- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The very next play, Holmes again blasted Mullins. Mansfield said so to Offensive Tackle Jon Kolb. "You take him high and I'll take him low." They did, Mansfield applying to Holmes what he calls the old Chinese heel lock. Later, as the players broke from drills to run laps, Holmes said to Perles, "Ray hurt my leg." Perles barreled over to Mansfield.
"You're a helluva team man, out there hurting our guy!" Perles barked.
"We're down to four guys," Mansfield fired back, "and you're out there telling that big bastard to go full speed."
Certainly. The assistant coach concerns himself only with his own, does he not? In this instance, however, Perles, who off the field is a man of Santa Claus joviality, sought a judgment from his fellow assistants, who opined that, considering everything, including the fact that Moon Mullins was walking around screwloose, Mansfield had not been out of line. "Ever since," says Mansfield, "George had a lot of respect for me."
Perles turns flush with pleasure when he speaks of his defensive menagerie. "We have six starters," he says, his point being that his fifth and sixth men of last season—onetime Olympic hammer-throwing prospect Steve Furness and ex-marine John Banaszak—are starter quality. In point of fact, this summer Furness has been sharing a starting spot with the mighty Holmes. Finally, there is the founder's grandson, Gary Dunn, paying the price of being seventh man in those drills played to an empty stadium.
Dunn is made to assume the foreign stance of an offensive lineman. He is pitted one-on-one against 275-pound Joe Greene, the 260-pound Holmes and the other defensive linemen in rapid succession. Three times each week, when there are contact drills, Dunn is their fodder. "That's 18 live shots, minimum, every practice for Dunn," says Perles, beaming. "That's 60 head butts a week for Dunn, where the others are getting nine or 10. The contact he gets is unbelievable. Take Fats when he's fresh—oh, it's a helluva lick. I can tell from the gouge marks on the front of Dunn's helmet," Perles goes on with relish. "We laugh at him and say, 'You're getting more hits than anyone in the NFL!' And he takes another lick and yells, 'I love it, I love it!' So you're measuring toughness. Before you go through all that technique stuff with a Gary Dunn, what good is it if he's not tough?"
Grinning sheepishly, Dan Radakovich, a lanky, pale man of 41, flat hair prematurely white at the temples and sideburns, admits that the story his players tell about him is true. As he tooled to Pittsburgh's southern suburbs one evening, visions of pulling guards and trapping tackles danced in his head. Rad swung his car into the driveway, entered the house and sat down at the kitchen table to think out solutions that would bring X's and O's falling into proper place. Presently a man and woman, strangers to Bad Rad, gathered at the edge of the kitchen, as did several children. They studied him quizzically until Rad at last looked up. He had ensconced himself in a strange house—not one next door to his own or even a few doors away, but a house three blocks distant.
"Excuse me," said Rad. He arose and shambled out the front door.
Radakovich holds a degree in business and had a year of law school. One winter morning as he approached the end of his undergraduate days at Penn State, where he played center and linebacker for Coach Rip Engle ( Joe Paterno's mentor), he wandered into a meeting of Engle's staff. The coaches were heatedly debating techniques of linebacking. Rad thrust himself into the argument, whereupon he was told, "If you're so smart, why don't you come out and help coach the linebackers?" He was paid $100 to coach spring practice, then was made a graduate assistant in the fall, during which season two Penn State linebackers made honorable-mention All-America. He has coached ever since—and without regret.
"It's better than working for a living," says Bad Rad.