"I said," interrupted Greasy, " 'No, Allie. In a case like that, you try a long pass. The rules give you four tries to make 10 yards. If you go for that one yard on second down, you're wasting a couple of downs and you'll never get them back.' "
The fat man stroked his bald head as if it had hair on it. "What I was going to ask you, Allie, had you ever heard that theory put just that way before?"
"It was new to me at the time," said Allie.
"I'll tell you," said Greasy, "how new it was to me. I was playing with the Canton Bulldogs against Youngstown in 1917. Jim Thorpe was coaching the team, but he wasn't playing that day. We came up to Youngstown's 22-yard line on a third down with one to go. In the huddle our quarterback, Milt Ghee, an All-America from Dartmouth, said, 'Greasy, what will we do?' I said to pass. Frank Mount Pleasant, our left halfback, an Indian from Carlisle, said, 'No, let's buck the line for the one yard and the first down.' I told him what I told Allie, 'We'll get that yard on the next down if the pass fails,' I said. Frank grunted O.K. Well, sir, Ghee throws me a pass into the flat, and I get away with only Tommy Hughitt of Michigan, then safety man, between me and the goal line. At the five-yard line Hughitt leaves his feet for the tackle, and I leave my feet at the same time. Hughitt goes under me. I land on my shoulder in the old baseball roll and come up and I walk the few yards for a touchdown. We win the game from Youngstown 13 and nothing. That was without Thorpe, mind you. But getting back to that idea about not wasting downs. I spoke on that subject at the coaches' convention in New Orleans in 1938. I told the coaches, 'Any able-bodied boy who can count up to 10 can learn to be quarterback.' "
"Greasy," a man asked, "was Jim Thorpe as great as they claim?"
"Greater," said Greasy. " Jim Thorpe could do anything. He could kick a ball 80 yards. That was the old pumpkin ball. He could have kicked today's ball 100 yards. There was only one man I saw who could stop Thorpe consistently. Nasty Nash from Rutgers. Played end on the Massillon Tigers. Nasty Nash owned Thorpe, as they say. Wore a mustache. I guess that's why they called him Nasty. Looked like a villain in western movies. Weighed 202."
Somebody drew Allie Sherman away, and another onetime member of the Philadelphia Eagles backfield replaced him in the cocktail-party huddle.
"Hello, Coach," the new man said.
Greasy looked and beamed. "Bosh Pritchard," he cried. He turned to the others. "One of our great backs when we won the NFL championship in '48 and '49. Got Bosh on waivers from Cleveland. Only cost us $500. Weighed 162. Virginia Military Institute boy."
"Greasy," said Pritchard, "you've got the memory of an IBM computer."