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GOOD MAN IN THE LONG RUN
Ray Kennedy
September 08, 1975
Archie Griffin has already zigzagged 3,820 yards to a Heisman Trophy and twice has been All-America, so that now, as he begins his final season at Ohio State, all he has left to prove is that he is the best player in his family
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September 08, 1975

Good Man In The Long Run

Archie Griffin has already zigzagged 3,820 yards to a Heisman Trophy and twice has been All-America, so that now, as he begins his final season at Ohio State, all he has left to prove is that he is the best player in his family

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"Sometimes I'm so tired I can't see," James Sr. said recently, rearranging the New Testament miniatures in the living room of his immaculate home. "But it's worth it. Now we are free of all the trouble. Now we don't have to run anymore."

Archie does, and rumors are that he may be headed straight into the open arms of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the new NFL franchise which will play its first season in 1976. James Jr. thinks that Archie Griffin will be a name to build a franchise around, a gate builder whose contract could bring $2.3 million with one Heisman, $4 million with two. Archie will hear none of it. No talk about second Heismans. No prattle about the pros. "My goal is the team's goal," he says, straightening his halo, "to win the national championship and go to the Rose Bowl for the fourth year in a row."

If and when depends in no small part on Archie's old roomie, Cornelius Greene, an irrepressible scrambler and the Buckeyes' second-leading rusher last season with 842 yards. They are an odd couple, No. 45 and No. 7, a votary and a voluptuary who were shacked up with a monster stereo that almost blasted them and Gladys Knight and the Pips into orbit. Greene, who bills himself as Mr. Flamboyant and tools around in a 1975 Grand Prix with the license plates FLAM 7, claims, "Archie and I complement each other. I'm flashy, he's classy. When I first met Archie he dressed like a little 'Bama boy. Man, if you can believe it, he wore black shoes with everything. But now I got him shaped up. Now he's got red shoes, green shoes, all color shoes."

What Greene got in return was religion. "When I wasn't starting right away," says the Flam, "I was very disappointed, very low. I'd sit there watching Kojak on TV and Archie'd be reading the Bible. It got to working on me, you know, and pretty soon he made me receive Jesus Christ into my life. I have found that being a quarterback under Woody Hayes, you need all the faith you can get."

Faith and occasional reprimands for straying from that big game plan in the sky. Recently, says Greene, he and two other players were lounging in the apartment, cutting classes and feeding the stereo when Archie walked in, fresh from giving his 3D speech. "He just looked at us," says Greene, "and then he said, 'I come back from telling kids to stay in school, and here you guys are cutting classes. That's wrong, man.' That's all he had to say. We all felt bad. If it had been anybody else but Archie, we'd have thrown him out. But not Archie. We respect him too much. That dude never does anything wrong."

So on goes Archie Griffin, myth and man, on down the straight and narrow, down the practice field—40, 50, 60 yards, running out every play, top speed and straight into the end zone every time. And on he goes, taking classes in industrial management in the summer, pushing himself because of his father's disapproval of the many black athletes who fail to get their degrees. Ever the over-achiever, this school year Archie Griffin will graduate one quarter ahead of his class. " Coach Hayes always says you either get better or you get worse," he says. "There's no in-between."

Loretta Laffitte can attest to that. At last report she claimed that since the afternoon of her big confession, Archie has not been late picking her up.

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