- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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When I saw your
story on the greatest game ever, the 1958 Colts-Giants championship game, I
naturally thought it would be another tribute to the great number 19, Johnny
Unitas, who was the winning quarterback that day. I was pleasantly surprised to
discover the little-known story of his top receiver, Raymond Berry, and the
amazing persistence he showed to become the best he could be, and one of the
game's best ever.
As an eight year
old I watched my first pro football game on TV and saw the Colts beat the
Giants in the 1958 NFL championship game (The Best Game Ever, April 28). That
day I became a lifetime NFL fan and a lifetime Johnny Unitas fan. Your story on
the unique dedication of Raymond Berry and his critical catches down the
stretch adds to the mystique of what, 50 years later, is indeed still the best
The day of The
Best Game Ever was also my wedding day. My family loved football and would not
leave the TV until the game ended. Later this year my wife and I will celebrate
50 wonderful years together, but it will take another 50 years for my in-laws
to forgive my family for being 15 minutes late to the wedding.
I was glued to the
TV set in my home in Maryland on that winter Sunday in 1958 and will never
forget that game. I patterned my play after Raymond Berry, and also the Bears'
Harlon Hill, and became an all-state end in 1958 and '59 using head and body
fakes learned from them.
Your article on
the NFL championship game left me with mixed emotions. I was a nine-year-old
Giants fan, and I remember my five-year-old brother and I crying ourselves to
sleep after the game. I still say that the Giants were robbed of a critical
first down in that game by a bad spot!
Raymond Berry was
my receivers coach at Arkansas in the early '70s. Mark Bowden's story perfectly
captured Coach Berry's deep humility, innovative training techniques,
self-effacing humor and intense focus.
In the late '80s I
took my son to the Patriots' training camp. We waited around after practice,
hoping to get autographs from some of the coaches, usually the last to leave
the field. Most refused our requests. But Berry, the head coach, not only
signed our football, he also stayed and spoke with my son about school and
sports for at least 20 minutes. He gave us a moment that neither of us will
Great game? You
bet. It was pivotal, as far as moving football into the public eye. But the
1969 Jets-Colts game played a far bigger role in football's becoming the