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"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."
Sandusky recalled 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 hands."
Sandusky worked 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 back."
Marchetti worked 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."
Rechichar, who 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 ready."
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.
"Weeb wanted 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."