"I gave him
what I thought was a pretty good play," says Buddy, "but Dublinski just
shook his head. 'I got something that'll knock their eye out, coach,' he said.
Tom went back in the huddle, called the play, and it went for long
Parker has now
gone in strong for defense. In their third game of the year, the Lions blanked
Baltimore, 35-0. It marked the first time since 1945 that a Detroit team had
shut out a rival, a stretch of 107 games. During a span of three early season
games against the Chicago Bears, Baltimore and Los Angeles, Detroit's defense
went 130 minutes without yielding a touchdown.
Critics have held
that professional football's popularity was built on free-scoring games and
that tight defensive play would drive fans away, but Parker doesn't believe
"It might be
different if Detroit had a defense and nothing else," he says, "but we
can move the ball with the best of them. I'm sick of 'Basketball on the Green'
and I think the fans are, too. Our defensive men get as much applause when they
leave the field as our touchdown boys do."
Thirty minutes of
every practice session is given to defensive work. The entire practice Thursday
is devoted to it and half the final practice on Friday. Parker is a believer in
short practice periods.
"When I was a
player," says Buddy, "I got to hate those three-hour tortures. We do 90
minutes early in the season and later in the year cut it down to an hour. When
we're on the field, we run; we do our talking in the clubhouse. I found out
long ago that you don't beat the enemy on Sunday by murdering each other on
As a player Parker
was even less a celebrity than he has been as coach. With little known
Centenary College in Louisiana during the 1934 season, he was an unheralded
quarterback who managed to gain, unappreciated by most followers, close to
1,000 yards rushing. The Lions saw him and invited him to alternate between
fullback and blocking halfback as a substitute for the great Ace Gutowsky and
Frank Christensen. The Lions won the championship in 1935 and finished third in
their league the next year. In 1937 Parker was traded to the unbelievably bad
Chicago Cardinals who managed to lose 55 games while winning only 17. Parker
retired virtually unknown in 1943.
however, he became an assistant coach with the Cardinals. Under Jimmy Conzelman
in 1947 the Cards won the pro championship, and in 1948 they lost the
play-offs. In 1949, with Conzelman out, Parker and Phil Handler became
co-coaches of the Cards, an arrangement that was doomed from the start. By
midseason the Cards had won two and lost three and Parker took over. He managed
to salvage a 6-5-1 record for the season.
He was not for the
Cardinals, though, and in 1950 he appeared in Detroit as an assistant to Bo
McMillin. In the peculiar way of pro coaches, he had no idea he would be back
with Detroit the following year and was ready to accept a minor offer from the
Green Bay Packers when the phone rang and he became head coach of the Lions.
The rest is a headache for rival coaches.
Parker has four
assistants, George Wilson, Aldo Forte, Garrard (Buster) Ramsey and Paul
Christman, part time. All are former N.F.L. players, with the hard-core
professional outlook. Forte handles the tackles, guards and centers; Wilson the
offensive backs and ends; Ramsey the defensive backs and Christman the
quarterbacks. During a game they have definite assignments. Parker handles the
quarterbacks; Wilson the offensive substitutions; Ramsey the defensive
substitutions; and Forte and Christman work the pressbox-to-bench phones.