Fuqua looked across the room and gave a whoop of laughter. Charles Beatty, a defensive back, had just arrived wearing a knee-length white robe with white velvet trousers, sandals and a cross between a turban and a Russian cap.
"That's my competition," Fuqua said. "Hey, comp, you dead."
Beatty bowed ceremoniously.
"I broke his spirit last year with that purple suit," Fuqua said. "Just like you break a horse. Beat him day after day with different outfits. He dead."
"He goes out and buys things all the time," Beatty said. "I beat him just dipping into my closet."
"He's right," Fuqua said. "I'm all the time walking around in the little neighborhoods when I go out on a speaking engagement, just looking for something different. When we're on the road and everybody else goes to the movies, I go looking for clothes and I don't tell anyone where I got them. One time here I bought a very unusual suit in a little store, and a couple days later one of the other players showed up in the same suit. Never bought another thing from that store."
Fuqua calls himself the Count, explaining that he is really a French count but he spent so much time taking the sun on the Riviera that he has never been able to lose his tan.
Fuqua missed the Cincinnati game with a bruised knee he sustained against the Bears, a game in which he gained 114 yards in 17 carries. "Dropped me down to 12th in ballcarrying, missing one game," he said. "But I ain't worried. All the backs I got to beat play on teams that have got to play us and I figure they ain't going to gain then. So I'm heading for No. 1."
Fuqua's volubility does not diminish during the game. He even chitchats with Dick Butkus. "That first game, he hit me pretty hard," Fuqua said. "I am very aware of the Bears because they gave me this a couple years ago when I played with the Giants." He touched a one-inch scar on his right cheekbone. "But I ain't afraid of them. So I told Butkus, 'Hey, man, you look like you limping.' He had a knee operation. Next time he hit me even harder and wouldn't get off me. He look down at me and say, 'French, you going to be limping in a little while.' So when I got the bruised knee and went off, he hollered, 'Come on back, Frenchy. Why you limping?' "
Fuqua felt his knee and flexed the leg. "Knee is fine now," he said. "And I got to play. I just can't stand to sit on that bench. Now we got offense to go with the defense. I want to get in there."