SI Vault
 
'HUT—TWO—THREE...UGH!'
George Plimpton
September 14, 1964
In which the venturous author, the rawest rookie pro football has ever known, recounts all the excruciating details of what happened when he called five plays as quarterback for the Detroit Lions, of how he was cheered by a sellout crowd, and of how the twist and a kindly guard eased his retirement pain
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 14, 1964

'hut—two—three...ugh!'

In which the venturous author, the rawest rookie pro football has ever known, recounts all the excruciating details of what happened when he called five plays as quarterback for the Detroit Lions, of how he was cheered by a sellout crowd, and of how the twist and a kindly guard eased his retirement pain

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

He disappeared with his children, but they were back after a minute or so with coffee and rolls from the dining room. "These'll fix you up," Harley said.

I groaned and got up to dress.

"It's best to keep your mind occupied," Harley said.

"Harley, I was asleep."

"You would've waked up wrong," Harley said.

We went riding through the country in his station wagon. His children sat quietly in the back seat, flanking a lawn-mower Harley had borrowed and had been meaning to return. When I closed my eyes I could feel sleep rock toward me, so I kept the window down to let the warm air hit, and I tried to keep my mind on what Harley was saying. He was talking about the tough people he had played against, the enormous defensive tackles and guards he had tried to clear out for the offensive backs, and the humiliations he had been forced to suffer. He was trying to make me feel better about my own humiliations the night before. He talked about Big Daddy Lipscomb. Harley said that he had played against him a number of times and that while he was one of the best, and he'd been humiliated by him for sure, he was not as good as Henry Jordan of the Green Bay Packers, who was faster and trickier and much harder on a good day than Big Daddy on an average day. Occasionally Big Daddy would put his mind to it, and then he was invincible. Harley's worst day against him was in the 1963 Pro Bowl Game, when he just couldn't handle him, so he came out and someone else went in to try, and couldn't and Forrest Gregg tried and couldn't, so finally they double-teamed him, two men driving at him, and that helped, but not much.

I asked Harley why Baltimore had traded such a valuable property, even if he did have a bad day or so, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, they'd had problems with him, Harley told me: he was not an easy man, being prideful and quick-tempered, and on one occasion, the year before he was traded, one of the Colts gave a party to which Big Daddy was not invited. He prowled around until the idea that he was being snubbed got the better of him. He turned up at the party and threw the host through a window. There was a big ruckus, of course, particularly since the host, who was a very fleet scatback, cut a tendon in his ankle going through the glass. After that they didn't think they could keep Big Daddy.

"The vision I have of him," I said dreamily, "is him sitting in a dentist's chair."

"What's that?" asked Harley sharply.

"I've read somewhere he couldn't stand pain," I explained. "He wouldn't get in a dentist's chair unless he had his wife with him, sitting on his lap, to calm him down at the slightest twinge. I never can think of him without seeing that dentist trying to get his job done with those two people sitting in his chair, and having to work around the girl to get at Big Daddy wearing one of those little bibs."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11