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It helps to be mean if you aren't too big
Tex Maule
October 12, 1959
Red Hickey, the San Francisco 49ers' new coach, explains what it takes to succeed in his business. Also, a résumé of a weekend of shocking upsets
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October 12, 1959

It Helps To Be Mean If You Aren't Too Big

Red Hickey, the San Francisco 49ers' new coach, explains what it takes to succeed in his business. Also, a résumé of a weekend of shocking upsets

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"I hated the Bears. I wanted to hurt them. It's not that way now. The kids play hard, but they're not mean. Not mean the way the Bears were mean and the way we were mean when we played the Bears."

He thought a minute, gently scratching the thinning red hair on the top of his head.

"There are a few mean guys playing now," he conceded. "Most of them are little guys. You take the big men in the league, men like the Colts' Big Daddy Lipscomb or the others his size, most of them aren't really vicious. They're not out trying to hurt anyone. They don't have to, I guess. Some of the little guys, however, are truly mean. They want to rack someone every time the ball is snapped. I guess if the Lord had put that kind of meanness in a big man it would have been too much. It's frightening right now when you're coaching to look at the size and speed of the men in this league. If the big ones were mean too you can't tell what would happen. Someone would get killed."

Hickey played end for the University of Arkansas in his college days. He played against one of the very good University of Texas teams which had Jackie Crain as its principal running threat. In an early play, Hickey tackled Crain and dislocated his shoulder. When he moved up to the Rams, he played with the same dedication, and he admires it in players now.

"Take Art Donovan, the Colt tackle," he said. "He reminds me of Dick Huffman, the big tackle who used to play with the Rams. He's a tremendously powerful man. He likes to have a blocker come in on him so he can get his hands on him and throw him whenever he wants to. We knew that when we played the Colts last year, so we told the guard who was blocking on Donovan to stay away from him. This guard danced around in front of Donovan all afternoon, staying in his way but never getting close enough for Donovan to get hold of him. Artie got madder and madder, and finally he started yelling at the guard, 'Come on in, you so-and-so. Come on in to me.' But he never did get around the kid to reach our passers, and we beat the Colts. But Donovan is a great tackle because he's a mean tackle."


Leaving these generalizations, Hickey's thoughts turned to a 48-14 walloping the Rams had handed his 49ers in an exhibition game early last month. Watching the movies of that game in the week preceding Sunday's game with the Rams, Hickey was his usual optimistic self.

He watched Joe Marconi, the Ram fullback, break loose for a touchdown.

"That was lucky," he said. "They caught our linebacker red-dogging. It wouldn't happen again in a hundred plays. And the trap block on our tackle was perfect. So he goes all the way. A lucky break."

The second half of the game was nearly even, the Rams and the 49ers scoring a touchdown apiece.

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