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Hand in hand

In the ferocious world of football, the competitive juices flow freely and burn with such tenacity that handshakes sometimes appear out of place.

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December 16, 2007

Here are 10 highlights from years past:

1. Sucker's bet. Cleveland's Lenny Ford took off his helmet and extended his right hand toward the Eagles' Charlie "Concrete Chuck" Bednarik in 1959, only the two-way star wanted none of it. He reached back and sucker-punched Ford, knocking him to the ground.

2. The lecture. Angered by what he perceived as cheap shots by Houston defenders, Steelers coach Chuck Noll raced toward midfield and put a firm handshake on Jerry Glanville, but only to scold him and wave a finger in his face. "He wouldn't let go, so I said that's enough of that," said Glanville, who claims he never again shook hands with a coach after a game, except for Chuck Knox. "I kind of admired Chuck Knox," said Glanville.

3. No thanks. Jimmy Johnson never believed handshakes were essential to a good football game, so he didn't have any problem with his University of Miami captains during the coin toss of a game with Oklahoma in 1986. "Don't be afraid," the Hurricanes told the stunned Sooners, then they refused to shake hands.

4. 'No class.' The year before, Johnson's Hurricanes demolished Notre Dame, 58-7, in Gerry Faust's finale. At midfield, ND quarterback Terry Andraczyk saw Johnson's extended hand and told the coach, "Sir, you have no class."

5. Court date. George Halas was angered when his defensive coordinator in the early 1960s, George Allen, left to become head coach of the Rams, so they went to court. Eventually, Allen was allowed to leave, but only once did the men shake hands - in court the day the case was settled. "I had to take his hand, but there was no high regard in my eyes," said Halas.

6. At a loss. The postgame handshakes were a bit much for Giants fans in 2002 after their team was stunned by the first-year Houston Texans in early December. Fan complaints flooded team headquarters and talk radio. While he understood the sportsmanship angle, New York owner Wellington Mara said, "It does bother me if some players aren't as upset as I am after a loss."

7. Close encounter. Postgame handshake? Heck, head coaches Mike Ditka of the Bears and Forrest Gregg of the Packers nearly came to blows beneath the stands of Milwaukee County Stadium in 1984 - and that was in an exhibition game.

8. Bear necessity. Someone once asked the Packers' Gary Knafelc if Vince Lombardi shook hands with George Halas and encouraged his players to do so at the end of a game. "Hell, no, you didn't do that kind of stuff. They were Bears. We hated them."

9. Punch lines. Asked if he ever shook George Halas's hand after a game, Green Bay coach Curly Lambeau bristled. "If I lost, I wanted to punch Halas in the nose. If he lost, Halas wanted to punch me."

10. Not ready for Prime Time. Deion Sanders couldn't help himself. Trash-talking in days leading up to a big game was something he couldn't resist. But that didn't sit well with Jerry Rice, who once refused to shake hands with Sanders before a game.

COMPILED BY JIM McCABE

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