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The Giant’s Dark Ages — Part 3; Ernie Wheelwright

Program from 1965

If it sounds like there’s a pursuit-of-a-running-back theme in my series, The Giant’s Dark Ages, there actually is. From the early sixties on, the Giants were perennially searching for a stud runner. And, as it happens, after the Dick James trade (Dark Ages-Part-2) and after the Joe Don Looney fiasco (Dark Ages-Part-1) and just before the arrival of the Baby Bulls in 1965, the Giants found a huge running back who’d played his football in the military and who looked like he just might be that stud — except, alas, he wasn’t. His name was Ernie Wheelwright and he was certainly big enough. And he may even have had good speed for a big guy.

The problem was, though, we never got to find out because he never broke away for a big run. As a matter of fact, when he hit the hole — sometimes even the right hole — and ran head-on into a linebacker or even a DB, he never got that extra yard that some big backs get when they lower their pads, lunge into the tackler and fall forward. Instead, when Big Ernie hit the hole — again, presumably the right hole — and ran head-on into a defender, the big guy simply toppled backwards like a felled oak tree after being chain-sawed into submission. And so the search for that stud runner continued as Big Blue continued to slog through The Giant’s dark Ages.

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2 Responses to “The Giant’s Dark Ages — Part 3; Ernie Wheelwright”

  1. a says:

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  2. cgramaglia says:

    My formative NFL years were scarred by the latter part of the Giants Dark Ages. I’m still pissed that my dad took my older brother to what turned out to be the first Giants victory at the new Giants stadium in 1976 (NYG 12, Washington – 9). Let’s not get into The Fumble aginst the Eagles in 1978, or the fact the Giants did not score more than 17 points in any of their last eleven games of that season.

    As dismal as the Giants were in the mid- to late 1970s, looking at the records books, in 1966 the New York Giants defense gave up 250 total points in only five consecutive games. Think about that, especially for a franchise that prides itself on its defense. By comaparison, the Giants gave up less than 250 points during the entire 16-game seasons of 1986, 1990, 1993, and 2000. 1966 has to be the worst season in NY Giants history… Glad I wasn’t around to see it!

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