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Jack McCallum
May 02, 1983
Whom teams have joined together as roommates, no man shall put asunder—but sometimes it happens
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May 02, 1983

For Better, For Worse

Whom teams have joined together as roommates, no man shall put asunder—but sometimes it happens

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•Linebacker Mike Curtis and Center Bill Curry roomed together on the Colts from 1967 to 1972. Curry was one of the leaders of the NFL Players Association, and Curtis was the resident anti-union hardnose. Curtis, in fact, was one of a handful of regulars who crossed the picket line in training camp during the 1970 work stoppage. He kept a big picture of Richard Nixon in his locker at the stadium, an image that still haunts Curry.

The relationship really didn't work out badly. They argued their positions heatedly in the privacy of their room, but say they never came to blows or even threw anything at each other. Actually, they were similar in some ways, their union feelings notwithstanding. Both were family men, somewhat religious and intense about the game.

•Ted Kluszewski and Albie Pearson roomed together for a while on the Los Angeles Angels in 1961. Klu stood 6'2" and weighed a solid 230 pounds, while Pearson, one of the smallest major-leaguers ever, went 5'5" and 140. Klu used to suggest that Pearson sleep in one of the bureau drawers while he pushed the beds together for himself, and one night he actually tried to stuff Pearson into a drawer. But the big man had a subtler sense of humor, too. Sometimes he'd get into a hotel dining room early and order a high chair and a plate of Pablum for Pearson.

•It was in the spring of 1963 that Baltimore Colt Coach Don Shula called Alex Hawkins with the warning: Don Shinnick wants to room with you in training camp. There are numerous variations on the good-boy-bad-boy roommate theme, but none better than this. Hawkins was one of football's certifiable wild men—"I'm one of the few who spoke Joe Don Looney's language," he says today—while Shinnick was an ultra-serious member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"I knew the master plan he [Shinnick] had in mind," says Hawkins, who until recently owned a restaurant in Marietta, Ga. "What he wanted was to convert me. I was their side's No. 1 draft pick."

Only Hawkins had already signed with the other league. Each night after lights-out, Shinnick would start preaching about Jesus Christ and the Bible. This lasted for some two weeks, until the night Hawkins began preaching on two of his favorite subjects—gambling and women.

"Shinnick moved out very quickly after that," says Hawkins.

Among Hawkins' other roommates were Looney himself—a pairing that was broken off by the Colts after a few wild days in training camp in 1964—and Andy Nelson, a defensive back who, according to Hawkins, was given to drinking shaving lotion.

"I used to do it just to get a rise out of my roommate," Nelson says, and he certainly did.

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