But I also can
already feel the group ethic taking over. There's a sense of belonging that
develops in training camp, but it fades once the season starts and we start
going home after practice, instead of to Jake's. If Garvey wants to take us
out, he'd be smart to understand that the best time to strike is while we're
still living together and that the farther we move from camp, the harder it
will be for him to retain unity. And if we do strike, you know who'll settle
it? The wives.
Thought for today:
When I came into the league, I thought anybody 32 was ancient. Naturally,
rookies want to show up some old big name, and the new defensive backs all play
me very hard. But lots of times rookies only imagine they've beaten a veteran.
The kid's going all out while the veteran is secure and really isn't competing
and may just be working on one phase of his game—like footwork.
SATURDAY, JULY 31:
The Great Bat Caper
I room alone. I'm
the only guy on the team with that privilege—not only here, but when we go on
the road, too. This isn't because I'm the dean, either. It's just because when
I was traded here six years ago I told Bud I'd like to have my own room and I
explained why, and he said O.K. I told him that I need my freedom and that also
I'd probably end up distracting any roommate I had on game days. I just can't
get my face ugly. I can never focus myself entirely on the game until game
time—and when it's over, it's over.
I don't think pro
teams still make guys room together just to save a few bucks. It's mostly that
old football thinking says that if you've got another player around, you'll be
more involved with football. Involve is a big football word. If you have two
guys in a room each can make sure the other gets to meetings. Also, it's more
unlikely a player can smuggle a woman into his room if there's another guy
Actually, here at
Mankato it's pretty easy to get women into the dorm. The Vikings only take up
three stories of this dormitory wing, and it's 12 stories high. The rest is
empty. It's not uncommon for me to bump into women in the middle of the night
walking down the corridors. Some of them just wander in on their own, taking
pot luck. Others, the guys pick up somewhere—most likely over at the Albatross.
They just say to the girls, come on over to the dorm, go up to the fourth or
fifth floor and don't say who invited you if you get caught. It's amazing the
kind of chances young players will take these days—women, drugs, whatever. When
I was a rookie, I didn't even dare laugh, except very quietly and never in a
I'm not a recluse
or anything, it's nothing personal, but I was just never crazy about roommates.
My first two years in the pros did me in. That was '72 and '73 at the St. Louis
camp. I didn't have a regular roommate in either of those years, and they kept
giving me the newest black guy to arrive in camp.
I say black guy,
because that was a completely segregated team then, and the whites and blacks
wouldn't even go into the same bar together, much less sleep in the same room.
And so I'd get all these guys I didn't know whom they'd picked up on waivers
somewhere, and these guys would say, "Hi, Home," and "Hi,
Room," and all that jive stuff. One week they assigned me this character
who had been in Vietnam. He was totally abstract all the time, a very tough
cookie. I'd hide my music tapes way down in the bottom of my suitcase,
underneath everything, and I'd come back in the room, and one of my tapes would
be playing. He'd just look at me, daring me to ask him where he'd got the tape.
I didn't ask much until one day he was taking something out of his suitcase and
a gun fell out.
"What do you
need that for?" I asked.
know, man" was what he said. I agreed. The last I heard, that guy was in
jail for armed robbery.