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THE ROOKIES GIVE IT A SHOT
Pat Putnam
August 11, 1969
The College All-Stars overcame their awe of the Jets—and even of Joe Willie—and in a surprising second half nearly scored an upset
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August 11, 1969

The Rookies Give It A Shot

The College All-Stars overcame their awe of the Jets—and even of Joe Willie—and in a surprising second half nearly scored an upset

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Curfew was 11 p.m. In the past Graham was known to forgive first offenders, who usually numbered between 25 and 30. This time the first offenders—and there were only three—spent 30 minutes after practice rolling around in a whistle drill that left them gasping for breath. No more missed curfews.

"Most of these guys don't even want to be here," said Podolak, a starkly frank halfback from Iowa who must beat out Mike Garrett to win a job at Kansas City. "I sure didn't want to play in this game. I asked Coach Hank Stram to get me out. I asked other people. And they did. I was already in the Chiefs' camp. But because Simpson and Keyes and Ron Johnson didn't show up, they called me. And you don't have much choice."

The wrong choice can produce a ban from exhibition games.

"I guess I'm disappointed," continued Podolak, who, upon his late arrival, was given the locker originally assigned Simpson. He immediately nicknamed himself O. J. Podolak. "I feel it's a great honor to play in this game. But it's not practical, especially when you have to go up against a former Heisman Trophy winner on your own team to win a position."

When he arrived in Evanston, Terry Hanratty, the Notre Dame quarterback who would not have a good night against the Jets, didn't expect to stay. He brought only two shirts, two pairs of slacks. Because of a recent knee operation, the Steelers, who drafted him, told him he would flunk the All-Star physical. He didn't, so there he was: no clothes, only a Steeler play book to console him. "I was really psyched to go to camp. I was spending time every night calling plays. But then...." He laughed. "I've adjusted. I'm happy to be here."

"It's an honor," repeated Jim Seymour, the Notre Dame receiver who just learned he'll report to an Army camp, not to the Rams'. Then he grinned: "But it's a yes and no honor, since you'd rather not be here. But I guess we all like the idea of a shot at the champion, at Joe Namath. We might never get another chance."

And they took their shot, although in the first half, with Hanratty, then Kansas' Bob Douglass, and finally Greg Cook of Cincinnati failing at quarterback, it looked as though it was to be a blank.

Hanratty had won the starting role by flipping a coin with Cook. Graham had told Douglass early in the camp that he couldn't throw as well as those other two fellows and the southpaw didn't get to flip for the honor.

It didn't really matter: by halftime all three failed equally. In the first two periods the rookies managed one first down on a penalty, seven yards gained passing, 12 rushing and had lost 59 yards through penalties. Perhaps all had been afflicted by what Fred Dryer feared the most. "There's a certain fascination in the thought of going against Namath," said the big defensive end from San Diego State (Giants). "I'm afraid I may just stand there and stare at him for a few plays."

Whatever the Stars' problem, Namath, although somewhat rusty from a six-month layoff and with less than two weeks of practice, had little trouble moving the Jets. Except into the end zone. In that half, Joe went 10 for 19 for 198 yards and the Jets added 90 more running. But they scored only one touchdown—on a three-yard run by Matt Snell—and two field goals by Jim Turner. Once they even stalled inside the rookies' three after arriving there with a first down. Still, they led 13-0, and that looked like 12 more points than they would need.

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