“300”

In baseball, a .300 hitter can earn tens of millions of dollars, especially if he can hit home runs. In the college and pro football, “300” is another magic number. That’s the minimum weight for an offensive lineman (being 6′ 3″ or taller doesn’t hurt either, especially if you want to play Division II or above).

Just when did “300 pounds” become the magic number? It can be traced back to Super Bowl XVII, between the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins (January 30, 1983, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA). Though some teams had maybe one 300-pound offensive lineman (Cincinnati Bengals’ superb Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz comes to mind), very few did back then.

However, the Redskins’ O-line, also known as “The Hogs,” included several men who weighed close to or over 300 pounds. The “Hogs” had spent considerable time in the weight room. They, and fullback John Riggins, were essential weapons for a team that, as part of the NFC East, played in lousy weather in November, December and January. They wanted to control the ball and the clock.

During Super Bowl XVII, the Hogs were matched up against the Dolphins “Killer B’s” (most of their defensive starters had names that started with “B”). Miami had the NFL’s number-one defense and had just shut out a good New York Jets team 14-0 at the Orange Bowl in the 1982 AFC championship game.

In terms of intelligence, size and speed, Miami coach Don Shula and defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger during the early 1970’s had built an almost identical defense to the “Killer B’s” (when the Dolphins played in three straight Super Bowls and won two of them). The early 70’s Dolphins defense, known as the “No Name Defense,” occasionally got muscled around, but generally, they outsmarted their opponents.

However, by January 1983, the “No Name” model — especially with 250-pound defensive linemen — could no longer hold up against the steady pounding of the Hogs and a power running back such as John Riggins. The Killer B’s fought bravely, but by the fourth quarter, they were worn down, battered and bruised. With David Woodley at quarterback, Miami’s 2nd-half offense was awful (which didn’t help matters. That is why the Dolphins drafted Dan Marino that spring). Washington won 27-17.

Soon, other teams (especially the Redskins’ NFC East rivals) began emulating the “Hogs” model. Three hundred pound offensive linemen became the norm — not the exception. The era of the 250-pound defensive lineman was over.

Baseball hasn’t had a .400 hitter since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. Which will come first: a .400 hitter in baseball, or a group of 400-pound offensive linemen? My guess is the latter, but I would prefer to see the former.

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