Golden Football Magazine
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June 8, 2015

"Sure, luck means a lot in football. Not having a good quarterback is bad luck."

Don Shula, longtime Miami Dolphins coach

Tiger Den

Interesting Story

HB Art Foley from Oklahoma electrified the home crowd in the opener of the 1931 season. But after a lackluster perfor­mance in the next game, he never played another down for the Tigers.

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Saints Saga

Dazzling Debut - Aaron Brooks

Playing because Jeff Blake broke his ankle the week before, Brooks led a crucial road victory at St. Louis.

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Seminole Sidelines

Bobby's First Undefeated Regular Season - II

The 1979 Noles looked forward to beating Miami for the first time at Doak Campbell Stadium.

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NFL Championship Game - 1959

The same two teams met the year following "The Greatest Game Ever Played."


Weekend in Time

November 25, 1950 - II

Bear Bryant's undefeated Kentucky Wildcats came to Knoxville prepared to throw the ball. But Mother Nature made that plan difficult to execute.

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Offensive player has fumble securely between his legs

Football Quiz

Locations of NFL team facilities
Ditka Becomes a Bear

Ditka: An Autobiography, Mike Ditka (1987)
Mike has just completed his senior season (1960) at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mike Ditka

George Allen

George Halas

Bud Adams

I was drafted No. 1 by the Bears and No. 1 by the Hou­ston Oilers of the American Football League in the 1961 draft. The Oilers said they would make me an offer as soon as I got back from the Hula Bowl. First, I went to the East-West Shirine Game in San Francisco, where Joe Kuharich was one of the coaches. Fido Murphy was there, driving us crazy. He was an old scout who used to work for Halas ... This was at the start of the NFL-AFL signing wars. We had to sneak out windows to get away from him.

Coming back from the Hula Bowl [in Hawaii], I was sup­posed to have a flight straight to Pittsburgh out of San Francisco. When I got to San Francisco, Kuharich had changed tickets on me and I went to Chicago. In Chicago, I had to change planes and get on a plane to Pittsburgh. When I changed planes, the guy beside me was George Allen. He was [George] Halas's assistant in charge of the draft. He introduced himself, came to the house, and started talking money. He called Mr. Halas on the phone and I talked to him. He offered me $12,000.

"Biggest contract we've ever paid since Red Grange," Halas told me, which was an out-and-out lie. He said he would give me a $6,000 bonus. I said to my dad, "What do you think?" He said, "That's a lot of money. You work a long time to get that kind of money."

I never really had a choice because I was going to play in the NFL. That was definite. I was going to find out if I could play in the league if I was going to play. Houston had flown me up to Boston for a game between the Oil­ers and Patriots. When I was in New York for the Look All-American team, Oilers' owner Bud Adams had given me three 100-dollar bills and said, "Have a good time in New York." That was a lot of money then. When I left New York and went back to Pittsburgh, I still had those three 100-dollar bills. I gave them to my mother because that was more important than spending them.

I signed the contract with the Bears and I met with Hou­ston the next day and never told them I'd signed. The Oilers offered me a two-year deal for $50,000 and I had signed a one-year deal for $18,000. The Oilers probably could have offered me $100,000 and I still would have gone with the Bears. I was trapped. Had to make the best of it. I liked Allen. We always got along. He was just doing what Mr. Halas wanted him to do - sign me to a low contract.

I never had an agent, never in my whole life. ... It was exciting to negotiate your own contract. You negotiated face-to-face and you got embar­rassed. Halas embar­rassed you. Ripped you apart. After I signed my first con­tract for $12,000 plus the $6000 bonus, I made rookie of the year and all-pro. I came back and he offered me $14,000.

I said, "Coach, you're making a mistake. I made $18,000 last year. You're giving me a $4,000 cut."
He said, "How do you figure you made $18,000?"
I said, "12 and 6 is 18."
"Well," he said, "The 6 was a bonus, remember? The bo­nus doesn't count."
We went through the whole thing, back and forth. Finally, I said, "Look, I won't sign for a penny less than $18,000."
He said, "O.K., sign right here."
He had me. Anyway, I was a Bear. ...

My first impression of Halas was tremendous respect. I was 21 when I came into the league and this guy coach­ing me was 66. But you didn't know that. I never thought he was 66 when I saw him as a rookie. No way. The guy was a bundle of energy. I just assumed he was in his 50s. Here they tell you in society you can't work over 65 and he won a championship when he was 68 and he should have won another when he was 70 in 1965. My first impression wasn't awe, but it was tremendous re­spect. I don't think the respect ever left even though we bantered and argued. ...

The Bears needed a tight end. ... The players helped me a lot. Guys like [MLB] Bill George took time to show me the tricks of the trade. Playing tough and hard wasn't a problem, but I needed to know the skills involved.

When I came out of the All-Star game and joined the Bears' camp, we play­ed the Eagles in an exhibition game in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I knew I could play against the pros by now. The only question I had about my tal­ent was not whether I could hit with people. My question was speed. I had only been with the Bears four or five days. I had been sick and had lost weight. I didn't play the first quarter. Then Halas put me in and they hit me with a look-in pass and I ran 70 or 75 yards for a touchdown. The guy chasing me was Irv Cross and he didn't catch me. Then I knew I could play. It was my confidence builder.

Since I had been sick, I couldn't wait to get into the locker room at halftime and get something to drink. A bottle of Pepsi was setting up by the fountain and it looked like it had just been opened. So I reached up and took a swig of it. I almost died. Max Swiatek, who was Halas's sidekick for years, came running over and grabbed it out of my hand. It was the Old Man's and it was half bourbon.