Both teams also feature solid running attacks. Perhaps more attention has been accorded Brockington and Lane at Green Bay, but Hampton, the first certified outside threat Atlanta has ever had, and his cohort, Art Malone, who scored the Falcon touchdown on Sunday, are the only pair of runners from a single team in the league who have each rushed for more than 400 yards. Not only that, but Joe Profit, the team's preseason rushing leader, remains on the bench or, more accurately, in Coach Norm Van Brocklin's doghouse.
Devine got Lane from St. Louis in trade for Donny Anderson, and the new man has not only given the Packers a better running attack, he has also helped young Hunter's passing game. Both Lane and Brockington are good receivers and blockers, and Claude Humphrey, the Falcon All-League defensive end, says, "The Packer running attack might be even better now than it was few years ago when they had Hornung and Taylor. Lane and Brockington block for each other so well, and they're both halfback-type fullbacks. Brockington would rather run over you than around you. He doesn't care about juking you—he makes you tackle him."
"The Packers come off the wall at you," Van Brocklin said. "We've got to pack all the pads we can for this trip."
Both the Packers and Falcons could have come into their meeting unbeaten, but for three weird plays. Atlanta lost one game on a dubious interference call and another when Bill Bell unaccountably missed a 10-yard field goal. The only Green Bay loss was the result of a fumble recovery runback that, films showed, should not have been allowed. Having faced each other now for the unofficial kiddie championship of the NFL, however, each must next contest the intradivision rival that was supposed to be the team to beat. On Sunday Minnesota goes to Green Bay and San Francisco to Atlanta. If the young home teams win those games, the balance of power will have surely shifted in the Central and West.
However, whatever happens this week, both teams have bright days ahead—and with quarterbacks nobody else thought much of. Berry was cut by Minnesota and generally dismissed as being too short of height and not long enough in his throwing potential. With Van Brocklin as his tutor, though, he has become a much respected passer and leader. "It's tough to play for Van Brocklin," Berry says, "because, with the ability he has, he expects so much from you. But I do believe that the only one who can coach a quarterback in this league is someone who has been a quarterback in this league." Hunter, like Berry, then, is obviously getting the very best education.
"Hunter was the first man I drafted on my own," Devine said the other day. He is small, dark and handsome with a wary look in his eye and an extraordinary ability to extract the best from his assistant coaches. "We were drafting right after I had taken the job, and I moved his name over from the list of players to be drafted down the line and put it up when we came to the sixth draft choice. I did it against the advice of the scouting staff."
Devine did it for good reason. His Missouri Tigers had played Alabama in the Gator Bowl in 1969 and whomped them 35-10, but Devine had been impressed by Hunter. "He had all the qualities you look for in a quarterback," Devine explains. "He was losing, but he was cool. He set up quickly and well, and he threw well. So when he was still available on the sixth round, I took him." (Starr was a 17th-round choice himself.)
Hunter, of Vigor High School, Prichard, Ala., was one of the three high school All-America quarterbacks produced by Glen Yancey. "You can throw the ball or you can't," Hunter says, "Nobody can teach you to throw. That's something you got or you ain't got. But Yancey taught me to throw high, over my head. Then I went to Alabama, and the quarterback coach there was Steve Sloan. So I was lucky again. After he got out of Alabama, Steve played at Atlanta for two, maybe three years when Norb Hecker was the head coach, and Norb, he had been coaching under Lombardi at Green Bay. So while I was playing for Coach Bryant at Alabama I was learning the Green Bay offense and how they set up and everything from Coach Sloan. By the time I got to Green Bay I already had had a complete course in the Green Bay offense."
Because Starr was hurt last year, Hunter was rushed into action. "I didn't know what I was doing," he frankly admits, "but I learned. Working with Bart was like reading an encyclopedia. Every day I turned over a new leaf and learned something different. That's still true. I guess I'II be turning over leaves for the rest of my life and never get to the end of the book. I learned a whole lot from my high school coach and from Coach Bryant and Steve Sloan, but Bart, he refined everything."
Even in his rookie year, no one ever accused Hunter of being bashful. "He's still a boy with a lot of self-confidence," says Devine, smiling. "When he came to the club he started to give the place-kickers some advice. I don't curse much, but this time I said, 'Goddamn it, Hunter, I'll coach the team. You play quarterback.' "