- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Our opponent for that one game was the power of the league, the Forest Hills Merchants of Dorchester, Mass. Late in the first half we came up with a fourth down on the Dorchester 32-yard line. "Field goal!" our coach suddenly shouted. "We're going to try a field goal!" Like it had never been done before.
Fate was with us. A perfect snap, a perfect hold, a perfect kick. No team nowhere that I have ever seen was as excited as the Brighton Knights over that field goal. They led the powerhouse of the league 9-7. The coach's halftime talk was a masterpiece. "Hit 'em, hit 'em, hit 'em," he screamed. We charged back out, fit to kill, and then one of our defensive backs got hurt. There were no extras. The coach asked me to play. "Sure," I said.
In the defensive huddle I asked for the formation. "Well," said the linebacker, "it's you 'n' me on this side. Whatta you wanna do?"
"I'll cover long," I said, "and we'll play inside-outside zone. How's that?"
"Yeah, O.K., man." he said.
But as the ball was snapped, the linebacker abandoned the plan completely, put on a fantastic rush and left me with 80% of the field to cover. Lucky again. The rush worked. The quarterback's pass was underthrown, right into the arms of—me! I intercepted and started upfield, wheeling along like Night Train Lane. Then I blacked out. Somebody had ripped me from the blind side.
I woke up in the darkened dressing room, all alone. They had carried me in there, dumped me on a table and left me there. And there I stayed while the Forest Hills Merchants ran up 35 points in the last half to beat the Brighton Knights 42-9.
The carefully arranged photostats of my accomplishments as a Sweeper were in the mail before the season was over. I attached letters and statistics and sent them to every team in the NFL, AFL and Canadian League. I usually got a standard rejection: the club did not entertain unsigned candidates. Most clubs don't. You can't get a tryout without being under contract, and they won't give you a contract without looking at you. And the replies are usually form letters that insult you with their tardiness. I signed with the Packers in October of last year, and I was still getting "Dear Sir" letters from other teams in February—expressing regret, telling me to keep in touch.
Nevertheless, in 1966 I was about to get my long-awaited tryout with the New York Giants (I was right—Don Chandler hadn't lasted forever) when the Giants hired Pete Gogolak away from the Buffalo Bills. So I called Buffalo, asked them if they got my photostats (yes) and if they were interested (maybe).
A scout came to see me. I must have looked at myself in the mirror that morning because I found myself telling him my name was Wallace Booth Lusteg, cum laude graduate of Boston College, onetime reject of the Boston College football team—and age 24. Except for the "Booth," it was my brother's identity. Booth is my middle name.