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Ahmad Rashad
October 25, 1982
Drudgery and tension marked the Vikings' preseason, and a strike loomed, but in the end the author had one redeeming moment
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October 25, 1982

'a Guy Can Get Hooked On Being A Hero'

Drudgery and tension marked the Vikings' preseason, and a strike loomed, but in the end the author had one redeeming moment

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Thought for today: Tonight I was thinking again about The Ghost leaving, and I was wondering again if he'd made the right decision, and I remembered I'd met Ernie Banks once, in Las Vegas. I'd always thought he must be the most well-adjusted human being in the world. But I saw an interview on TV in which Ernie said he'd had to have some counseling after he left baseball so he could manage to go back into the real world. Maybe it's just that once you've been a baseball hero or a football hero there's no easy way out.

TUESDAY, AUG. 10: Black Centers

The worst day in camp by far. You're going to have days like this, Frank. You just pray there aren't too many. It seems that everybody was as bad as I was, too—no enthusiasm, ev- everything dragging. After a day like this at Oregon once I quit the team. The next morning I just didn't get up. I was living at home then, and my parents were away on vacation, and I heard the phone ring. I knew it was the coaches calling, but I didn't answer. Just let it ring again and again.

Finally, around lunchtime a coach came over to the house. The head coach at Oregon then was a terrific gentleman named Jerry Frei. He's an assistant with the Broncos now. The reason he's not a head coach anymore is that he cared more about his players than he did about winning. It really showed on this occasion. It was brilliant the way the assistant handled me. He just came in and said it was time to get going if we were going to make lunch and the afternoon practice. He never screamed at me. None of the coaches ranted and raved and called me a quitter. They never even asked me any questions, because they were smart enough to know that every football player has his dog days. All of a sudden, it's just no fun at all, and you hate it.

Times like that, like today, I try to think about my parents, God bless them. Or I think about my older brother, whose name is Dennis Moore and who's the older person who most encouraged me in athletics. He threw me my first football. Dennis is the real star of the family. He's a self-made millionaire in real estate out in L.A. Whenever any of my three sisters see me, they always start in right away on when I'm going to stop playing games, get on with the rest of my life and start playing catch-up ball with Dennis. And they're absolutely right, of course.

I also called up my old friend O.J. Simpson when I got back to my room. That helped. He remembered days like this one. Hell, even he had days like this one.

Thought for today: Everybody always wants to know why there have been virtually no black quarterbacks in the NFL. Well, there's hardly ever been a black center, either. I think, too, that especially nowadays, when quarterbacks seldom call their own plays, center might well be the most cerebral position in football. The center has to call all the line-blocking, adjusting to both offensive and defensive check-offs. Now, do you suppose, Frank, that black centers are a rarity because black linemen aren't smart enough or because the white coaches assume that black linemen couldn't possibly be smart enough? It has to be one or the other, doesn't it? Good night.

One more question, Frank. Do they have a black center at Grambling?

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 11: Rookies

The Vikings give you a short day Wednesday. Bud probably wants to go fishing. If I were a doctor I'd play golf, but, instead, my girl friend Diane came down and we drove to a little town just up the road called St. Peter, because she went to school there at a small college named Gustavus Adolphus. It was just an afternoon retreat, a nice escape.

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