Havlicek was also quietly self-effacing about scoring, and Taylor finally suggested that John might want to take a shot himself now and then. He had been averaging no more than six or eight points a game. There followed a game in which Havlicek led the Buckeyes in scoring. When an astonished teammate asked what had gotten into him, Havlicek said, "Coach told me to." In his All-America senior year Havlicek led Ohio State in scoring seven times. He was voted team captain on all ballots but his own, which he cast for Lucas.
Having played no football at Ohio State, Havlicek was nonetheless drafted by Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round of 1962. In all, five NFL clubs sent him feeler letters.
Havlicek was drafted by the Celtics, too, in the NBA's first round, but in those days basketball owners were throwing dollar bills around as if they were hatch-covers. The Celtics' original offer was $9,500, with no bonus—"your bonus will be the playoff money," Havlicek was told. Unbeknownst to Havlicek, Taylor called Celtic Owner Walter Brown to plead for a better deal. "You college coaches are all alike," said Brown, "always thinking your player is worth more." " Mr. Brown," replied Taylor, "the NBA never had a player worth more than this one."
The offer was raised to $15,000, which equaled that from the Browns, except that the Browns agreed to throw in an Impala convertible. Not having satisfied an itch to try football at a level where the tackles weighed more than 130 pounds, Havlicek gathered up the keys to the convertible and reported to the Cleveland camp.
"On the first day, at the first meal, I loaded up my tray and took a seat by myself," he says. "I wasn't planning on doing much talking anyway, and I'd heard about the things they did to rookies in the NFL. Suddenly I began to hear these barking and growling noises, like they were maybe directed at me. But when I looked up there was this guy with two T-bone steaks on his plate. He was eating them raw. I thought, 'Boy, this football is going to be tough.' "
As a 6'5", 205-pound wide receiver, Havlicek was called "The Spear" by the Browns. He ran the 40-yard sprints in 4.6 seconds and, he says, "caught the ball as well as anyone in camp, but the team was loaded with fine receivers—Gary Collins, Bobby Crespino, Ray Renfro. And there was a lot I didn't know about blocking."
Against the Steelers in the second exhibition, at Municipal Stadium, Brown sent Havlicek in. "The crowd gave me a big hand," he says. "They were curious to see if a basketball player could play football. Somehow I made my block, on the cornerback, I think. A perfect block. Jim Brown ran a sweep 48 yards to the Pittsburgh two.
"Somebody in the huddle said, 'O.K., Spear, do it again.' I was feeling pretty good. This time it was an off-tackle play. I lined up looking into the face of Big Daddy Lipscomb. When they peeled everybody off the pile I was the bottom, my shoulder pads twisted around and the part of my helmet that was supposed to be over my ear was jammed against my nose. I said to myself, 'Boy, this football is tough.' "
Havlicek was the last receiver to be cut by Brown. "I liked Brown," says Havlicek, "the way he ran things, the way everything was so precise. My kind of coach. He was very nice about it when he let me go. He seemed to know I had something to go to."
Red Auerbach once said, " John Havlicek is what I always thought a Celtic should be." A rival player, Jim Washington of the Hawks, perceives a more spiritual relationship. John Havlicek, says Washington, is what the Celtics have become. "They are one and the same," says Washington. "He gives them leadership and inspiration, and their style of play is his style. It is a rare, beautiful thing."