Charley Mackey says that after measuring countless athletes he believes that a person's height changes during the day. "Gravity pulls a guy tighter. A guy lies in bed all night long and everything relaxes—ligaments, tendons, muscles, the whole structure relaxes and lengthens. I've measured height changes during the day that have gone down one inch."
At the end of the scouts' table sits Tom O'Connor. He is looking at the ceiling. Occasionally he revolves in his chair. He comes from the Zone One, the somewhat quiet New England area. O'Connor is defensive about his territory. He is convinced that some of the Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth teams of the last few years could have taken anyone in the country, an opinion that he must offer with considerable shrillness against the skeptical guffawing of his fellow scouts.
O'Connor grimaces. "They say things like 'Amherst? Where the hell is Amherst?' Well, they've got this kid there, just a sophomore, called Fugett, who really flies, let me tell you." He spins in his chair. "He'll be making some noise."
Detroit's second draft choice comes up. Ray Parsons, the tight end from Minnesota, is picked. Joe Schmidt is beside himself. Cigars are lit. "A ruby!" Schmidt shouts through the smoke. "They got to be dancing down Woodward Avenue."
Jerry Neri had picked Parsons to be taken at the top of the second round. He can't believe that Detroit had a shot at him. "Someone up there is smiling on us," he says. He is smiling himself, hugely. Phones start to ring. The superlatives begin again. General Manager Russ Thomas says, "His coach at Minnesota tells me Parsons is a better tight end than our Charlie Sanders, and you know how we feel about Charlie Sanders [Sanders was a starter in this year's Pro Bowl]." On his phone Jerry Neri is saying, "He can cave in a whole line opposite him. I've seen him do it." He hangs up the phone. He walks over to a green blackboard on which the Detroit squad is marked by positions and writes down Parsons' name. He underlines it with two heavy chalk marks. He steps back to survey the name. Then he marks a star beside it. "Oh my, a ruby," he says, turning to Schmidt.
The second day of the draft, when the teams make their final selections (eighth through 17th rounds), is often referred to as "throwing darts." Joe Schmidt is no longer talking about rubies. He selects Dave Haverdick, a defensive tackle from Morehead (Ky.) State. "A diamond in the rough," he says.
"Every year three to 15 players make it in the NFL you don't give a chance to," says Jess Thompson. "Mick Tingelhoff of the Vikings. Cornell Green, Otto Brown of Dallas. Ron East. Larry Watkins of Detroit was at Alcorn A&M and, damn, I dragged my feet. I missed him. Well, he was used mostly for blocking at Alcorn, and then, too, I couldn't measure his desire. He had a big old box full of things when he arrived at Detroit's training camp and he set that thing down and he said he had come to stay, he wasn't going to be budged. Well, he made it. If I had a little gadget that I could clip on a guy's vest pocket and get a reading on what's inside, his desire, his mental toughness, I'd be a helluva scout."
While the Lions were drafting, Alex Karras, Detroit's veteran tackle, was sitting home in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., wondering what sort of a cane he should buy to ease him through his convalescence from a cartilage operation—an elegant number, with a silver head, for twirling purposes, or a more knobby, utilitarian type. He had followed the draft closely, as had everyone on the Lions.
"Naturally, there's some resentment when the rookies come in," Karras says, "the trophy winners, with those great sums of money. But, you know, I've mellowed. In the old days this guy Owens would turn up all eager and no one would talk to him for three years. He'd have a horse-feed bag hanging by his locker. That's the way rookies were treated. But now all we want to know is how quickly he can help us. When Lem Barney turned up on the practice field you could see in 10 minutes how great he would be. That's what you hope for. I worry about this guy's speed. He's sound enough. But it isn't power anymore. What you want is someone who can break it all the way. It's a game of speed. Christ, I hope he's fast."