Fido is not quite
the superman he claims to be, but there is evidence that he has a first-rate
bird dog's nose for talent. For a brief period in 1959 Fido took French leave
from his NFL clients and, according to his version, literally ran the American
Football League's first draft meeting; he quickly returned to the NFL because,
he says, he could not tolerate Harry Wismer's loud mouth. In the Steeler
training camp one night recently, the coaches sat in a dormitory kitchen
drinking beer and discussing Fido. Said Backfield Coach Mike Nixon:
spot talent all right. He's picked off some real sleepers. I remember four
years ago when he was touting Angelo Coia of Southern California. Nobody in the
league wanted Coia. Everybody said he had no guts. But Fido kept hollering for
him, and finally George Halas gave him the green light to sign Coia for the
Raising his right
hand, Nixon swore he saw Fido sign Coia smack in the middle of a workout for
the Copper Bowl game in Arizona. Fido marched briskly onto the field and said
to the coach of Coia's squad, "This won't take a minute." Seizing Coia
by the elbow, he pulled him out of a huddle, knelt down with the contract on
his knee, handed Coia a fountain pen and said, "Sign here, kid." Coia
was so shocked he signed. "As you know," said Mike Nixon, " Coia's
been a helluva flanker for the Bears."
praised Fido, two men in the room scowled. One was Buster Ramsey, a large
ex-lineman. Fido had arrived in training camp that day announcing, "Big
Daddy Lipscomb died on me over the winter, so I had to come out here and
rebuild the Steeler defense from scratch." Buster Ramsey is the Steeler
sour-faced man was Will Walls, Pittsburgh's chief scout. Fido categorically
denounces all chief scouts as titled know-nothings. "The only trouble with
Fido," said Walls, "is he talks so much you wonder how he gets time to
look at a player."
Head Coach Buddy
Parker came to Fido's rescue. "He signs everyone there is to sign,"
said Parker. "He's got a good way with boys. He scouts the Los Angeles
Rams, and their coaches hate him because he loafs with their players. The Rams
think he gets the lowdown from their own players." In point of fact, Sid
Gillman, one of a succession of Ram coaches Fido has infuriated, once sighted
him entering the Los Angeles Coliseum and ordered ushers to throw him out.
Brandishing a ticket and threatening six lawsuits, Fido held his ground.
works out of Hollywood, where he resides with his wife, the actress Iris
Adrian, who is frequently seen on late late TV films playing dumb-blonde parts.
Her Flatbush-type voice is that of the telephone operator who over the years
has given Jack Benny a hard time. ("She was a Ziegfeld queen, the belle of
Broadway, a landmark at Leon and Eddie's," Fido proclaims.) Lounging by his
swimming pool in a maroon velvet Roman toga, which he "bought cheap"
from Anthony Quinn, Fido ruminates on players he has scouted and, from time to
time, dashes off such letters as a recent dispatch to the Steeler office in
which he mentioned Barron Hilton, owner of the San Diego Chargers of the rival
American League. "Spoke at a luncheon here today for Hilton and put them in
isles," wrote Fido. "What an offer his league made me! But I turned it
down. I always put honor and loyalty before money.... I am holding out six or
eight kids I uncovered which an IBM computer can't go find."
name-dropper, Fido quotes Ed Pauley, the big oilman who once owned shares in
the Rams, as saying: "Those other scouts sit in the press box and yell,
'Hey, Murphy! What'd they do on that last play?' Murphy yells back, 'They were
in an over-four.' Then the scouts yell, 'What'd the strong side do?' And Murphy
says, 'For Pete's sake I'll diagram it for you at half time. I'm busy.'
Fido makes no
secret of his utter contempt for the scouts and coaches who populate pro
football. "A bunch of office boys with fancy titles!" he snaps.
"They been washing my brain for 30 years. A lot of fakers and phonies! You
ask them what do they think of such-and-such a player, and they tell you, 'Wait
till I see the films.' I don't need no lousy films. I'll tell you right there.
Pete Beathard of USC will be the Heisman Trophy winner this year, but I'm not
interested in him. No arm. But McKay's I formation is made to order for him, so
all them office boys will think he's great."
Heisman Trophy winner, Terry Baker of Oregon State, was not as promising a
prospect, says Fido, as Bill Nelsen, a quarterback he signed for the Steelers.
Nelsen also played in McKay's I formation, but presumably had an arm. "I
got you the best quarterback of the lot," Fido told Buddy Parker.