"But once the boys made up their minds about winning, there was no stopping them. McGraw, our co-captain, is the spark of the team. He lives in Cumberland but worked here in Baltimore last summer. All summer long he got together with some of the other fellows and practiced two nights a week. They don't have much time to practice during the school year—only about an hour and a half on four days a week—so the summer practice helped a lot.
"Our starting line averaged around 178 pounds. We were playing against lines that went up to 200, but we did O.K. anyway." Bridgers found a simple way to give his lightweight scholars confidence. He listed every one of them on the roster at 10 pounds more than their actual weight. "I think it made 'em feel better," he says.
All the players are serious students of engineering, the sciences or the liberal arts; six of them are majoring in atomic physics. At times they study football as if it were a classroom subject: each man learns the book of offensive plays by heart before the season opens, so that the four weekly practice sessions can be given over to defensive tactics and the digesting of scouting reports. Through the entire season they were able to get in only two scrimmages, and one of those involved only 20 players—11 men on offense, nine on defense.
The team's sparkplug, Kenneth McGraw, is a typically spare-time football player. Majoring in chemistry, he made all Bs last semester in courses which included advanced organic chemistry, physical chemistry, advanced quantitative analysis and the elements of economics. On Sundays he sings baritone in the University Baptist Church, and on eight Saturdays this fall he played tackle through every minute of every game on the Johns Hopkins schedule. Shorthanded though the team was, McGraw was the only player to achieve that distinction. When someone asked him recently bow he felt on Sundays and Mondays after those 60-minute gridiron stints, he smilingly answered, "Stiff."
"They're the most remarkable bunch I've ever seen," says Coach Bridgers. "They really want to play, without any of the benefits that football players get at other schools. This school makes no special rules for football players. They have to study and act just like the other students.
"Sometimes I wonder what makes them do it. But the answer is simple: they just want to play."
AN AGE IN RETROSPECT
There will be a new heavyweight champion this week. But although the Age of Marciano has ended, its principals, like former French premiers, linger importantly. Marciano himself, retired now for some seven months, is doing just fine. Rocky has put on more than 40 pounds, he has a robustious dining room named for him in a busy Manhattan restaurant, and he enjoys his proper share of adulation as the only heavyweight champion ever to retire undefeated over a professional career. Rocky's manager, Al Weill, is busy hunting up new tigers (SI, Oct. 29). That accounts for everybody in Rocky's old corner but his trainer, Charley Goldman.
Charley still trains fighters, but he confessed the other day that he misses the Age of Marciano.
"Anyone would. It's that one little word 'champion' that I miss. It's a great thing. It can do things.