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While the game was going on, volunteers were out trying to locate quarters for Kapp and his family. Another enthusiast was sifting through automobile deals ("I'll go all the way to the governor's office to get you the right deal," he promised), and agencies were roughing out commercials that would star the Hub's newest hero.
This same upwelling of enthusiasm caused a claque of fans at the game to lose its perspective. Early in the first quarter, with Mike Taliaferro running the Patriots' attack, the fans began shouting: "We want Kapp! We want Kapp!" Kapp hied his 6'3", 215-pound frame over near the stands, pointed a finger at the cheering section and bellowed, "Shut up!" There was relative silence for two periods, but with Boston trailing in the final quarter and Taliaferro throwing in-completions, the roar came from all over the stadium: "We want Kapp!" Joe knew he wasn't going to play, and he shook his head as though to discourage the noise. "That's football fans," he said later. "They love to win and get involved, and some of them are stupid."
But if there was no chance for the new man to get into the Baltimore game, there was every chance for him to play the following Sunday against Kansas City, the team that had rubbed his nose in the dirt in the Super Bowl and knocked him out of a game for the first time in his life. All last week Kapp went to bed with his playbook the way a U.S. Marine goes to bed with his rifle. His assignment was to learn as many plays and formations as he could, and Offensive Coordinator John Mazur hoped that would be about 80. Clive Rush said, "We'll put in as many wrinkles as we can without messing his mind."
One evening Kapp sat in his hotel room, knitting his brow over the playbook and trying to follow the Kansas City-Denver game film that he was projecting on the wall. "The trouble is," he said, "it's one thing to know the plays in Room 917 of the Hotel Sonesta and another to know them at the line of scrimmage, with Curley Culp breathing on you. And then maybe you get yourself a shot on the head and you forget the whole system. I did that in Canada once—I started calling University of California signals. And I did it again at Minnesota. We were playing Detroit, and I took a shot on the head, and I came in and called a play from my Canadian football days. That'll happen here, too. The way you'll know is you'll see the Boston backfield go one way and me another."
By the second week of workouts, Kapp had made his singular presence felt. "I don't know what it is about that guy," said an assistant coach, "but he's a winner, and he generates something special." While Taliaferro showed signs of tension ("Are we in your way, fellow?" he said to a photographer pressing to get a picture of Kapp), Joe kept things low-key and loose. The defensive line warmed to his quips and wisecracks, as had other lines at Minnesota and Calgary and Vancouver. "Don't worry, Joe," Tackle Houston Antwine shouted, "we ain't going to hit you today." "Hey, Joe, cut your hair, man," another black said. "You look like the player rep for the Gay Alliance." When Kapp slipped, somebody shouted, "Hey, Joe, you better stop buying your football shoes in Tijuana."
Off the field, the leavening process continued. Surprisingly, there was only one Patriot whom Kapp had known from his past meanderings—Brian Dowling, the fourth-string quarterback from Yale. Quickly Kapp set about rectifying the social omissions. He sat in the trainer's room exchanging niceties with his new teammates. "Hey," he said to Trainer Bill Bates, "take it easy on my feet. Don't you know Mexicans have tender feet?" "You're only half Mexican," Bates said. "Which foot is tender?"
When the offensive line dressed and headed for a neighborhood tavern, Kapp wheedled an invitation by announcing loudly, "My, my, a man certainly gets thirsty around here." In the bar he slapped a $100 bill on the table and told the waiter, "Take care of my boys." Later he explained: "I'm not really a high roller. I wouldn't lay out that kind of money for anybody who isn't blocking or catching."
One night he went to visit Defensive End Ike Lassiter, who was in a suburban hospital with a leg injury. First Kapp stopped in a liquor store and asked for a bottle of tequila. "We don't have tequila," the clerk said. "You don't have tequila?" Kapp roared. "What are you, prejudiced against Mexicans?" "I'm sorry, sir," the clerk said. "We don't have too much call for tequila in Brighton." Still faking outrage, Kapp settled for Jack Daniels and Cold Duck, which he smuggled past the hospital receptionist in a sack of potato chips, pretzels and candy. A pleasant evening was had by all, especially Lassiter, who was meeting his teammate for the first time.
No one who knows Kapp would ever make the mistake of charging him with faking camaraderie à la Sammy Glick. The genuine affection that he feels for his fellow humans, but particularly for his fellow ballplaying humans, is immediately apparent. "Sure, I was close to those guys at Minnesota," Kapp says. "But I feel close to all football players. They're interesting to me. They're characters. It's an honest ball the football, and it makes honest people. Football weeds out the phonies. So when you come to a new team and you have a whole collection of these crazy guys out there, you have a hell of a time not liking all of them."
When Kapp left Minnesota for good, he left behind several dozen teammates who were truly upset by his going. "Joe's got something," Linebacker Lonnie Warwick had said when the deal was announced. "He's a winner all the way. I'm glad he's getting a chance to play somewhere, but I'd like to have him back here. He'll make a winner out of Boston." Warwick and Dale Hackbart and Clint Jones and Mick Tingelhoff and other veterans on the Viking squad kept calling from Minnesota, offering Kapp their congratulations and telling him how sorely he was missed.