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What about Dempsey. Did he know Dempsey?
"I met Jack at a party in New York, one of those 'How are you, Mr. Dempsey,' 'Nice to meet you, Mr. Grange,' and you shake hands. After that I'd go around to his restaurant on Broadway in Manhattan, and we'd sit and talk. The trouble was I didn't know anything about boxing, and he didn't know anything about football.
"Bobby Jones I met at a banquet in Atlanta, and I thought, 'What a smart man and a nice man.' But I couldn't really talk golf with him, because golf was too financial for me. I could appreciate tennis a little more because it was easy to see that it took a good atha-lete to play it well. Pyle introduced me to Bill Tilden at a match at the old Madison Square Garden. Must have been 1928 because I was living in New York then. What I remember about Tilden was his quickness. He had those long arms and legs, and you couldn't get a ball past him. But his quickness was the thing—something all the great atha-letes have in one form or another. That and good legs. Even golfers have to have good legs."
But most of those star crossings, Grange said, were only that—brief encounters: "I met Cobb through a boxer friend in Wheaton. He took me around to the Tiger bench before a game at Comiskey Park, and Cobb said hello. I remember I was glad to see him lose to the White Sox. Jim Thorpe, of course, was my No. 1 guy in football. I played against him in a couple of those exhibitions when he was past 40 and out of shape. I never saw him in his prime, but Halas did and he said he lived up to his clippings.
"The thing I remember about Thorpe was that he wanted to borrow everything from you—your helmet, your shoes. Otherwise, he didn't have a lot to say. He'd let you carry the conversation. I guess there was just so much inside him, being an Indian in a white man's world. He was fiercely proud of that, and he wouldn't take any stuff about Indians. But you'd never hear him say, 'I scored four touchdowns that game.' You'd have to ask. Once you asked him about anything or anybody, though, he'd give it to you straight—'I think so-and-so was horse manure.'
"I remember the first time we had a drink together. He said, 'Are you sure you want this? I know I do, but are you sure you do?' Drinking wasn't something Thorpe was scared of; he was pretty familiar with it. In those days, though, athaletes weren't supposed to touch the stuff, and he was concerned about me. I said, 'I guess I'll pass.' "
It must have been an exciting time, the visitor said, "and to be so well known."
"Well, something always happens to keep you in line. When Pyle took us to Washington, Senator McKinley of Illinois sent a car around to take Halas and me to the White House to meet President Coolidge. He said, 'Mr. President, this is Mr. Grange and Mr. Halas. They're with the Chicago Bears.' Mr. Coolidge said, 'Glad to meet you fellows. I always did like animal acts.' He didn't know anything about football, which is maybe the way it ought to be."
Finally, the visitor got up to leave. Grange seemed sorry to see him go and invited him to come back "anytime." As they walked to the rented car, the visitor noted that the birdseed was all gone. He recalled what Zuppke had said about Grange. Zuppke had once seen a deer bound by in a national park, and he stopped his car and exclaimed aloud, "There goes Red Grange!"
The visitor recited the story for Grange and told how Zuppke, years later, had remarked, "They can argue all they want about the greatest football player who ever lived. I was satisfied I had him when I had Red Grange."