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FRIDAY, AUG. 13: Cheap-Shot Artists
The bad luck isn't the date. No, it's just that we've got to play the Atlanta Falcons tomorrow, and in my opinion they have the most unpleasant defensive team in the league—a bunch of oldtime intimidators, border-line cheap-shot artists, real chippy guys who never accomplish much, except with their mouths. I always do my best against Atlanta. Last year, at the start of the game, Tom Pridemore, who's playing opposite me, comes over and snarls, "Hey, I'm gonna be in your shirt all day." He was pounding his chest. I mean that, Frank. I'm thinking: What do you guys do, watch game films or Tarzan films? I caught nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Atlanta makes me so mad that the only fight I ever got into in football was in a game against the Falcons. The ref saw me swing back, and it cost us 15 yards and took us out of a scoring drive. Even Sammy White, the nicest, most placid gentleman in the league, lost his temper once against the Falcons last year. They just take all the fun out of football.
But, then, life is never neat. I hate playing the Falcons but I always love coming to Atlanta because I love the Southern fried chicken and grits you can get here. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but both my mother and father had come from Louisiana, so I was brought up on grits. Mmmmm.
Tonight, safely settled in our hotel, we had a team meeting at nine-thirty. But no films, no Knute Rockne. It was Bud's annual meeting when all that happens is that the rookies have to stand up and tell jokes. The star of the show was Curtis Rouse, a 300-pound guard. His jokes were just terrible, but his delivery was fantastic. I told you that for a big guy he has some great moves.
Afterward, I met Mark Mullaney upstairs for a couple beers. It's funny. I may go days in camp and not really see Mark, because he's on the defense, but we're the best road buddies. That's because we have the same pregame temperament. We're not as intense as we're supposed to be. We'd distract other players if we hung around them.
Thought for today: Quick—what do George Allen and Ahmad Rashad have in common? The answer is they both think special teams are crucial, especially since neither of them has to play on them.
SATURDAY, AUG. 14: Shake, and Come Out Unified
I started the day by skipping the team breakfast so I could order grits back in my room. Then, in the afternoon, I went to our team pregame meal. I seldom eat much there. I want to be lean and hungry when I'm playing. Today I didn't eat a thing, but later I ordered Southern fried chicken from room service. I must have eaten a whole chicken.
I raised hell at the team meal, because when I came in I looked around and almost every table was all-white or all-black. "What is this?" I hollered. "I thought Jim Crow was dead." And then I designated certain table integrators.
But don't get the wrong impression, Frank. This sort of thing is much more of a case of social choice than of any real racism. The black guys tend to feel more comfortable with other blacks—they start to talk black—and the whites with the whites. I guess they talk white. The trouble is, if this gets to be a habit, the same people end up eating together every meal, and in the long run that's not good for the team.