"Seven," he said, "Muskingum, West Virginia Wesleyan, Marietta, Washington and Jefferson, University of Virginia, West Virginia and Yale."
"What I was going to ask, Greasy, was—well, almost every successful coach had a mentor, so to speak. Allie Sherman had you, Fritz Crisler had Alonzo Stagg at the University of Chicago and—"
Greasy broke in: "I never had any mentor. Why, I coached the high school team I was playing on in Parkersburg, W. Va. We did have a real coach one season, though. Fellow named Bob Cooley who had played at Purdue. I don't think you could call him a mentor. But he asked me one day if I had ever done any kicking. I said I hadn't. He said, 'Well, just hold the ball out in front, keep your leg stiff and turn your toe in and down and go on and kick.' I followed instructions and punted the ball 45 yards in a perfect spiral. Did the team's kicking from then on. That was in the year of 1911. I guess that was about as close as I ever came to having a mentor. You couldn't call Jim Thorpe a mentor. Why, we wouldn't see Thorpe when he was coaching the Canton Bulldogs until the day of the game. We didn't practice between games. Jim would give us three or four plays and then ask each man how long he thought he could play. Some would say 30 minutes, some 40 or 45. John Kellison, my line coach for more than 20 years, and I would always say, 'Put us down for 60 minutes, Jim.' "
Greasy pondered. "No," he said, "I can't think of any one man who was my mentor. Harry Stansbury, who was my teammate at West Virginia Wesleyan and later athletic director at West Virginia University when I was coaching there, always said I didn't have a mentor, that I was self-taught. He knew me as well or better than anyone else."
Suddenly Greasy raised an arm and waved to somebody across the room. "There's Art Rooney [owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers] over there. Art and I have a date for dinner tomorrow night and I've got to find out where we'll meet. Excuse me, gentlemen."
He moved easily through the crowd, clasping an outstretched hand now and again. He had the look of a man enjoying the kind of company he likes best, a man who had nothing to prove, nothing to ask.
He is independent, thanks to a lifelong policy of saving half of every dollar he earned. His way of living is more than merely comfortable: he has a Park Avenue apartment in New York and he takes a house in Florida every season. He plays golf in the low 80s (every day in Florida, twice a week up North) and a lot of first-rate bridge. He is devoted to Bianco, a toy-size white poodle that accompanies him to practice sessions of the New York Giants in Fairfield, Conn. and games at Yankee Stadium and goes along on Greasy's frequent visits with Allie Sherman at the Giants' offices.
When Greasy had reached the far side of the room, his friend Art Rooney had something of interest to tell him. An official of one of the NFL clubs had just asked him, Rooney said, if he thought Greasy would be interested in returning to coaching. Rooney surmised correctly that, at 72, Greasy would not. "But," Art Rooney had said, "Greasy could. If he isn't up to the minute on the pro game, he would be in a week."
Which, Greasy himself said later, was the nicest thing he had heard at the cocktail party.