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"What's happened is that we've developed a remarkable, almost undefinable rapport among the three of us," Swann explained. "The art part of any pass route is what happens during the last few moments of it, the last five yards or less. John and I are concentrating all the way out—taking the chuck or avoiding it, letting the route develop along the lines we've planned, practiced over and over, yet trying to make it seem like something it isn't. You have to do it to know what I mean: you don't know where all the defenders are, you only sort of sense them. But you know that Terry—if he's getting the pass blocking he should be getting—is seeing it all.
"Then when you turn and the ball is already in the air, you suddenly see what's been happening all along. I can tell just how much Terry has led me or faded me, just how much he's put on the ball or how much he's laid off. When the defender sees the ball in the air, he can tell those things, too, but not as quickly, because he hasn't been thrown at by a Bradshaw as often as I have. So if the ball comes a bit inside, or a bit short, or maybe a touch high, it's doing those things for a reason—and I go for it without any hesitation."
"What it's like," said Stallworth in the ensuing quiet, "it's like we all been there before."
Indeed, there is a kind of a Zen quality to a good passing combination that defies conscious analysis. How in the world of gravity can a quiet, thoughtful, soft-spoken young man of 5'10" outleap and outdive other men several inches taller and—seemingly—10 times as mean.
"Beats me," said Lynn. "At USC I was a long-jumper, but not all that much of one—about 25 feet. I could high-jump 6'3". I've always played basketball, though not so much recently—I've been too busy with other things. I guess most of it is timing. Again, it's the rapport with Terry: he knows where I'm likely to end up, and I know that wherever he throws the ball is the place to catch it. Speed isn't all that important to a wide receiver. Look at Raymond Berry, or Fred Biletnikoff. The things that count are quickness, concentration, body control and, of course, hands."
The Tin Angel is located on Mount Washington at the top of Pittsburgh's Duquesne Incline. Below, the lights of the city glow as brightly as San Francisco's from the Top of the Mark. At the junction of the three great rivers that provided Pittsburgh with its reason for existence—the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio—ragged ice floes ground and shattered. A Steeler fan stopped at the table and asked for Swann's autograph.
He signed a paper doily with a ballpoint pen: the capital S of the family name became the neck and back of a Picassoesque swan, its wing feathers spelling Lynn.
All-Pros Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris, the best safety combination in the NFL, are two of the Cowboys who will try to stop the Bradshaw-Swann-Stall-worth attack. In terms of football erudition, mutual admiration, constructive criticism and simple, good-hearted friendship, the two Dallas safeties are closer than most brothers. They room together in training camp and on the road; they hunt together; they pore over computer readouts of opposing offenses, quiz each other on the minutiae of game plans and act as each other's hardest critic once a game is done.
"We're so much alike," Waters told SI's Ron Reid as the Cowboys began preparations for the Super Bowl, "that we have to spend time away from each other so we can perform right on the field. When we criticize each other, we're hard—we can't kid each other, because our humor is liable to have a needle to it. If we take a verbal shot, we take a shot. We get hacked and really yell at each other. Sometimes the rest of the guys can't figure us out."