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The whole bit was to get Wellington Mara away from the players so they could relax. Everybody voted on it and it passed. I think there were only two people who voted against it, good ol' Tucker Frederickson, who wanted to sit up in first class, and probably one of his friends who sat next to him. But that was it. Everybody else was for it. It worked fine the first trip, but the second trip here comes Wellington right back in the middle of things again. You couldn't stop him. After all, he's Wellington Mara and he owns the club, therefore he pays for the plane, therefore he sits where he wants to sit. I made it clear that he was the one key person I didn't want back with the players but, you know, there's a song by Judy Collins that goes, "I stood for the Union and I fought in the line, fought against the company, now who's going to stand for me?" I found out who's going to stand for me, baby—ain't nobody, 'cause when I started getting in trouble I was all by myself out on the end of the plank.
Like my roommate Bruce Maher, whom I respected as a man and a football player. His goal was to get in his 10 years for the pension. We talked a lot about the problems and he said, "You know, I agree with everything you're saying 100% except for one thing. Don't expect me to back you up. I can't afford to get in trouble. I've got a wife and family and the whole bit."'
Bruce was right. If anybody backed me up, he'd only get in trouble, and I didn't want that. Bob Lurtsema and I had always been friends and we used to help each other out as far as football was concerned, since he was a defensive tackle and we could exchange ideas. But Bob got benched, and I'd say it was for associating with me. I'm not saying I know this for a fact but I know that he was a good football player and there was no reason for him to be benched. So I just stopped hanging around with him. I told him why. I said forget it. We can get together away from here. I felt bad about it, and I also had to wonder how these people could play football with all this pettiness going on. The answer was, of course, they couldn't.
Even the few practical jokers we had on the team tended to avoid me. Like Ralph Heck, one of the linebackers. At training camp he'd wake everybody up about 10 o'clock at night and tell them there was a team meeting downstairs. Then he'd go back to bed. But after a while even he wouldn't mess with me. When I got suspended, only one player on the team telephoned me, Lurtsema. It had become just too dangerous to associate with me.
It got to the point that if anybody sought me out for advice or consolation or anything I warned them they'd be better off staying away from me. I told a number of rookies, like Don Herrmann, the wide receiver, "Stay away from me, kid, I'm trouble. You wanna stick around this team, don't mess with me." They found out I was telling the truth.
I remember Rich Buzin, because our lockers were next to each other and he'd always be talking to me. I'd say, "Don't talk to me, Rich, I don't want to get you in trouble." One day he asked me something on the field about playing tackle, and Rosey Brown was there. As I said before, Rosey and I didn't see eye to eye, and Rosey got mad because here was Rich talking to me. Rich, being a rookie and not knowing any better, said to Rosey, "I was just talking to my coach here," meaning me. That went over great.
Now, Tucker Frederickson. To me, he was dead weight. You talk about a star, talk about Paul Hornung or Bart Starr or Jim Taylor, they were something. But to be constantly told how great this football player was and never see him play football griped me. I guess the thing that really bugged me more than anything else was the attitude that, well, Tucker says it's so, so it must be so.
The big thing was the poker game at Tucker's on Monday night. Well, I don't gamble, so I didn't go. Automatically it was, "What's the matter with you? Come anyway." For what? To sit around? I got other things to do. On other teams if you say you don't want to do something, that's fine. On the Giants there had to be a reason why.
Once I went over to P.J. Clarke's with a friend, and there was a line. We wanted to look for somebody in the back room, but they wouldn't let us in. I could see Tucker inside so I told the maitre d', "Would you go over and tell Tucker Frederickson I'd like to see him for a second." I just wanted to walk in to see if I could find this friend. The guy spoke to Tucker and came back and said, " Mr. Frederickson says he can't see you, he's busy right now."
That's the way Tucker was. That's the way most of them were. They wouldn't go out of their way for you in the least. At Thanksgiving, the Giants gave each player a turkey or ham, but I got busted up in a game out in Los Angeles before Thanksgiving and spent three days in the hospital and two weeks flat on my back in my apartment after that, so I didn't get to pick mine up. I didn't think anything about it, figuring they thought I didn't feel like eating anyway and gave it to somebody else. About a week later Bobby Duhon called me and said, "Listen, we picked up your turkey for you. You can come get it any time."