That was the season I went to the hypnotist. His name was Dewey Devers and he had a dingy little office in downtown Pittsburgh. He was an old guy, close to 80. His method wasn't to put you to sleep. He used a kind of power-of-suggestion approach. He had me lie down on the couch. He turned out the lights, covered my eyes with a towel and began to talk. He tried to relax me. He grabbed my foot and said, "Relax and refresh your muscles, rest them completely," and he shook my foot. Then he grabbed my leg and did the same thing. The more he worked the more tense I got.
Then he started the litany: "When you go into a game to kick a field goal you will be confident.... You will be relaxed.... You will keep your head down.... You will follow through.... You will assert yourself...."
I went twice a week in the beginning, then cut it to once and then quit altogether. He put the routine on a card, and I had Carol repeat it to me at home. When it got tiring for her I transcribed it on tape and plugged the recorder into my ear and went to sleep listening to myself giving myself a pep talk. I can't say I achieved anything, but you never know.
At camp next year it became evident that it was going to be me or Gene Mingo. The Steelers had picked up Mingo in the off season. I knew I had gotten off on the wrong foot with Chuck Noll, the new coach. He didn't like me kicking cups.
It was late August 1969. A rapping on the dormitory door woke me before 8.
"Yeah. Who is it?"
"Biff, the camp manager."
"Yeah, Biff, what do you want?"
"The coach wants to see you."
I was suddenly wide awake. I rushed around the room, combing my hair, tucking in my shirt. The mirror stopped me. I could see the lines around my eyes, the familiar red puffiness. Am I going to look too old? I tried to tighten the skin with my fingertips. He can't cut me now. I'm better than the other guy.