- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
THE FLAMBOYANT GIANTS
If, as most people suppose, pro football teams reflect rather accurately the personality of the coach, then Allie Sherman has a split personality. He is a quiet, soft-spoken man who has never criticized a player to the press and probably never will. He seems an introspective, conservative man.
His football team, on the other hand, is a robust, helter-skelter club with one of the most imaginative and audacious offenses in football. They are as flamboyant as carny barkers and as daring as buccaneers.
This is a team predicated on unexpected ploys—perhaps a quick, long scoring pass, perhaps a double reverse. Part of the team's personality derives from Y. A. Tittle, who has grown bald but not cautious in 12 years as a pro quarterback. He is the living refutation of the theory that there are old quarterbacks and bold quarterbacks, but no old, bold quarterbacks.
The Giant defenders, run by the equivalent of Tittle in Andy Robustelli, have the same flair for the spectacular as the offense. They are willing, upon occasion, to gamble and they place their bets with a flair and a flourish. Their daring has put them near the top of the league in pass interceptions.
Sherman exploits this natural bent with an ingenious and exciting offense. He used an end around play against Dallas, with Frank Gifford carrying, and the play scored because it was totally unexpected. He will certainly have surprises in the championship game, too. Spectacular ones.
THE HAPPY, RELAXED LIONS
A few weeks ago, as the Detroit Lions prepared for their crucial game against the Baltimore Colts, some 14 or 15 Lion progeny, ranging in age from 2 to 10, wandered happily in the confines of Tiger Stadium while their fathers enjoyed themselves. The Detroit players worked hard, but there was none of the grimness about them that characterizes some of the practices at other NFL parks. This is a relaxed though coldly efficient team that seems to get more fun out of the game than most. It also plays football better than most.
It took Milt Plum, fresh from the austere atmosphere of the Cleveland practices, some time to adjust to the casual efficiency of the Lions. "He is only just now getting into the spirit of it," one of the Detroit backs said. "He was too tense for a long time. He's relaxing more now and he plays better for it."
This low-pressure atmosphere is not an accident—George Wilson, the Detroit coach, wants it that way. He is a big, dark, slow-moving man with a sly sense of humor flickering behind sleepy eyes. He is a permissive coach; he considers his players mature enough to discipline themselves, to call signals, to play football—and he lets them do it at their own pace, more or less.