Cynthia Washington, wife of the San Francisco 49er Wide Receiver Gene Washington, was USC's homecoming queen in 1968. She and Gene have been married for 2� years and live in a two-bedroom town house in San Francisco.
Cynthia's legs were encased in knee-high blue suede Gucci boots. She was taking her hair out of curlers. "How do you like these boots?" she said. "Something just fell off. A buckle, I think. Don't you hate to pay good money for something and have it fall apart?
"Gene and I both had cold feet about getting married. We kept putting it off". We waited until after he had been in the pros for a year. I wanted him to get it all out of his system, the glamour and all that stuff. The first year I actively worried about other girls. I didn't want anyone to even talk to him. I was so naive. Now I just can't worry about it. I really can't. Any relationship that's going to last has to be built on trust. So I trust him. Once after a Jet game in New York, Joe Namath asked Gene to go out with him. I was there in New York, and he didn't go. The women just seem to love that guy. He must have something. I'd like to meet him once just to see if he's all that good. I know something fell off these boots.
"I know very little about football. Sometimes I go toward the end of the game to pick up the pieces and take them home. Once the 49ers' front office asked me to write a piece about what Gene does for the official brochure. They were doing a wife a week. They said I couldn't ask my husband. I was up all night. I finally wrote something funny. It was the only way I could make it. I've never really been that interested. Last year they made him a flanker, and I thought, my gosh, what is he going to do? He really is good at catching the ball. Then I found out he was still going to catch the ball. Anyway, they moved him back to wide receiver.
"He and John Brodie make a great team. Gene and I both went to Brodie's Scientology classes for a couple of sessions, but neither of us dig it too much. Brodie recently attended a seminar in Los Angeles to 'get clear.' I don't know what that means unless it means your bank account gets clear. That Scientology costs about $35 a session. I think I might dig Buddhism. It sounds cheaper than Scientology.
"I don't especially believe because two people are married they have to have the same interests. Maybe somebody else wants their husband around all the time. If they do, they've got a problem. I like my hours. I'm Cynthia first and Mrs. Gene Washington second. I almost never travel with Gene. We talk on the phone a lot. Gene loves to talk on the phone. Our whole relationship was built up on the telephone.
"Once when Gene and I were dating, I asked a Ouija board if I would be with Gene Washington New Year's Eve at midnight. Gene was behaving very badly, he hadn't asked me out. The Ouija board said yes, so I went to this party, and at a quarter to 12 Gene Washington walked in, only it was Gene Washington of the Minnesota Vikings.
"Our future is pretty well planned. Gene will play for another five years if he doesn't get seriously injured. He will retire at 30. I never worried about injuries until last year. Gene was hurt twice. They're double- and triple-teaming him now. Once someone hit him and he went straight up in the air and came down on his head. I thought, 'You can get hurt out there!' I think I'll take these boots back."
Just before my trade to the L.A. Kings, I lost interest in playing for the Canadiens. Being with a winner doesn't make up for being on the bench.
—RALPH BACKSTROM, 1972
Frances Backstrom sat on the patio of her Brentwood, Calif. home, watching her husband tinker with the diving board. Their 4-year-old son, Andrew, splashed in the pool. Two older children were in school.