"That was his
cathedral," Alex Hawkins said. "The last guy to break himself of
talking in Unitas's huddle was [center] Dick Szymanski. Sizzy finally shut up
after John started kicking him in the ankle."
a game against the San Francisco 49ers in which John's first pass was
intercepted by Abe Woodson and returned for a touchdown. "On our second
possession," Sandusky said, "after a play or two, they intercepted
another pass and kicked a field goal. Now we had the ball a third time, and we
were backed up against our own goal line. John asked, 'Anybody need any help?'
and Szymanski said, 'You do!' With that, everybody started laughing, John most
of all. We had to call a timeout to get a hold of ourselves. But, you know, we
won that game."
What all of these
young men in their 20s were serious about was the game of football.
"Between Bill Pellington and Don Joyce and Tom Finnin," center Buzz
Nutter said, "if an arm was sticking out of a pileup, it didn't matter what
color the jersey was, somebody was going to run over there and jump on it with
both feet. In a Blue-White game--an intrasquad game!--I heard Pellington shout,
'Goddam you, Sandusky, if you hold me one more time, I'm going to kill you!'
The next thing you knew, Alex was standing there with his teeth in his
for Westinghouse in the off-season. They all worked for somebody. John sold
paint for the Farboil Paint Company. Sandusky said, "I worked during the
season too. We might be playing a game in Chicago on Sunday, but by seven
o'clock Monday morning I'd be back on the production floor at Westinghouse.
Around 11 I'd leave to go to practice. Then, a lot of the time, I'd come
in iron. "I'd climb up onto building beams--not w-a-a-ay up if I could help
it. Some guys would walk across the beams. I'd bump along on my butt."
kicked an NFL-record 56-yard field goal in the Colts' 1953 season opener, had
the best side gig of all. "Forty-four was the king," Nutter said.
"For a while there, because he kicked that long field goal, Bert was the
Baltimore Colts. The day he did it--I'm not certain of this, but I think even
before he left the stadium--the McCarthy-Hicks Company hired him to sell
liquor. Bert's assignment was to go around to every bar in Baltimore every damn
night and get as drunk as he could with everybody in town."
The time was
different. The players lived next door to the fans, literally. There wasn't a
financial gulf, a cultural gulf or any other kind of gulf between them. "I
remember when Alan and I bought our first row house," Yvonne Ameche said.
"We paid $8,000 for it. John Unitas came over and laid our kitchen floor.
Everyone pitched in, painted and helped us get that little row house
In Unitas's first
off-season a Colts basketball team was formed. Of course, he was the playmaker.
"He could pass a basketball, too," said Mutscheller, who was among the
best shooters. Marchetti, Pellington and Sandusky made up what could fairly be
called a physical frontcourt. Nobody remembers any of their feet ever actually
leaving the floor. They played against members of the Philadelphia Eagles in
the preliminary to Wilt Chamberlain's fabled 100-point game in Hershey in 1962.
"We were amazed by the size of him," Marchetti said, "but we missed
the 100th point. We were in the bar long before then."
As Penn State
seldom threw the ball, Lenny Moore wasn't certain he could catch it in the
pros. But he knew he could run. He wasn't just fast; "I was slippery
fast," he said. Lenny was a high-stepper and a glider who could sail
through the smallest opening just by rocking sideways.The day after the Soviet
Union launched the world's first satellite, Big Daddy Lipscomb christened Moore
"Sputnik," which Unitas shortened to Sput.
all of the backs to learn the wide receiver position, too, just in case,"
Moore said. "This was what led to me becoming a flanker and to Mutscheller
becoming a tight end and to the whole game changing." Lenny was catching
the ball well enough, especially on the slant passes. So he was surprised and a
little annoyed when Berry pulled him aside one afternoon to say, "We're not
getting everything we can from you."