After Vince Lombardi quit coaching the Packers in 1968, there wasn't any reason to stay around Green Bay. I had gotten a divorce. I wasn't making much money. I thought it was time for a change of scenery.
I had asked for a raise but they wouldn't give it to me. I was making $14,500, only $1,500 more than when I started four years before. I asked for $18,000, and it was like I was looking for $50,000. They asked if I was serious.
So I just wanted to get out of there. I told them I wanted to be traded. Was it a mistake? You bet it was. I had no idea what it was like on other teams. I really asked for it.
About a month passed and I got a call in Milwaukee, where I was busy selling glue. I was told I'd been traded to the Giants.
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couldn't get over the trade, because the Giants got not only me but Tommy Crutcher, a linebacker, for Francis Peay, a tackle who had been a disappointment. The Times called it "a great coup" and even wondered if Lombardi wasn't having compassion for the Giants, his old team. And I got a substantial raise, to $20,000, which was more than what I asked for at Green Bay.
So it started out good, but I got into trouble in New York. I tried to reform the entire Giant organization. I couldn't believe a football team could be as screwed up as the New York Giants were. There was no team unity. Nobody trusted anybody else. It really shook me, especially since I came from Green Bay.
I can't think of anybody on the Packers I didn't like. There wasn't anybody you wouldn't have over to your house. If somebody got in trouble, everybody would help. It was, What do you want me to do? You could say, Look, I'm in a spot, could you take care of this for me? And if they couldn't, they knew somebody who could. It would get done.
In New York, forget it. On the Giants, it was I've got this to do and I've got that to do and why don't you call somebody else. There was a general distrust by everybody of everyone else on the team. I'd never seen anything like it. It wasn't at all like the "family" Lombardi taught the Packers to be.
It wasn't any mystery to me why the Giants were losing; I knew what it took to have a winning team. So I tried the best I could to help get the Giants together. You have to do what you think is right. So I tried, and I got suspended.
The club was full of cliques, the most significant being the Tucker Frederick-son clique. Tucker was the great running back. That's all I heard—how Tucker could do this and Tucker could do that, and I haven't seen him do anything yet. For most people, Tucker was easy to like because he was always having parties and it was someplace to go and there were always broads there. Except I'm the kind of guy who asks, What are you doing for the team?
Then there was the omnipotent Wellington Mara. As Red Smith said, " Wellington was born naked into the world and had to inherit everything he has," namely, the New York Giants' football team, and he's playing it to the hilt. Who does he think he is? He's never been on a football field except to put on his New York Giant sweat shirt and run around and do 10 sit-ups and go to banquets and say, I'm Wellington Mara of the New York Football Giants, my father was a bookie, that's how I got to be the president of the team.