I have sent photostat composites of my clippings to coaches, the clippings artfully arranged so it is hard to tell that most of the stories are of the same game. I have made extensive use of the telephone, the U.S. Mail and Western Union to get my message to those who showed a reluctance to hire me. When I thought a coach might be weakening I doubled and tripled up on the wires and phone calls. (I make a bad first impression, so I do a lot of compensating.)
Kicking specialists practice in a vacuum, usually at the other end of the field. Other players—even coaches—do not always appreciate their worth or needs. In Pittsburgh two whole sections of fans cheered me every time I got up because of my paper cups.
I had a bag of accessories I carried to the games—tees, shoes, tape, etc.—and a supply of paper cups. They were beer cups or milk-shake cups wrapped with tape, and when kicked right they soared like a football but without going very far. I started kicking cups when I was recovering from a charley horse years ago and discovered they were perfect for practicing on the sidelines and in hotel corridors.
It got so in Pitt Stadium that every time I fished into my bag the fans began to stir, and when I got up and kicked a cup—usually about 30 feet—they actually cheered.
The next season the Steelers hired a new coach, Chuck Noll, and after a while he told me kicking cups was out.
"It looks bad—it's not dignified, right?" I said, trying to be helpful. "That's it," he said. I tried to explain that I wasn't doing it for laughs, that it was a training aid. "Yes, well, no more cups," he said. Sometimes I have a hard time communicating.
Shortly after that the Steelers released me.
In Buffalo my personal tormentor-it was like having your own valet—was a linebacker named Paul Maguire. Maguire put rocks in my cups and never tired of pointing up my eccentricities. I had more in those days than I do now because I was still feeling my way. I took a clipboard and a pencil to workouts, charting everything I did. I kicked golf balls. I had portable goalposts I carried in my Rambler. I made plywood dummies to simulate the center and holder (it is tough for a kicker to get somebody to hold, but it is tougher to get somebody to center). I was always jogging extra laps or running through parking lots at night, weaving around cars. I was lifting weights and taking a dietary supplement called Crash Weight-Gain Formula No. 7.
Maguire made my life miserable. The rocks sprayed out of my cups like popcorn. When I missed a real kick Maguire would yell, "Awright, get the clipboard out. It's back to the cups." I always thought Maguire suspected something because then he would say, "That's him, Booth Lusteg, the man with the 25-year-old body and the 45-year-old face."
Then one night he caught me doing psychocybernetics on the front steps of the dormitory at preseason camp. I had borrowed this book, Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz, from Jackie Kemp, the quarterback, and was sitting with my chin on the hands, making a practical application: staring at the field, mentally picturing each step of my kick right through to the upraised arms of the referee, going over it again and again and again in my mind. (Psychocybernetics can actually tire you out.)