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In one of their earliest sessions Berry was running square-ins, and John asked him, "What if a linebacker got right up on top of you?"
"It hasn't happened," Berry said.
"What if Joe Schmidt [of Detroit] is standing right there? What would you do?"
"I guess I'd give him an outside fake like this, try to make him come after me, then jump underneath him like this."
John nodded. Neither of them mentioned or thought of it again for more than two years, not until Berry crouched down in his stance on the left side of the line with a minute and a few seconds to go in the 1958 NFL Championship Game in Yankee Stadium, a game the Colts were losing 17-14. Raymond looked up, and there stood the linebacker. But it wasn't Joe Schmidt of the Lions. It was Harland Svare of the New York Giants. Berry glanced over at Unitas, who smiled.
Like John, Raymond had been an undersized boy with an oversized ambition. Berry said, "I was just a kid who grew up loving football and wanting to play real bad, who saw a movie about Crazy Legs Hirsch and got a vision in his mind about being a professional football player, who happened to end up in Baltimore in the time of Unitas. This is not your average experience. It defies all of the odds."
His father was a high school football coach in East Texas, where the high school coach was a larger figure than the mayor, when football was considered a hard game that taught hard lessons that could not be learned anywhere else. "I was slow developing physically," Raymond said. "During World War II boys were often moved up a grade to get them out of high school quicker, and I was a 16 1/2-year-old senior who was 6'2" and weighed 150 pounds. That was the first year I started on offense. I called the plays. My dad believed his players could think. Every year he assessed who knew the most about the game. It wasn't necessarily the quarterback. It might be a center. It might be a fullback. In my case it was a left end. So I called the plays."
But when he got to the Colts after four years at Southern Methodist, Berry says, "I didn't have the slightest clue how to be a pro receiver. I studied every film that came in the door. I'd say I was completely self-taught, except I wasn't completely alone. I had Unitas. Where I was more of a trial-and-error guy--you know, study, study, study, study--John was more of an instinctive player. He had an amazingly organized mind, a fabulous memory. [In the huddle he'd tell players,] 'This is open? O.K. I'll get to you. How long before this will work? O.K. You're on my list.' He'd wait in the pocket until the absolute last second, deliver the ball right on the money and get smashed in the mouth. Then he'd call the same play again and hold the ball a little longer and get smashed in the mouth even harder. The bridge of his nose would be split. His mouth would be full of blood. Do you think he cared? John would have been a great middle linebacker."
The Colts always ended training camp with an intrasquad game in Baltimore, Colt Nite, a benefit for the Baltimore Police Boys' Clubs at which every seat in Memorial Stadium went for a dollar. It amounted to a dress rehearsal for the season, except that 38,447 people were sitting in the theater. For most of John's first Blue-White game he was pitted straight up against Shaw in a misty rain. George outran John, and all of the running backs, too; John outpassed George, going 14 of 24 for 288 yards and three touchdowns. The final score was 20-20, and the headline and deck in Tuesday morning's Baltimore Sun read, unitas stars for both teams, scoring final points of 20-20 game. Discarded Steeler Quarterback Leads Whites To 20-14 Advantage, Then Joins Blues In Drive For Late-Tying Touchdown.
Citing one 51-yard rainbow to Berry, Coach Ewbank said, "A lot of guys can throw deep; Unitas can pass deep."