"I didn't mind losing the second wife as much as losing the 1956 Mercury," Lipscomb said. "After she took possession I poured a box of sugar down the gas tank. When she told me she had to buy a new gas line and engine afterward, I just cluck-clucked sympathetically and acted like I knew nothing about it."
Meanwhile, Ophelia was pursuing her divorce action against him and seeking alimony and child support for their daughter, Eugenia. Lipscomb, for his part, was staying out all night and sleeping in the back of Younger's car on the way to Rams practices. Hungover, he often nodded off during team meetings; coaches would awaken him by pounding on a set of metal drawers with a canister of film. "I wasn't asleep!" he'd say, bolting up to a roomful of laughter. "I heard every word you said."
It was no wonder that the Rams gave up on him. "The coaches got fed up with his off-field behavior," Younger says. In September 1956, Los Angeles put Lipscomb on the waiver wire. The Colts picked him up for the going price: $100.
Big Daddy Lipscomb, who used to help them up
After he'd pulled them down, so that "the children
Won't think Big Daddy's mean"; Big Daddy Lipscomb,
Who stood unmoved among the blockers, like the Rock
Of Gibraltar in a life insurance ad,
Until the ball carrier came, and Daddy got him....
—Say Good-bye to Big Daddy
Lipscomb's arrival in Baltimore, like his coming to Camp Pendleton, placed him in a structured environment in which he flourished. For the first time he learned how to play football. He may have missed college drills, but he ended up studying at the University of Marchetti, Donovan and Joyce. There was not much formal coaching on the line in those years, Marchetti says, so the players would gather on the field and share their tricks and techniques. "It was like an on-field seminar," Marchetti says. "What Big Daddy learned, he learned through watching us."
He complemented the other defensive linemen perfectly. As Donovan and Joyce mixed it up in the trenches, caving in pockets and warding off traps, and the great Marchetti hounded and crushed quarterbacks, Lipscomb was left to plug holes and chase the screens and sweeps. Pursuit, full bore, became his game. "From sideline to sideline, I don't think anybody ever did a better job than Big Daddy did," Marchetti says. Lipscomb blossomed in the '57 season, when he led the team in tackles with 137, a stat usually belonging to a linebacker.
In 1958, just two years after being waived by the Rams, Lipscomb was an All-Pro on Baltimore's first championship team, a marked man who was often double-teamed. John Bridgers, the Colts' defensive line coach back then, recalls Marchetti's telling him, "We can't win without Big Daddy. We've got to have him pursuing and making tackles."
"He just got better and better," said Ewbank. It was in Baltimore that Lipscomb felt free enough to develop his signature shtick: picking up all those sweet peas he had flattened on the field. "What the f—— are you doing?" Donovan asked after Lipscomb lifted a downed rival. "Let 'em get up themselves!"
"I don't want people thinking I'm mean," Big Daddy said.
In his lighter mood Lipscomb was among the funniest, most colorful players in the league. Winner remembers the day Lipscomb was bent over a table, about to have his prostate checked by a team doctor, when he looked around and saw that the doctor was slipping a rubber sheath on his finger. He asked the doc what that thing was.