SI Vault
Frank Deford
December 16, 1985
On the first day of the Baltimore Colts' training camp, Westminster, Md., July of 1968, Ordell Braase, the huge old war-horse, a survivor of 12 years in the National Football League, was walking along with George Young, a chubby and bespectacled fellow, who was the newest member of the organization. At the age of 37, Young had been hired by Don Shula as a personnel assistant, and, at camp, he was going to double as a gridiron candy-striper, assisting the assistants. For 16 years Young had been a high school history teacher, coaching adolescents in the fall, but never working with college players, much less with God's gift to play-for-pay.
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December 16, 1985

A Former High School Teacher Has Made The New York Giants Winners

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"I've come down from the student press box, and I'm standing in the mud by the City bench, just beyond George Young, who is calling through the raindrops and the gathering gloom.

" 'Duley,' he cries. 'Duley, Duley.'

"On the field, City's running back, Tom Duley, does not hear him. Young keeps calling his name. At 17, I feel as though I'm standing in the middle of a piece of history: Young will catch Duley's attention, and he will signal some secret play, and Duley will run it in for a victory as the final gun goes off.

"The clock is ticking; the tension is mounting. 'Duley,' the coach cries again, and finally, on the field, Tom Duley turns and looks back at his coach.

" 'Duley,' Young shouts to him. 'Your shirt's not tucked in.' George Young always played by a higher set of rules."

When Young took command of the Giants, he hired Ray Perkins as head coach over candidates more publicized, and then when Perkins jumped to Alabama in '82, Young promptly chose Bill Parcells, the Giants' defensive coordinator, as his successor. It didn't trouble Young that Parcells lacked all the safe credentials and had never been a head coach in the NFL. "Look, if there's one thing I am," Young says, "it's a student of coaches.

"Selecting someone for a job is like getting married. Despite what the romantics say, you're going to be a lot better off choosing someone with more similarities. Then, too often management displays the Pontius Pilate syndrome with their coaches: washing their hands of the men they hired as soon as they start to lose."

A friend once asked Young what the essence of being a good coach was. He didn't hesitate. "You have to have the answer," he snapped back.

At the time, too, charisma was the big word for coaches, as communicator is now. "Yeah, that's all nice," Young says, "but the important thing is, some weeks you prepare to stop a team one way, and the game starts, and they're set up in an entirely different way—and that's when the players are going to come to you. And it doesn't matter whether it's high school or the Super Bowl, they'll just say, 'All right, coach, what do we do now?' And then you have to have the answer. And that's coaching."

But it is more. To many youngsters, no one except a parent is likely to be so important as a high school coach. Especially in today's mobile American society, with divorces so common and boys often brought up in families without a constant male presence, the high school coach may loom larger still.

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