do I speak? I mean I want them to hear this."
You speak right into my chest."
I wanted to say what a shame it is, being wired up and all, that today, of all
days, you had to have the worst afternoon of your career. I mean, man, you
The laughter goes
up, and on the tape the listener can hear the creak of Karras' shoulder pads as
he takes a retaliatory cuff at his persecutor. The voices of the autograph
hunters take over. "Hey, Alex, would you sign this 'To Tracy.' And maybe
put 'A swell guy' after it. Right here on this napkin."
The Gordy tape is
substantially the same—the exhortations, the panting, the violent shifts of
mood—though Gordy coughs more, and spends most of his time on the bench trying
to clear his throat and nostrils. He says far less on the field than Karras,
presumably because his work, leading the interference, leaves him spent at the
end of each play, so that he gasps out his sentences as if trying to speak
while being garroted. His accent becomes far more Southern than it is in usual
conversation, and his grammar collapses somewhat. At one point, suddenly aware
that the microphone had picked up the ungrammatical entreaty to the defensive
unit, "Hey, Big D. Don't give them nothing," he lowered his voice
abruptly and said, "I wonder if I could correct that. Man, that's bad
English. Please substitute: "Please, don't give them anything!' "
sidelines) Hey, Karl [ Karl Sweetan, the Lion quarterback]! They're stunting off
that four-four. Anything in the four or five hole is no good. Is there any
water? Water! (He retches and vomits) Jeez! (To himself) How come I got to
throw up during the game? Happens every damn time. Hey, are they going to try a
field goal? (Frantically) Hey, Jimmy [Jim David, a Lion coach]! It's going to
be a fake. Honest to God. This guy I was out with the other night said that
they had practiced the fake field goal all week. Honest to God! (Stadium
announcer's voice: "Gogolak's attempt Jails. Del rail's ball on the Lion
20." Creak of gear as Gordy runs onto field for offensive series) O.K. Four
good downs here. Let's go. (Sweetan's voice calling play in huddle:
"Opposite right 34 on two." Hands clap sharply as the huddle breaks.
Line judge's voice: "Keep your hands in. Last warning." Sweetan's voice
at the line of scrimmage: "Four. Set. One-nine-A. Hut! Hut!" Crash of
play. Tremendous grunts from Gordy. Referee's whistle. Gordy spits) Damn! Where
was the middle linebacker on that. What the hell. You got to take the guy in
the gap. Come on, Ed [Ed Flanagan, the Detroit center]! Get him inside, hey?
O.K. Let's get a good play. Let's get some blocks. (Following next play) Hey
Chuck [Chuck Walton, Detroit's offensive tackle]! What was that? A four-four?
Want me to take the guy in the gap? Call me a signal, because he can keep you
from getting out. Or I'll call ""George." Then you can step out. If
you call the signal, say "left" or "right" in case I forget
which direction I'm supposed to go. (In huddle) O.K., babies, let's go.
(Concussion of play: Sharp, staccato grunts from Gordy as he runs. Crash of his
block) Damn. Get off my hand. You stepped on my hand. Oh, you broke my hand!
(Heavy swearing) My lingers are all gone. My hand's broke. (Unidentified voice:
"Shake it off Bear") Did you see what that guy did? He went and stomped
on my hand. (His voice calms) What did he want to do that for? (Ragtime band in
background: "Hello, Dolly!" Sweetan calls end sweep in the huddle.
Tremendous grunts from Gordy as play commences and lie pulls to run
interference: Huh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh...then the crack of gear as
he throws his block) Nowhere! Jeez! I should have had the guy. Hey, Amos. I
thought I had him. I blew it...I blew it...if I had a little more in me I would
have had him, but I didn't...my fault. (Blows his nose. Sweetan calls a pass
play in huddle. Concussion of play) No. No. Please no.... Please! (Giant
interception. Great roar from crowd as New York lakes over).
There is one
violently poignant moment on the Gordy tapes. Following a running play, in
which Mel Fair's signal to carry the ball is called, a sudden sharp scream
erupts over the crash of padding and the heavy grunts of the players. Gordy's
voice cries out:
wrong. Mel! What's wrong!"—a voice so tragic with concern that, listening
to the tapes, one conjures up a quick image of a crippled running back lying
askew on the field with Gordy standing over him in despair. In the background
Farr's voice is barely understandable, but it is reassuring. He is all right.
Gordy's reaction is startling: his voice shifts abruptly from anguish to rage.
"Don't you be yelling like that. Don't you ever yell like that. Don't you
ever scare me like that, you bastard!" The temper of his voice then shifts
once again—as in his relief he suddenly sounds close to tears: "Mel, baby.
Please don't scare me. Don't ever scare me. What am I going to do without you
out here, baby?"
Fan's reply is
audible. Startled by Gordy's outburst, and the sweep of its emotion, he says in
a high, almost querulous tone, "Damn, John, I don't know. I don't