with the Jaguars over the Redskins. 7-8 last week, dropping me to 18-14 on the year. Rough week. That being said, the Falcons came through for me, raising me to 19-14 at least. Here are my picks for this week:
Chargers at Bills: This is going to be a better game than many will expect. The Bills are a young team with tons of potential. Not to mention the Chargers are missing Ryan Matthews. However, I think the Chargers eke out a close victory here. Chargers win, 21-20.
Redskins at Eagles: The Redskins are a team in transition with question marks due to injury at QB and WR. The Eagles are a team on the rise and Darren Sproles is turning heads. Not to mention they have LeSean McCoy... Eagles soar, 35-14.
Titans at Bengals: Even without Vontaze Burfict, the Cincinnati Bengals are solid at home, and they need this win going into the bye. Devon Still will bring some fight to this roster, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill will both have big games, and in most weeks, the Bengals would dominate today. However, on a far more depressing note, Rob Bironas, former Titans kicker, passed away in a car accident last night. In memory of him, and with the thought that the Titans will dedicate this game to him, I'm picking the Titans, 35-14.
Cowboys at Rams: The St. Louis Rams should have gone after Kyle Orton; they need a quarterback! The Cowboys actually have an offense, and will win this game, 35-25.
Texans at Giants: This sets up as a semi-boring game, but the Texans are actually looking pretty good so far this year. The Giants? They're not looking so good. Texans 24, Giants 21.
Ravens at Cleveland: Here's my upset special. The old Cleveland Browns (Baltimore) lose to the new Cleveland Browns. Cleveland continues to play well, and wins at home. 25-21.
Packers at Lions: This is a tough game to call, but Green Bay has a better team in general. I think Green Bay ekes out a close win, 38-35.
Colts at Jaguars: I firmly believe that the Jaguars aren't as terrible as they looked last week. However, they aren't better than Andrew Luck and the Colts. The Colts will win this game, 28-10.
Raiders at Patriots: Unless the Patriots make a ton of mental errors, which doesn't happen in Foxboro, the Patriots will easily win this game. New England, 45-10.
Vikings at Saints: The Vikings are a team in turmoil, and the Saints are a model of stability. Drew Brees rolls, and the Saints dominate the Vikings in New Orleans, 38-6.
49ers at Cardinals: If Carson Palmer was playing in this game, this would be an extremely close matchup, however, he's most likely sitting, so the 49ers win. No Palmer, no TDs, 21-12.
Broncos at Seahawks: Denver will be coming into this game hungry for revenge. However, Seattle is pretty hard to beat at home. Seahawks win, 28-24.
Chiefs at Dolphins. Tough game to call, but in Miami, and the Dolphins have looked strong this year. Dolphins win, 24-21.
Steelers at Panthers: The Steelers aren't the Steelers of old. This is a team in transition and currently in a rebuilding stage of sorts. I'm picking the Panthers to win this game, 35-12.
Bears at Jets: The Bears are a better team than the Jets. However, the Bears will also be cocky after last week. I'm picking the Bears to win this game, but it will be a very close and sloppy win, 24-21.
My week 3 picks are going to be quick this week sadly I love explaining but a busy week and now im running late heading to the sox orioles game in bmore.
Ill start with my AFC favorite team the Bills. I got the Bills beating the Chargers at Ralph Wilson 31- 28 Dan Carpenter with a game winner
Cowgirls Vs. Rams im going upset here even though I have Romo and Dez on my fantasy team. Jeff Fisher D at home wins this one. 21-17. Rams win.
Skins @ Eagles: Um I got Kirk Cousins in another upset DJax explodes at philly. 34-24 Skins win.
Texans @ Giants: I am going to continue my belief that the Giants might just be the worst team in the league and the Texans have impressed early. Im going to go with the Texans. 20 - 10 Texans win this one on the road.
Vikings @ Saints: Look if drew brees doesn't come home and dominate the Vikings in the dome with all the Adrian Peterson stuff going on plus Matt Cassell is still QB (im not sure why) but yea no doubt for me on this one. Saints play angry. Saints win. 37 - 14 Saints blowout the Vikings.
Titans @ Bengals: Look AJ Green is going to play even if not fully healthy he's still a threat plus he draws top CB attraction off anyone else. I got the Bengals going 3-0 after today. Bengals win 31- 27
Ravens @ Browns: Ravens have had a lot of time off. But I don't think its going to help Joe Haden is going to shut down Steve Smith. I like the browns for some reason today in this one. I got Browns winning 23 - 17.
Packers @ Lions : Did you see the Lions last week. The Packers finally came back to life and I think it carries over. Packers win this thing. 34 - 30
Colts @ Jags: As bad as I wanna see the Colts slide to 0-3 not this week. The Jags have no O-line and the Colts can throw. So Colts win 27 - 12
Raiders @ Pats: Raiders are a NFL JOKE. Tom Brady is Tom Brady and Tom Brady does what Tom Brady does. Patriots win this thing. 31 - 10
49ers @ Cardinals : Cardinals win this one Defense is better their offense seems to be clicking with Michael Floyd. And plus the Niners have Kaepernick the worst starting QB currently in the NFL. I mean hed be good as a wildcat RB but just not the winning formula QB. Cardinals win this one 20- 17.
Broncos @ Seahawks: Seattle at home all day long. I do not care Wes Welker is back I do not care its Peyton Manning. They are AT HOME Seattle wins this one. 32 - 21
Chiefs @ Dolphins : Dolphins win Chiefs slide to 0-3. Dolphins at home and just have a better offense. Dolphins win 23 - 18.
Steelers @ Panthers : Cam Newton shines again and in the Sunday night Spotlight. Cam is going to explode and so is Kelvin Benjamin watch out non existent Steelers D. Panthers Dominate 37 - 17
Bears @ Jets: Bears are awake Hibernation is over. Bears roll the collapsed Jets 30 - 24.
Here's my quick list of predictions for today's games.
Bengals at Ravens. I agree with Matt. Bengals win in a close game. No Ray Rice, but Bernard Pierce plays well in his place. Giovanni Bernard does his best young Ray Rice impersonation and explodes for a big game. Jeremy Hill joins in to add some thunder to Bernard's lightning. Oh, and Geno Atkins is back and ready to feast. Bengals win, 28-24.
Saints vs. Falcons. Falcons squeak out a win in this one. The Saints are a good team. A very good team. However, the Falcons are a very underrated team due to injuries last year, and right now, they are healthy. Falcons 35, Saints 28.
Vikings vs. Rams. The battle of the backup QBs 1.0. Vikings running game is better than the Rams, and the Vikings have Norv Turner and Cordarrelle Patterson. Vikings 21, Rams 14.
Browns vs. Steelers. Is this even a game? Cleveland still doesn't know if they'll put Johnny Manziel in at some point, and the Browns have no wide receivers. Pittsburgh 35, Cleveland 14.
Jaguars vs. Eagles. This game is going to be closer than people expect. Yes, Jacksonville is going to be hurting without Cecil Shorts. However, they have upgraded their defense as well. I have Philly winning, 24-17.
Raiders vs. Jets. And the NFL retirement/free agent matchup begins. What does the Jets name stand for? Just end the season. When was the last time the Raiders were relevant? When Rich Gannon was their QB. However, I expect the Raiders to turn some heads today. Their free agent acquisitions are better than the Jets' free agent acquisitions. Raiders 27, Jets 12. In a surprise turn of events, Michael Vick gets bitten by a pit bull after the game.
Bills vs. Bears. Upset special. Everyone expects the Bears to win this game. Heck, Kyle Orton probably even expects that! But the Bills are a team stacked with young talent, and Chicago's defense still has some major question marks. Bills 24, Bears 21.
Redskins vs. Texans. Way too much uncertainty on both of these rosters. This is probably going to look like a preseason game, but one team has to win. And do we call them the Washington Redskins or the Washington Racists? Too much uncertainty and boredom here. Who's the #1 QB in Houston? Does RGIII want to play football? Will Jay Gruden continue to gain weight this season? Will Arian Foster rescue some cats after the game? Will Andre Johnson retire at halftime? Redskins 9, Texans 2...since I have no clue how to call this game.
Titans vs. Chiefs. The Titans have some good young talent on the offensive side of the ball, and the Chiefs have a solid defense. Chiefs offensive line has some holes. Jamaal Charles can't carry this whole offense with Dwayne Bowe suspended. Titans 21, Chiefs 18.
Patriots vs. Dolphins. Tom Brady is Tom Brady and will play like Tom Brady against the Miami Dolphins. Did I mention Tom Brady? Patriots beat Dolphins. 35-27.
Panthers vs. Bucs. Derek Anderson might be starting for the Panthers. That isn't funny. Bucs 35, Panthers 14. At least one TD comes on a Derek Anderson pick-6 or offensive turnover. If Cam Newton plays, then Panthers 28, Bucs 21.
49ers vs. Cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys have no defense. The 49ers defense is decimated by injuries and suspensions. Still, 49ers 42, Cowboys 35.
Broncos vs. Colts. Peyton Manning and the Broncos may have a down year this year. However, don't expect that to start against Peyton's old team, the Colts. Peyton comes to play, and this turns into a shootout. Broncos 38, Colts 35.
Giants vs. Lions. The Giants are a wreck. If you've watched the preseason at all, you know this. Lions look good. Ndamakung Suh rips out Eli Manning's heart and does a happy dappy dance on it. Detroit wins, 24-7.
Cardinals vs. Chargers. The Cardinals will be a better team this year. However, the Chargers are the better team in this matchup. Sure, Antonio Gates might not play this week, but they've got LaDarius Green. Chargers win on a Carson Palmer pick-6. Chargers 21, Cardinals 17.
Sports give us as the human race something to cheer for and support and give hope to all of us.