"Del had had two great years with the Rams," Mara said. "And he fitted a need of ours precisely. We wanted an end who could go deep to catch passes, and for two years Del had been able to do that. But in 1960 he caught only 12 passes for the Rams and scored only one touchdown. In 1958 he caught 51 for 1,097 yards, and in 1959 he got 47 for 936. We had to know whether he would play back to his 1958 and 1959 form or would have another year like 1960."
As they always do when presented with a possible trade, Mara and the Giant coaches meticulously sounded out Giant players and coaches who had played against Shofner. Lynch, acquired from the Redskins, had faced Shofner three times. "I couldn't cover him man on man in 1958 or 1959," Lynch said. "I couldn't cover him in 1960 either. He's as good as he ever was."
Tittle, just in from the 49ers, had looked at Shofner three times in each previous season. He had also played with Shofner in Pro Bowl games. Said Tittle: "I talked to him at the Pro Bowl game and, as far as I know, he dropped a couple of passes against the 49ers early last year, and the club lost confidence in him. Then he lost confidence in himself and they put him on the bench. He had a series of muscle pulls, too. But he is as good as he ever was."
"We were still doubtful," Mara says. "But you've got to take a chance. You can't think the guy I'm giving up may come back and beat me. If Shofner played back to his '58 and '59 form we wanted him badly. And we trust our people. So we traded the Rams a first and second draft choice—in different years—for Del."
So far this season Shofner has caught 46 passes for 722 yards and eight touchdowns. At 26, he appears capable of providing the Giants with a truly topflight offensive end for at least the next five years. It is very doubtful that the Rams, even with two high draft choices, can come up with as capable a pro football performer as Shofner.
More complicated than the Shofner deal and more the rule in NFL trades was the intricate maneuvering that brought End Walton and Halfback Podoley from the Redskins. Negotiations began a year ago in December and were not completed until July. The Giants wanted a good tight end to replace Bob Schnelker, who had gone to the Minnesota Vikings along with Mel Triplett and Bob Schmidt, for the Vikings' Zeke Smith and Dave Whitsell. They wanted Podoley specifically to give them speed from flanker back.
"The Redskins wanted an end named Fred Dugan, who was with the Dallas Cowboys," Mara said. "They also needed a good place kicker to replace Bob Khayat, who had ulcers and was not expected to play. We had a good rookie place kicker in Alan Green. We contacted the Cowboys to find out what they wanted for Dugan and they wanted a place kicker."
The Giants traded Green and a draft choice for Dugan, which left them almost exactly where they had been before. Mara knew that Owner George Halas of the Bears wanted Whitsell, the defensive halfback obtained from the Vikings, and he knew, too, that Halas had a good new extra-point man coming up in Roger Leclerc and a substitute for Leclerc in John Aveni. So the Giants traded Whitsell for Aveni, then sent Aveni, Dugan, a draftee and End Gene Cronin to the Redskins for Walton and Podoley and a draft choice.
"The deal worked pretty well for everybody," Mara says. "But Green did come back and beat us a few weeks ago with a 32-yard field goal in the last few minutes. That was the 17-16 Dallas game."