SI Vault
George Plimpton
October 11, 1976
Despite his imperfections, odoriferous or otherwise, the NFL's worst composite physical specimen is a Hall of Fame candidate
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October 11, 1976

Beware Of Flat-footed People With Garlic Breath

Despite his imperfections, odoriferous or otherwise, the NFL's worst composite physical specimen is a Hall of Fame candidate

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"Stomachs," Curry reflected. "Highly competitive area here, though when I came in the league in 1965 it was fashionable to have a flat stomach. Vince Lombard! once said that he'd never seen a mean fat guy and certainly he wouldn't tolerate any fat people on his team. On the Packers Ron Kostelnik had a tendency to balloon up, and so did a guard named Dan Grimm. Before weigh-ins (they'd get fined if they were overweight), they wouldn't eat for two days and they'd step up on the scales, these troubled men with their eyes deep back in their heads, and afterward they'd sprint for their lockers where they'd wolf down a couple of apples they'd hidden back there—just lean back and drop them down their throats like pills.

"Their fat problem possessed them, like people in love, and they were always tinkering with ways to solve it. John Mackey of the Colts, who also tended to balloon, used to scout scales beforehand; he'd find that if he stood on the left-hand corner he'd weigh a third of a pound less. And then he'd get a teammate to stand alongside him on the opposite side of the coach who was weighing him in, and this guy, just at the right moment, would lift Mackey up with a finger under his elbow...they rehearsed all this beforehand, doing it very quickly and subtly...and the scale would read 220. If John Sandusky, who was the coach handling the weigh-in, was in a good mood, he'd say, 'O.K., Mackey, 220,' but if Sandusky was testy that day he'd make Mackey stand in the middle of the scale, and he'd move everyone back; John would weigh 222 and he'd pay a fine."

"The largest football player I ever saw was Roger Brown of the Lions," I said. "Three hundred pounds. After practice the coaches would send him out to run off the fat. He wore leatherlike sweat suits and he'd run through the sprinkler systems set out on the practice fields to keep cool, and you could hear the wet suit slapping against his skin."

"Damn, I never saw him fat," Curry said. "Actually, you don't look across the line and see fat people. Brown's weight was concentrated in those enormous thighs of his. Tree trunks. The first time I ever saw him, I came up on the ball from our huddle and I looked to the right and left; all I could see was Brown. He filled my field of vision. Once again I wondered if I was really suited for this business."

I said that Brown had once told me the nicest part of football was a bath with Epsom salts that his wife prepared for him after a game. He would ease himself into it and groan with pleasure. I had always imagined, because he was so big, that all that was required was a couple of pails of water in the bottom of the tub, and it would flow around him up to his chin when he squeezed himself in.

Curry suddenly snapped his fingers. "I know who had a huge stomach. John Williams! He used to be with the Colts but now he's with the Rams. It bellied way out! Oh yes. Big protruding abdomen. But actually he had an excuse for it. He said it was due to a congenital defect he had in his back. The coaches would look at him and shake their heads, and he'd say, 'Coach, I'm not overweight, I'm just swaybacked!' " Curry laughed. "Great football player...but a very odd body."

"What about the chest?" I asked.

"That's next."

"Shinnick again," Curry said. "He didn't have a chest. He had a breastbone but no chest. He didn't have a neck either. We called him No-Neck. So he takes care of the entire upper torso of our composite."

"What about a football mind?" I asked. "Who was splendidly deficient in that department?"

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