Curry thought for a while and then he said, "Well, Allen Jacobs, bless his heart, had great football ability but not much football sense. He ended being traded from Green Bay to the New York Giants. He was a fullback, and very strong...built like Jimmy Taylor, just a real powerful kid, but he kept running into his own people and smashing them around. He studied his plays all night long, but then he'd get flustered. When Lombardi screamed at him, he'd get very uptight and he'd contract, and shrink, and what he'd learned was just squeezed out of his head. He'd get the general idea, but then on a reverse play he'd run over the quarterback who was handing him the ball, just crush him, and then he'd run down his interference and step on Jerry Kramer or Fuzzy Thurston, his own teammates, and knock them down and bowl them over; but then, because he had such a lot of talent, he'd run over a couple of linebackers and a safety. He'd come back to the huddle shaking his head, and even Lombardi couldn't jump on him. It tickled Lombardi. He'd shake his head and remark that Jacobs would be considered his best offensive asset if he didn't destroy so many of the offensive platoon as he went along.
"I'll tell you another one," Curry said, "and you'll appreciate this from your time with the Colts. Glenn Ressler, great offensive guard. He was a dean's list student at Penn State and yet never could remember the snap count. Unitas always gave it as the last item in his play call in the huddle, but almost instantaneously Glenn would forget it. On the way up to the line of scrimmage he'd bump into me and ask, 'What's the snap count?' 'Two,' I'd whisper. This happened about 25 times a game, and it went on for six years. I'd say, 'Dammit, Glenn, listen,' and in the huddle he'd give me this big wink and smirk to let me know that this time he was really going to concentrate and remember. But then on the way up he'd lean in and say, 'Hey, what's the snap count?' After four years of this, in a game in which we were far ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ressler came up and whispered, 'What's the snap count?' I said, 'I don't know.' He was frantic. 'Jeezus, come on, tell me,' he said, because if an offensive man doesn't know when the center is going to snap the ball he's going to get clobbered by the man opposite. Ressler must have been smoked by Ben McGee, a big old tough guy who played defensive end for the Steelers, because he was cussing me when we were up on the line. I remember that. I could hear his cussing, along with the quarterback's signal."
I leaned back and considered our composite. "That's an awful specimen we've put together," I said.
"But it's worth mentioning," Curry said, "that you could send our composite out on the field—Bubba's feet, Volk's calves, Anderson's knees, my thighs, Williams' stomach, Shinnick's chest, Scibelli's bad breath, Karras' eyesight, Jacobs' football sense and so forth—and you might have a helluva football player out there. It's surprising how often an oddly conformed player can be a superb athlete. Take Ted Hendricks, the Mad Stork, who played for us in Baltimore, and is now with Oakland. Six feet seven inches tall, and only 220 pounds. He was Baltimore's second draft choice from the University of Miami in 1969, and when he arrived in training camp we all said there's no place in our business for a guy built like that. He'd get killed. He looked like a series of toothpicks, all those long pipelike extremities. But then you began to see people working against him. It was as though they were running into a wrought-iron structure like a playground jungle gym, which looks delicate, but of course isn't, and these guys would slam into the Stork and sort of slide off him to the ground. When he moved, it seemed very slow, like you could stand around and watch this strange creature try to put one foot in front of the other, but then he'd be by you, flapping at the quarterback with those long, whippy, macaroni arms. He's the best outside linebacker in the business."
"So there's hope for us," I said.
"What's that?" Curry asked.
"I mean for those of us who are not perfect physical specimens."
Curry laughed. "Anyone interested in playing football who looks in the mirror and doesn't especially like what he's looking at shouldn't worry. After all, he might have a really awesome bad breath to start work with. There's always hope."