SI Vault
 
JUST CALL ME FOOTBALL'S GREATEST SCOUT
Myron Cope
September 30, 1963
He isn't necessarily the smartest man in the game, Fido Murphy modestly admits, but the thing is, he says, he knows more than anyone else
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 30, 1963

Just Call Me Football's Greatest Scout

He isn't necessarily the smartest man in the game, Fido Murphy modestly admits, but the thing is, he says, he knows more than anyone else

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6

It seems that Fido's old mentor, Hunk Anderson, was then coaching the Detroit defense and had telephoned Fido for help. "We don't have much material here," Anderson told him, "but there's one guy I want to beat—Halas. Scout him for us."

Fido reported back: "Their offense is practically the same as the T formation I used at Samuel Johnson Academy. It's all sideswiping. So don't let your defensive linemen charge. Have them wait and slide. But while they're sliding have a linebacker fly in on Bill Osmanski. If you stop him, you stop the Bears. Use a sliding five-man line with a linebacker flying in."

"My best man for that," said Anderson, "is John Wiethe. I want you to talk to him on the phone and tell him what to do."

Naturally, Detroit beat the Bears. But that isn't important. "What's important," says Fido, "is that now we're getting into why I'm a great scout. Nobody had used a five-man line—never. So the middle guard is invented. Also, the first linebacker that ever red-dogged and blitzed was John Wiethe! Bill Osmanski gained 46 yards for the day, and the Lions did it with my suggestions. But the next year, 1940, Shaughnessy turns up at Stanford and uses my T and goes undefeated and wins the Rose Bowl. The only thing he did with my T was put a man in motion, and he gets credit for inventing the modern T formation." (Halas concedes Fido is "an excellent talent scout and a good team scout" but differs with him on the origin of the T. "Fido," he says, "was a devotee of it, but the T was used before he was born.")

Meanwhile Halas, who obviously knew genius when he saw it beating him, had added Hunk Anderson to his coaching staff and in the bargain got Fido as a scout. The Bears, too, were surging forward with the T—"with Fido Murphy behind the scenes, sharpening the pencils," says Fido sarcastically. By his own account, Fido fashioned the Bears' 73-0 slaughter of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 championship game. He told the Chicago coaching staff: "That team's got two different teams. They're one team when Sammy Baugh's in and another team when Frankie Filchock comes in to give him a rest. Baugh is pass-completion crazy. He'll throw 1� yards if he can get a completion. He won't run. Back up your tackles and back up your secondary kids deeper. Baugh won't run, and if he overshoots the short stuff, we'll pick 'em off.

"But," Fido continued, "when they put Filchock in, he'll run. So we won't drop back. We'll give him the rush."

The Bears intercepted eight Redskin passes. Filchock made a costly fumble. "We picked off the short stuff and buried Filchock, and that was the story," says Fido.

A blazing success as a scout, Fido expanded his scope. When Buddy Parker became head coach at Detroit in 1951, Fido hired out to Parker while continuing to take Halas' money, and later shifted to the Steeler payroll when Parker moved to Pittsburgh in 1957. From his Hollywood location since his marriage to Miss Adrian in 1950, Fido has plagued the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, whom he regularly scouts. "For Pete's sake, I been beating the Rams for 10 years," he declares. Three years ago the 49ers began rolling over the league with Coach Red Hickey's surprise shotgun offense. "This is Dutch Meyer's old Texas Christian single wing," Fido shouted at Halas over a long-distance line, "and what's more, 15% of it is illegal. Now here's how to beat it...."

San Francisco's shotgun had averaged 33 points a game for five games, but the Bears held it scoreless. Alas, Clark Shaughnessy—then Halas' defensive coach—again got credit for Fido's brainwork. Roars Fido: "I said to Halas, 'What's going on here? What's all this foolishness?' And he said, 'Well, Fido, I know you done it, but I gotta say Shaughnessy done it because he's called our defensive coach.' Titles! I got the Bears practically their whole team, but Halas has to give George Allen the credit because he got the title of head scout. Personnel Director, he is called."

Fido's claim to having solved the shotgun is circumstantially supported by the fact that Pittsburgh, his other client, held the 49ers to 10 points and beat them the very week after the Bears. "He gave me a lot of good information," Buddy Parker confirms. "For example the big thing was putting a man right on their center. The center had to pass that ball back instead of just handing it to a T quarterback, so that kind of took him away from doing his job as a blocker. We put Big Daddy Lipscomb on him. Fido told us to."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6