SI Vault
Tex Maule
October 09, 1967
Skulduggery and a mysterious yellow Chevrolet contributed to the fun but not to the stunning display of power that lifted Los Angeles last weekend to the top of the NFL along with Green Bay and Baltimore
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October 09, 1967

In Dallas, Spytalk And A Rout

Skulduggery and a mysterious yellow Chevrolet contributed to the fun but not to the stunning display of power that lifted Los Angeles last weekend to the top of the NFL along with Green Bay and Baltimore

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In the week before their game with Dallas, the Rams prepared themselves so meticulously that Tex Schramm, the president of the Cowboys (and a former general manager of the Rams), claimed the whole business smacked more of a James Bond novel than it did of legitimate scouting. What got Schramm was a yellow Chevrolet that was parked near the Cowboys' temporary practice area, a high school field borrowed pending the reclamation of their regular practice site. At the close of Thursday practice, Head Coach Tom Landry dispatched a guard to find out who was in the car, where-upon the Chevy raced away.

The guard took the license number (KRZ 308), and Schramm checked with the Hertz Rent-A-Car agency at the Dallas airfield. He found that the car had been rented on Tuesday evening by J. R. Sanders, Los Angeles Rams, 7813 Beverly Boulevard. A little more detective work revealed that Johnny Sanders, chief of the Rams' talent-scouting staff, and Norm Pollom, an aide, had checked into the Executive Inn, a hostelry near the airport, on Tuesday evening. In a fine rage, Schramm fired off a hot wire to Commissioner Pete Rozelle, complaining of what he called the Rams' "chicanery." George Allen, the head coach of the Rams, was confronted with the spy charges when the club landed in Dallas Friday evening but, understandably, he denied all and filed a countercharge of his own.

"There was a guy sitting in a eucalyptus tree overlooking our practice field Thursday," said Allen seriously. "By the time we saw him and sent someone after him, he climbed down and ran away. From the rear he looked like Bucko Kilroy."

Kilroy is a Cowboy scout and weighs in the vicinity of 300 pounds. It is hard to believe that he could have climbed a eucalyptus tree, much less perched among the limbs of one to take notes, as unnoticed as a sparrow.

Whatever the truth of the charges, it is doubtful that either Bucko Kilroy or Johnny Sanders contributed materially to the game plans of their respective clubs. As Allen pointed out, both teams are plentifully supplied with film of previous games and each is well acquainted with the plays—and ploys—of the other. Allen also stressed that he had prepared his game plan long before Friday, when he would have received information from Sanders.

"That's all true enough," said the quiet, scholarly Landry. "They know all of our offense, but we use a lot of offensive sets and it would certainly be valuable for them to know which ones we had on our ready list. It is an unethical thing to do."

In the game itself it was not Bondian lunatricks so much as the Los Angeles football team itself that made the difference. The Rams are equipped with an enormous amount of muscle, morale and mobility. They added a surprisingly good offense to the best defense in the National Football League and demolished the Dallas Cowboys 35-13 before 75,000 dismayed fans in the Cotton Bowl. The game placed the Rams at the head of the NFL along with Green Bay and Baltimore. It also established their defense as the very best.

Long before spies became an issue, George Allen had thoroughly briefed his club on the multiple, complex offense of the Cowboys. Los Angeles gave up two touchdowns, but the first of these came in the second period as a result of a blocked punt that put the ball on the Ram one, first and goal. Only once during the game could the Cowboys contrive a real drive.

"We get a hundred-page scouting report on Monday of every week, covering the club we play the next Sunday," said Max Baughan, the linebacker who came to the Rams from the Philadelphia Eagles and now captains the defensive unit. He was in the Ram dressing room after the game, his uniform drenched in perspiration, his thin, sandy hair plastered flat on his head. "From Monday to Wednesday I live in a state of confusion," he went on. "By Thursday it begins to come clear. By Friday we have it down pat and we're ready to play our game. Coach Allen gives us a completely different defense for each club. I mean our defenses are basically the same, but the application is different for each team. We knew just about what the Cowboys would try to do to us, and they didn't have any surprises."

The Ram defense is based primarily on a fine line. The ends are 6'5" David Jones and 6'7" Lamar Lundy. The tackles are 6'5" Merlin Olsen and 6'5" Roger Brown. They add up to 1,090 pounds, which is what sometimes lands on opposing quarterbacks.

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