As it turned out, Jimmy Brown and I sat on the bench most of the game. Curley Lambeau was the All-Star coach, and Jimmy Brown and I were alternate running backs. Lambeau said we would play in the second quarter. We were supposed to alternate quarters with Barnes and Arnett. But the second quarter came and we didn't get in, and then the half came and we still hadn't been in, and Jimmy and I were fuming.
In the dressing room at half time Lambeau said, "You guys let Barnes and Arnett start again, and I'll put you in after about five minutes." What was I going to say? He was the coach. The third quarter came and went and we still didn't get in, and then in the fourth quarter, when the Giants were kicking the straw out of us, Lambeau finally called me over and said go in and throw the option pass. It was third and 12.
As soon as I went out on the field, the Giant defense started hollering "option" because I was noted for that play. I got the ball and ran the option, and I couldn't even see a receiver for all the Giants in the way. I kept the ball and ran for minus one. I got up and started back to the huddle, and there was Arnett coming in for me.
After that experience I went to the Eagle camp feeling blue. Sonny and Jimmy and I worried plenty whether we'd survive the Eagles' cut. At the time of our last exhibition game on the coast, against the 49ers, I still didn't know. I figured if they cut me out there it would be cheaper than an earlier cut in the East, because the carfare home would be peanuts.
But I made it—and then spent the first eight league games on the bench. In the ninth, Coach Hugh Devore sent me in as a flanker. "This is it," I thought. "I either show something here or screw the whole thing up."
I was fortunate. We were playing Washington, and the defensive halfback covering me was Joe Walton. They had switched him from end to defensive back—why I'll never know, because Joe just isn't that fast. He is doing real great at end now for the Giants.
Jurgensen was our quarterback. He started out throwing to Bobby Walston on the other flank. Then he asked me, "Can you get deep on Walton?" I said, "I'll try."
Walton was playing me back about 14 yards, which gave me a big advantage on short passes. He had to play back there to have some chance on the deep ones. Well, I got behind him. Just as Sonny threw, someone hit his arm and the pass was short. Walton stopped running with me and stood waiting to intercept. I went back and circled around Walton, jumped up in front of him and caught the ball. When I came down Walton was off balance. I took off for the end zone and made the touchdown. In the same game Sonny hit me in the pocket between the zones of the Redskins' defense, and I scored another touchdown.
The sportswriters asked me afterward why I hadn't let anybody know that I could catch the football. I said, "I can't. At least I can't run patterns the way they should be run. I still have to learn how."
The skills you learn in college aren't necessarily useful in pro ball. Jimmy Harris was a terrific split T quarterback at Oklahoma. He could run the option real well. But the Eagles played Sonny because Sonny had the arm and Jimmy didn't; what the pros want is the arm. Harris became a defensive back. When it comes to throwing, there isn't an arm in the business as strong as Sonny's, except maybe Johnny Unitas'—and, when he was playing, Norm Van Brocklin's.