Now & Then – NFL Week 6


by Jeff Fisher

When we started Now & Then at the beginning of the season, we thought there would be a lot of duplication each week because so many of the top performances would come from the same players.  That hasn’t been the case at all, as only the Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray has been a repeat perform on Now & Then that looks back at the NFL’s top performers in rushing, passing and receiving yards, plus the week’s top tackler.

Murray, who played at Bishop Gorman in Nevada, has been the league’s top rusher twice (Week 2 & Week 4) and currently leads the league with 785 yards through the Cowboys 5-1 start.  Murray has topped the 100 yard mark in all six games. He and Hall of Famer Jim Brown are the only two NFL running backs with at least 100 rushing yards in each of their first six games of the season.

Since I mentioned Brown, I thought it would be fun to look back at Brown’s high school accomplishments at Manhasset High School on Long Island in New York.

James Brown Manhasset High School

James Brown was an all-around athlete at Manhasset High School in New York.
Photo credit: Newsday File Photo

Brown, who worn Number 33 in high school, not his legendary Number 32, earned 13 varsity letters in football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and running track.  During his senior season, he averaged 14.9 yards per carry, winning the 1952 Thorp Award as New York Newsday’s top high school football player in Nassau County.

While everyone knows about Brown’s football and some about the fact that he was a great lacrosse player, most don’t know that he averaged 39.6 points a game during the 1952-53 season, which is still a record for Nassau County.

For the record, Brown was an All-American at Syracuse in football and lacrosse, plus he lettered as a member of the Orange’s basketball team.

Alright back to the present where LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles led the NFL in rushing yards with 149 on 22 carries in his team’s 27-0 win over the New York Giants.

McCoy, whose nickname is Shady, played at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It’s the same school that produced Ricky Watters, a five-time NFL Pro Bowler.

McCoy was on-course to break Pennsylvania’s all-time rushing mark when he broke his ankle during his senior season. McCoy finished ninth on the state’s all-time list with 6,640 yards.  He also scored 75 touchdowns.  His biggest game came as a sophomore when he rushed for 406 yards.

The school has retired his Number 20.

The NFL’s top passer last week was the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler, who throw for 381 yards by completing 26-38 passes.

Cutler was born in Santa Claus, Indiana – yes, that’s true and more later. Cutler was a three-year starter at quarterback at Heritage Hills High School in the Hoosier State.  As a senior, Cutler led his school to its first 3A state title with a perfect 15-0 record. During his junior and senior years, Heritage Hills was 29-1.

His senior year was his best completing 122 of 202 passes for 2,252 yards and 31 TDs. He also rushed for 493 yards and 11 scores.  Heritage Hills outscored opponents 746-to-85 in his senior year.  Cutler also played safety and picked-off nine passes in his senior year and had 19 tackles in the state championship game against Zionsville.

Cutler was also an all-state basketball player, who averaged 20 points a game during his senior year.

Santa Claus Indiana

Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus, Indiana.

Now as far as Santa Claus, Indiana – it’s located in the southwest part of the state and in 2010 had a population of 2,481 residents. Its original name in 1854 was Santa Fe, but when the government started a post office there ,they needed to change the name since there was already a Santa Fe in New Mexico.  That’s when the residents decided to call the town Santa Claus.

And, yes the post office is inundated with letters every year from good little girls and boys.

Lots of tangents today, but that’s what Now & Then is all about.

T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts led the league in receiving yards with nine catches for 223 yards and one touchdown in his team’s 33-28 win over Houston.

Hilton played his high school football at Miami’s Springs High School.  As a senior, Hilton was named First Team All-Dade County by the Miami Herald after averaging 18.7 yards per catch with 16 touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs for touchdowns. Hilton was also a good basketball player, being named First-Team All-Dade County by the Miami Herald.

Hilton played his college ball at Florida International, as did the league’s top tackler Johnathan Cyprien, who had 15 tackles, 12 solo for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 16-14 loss to Tennessee.

Cyprien was lightly recruited out of  North Miami Beach High School.  While there he was a team captain and named First Team All-Dade County District 12-6A.

Not only is there little written about Cyprien’s high school career, we couldn’t find any video. However, there is a message here – anyone can achieve a dream with hard work.

Until next week, check-out previous Now & Then‘s…

Now & Then Week 5

Now & Then Week 4

Now & Then Week 3

Now & Then Week 2

Now & Then Week 1

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.