"Absorba the Greek," Smerlas said.
He ended four of his early seasons with appearances in the Pro Bowl. After that came a slump and rumors that he was washed up. Then a renaissance. "He's playing as well as he ever has," says Buffalo coach Marv Levy. "Even better."
History will judge Smerlas to have been one of the greatest noseguards ever. The guys in the locker room consider him a pain in the...well, Freddy's Freddy. "Look at that locker," Abramoski says, pointing to the chaos in Smerlas's cubicle. "Five years ago there was a mouse in here, but it wouldn't go in Freddy's locker. Too dirty."
"Yeah, but it ate there," says Smerlas.
"How about that desk you bought for $39?" yells Jim Kelly, the quarterback. "Tell him about your $39 desk."
"True Value was running a special on it all week for $39," says Smerlas. "A prefab you put together yourself. So I bought one. Now it's selling for $29."
"A prefab desk—that's you, Freddy!" says Kelly.
"Hey, Kelly, better put your hat on," Smerlas roars, pointing to Kelly's thinning hair. "An eagle's flying around, and he thinks your head is an egg."
"He calls up my wife, Harriett," says guard Jim Ritcher, the only Buffalo player who's hairier than Smerlas, "and he says, 'This is Frank's Landscaping. We've been hired to groom Jim's back.'
"Harriett says, 'Now Fred, you quit that,' and he says, 'Yeah, well I guess Jim needs to get a good night's sleep. He has to shave tomorrow.' "