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Joe Marshall
August 20, 1973
Atlanta's faith in Pat Sullivan was sullied by Baltimore, which hasn't stood pat
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August 20, 1973

No Piece Of Cake For Patty

Atlanta's faith in Pat Sullivan was sullied by Baltimore, which hasn't stood pat

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Some say, however, that the Berry trade may have had its genesis the day Van Brocklin met Pat Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 draft pick last year. "From then on," says one observer, "it seemed ordained that Pat would be quarterback. Everyone expected a ceremony, a coronation."

Two nights before the Colt game Van Brocklin rested in his room chewing gum. He chews a lot of gum, so much in fact that the Clark's chewing gum people have guaranteed him a lifetime supply. Asked why he had dealt away Berry, Van Brocklin said, "It's none of your business. We just felt we had to make a trade." He went on to say that he wanted to win the Colt game "for Patty." Patty is his nickname for Sullivan. For other team members he has come up with Skunky, Bunny, Muley, Meat, Leroy and Big Timber. Van Brocklin said he thought a win would "keep Patty's confidence up." Sullivan played his college ball at nearby Auburn. Van Brocklin said his quarterback could take Atlanta "without even striking a match."

Sullivan freely conceded he had "all the confidence in the world," which seemed brave talk from somebody who to date had thrown just 19 pro passes and completed as many to the opposition (three) as to his teammates. For a while on Saturday night it looked as if he might have more than self-confidence. Atlanta would have scored a touchdown on its first possession, but Art Malone dropped a Sullivan pass in the end zone. Still, the Falcons got a field goal, and on their second possession Sullivan took them 70 yards in 11 plays for a 10-0 lead.

Then Sullivan began to show his inexperience. Three interceptions, two by Colt Linebacker Stan White, gave Baltimore the ball inside the Falcon 35. The Colts converted two into field goals, the other into a touchdown for their 13-10 fourth-quarter lead. After the third bad throw Atlanta fans began to boo Pat Sullivan. And on that low note the evening would have ended, save for the fact that Domres took it to previously un-plumbed depths. His first fumble, at the Colt eight, led to a short scoring pass by Sullivan that put Atlanta ahead for good.

Afterwards Thomas said he was happy. The Colts' errors were correctable and there were four exhibitions left.

Van Brocklin also seemed pleased. "I'm sure Patty learned a lot about linebacker play tonight," he noted, smiling.

Moments later, when the locker room had almost emptied, Sullivan was asked how he would grade himself. "I would say I got an education," he replied. "I have all the confidence in the world in my ability." Just then Van Brocklin opened the door to the coaches' room and, spotting his quarterback, called out, "Patty, see me before you go."

"Yes, sir," said Sullivan.

Neither sounded as though he was brimming with confidence.

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