In two hours I had lost 4,700 pennies.
The first day of practice. Had I ever left this dressing room with its long rows of lockers, I wondered, as I pulled on my pads along with the other big bodies that were sandwiched in the limited space. Soon there would be more room. Empty lockers would begin to appear each day as a reminder of the insecurity in a professional training camp.
Each day players will be looking for some clue to find out how they are doing. Checking the publicity-shot list for your name is a favorite indicator. Offensive linemen have a more tangible indicator—Coach Joe Madro. When he stops yelling, swearing and making suggestions to a player, then you know that the player's time in camp is limited.
Joe is a chunky, craggy-faced perfectionist with a startling command of the language. Joe's method of expressing himself is a mishmash of Don Rickles, Aldous Huxley and Henry Miller.
He was in rare form for opening day.
"All right, gentlemen—and though I address you as such, I hope that none of you turn out to be gentlemen on the football field.
"We are going to start at the beginning this year in the hopes that this will stunt any growth of lambsie pies.
"Lambsie pies! The Houston Oilers said we had some lambsie pies in our offensive line after they beat us in the championship game two years ago. Well, I guaran-damn-tee you they won't say that this year. First we are going to hit the sled from a six-point stance, then from a four-point, and then from your regular three-point. I hope that this will teach you to fire out. Fundamentals! That's what we are going to work on."
After that it was all business: