"For me to hear a teammate say, 'Good job,' is more important than fans yelling or sportswriters writing about me. They don't realize what you do for a team. You break your fingers. You bleed. That's the thing about football that Meggyesy missed, the thing about working together, being together.
"I think a lot about the game. Anything that's physical, that you can excel at, can give you more excitement than anything. More than if you've closed a big deal or made a killing in the stock market. Physical victory over anything is so satisfying. A guy who makes a million dollars, a big businessman, will idolize somebody like a football player. The guy's richer, smarter, can do more things, but there he is asking the football player for an autograph. It embarrasses me because they shouldn't feel that way, but they do. It's football. Meggyesy writes about it, but he didn't really get it. And all he did was change his field. He's still competing in a cutthroat game. He's competing now with other booksellers.
"I said I had goals. My basic goal right now I think is achievable. I want to be the best middle linebacker in pro football. If I worked hard at it, played as hard as I could, did everything possible and still wasn't considered the best, I would be at least partially content knowing I did all I could. But there would always be that doubt—did I go far enough? Maybe I'll never know."
Mikey brought in another round of iced tea and cautioned him to keep his teeth to himself. She said she was making beef Bourguignon for dinner, the Youngs were invited, and she needed money to get wine. She said her personal preference was that Tim cut it a little shorter, so that it stood out around his head rather than hanging like sausages.
Tim made a face and swore. When she had gone he was quiet for a while. Then he said, "We're thinking about adopting a child. You know, there are a lot of kids in this world without homes."
The Philadelphia Eagles' training camp at Albright College in Reading, Pa. is like football training camps everywhere. The players live in a college dormitory (neat, cramped rooms), eat in a college cafeteria (nutritious food bereft of flavor), practice on an adequate small-college field and at night sample the inadequate small-town night life. The place the Eagles tend to go in Reading is a bowling alley called Heister Lanes, which has a lounge and, most evenings, a group of musicians.
Tim Rossovich is a regular at Heister's. He is, apart from the group, the only real attraction. He can usually be found hovering by the cigarette machine, a beer in his hand and a contemplative look on his face, watching, watching. One night a group of schoolteachers came in and took three tables. Rossovich, lingering nearby, watched as they had the tables shoved together. Then, when they were seated and conversing, he glided over and fell full-length across the tables, face up, and announced, "Do whatever you want to me, ladies."
Rossovich is the most popular Eagle. Photographers hound him. Kids with autograph books chase him. Grown-ups sit in the sun behind the ropes at Albright Field and scan the roster sheets looking for his number. "Which one is Rossovich?" "I gotta see Rossovich."
He is not hard to find. He is the one who seems always to do things out of tune, as though an ordinary push-up or a sit-up or a run through the ropes had undiscovered facets. Coaches do not object to this because he is not malingering. His enthusiasm, if unorthodox, is genuine. Jerry Williams believes Rossovich "would practice all day and night if I wanted him to." Williams converted him from defensive end to middle linebacker last fall. Rossovich said it was like a tonic, the change, "like an offensive guard being told he was going to play quarterback." He threw himself into the job. Literally, of course.
Otherwise, his coaches would just as soon not talk about Rossovich, as though to admit knowing too much would somehow discredit the game. They adopt a kind of "exactly which freak are you talking about?" tone. "No, I wouldn't know about that." "No, I never saw him do that, I don't really pay that much attention." "Well, yes, I suppose you would say he's a character, but you know how rumors are." They cannot always ignore him, though. At lunch in the dining hall the other day he leaped up from the table with a letter he had been reading, held it up and shouted, "Sexual distraction! Sexual distraction!" Then he grinned and disappeared. At those times there is nothing to do but laugh with everybody else.