Washington Redskins fullback John Riggins may be the city's favorite "Diesel," but he can't hold a crankshaft to football great Bronko Nagurski.
That's the ruling of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge George E. MacKinnon, who took exception to a newspaper's recent comparison of the two players and wrote a detailed letter to the sports editor outlining his objections.
MacKinnon, 78, should know. He was the starting center for the University of Minnesota football team when Nagurski joined the squad as a sophomore in 1927, and he later helped coach the team when Nagurski was piling up some of the most impressive college yardage of all time.
In an interview, MacKinnon described the newspaper comparison as "inaccurate," saying that Riggins stands erect when carrying the ball and searches for holes to run through, while Nagurski was "a bucker," meaning he hit the line of scrimmage in a crouch straight-on and put his shoulder into the defense.
"They aren't the same type of players at all," MacKinnon said. "The only power Riggins demonstrates is the power to carry a hell of a lot of people on him . . . . The principal difference is that explosive speed of Nagurski's hitting the hole."
MacKinnon said he is no particular fan of the Redskins.
"I do look at 'em on TV just to fill in with the conversation," he said. "But I'm not a devotee of the way the game is played today. They've made it too easy to score touchdowns."