Conzelman ran his fingers through his hair. "But late Friday afternoon there was a call from Dimancheff. He said, 'Great news, Coach. It's a girl, and we're naming her Victoria for the big victory we're going to win Sunday.' I congratulated Babe and asked him if he could come to a meeting that evening so we could diagram the play for him on the blackboard. He said he'd be there and would have a cigar for me. I had the feeling by this time that the cigar would be all I'd have to show for the game with the Bears.
"That evening we had our meeting, and explained the play to Babe. I was getting a little dubious about our chances, but Babe—after five nights sleeping in that chair—was bubbling over with confidence as he passed out the cigars."
Conzelman stood up. "You saw what happened in the film. We won the toss and elected to receive. The Bears kicked over the goal line. The ball was brought out to the 20, and Paul Christman, our quarterback, called for the key play. The defensive left halfback of the Bears was pulled toward the center of the field on a fake by our right end, Mai Kutner. Babe Dimancheff swung to the outside, followed by the slower linebacker of the Bears. Babe gradually pulled away from him, and then at the 40-yard line he turned, and Christ-man threw the long pass. It worked perfectly. Babe grabbed it and streaked for a touchdown, still bubbling. We kicked the point and were off to the 7-0 lead we figured we needed. We won 30-21, and the next week we beat Philadelphia for the national championship. I felt we owed it all to little Victoria."
We started back to Conzelman's office.
"That was big-time pro football," I said as we walked along. "What was it like in the early days when you broke in with the Staley Starch team that George Halas got together in Decatur?"
Conzelman thought a minute.
"You know," he said, "come to think of it, that was a pretty rugged game we played in those days. Some of the teams had only two or three days of practice; some of the players had other jobs during the week. The Staleys practiced six days a week. And there were great players in our league—Jim Thorpe, Duke Slater, Fritz Pollard. Of course, the game wasn't as highly developed as it is today. We didn't play to tremendous crowds as they do now. We'd average about 8,000 when we played in Chicago, about 4,000 for our home games in Decatur."
"How much money did a pro player make?"
"I made $1,800 my first season. I would guess that a present-day professional makes about 10 times that much."
Back in his office Conzelman looked at some messages on his desk and said he had to see somebody down the hall. I settled down to look over some material I had asked his secretary to get me out of the files.