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IT WAS ONLY A GAME OF TOUCH
George V. Packard
September 18, 1967
There seemed no reason to be apprehensive. On Sundays a bunch of guys edging toward middle age got together for a little pretend football. Trouble was, it was pretend pro football. They should have hired Vince Lombardi to coach it
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September 18, 1967

It Was Only A Game Of Touch

There seemed no reason to be apprehensive. On Sundays a bunch of guys edging toward middle age got together for a little pretend football. Trouble was, it was pretend pro football. They should have hired Vince Lombardi to coach it

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We threw for a while and then another one of them came over and said, "I'm Howie. How are ya?"

Howie was built just the opposite of the Tree, wide and close to the ground, like a fort, and I never saw him when he didn't have a smile on his face. He was the center, and it was always a little disconcerting to look up to the line of scrimmage and see Howie bent over, smiling back at me under a rear the size and shape of a tugboat. But Howie had the lateral movement and he could center; could he ever center.

He took the ball, walked six or seven yards away, spread his legs and smiled back at me, upside down, and said, "How do ya like it?"

I held my hands out in front and a little to the right the way I'd seen them do it in the old pictures of the single-wing tailback and said, "Hike."

It must have been doing 50 or 75 miles an hour when it went by me to the right and halfway down the field. Howie stood up.

"Figured you was going to roll," he said, "the way you was standing with your hands."

I was feeling a little lightheaded, thinking of what could have happened if that ball had come back right at me. Somebody might have had to pull it out of me, if it didn't go right through.

What he had said about rolling out bothered me a little, too. I figured that my rolling days were over and that I was more the stand-up, Tittle type.

I had this vision of myself in the pocket back there looking out over all that mayhem, dispassionate, picking and choosing, ignoring the agony around me.

"I don't roll, Howie," I said. "I'm an old-fashioned quarterback."

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