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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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But the rookies spent the rest period wisely. First they congratulated themselves on still being alive, and they took note that hardly anyone was bloody. Then one player offered a startling discovery. "You know," he said, "during one time-out I was just standing around so I started counting Biggs' arms and legs. You know what, he's only got two of each." And, he informed everyone, he had counted twice to make sure. It was, as Seymour would say later, the collective realization that professionals are human, too.

Even Namath?

"Well, no, not Namath," said Podolak, with-a cheerful grin. "You know. He's God."

"You can say that again," said Ron Pritchard, the excellent linebacker from Arizona State who is moving on to the Oilers. "One time we had a blitz and I know I didn't give it away. But Namath picked it up. Before I even hit the line of scrimmage Pete Lammons was in behind me and Namath had the ball to him. He reads, man, he reads."

No longer awed by the Jets, the Stars went out in the second half to play their game. Altie Taylor got it going with a 78-yard return of a kickoff after the Jets had made it 16-0 on Turner's third field goal. Then Cook, who had completed but one pass for four yards in the first half, found himself. "He surprised us," said Podolak. "All of a sudden he seemed to get poise. The whole picture of what was happening snapped into his mind. It was there and he called some beautiful plays."

Three of the plays were touchdown passes: 17 yards to Gene Washington of Stanford ( 49ers); 12 yards to Bob Klein of USC ( Rams); and then, with 16 seconds to play, 19 yards to Jerry Levias of SMU (Oilers). Those, with Roy Gerela's 28-yard field goal after the aborted touchdown, were all the clock would allow.

The Jets, in the meantime, had matched their first-half output, again getting a touchdown from Snell, this on a pretty 35-yard run, and a fourth field goal by Turner. Namath completed seven of 13 for 94 yards before leaving with five minutes to play. He wasn't all that happy with his performance.

"I had some receivers open and I overthrew them," he said later, with some disgust. Then, shrugging, he added, "But we won, and that's what counts. We've got five exhibitions to go and we'll be ready when the season opens."

Best of all, the knees took several savage raps yet held up beautifully. "I just wish," he said, "I could come out of all the games feeling as good as I do now."

Namath even fared better than Graham, who, after an argument with Sample, came away with a cut on the bridge of his nose. Their quarrel was not new. They have been battling since 1958, when Sample was on the All-Stars and Graham didn't let him play until the last three minutes. Then Otto wrote Ewbank, who was coaching at Baltimore, and said Sample would never make it as a pro.

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