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Y. A. TITTLE STARTS ANOTHER SEASON
Tex Maule
October 06, 1958
The Forty-Niners' great quarterback and all the other businessmen footballers are poised for their biggest year yet
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October 06, 1958

Y. A. Tittle Starts Another Season

The Forty-Niners' great quarterback and all the other businessmen footballers are poised for their biggest year yet

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X-RAY OF LAST WEEK'S GAMES

Pts.

Yds. Rush

Yds. Rush

Pass Comp.

Colts vs.
Lions

28
15

166
73

250
109

23-43
12-30

Bears vs.
Packers

34
20

146
123

165
139

9-15
11-24

Browns vs.
Rams

30
27

257
202

116
268

13-25
17-22

49ers vs.
Steelers

23
20

88
117

234
110

20-33
9-24

Giants vs.
Cardinals

37
7

242
123

43
207

4-10
19-35

Redskins vs.
Eagles

24
14

212
60

134
109

10-15
12-25

Lou Groza kicked a field goal in the last 25 seconds to beat the Rams; the San Francisco 49ers rallied in the last quarter to win from Pittsburgh. Frank Gifford scored three touchdowns as the Giants whaled the Cardinals and the Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins rallied for last quarter victories over the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. The Chicago Bears, under the fierce prodding of Owner- Coach George Halas, became again the Monsters of the Midway in thwacking the Green Bay Packers. Pro football opened its league season all across the land and the stands were packed.

Back in the early days, when George Halas doubled as coach and end for the Chicago Bears, the club won a particularly bitter, bloody game against the hometown forces in rather hostile territory. Halas had prudently collected the Bears' end of the gate receipts before the game started, which was fortunate. When the final gun went off, the fans came down out of the stands in pursuit of the Bears, so Halas handed the small sack of money to George Trafton, an uninhibited center who had more to fear from friends and relatives of the losers than did any of the other Bears.

"Take care of this," Halas said hopefully, and Trafton, who had played 60 minutes of football, set out at a tired gallop for town and the safety of his hotel room. Luckily, as he turned into the highway a passing motorist offered him a lift. The gate receipts—and Trafton—survived intact.

Trafton would never have made it if he had had to lug the hefty take from a modern Bear game to safety. Halas has pegged his season ticket sale at 32,000 and can look forward to six sellouts for his home games. The San Francisco 49ers, after setting a club record in season ticket sales in 1957, nearly doubled it this season with a whopping 37,400. Altogether, the 12 teams in the National Football League have now sold more than 250,000 season tickets, guaranteeing in advance at least 1,500,000 spectators, or more than the total turnout for the 1945 season. Moreover, the pros will very likely go over the 3 million mark in attendance for the first time before the 12-week season is over.

The mushrooming popularity of professional football reflects the hell-for-leather excitement of the game itself and the mature wisdom of its direction—both in the use of television and in the equitable distribution of each year's crop of available new players from college. The growing pro hold on football fans is reflected, too, in its effect on the college game. The new two-point conversion rule is certainly inspired in part by the desire of the college coaches to add drama to their own game, which often seems drab in contrast to the wide-open, professional version. The college coaches are beginning to imitate in self-defense—as witness the Army and Oklahoma razzle-dazzle in their early games this year. Forest Evashevski, the blunt, articulate coach at the University of Iowa, said in a recent luncheon talk: "College coaches must open up their offenses to compete with the pros who are making tremendous inroads through the medium of television." Iowa, he went on to say, will play a wide-open brand of football this year: "We're going to move the ball."

The drama of pro football should eventually spell the death of the stodgy split-T offensives which have slowed many college games to the tempo of a game of chess. Oklahoma, the most successful practitioner of the split-T, employed spreads, flanked halfbacks, split ends and other aspects of the pro philosophy in its first game of the season against West Virginia last Saturday.

Insuring the growing success of the pro game is the incentive offered the top college players to go on into professional football. No longer is it a vaguely disgraceful career for a young man, roughly comparable to tending bar. The pros of today are athletic businessmen—not only because they average some $9,200 per season for their efforts but also because, for many of them, the heavy money years as a pro star lead to solid business connections after they lose the half step in speed or the split second in coordination that spell success in football.

"I wish to God my two boys could play pro ball," Bert Bell, the belligerent, frog-voiced commissioner of the National Football League, says. "You figure a kid gets out of law school, he starts at maybe $3,600 a year. A graduate engineer, maybe five to six thousand. A good pro football player will make upward of 10 thousand, and he's got a job where he can work at something else full time for seven and a half months and part time for another two and a half months."

The pro owners, now that the turnstiles are clicking, are beginning to rank with the most paternalistic in any sport. Bell estimates that they have loaned over $400,000 to players already this season. Typical is Carroll Rosenbloom, president of the Baltimore Colts, who cosigned Fullback Alan Ameche's note for $30,000 to help Ameche buy an outdoor restaurant. Don Paul of the Rams, who owns two of the most successful restaurants in Los Angeles, and countless other ex-players have been helped on their way in business by their football employers.

As the season starts, another very successful businessman, who made his start playing pro football, will be at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Y. A. Tittle, a hard-working partner in a successful insurance agency near San Francisco, is right now hard at work throwing passes for the 49ers, a job he has occupied since 1951 and that he handled well enough last year to be named as the Most Valuable Player in the league by the United Press.

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