Schmidt did a little pantomime there in the training room of a nervous quarterback working the fake 11—poised behind his center, then dancing back in his stockinged feet, pumping his arm hard, then running fast in place, head down, emulating the dash for the line, then looking up and screaming as the imaginary linebackers converged, following it all with a concussive sound he made by exploding his palms together and the expiring, anguished cry of a broken quarterback.
"Oh, yes," he called out. "You got to get him to try that one."
It was a funny imitation, and we stood laughing at it, except for the Scooter, who said testily: "They're going to make you yo-yos on defense look silly tonight, mind you!" He took no such kidding from the defense people, simply as a matter of principle, having spent his years, from the first, running against defenses, and afterwards, as a coach, attacking them with personnel he trained endlessly, trying to imbue them with his skills and perhaps his antipathy, which was such that when a member of the defense, even from his own team, twitted him, it raised his temper.
Everybody knew this—and admired it—though it did not keep Schmidt and the others from joshing him, knowing just how far they could go. Scooter turned his back and inspected his clipboard, his quarterbacks grouped around him.
He had no further use for me, so I hurried off to the equipment manager's room to retrieve my football shoes. Friday's assistant was still screwing cleats into them. "Hey, Friday!" I said. "Those cleats look awful long. Those aren't mud cleats you're sticking in there?"
Friday came over. "What'd I want to stick mud cleats in there for?" he said. "The day's fine outside. Going to be a lovely night. What do you want mud cleats for?"
"I don't want mud cleats, dammit, Friday, but those things being put in there are long enough to bring up, well, oil, and as for the shoes themselves, Friday, they got to have weights in them."
Friday began hefting them again, but then suddenly he grinned and broke—with a thin wheeze that left him struggling for breath. "O.K., O.K.," he said. "Look at this." He tugged at the inside sole of the shoe, straining against the glue that had hardened fast, and he skinned out a thin metal strip. It weighed at least a pound.
"What do you think of that?" he asked. "They were put in this morning."
"Look at those things," I said.