I think at the time he only meant to use it part of the time, to confuse defenses. The club was a bit dubious about the idea at first, but you don't argue with Hickey. Since the shotgun required a running quarterback, it was pretty clear that Hickey did not count on me to operate it. He had Brodie and Bob Waters, both of whom could run and pass, and Y. A. Tittle, who couldn't run his way out of a wet paper sack.
Even if I had been a good runner, the torn groin muscle would have stopped me. Against Baltimore, I got in for one play, when Brodie was knocked groggy. I reinjured my groin and came out, with Waters taking over. We upset Baltimore, then thumped the Plams and the Colts again with the shotgun and I did not play at all. I sat on the bench for the last four games of the season. I began to think my career was over.
Hickey didn't make any trades between the 1960 and 1961 season, though, and I went to camp in 1961 in the best condition of my life. I usually weigh about 210 at the beginning of camp and take off weight slowly; that year I showed up at 194. There were rumors that I would be traded, and I told Hickey that if I were it had to be to Los Angeles or I would quit.
I had a real good training camp. We were using a lot of regular T and I was throwing good and looking good. Our first exhibition game was against the New York Giants, and Hickey announced that Brodie would play the first half and that I would play the second. He didn't mention Bob Waters or Bill Kilmer, the other two quarterbacks. I began to hope that maybe I had impressed him so much that he had given up the idea of trading me away from the 49ers.
Brodie had a bad first half against New York, and I was hot as a firecracker in the second half. After the game I felt even better about my chances of staying in San Francisco, but I guess that good performance actually hastened the trade. I don't know whether or not Hickey put me in against the Giants just to show them what I could do, but on the Tuesday following the game, when I reported to training camp, Hickey called me in.
"Well, Y. A.," he said, "you have been traded to New York for Lou Cordileone."
"Who?" I asked him. I had never heard of Lou Cordileone.
Hickey said it was one of the toughest decisons he had ever had to make, but I wasn't paying much attention to him. You try to whistle in the dark when a thing like this happens, but you can't convince yourself it doesn't hurt. For the first time in my football life I was not needed.
I told Hickey I didn't blame him for doing what he thought was best for the club and that I felt no bitterness toward him. Then I asked him if I could talk to the squad before I left. They were out on the field, waiting to begin practice.
I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I told the team that, and I told them that I had already gotten a lot out of football and I had no complaints.