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"Yeah, he talked that time," Karras said. "He still thinks it was a sly maneuver I'd cooked up to intimidate him."
"So other than in a rare case like that," I said, "offensive guards keep their mouths shut?"
"My brother Teddy played offensive guard," Karras answered, "and he once told me that he never said anything to the guys opposite because generally they were twice as big, being defensive tackles, and twice as strong. 'Why should I say anything? They'd kill me,' he said. One time, when he was with the Chicago Bears, he was playing against Big Daddy Lipscomb, who was with Pittsburgh then. Big Daddy was one person it was good to talk to, because maybe you could tone him down a bit if you said, 'Hi, Big Daddy, how are you today?' and friendly stuff like that. So Teddy was trying it. 'How's the family, Big Daddy?' he'd ask, and in the meantime Big Daddy was just kicking hell out of him, and Teddy'd say, 'Oh that was good, Big Daddy. I've never seen such moves. Gee, you're good.'
"Finally, on this one play, Big Daddy went offside and just killed Teddy who was still down in his stance. He hit him alongside the head so hard, WHOP! that Teddy thought he had forgotten to put on his helmet. He went back to his huddle and asked, 'Where's my helmet?' His teammates looked at him and they said, 'It's on your head, man.' So on the next play Teddy lost his temper, and when Big Daddy came at him Teddy hit him alongside the head with the right hand as hard as he could. It didn't even budge Big Daddy. But he must have felt it, because he said, 'I'm going to get you.' Teddy said, 'Anytime you want to fight me, Big Daddy, I'm ready. Anytime!' After he said that, he felt like slapping himself in the face. It was as if he were listening to somebody else talk. Big Daddy looked at him, leaning in to be sure he'd heard right, and he said, 'Well, I'll see about that, boy.' Teddy heard himself replying, and he couldn't believe the words coming from his lips. He was saying, 'Don't call me "boy." I'm Karras!'
"Well, in the hotel after the game Teddy was going down to the lobby from his room. He was wearing his team blazer. He was alone in the elevator. At the 10th floor the elevator stopped, the doors opened, and standing there was Big Daddy. Teddy saw him. He turned and faced the corner of the elevator like a dunce in a schoolroom. The elevator gave this big creak when Big Daddy stepped into it. He's huge! Big Daddy said, 'How you doin', boy?' Teddy said, 'Fine, Big Daddy. How's the family?' He could hear Big Daddy breathing—high up back of his head. The elevator started down. Teddy couldn't believe how slowly the elevator was moving, especially with all that weight of Big Daddy in it. Big Daddy made him sweat for nine floors. Then, just as the elevator got to the lobby, Big Daddy said in his deep voice, 'I know that's you, Karras.' Teddy just about went to his knees, he was so frightened, but then Big Daddy started to laugh, and so did Teddy, a real high-pitched laugh of relief, and it was all right."
John Gordy was not sure about the value of the tapes either, about what could be gained by wiring up players. He remembered a scientist had come to Los Angeles for a Pro Bowl game. He was doing a serious paper on what he called "impact structure"—a study of the kinetic violence of football, how hard players hit each other. He decided that the middle linebacker probably dished out and took more punishment than anyone else. So Joe Schmidt, then an All-Pro at the position, was persuaded to play the game rigged up with a number of measuring devices. The trouble was (according to Gordy) that Schmidt had a terrible game, or perhaps opportunities to make primary tackles were rare that day. But Schmidt did not make one solid tackle and, when the tapes were transcribed on graph paper, much like a seismograph chart, hardly a wiggle showed up to suggest the concussive nature of football. "The scientist read his charts," Gordy said, "and as far as he could tell from them ballet was just as full of contact as football."
Of the two tapes the movie producers sent me, the Karras transcript is the more extensive. Gordy keeps his mind largely on the business at hand, while Karras takes a freewheeling approach. True, much of the verbiage is directed at himself. "Stay tough" is a constant personal goad. Still, there are certain outside catalytic forces that command comment—European placekickers, for example. Karras is roused to a wild, half-serious frenzy by the increase in their numbers in football. He refers to these players as "tiny foreign soccer kickers" who prance onto the field in their spotless uniforms shouting, "I am going to keek a touchdown." On the tapes the first words Karras shouts at any member of the Giant team are directed at Pete Gogolak, the Hungarian-born placekicker, who appears for a field-goal attempt early in the game, and the monologue is not without bite. The quarterbacks (in this case Fran Tarkenton of the Giants and, later in the game, Earl Morrall) are targets for Karras' verbal comments, and there is abuse for opposing linemen unfortunate enough to have been raised in the South. Karras feels that Southerners can be intimidated by verbal attacks, being overly sensitive to such things.
The Lions won this game rather handily, scoring three touchdowns in the first half, and thereafter were never seriously threatened. They received the opening kickoff and then, presaging things to come, Mel Farr carried nine yards on the first play, and the team went on from there to score. Karras spent this first offensive drive on the sidelines, of course, and much of the early section of the tape, since he does not see at all well, consists of his asking such questions as: "What's going on?" "What was that?" "Did he pick up any yards?" "Who's that?" "What down is it?" "Was that Amos Marsh who ran the ball?" At one point Karras stumbles into a fellow player on the sidelines who accidentally steps on his foot. There is a sharp cry and Karras' voice says, "Oh Christ, my foot's gone, and I haven't even been on the field yet."
"You all right?" a voice asks.