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WIRETAP ON THE PROS
George Plimpton
November 13, 1972
The fierce mutterings on the field and along the sidelines are lost in the wind and the crescendo of crowds. But tapes of players in combat reveal the harsh violence of football
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November 13, 1972

Wiretap On The Pros

The fierce mutterings on the field and along the sidelines are lost in the wind and the crescendo of crowds. But tapes of players in combat reveal the harsh violence of football

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"No, you go ahead."

"Quit kidding, Al. You go."

"O.K., man."

(Signals called. Crash of play) Man, you hillbillies can't block worth...hey...hey! He's clipping, hey ref! (Whistle) Damn right. Give 'em five yards. Five more. That's right. Five more. Hey, hillbilly, you're doing your team real good in there. A fifteen-yarder. Yum yum. (Lucci's voice: "Safety blitz") Jerry, your man is pop blocking, isn't he? (Muffled reply. Unidentified voice: "It's what? It's what?") Safety blitz. Safety blitz. (Crash of play. Whistles. Referee's voice: "Get your hands off him, number 71. You're hitting him late. That's a warning, number 71") Jeez! (To himself) Must have heard that a billion times. "Get your hands off him." "Don't spear him." "You're hitting him late." "That's a warning." Damn quarterbacks. What are we supposed to do: stand around and gawk at them. (Lucci's voice: "Double twist. Special set. Reverse." Crash of play; grunts) Hey, Mike! [Lucci] Did you call the twist? Yeah? Well, I didn't twist. No. I didn't hear. That's my fault. (Back on bench) No, coach. I didn't hear. But I'm glad I didn't twist. I got him. He came right to me. (Announcer's voice: "Fair carried the ball; tackled by Lock-hart." Players begin yelling along the bench) Flag's down. Damn right. Cheap shot. Give them 15 yards. If I did that, they'd give me 25. They'd throw me out of the park. Hey, water. Let's have some water up here! (Drinks; spits; announcer's voice: "Two-minute warning") That's good. The soup is getting cold. (Band begins playing "Fm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover." To show discontent with Giant Head Coach Allie Sherman, crowd is beginning to sing, "Good-bye, Allie," to the tune of "Goodnight, Ladies." The crowd drowns out the band, though the plinkety-plunk of the banjo section is discernible) Man, they can boo here too, can't they? Listen to them. The great American fickle fans. Hey, Carl [Carl Brettschneider, an assistant coach]. The Giant team is second in its division, isn't it? Six wins, six losses and they're second in their division! Tough, these Eastern teams, whooo-eee.

(Back on defense. Lucci in huddle: "Double twist; outside double") Yeah, yeah. O.K. Play it tough in the middle. (Concussion of play; grunts) That's a wham, baby (breathing hard). That's a wham on me. They really came down on me. But it's O.K. That's the way to hold up. Hustle all the time. (Lucci in huddle: "Double twist; special set") O.K. The soup's getting cold. Time for the big reach. (Concussion of play; Karras reaches quarterback) "Howdy, Fran. Why it's not Fran. Who've I got here? Earl? That you? Earl Morrall. Well. Damn. How sweet it is."

(Gun goes off, ending game. Karras trots to bench. Unidentified Lion says, "Hey, Alex. You still wired up?")

"Huh?"

"You still got a microphone on?"

"Yeah."

"Well, can I tell you something?"

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