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Professional football in New York was in a much different place back in 1972. There were two teams playing within the five boroughs, and there were enough fans to go around for both teams regardless of where they were in the standings.
In Flushing, the New York Jets were three years removed from their miracle Super Bowl upset, and Joe Namath’s knees were wearing thin. Up in the Bronx, the New York Giants were trying to find their way back to the NFL playoffs, a place they hadn’t been since 1963.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Jets were hosting the powerful Miami Dolphins at Shea Stadium. Miami was 3-0 coming into the game, and Jets were 2-1 after dropping the prior week’s game to the Houston Oilers, 26-20.
The 1-2 Giants were entertaining a winless New Orleans Saints team quarterbacked by Archie Manning.
New York was an autumn festival yesterday for pro football fans as both the Giants and Jets played home games. A total of 125,898 fans turned out at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.
At Yankee Stadium, Charlie Evans scored three touch downs to lead the Giants to an easy 45-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints before 62,057. The second‐year pro caught a scoring aerial of 10 yards from Norm Snead and tallied on runs of 24 and 8 yards all in the first half when the Giants were building a 31‐7 lead.
At Shea Stadium, 63,841 saw the Miami Dolphins continue as the only undefeated team in the National Football League with a 27‐17 triumph over the Jets. Bob Griese threw a 17‐yard touch down pass to Howard Twilley and set up two scoring runs by Jim Kiick with passes.
Lots to unpack here. First off, that’s a lot of people going to see football, but that day was perfect weather for it. The Jets sold enough tickets to lift the local TV blackout. The Giants did not — the near 80,000-seat Yankee Stadium was nearly impossible to sell out.
Who was Charlie Evans? Well, he was a 14th-round draft pick of the Giants out of USC in 1971 and was used in tandem with Ron Johnson. As a rookie in 1971, Evans scored three times in a game in San Diego.
This would be his other big game in a Giants uniform. Evans’ 87 yards on that day would be the most in his four-year career. He played in Washington in 1974 and was out of football after that season.
The Giants went on to finish 8-6 for head coach Alex Webster in 1972 but fell shy of the postseason. It would be their last winning season until 1981.
The Jets went on to a 7-7 year and lost to Miami twice. No big deal there as the Dolphins went undefeated that season.
But for those too young to know or remember, football was always a big draw in the Big Apple and this Sunday proved that.