Football Short Stories - 4
Let other authors entertain us.
Scott Brings Alabama to Power

Century of Champions: The Centennal History of Alabama Football, Wayne Hester (1991)

Alabama Coach Xen Scott
Xen Scott

Alabama Captain Al Clemens
Al Clemens

Penn T John Thurman
John Thurman

Alabama got serious about football in 1919 when it hired Xen Scott as head coach. Under the leadership of this tiny man Alabama earned national respect ... Scott, who stood 5-foot-6 and weighed 135 pounds, was a sportswriter in the offseason, covering horse racing for a Cleveland news­paper. He played football at Cleveland's Western Reserve University, where he earned a repu­tation as a brainy, daring leader.

Alabama became the Crimson Tide during the Scott Era. In the early 1900s it had picked up the nickname "The Thin Red Line," but Birmingham News sports editor Zipp New­man coined the named Crimson Tide when he came home from the army in 1919. Newman said he got the idea from watching the tide pound a seashore. It suggested a force that kept pounding at you. One day he wrote "Crimson Tide" in a headline, and a famous nickname was born.

Scott's first Crimson Tide did not surrender a touch­down in its first five games and finished with an 8-1 record, scoring 280 points and giving up only 22. ...

Scott's second team, in 1920, became the first Alabama squad to win 10 games. It posted eight shutouts, lost only to Georgia, and went 10-1.

In 1921, the Crimson Tide slumped to 5-4-2, but Scott's last team would be the history-maker at the Capstone with its upset of Penn in Philadelphia.

Al Clemens, a 156-pound end, ... captain of Alabama's '21 and '22 teams ... recalled the historic game at Frank­lin Field and the strategy employed by his coach.

"On the train ride up there we stopped in Washington, D.C., to watch a game between Navy and Penn State. The pa­pers were calling this a 'classical game,' but they looked like high school players to us. We thought if this is what East­ern football is like, we can beat Pennsyl­vania."

A crowd of 20,000 gathered at Franklin Field for the bat­tle between Eastern and Southern schools. It was by far the largest crowd an Alabama team had ever seen. "Penn had an All-American tackle named Thurman," said Clemens. "Coach Scott's game plan was for us to attack Thurman, run everything right at him. We'd hit him and say, 'OK, Thurman, maybe they'll put somebody in here who can play.' He got so frustrated he slugged our full­back, W. C. Baty - hit him right in the head with his fist. They threw him out of the game. That happened in the third quarter and we knew we had it won then."

Alabama scored on a Bull Wesley field goal and a fum­ble recovery in the end zone by Shorty Propst and came away with a monumental upset, 9-7. Later Scott and some of his players paraded through the streets of Phil­adelphia.

"Coach Scott had the game ball under his arm and people would say, 'What you got there?' Coach Scott said, 'It's gold ... oh, it's gold.'"

The team rode the train 2,500 miles back to Tuscaloosa, where the depot was running over with fans.

"They had three big flat-bed trucks pulled by horses," Clemens recalled. "They hitched them together and we stood up on them and waved as they pulled us through the center of town."
"Graveyard of Coaches"
Woody Hayes and the 100-Yard War, by Jerry Brondfield (1974)
The triple-decked gray concrete structure [Ohio Stadium], built in about a year and a half, was dedicated in 1922. It held 65,000 ... It was the first of the nation's huge, modern stadiums, the first built since Harvard's and Yale's ... It launched the 1920s boom in college ball parks that had all the biggies following the Buckeye lead.

What it also led to at Ohio State was something that would be called the "Graveyard of Coaches." Dr. John Wilce, producer of the Buckeyes' first champion, first All-America and first conqueror of Mighty Michigan, continued to be a winner but couldn't whip Michigan as often as the locals would like. Beating Michigan was the eleventh commandment, losing to Michigan was the cardinal sin. By the late 1920s it was obvious Michigan had lost his desire to continue with pressure football and wanted to spend more time in medicine. He resigned after the 1928 season.

L. W. St. John, the Ohio State athletic director, immediately got a tip from Major John L. Griffith, the Big Ten commissioner. He knew a candidate for the job who was really interested. "Like who?" asked St. John.
"Knute Rockne."
St. John ... calmly told Griffith he was out of his cotton-pickin' mind, or whatever was the 1928 equivalent, but Griffifth knew what he was talking about.
Notre Dame's famed coach somehow thought he'd climbed all the available mountains with the Irish and was looking for a new peak. Rockne and St. John went into a long huddle. After about four hours he agreed to take the job - but only if no word was mentioned until he had a chance to get back to South Bend and ask Notre Dame officials to let him out of his contract. It was all set.

John Wilce

L. W. St. John

Knute Rockne

Sam Willaman
No one knew how it happened, but there was a leak. Notre Dame officials heard of it, and when Rock got home he knew there was no way they'd let him out of his contract. Those were the days when coaches felt impelled to honor those things. Notre Dame talked Rockne into staying on and Ohio State lost a chance to lay forever the Coaches' Graveyard ghost that would soon take residence in the huge, cavernous stadium alongside the Olentangy River.

Instead of Rockne, the Buckeyes got one of Wilce's assistants, a solid and capable man named Sam Willaman. Unfortunately, a nickname came with him: "Sad Sam" Willaman. He had that kind of face and manner. He also was one fine football coach and never had a losing season. But in five years he couldn't wrap up a Big Ten title. There were years when he lost only one game. The one game always seemed to be to Michigan. Alumni discontent, student discontent and a generally sour interview by the statewide press convinced Michigan. He packed it in.


Francis Schmidt instructing the Buckeyes

Okay, fans said, let's get somebody with imagination, with zest and zeal and anything else beginning with Z. So, St. John got it for them. He got the zaniest, maddest, most imaginative football coach ever to hit the Big Ten, and the record still holds. He got the Buckeyes Francis Schmidt from Texas Christian, and it was Schmidt who launched Ohio State's modern era of football eminence. Schmidt was a World War One bayonet drill instructor with a loud, raucous and colorful approach to the English language, the likes of which had never been heard on this serene and conservative campus.
He also had a genius for offensive football. In his first year at Ohio State he stunned the opposition by displaying - in the same game - the single wing, double wing, short punt and, for the first time ever seen, the I-formation. He used reverses, double reverses and spinners, and his Buckeyes of the mid-thirties were the most lateral-pass conscious team anyone had ever witnessed. He threw laterals, and then laterals off of laterals downfield, and it was not unusual for three men to handle the ball behind the line of scrimmage.
In his first two years he got touchdowns in such bunches that Ohio State immediately was dubbed The Scarlet Scourge, and Francis the First was known as "Close-the-Gates-of-Mercy" Schmidt.
He was a bow-tied, tobacco-chewing, hawk-faced, white-haired, profane practitioner of the football arts - modern football's first roaring madman on the practice field and the sidelines, and so completely zonked out on football that legend ties him to the greatest football story of the twentieth century.
So caught up was he in his diagrams and charts that there was hardly a waking moment when he wasn't furiously scratching away at them. He took his car into a filling station for an oil change but stayed right in the car while the mechanics hoisted it high above the subterranean oil pit to do their work.
Francis Schmidt, immersed in his X's and O's, simply forgot where he was. For some reason he decided to get out of the car, still concentrating on his diagram. He opened the door on the driver's side and stepped out into the void, which ended eight feet south of him in the pit. He refused to explain the limp which he carried with him to practice that day.

It had really taken Schmidt only one year to enrapture Ohio State fans for what was predicted to be forever. At his first football banquet after a sensational first season capped by a glorious 34-0 shellacking of Michigan, Schmidt, in bayonet drill tones, bawled forth two classic and historic comments. "Let's not always be called Buckeyes," he brayed. "After all, that's just some kind of a nut, and we ain't nuts here. [A debatable claim.] It would be nice if you guys in the press out there would call us 'Bucks' once in a while. That's a helluva fine animal, you know."
Ringing applause. Bucks and Buckeyes, interchangeably from now on ...
And then: "And as for Michigan ... Well, shucks, I guess you've all discovered they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else."
Bedlam. It was apparently the first time the homely Texas line had ever been uttered in public and it swept th nation. It also launched a "Pants Club" at Ohio State: thenceforward each player and key booster who was part of a winning year over Michigan was awarded a tiny little golden replica of a pair of football pants. ...

Francis Schmidt, despite his individual brilliance, coached football in a perpetual ambiance of frenzied chaos. His staff was in a limbo of misdirection and uncertainty. Nobody knew from one day to another what the hell the mad genius was going to do. He heaped scorn and ridicule on his players and they hated him. There was open dissension. And after a couple of years the opposition began to catch on to his pyrotechnic style.
Then, like other coaches before him, Francis Schmidt fell victim to the Michigan bugaboo. After four straight Buckeye victories, Michigan came up with a back named Tom Harmon, and in 1938, 1939, and 1940, Ohio State dropped three in a row. ... Once again in Columbus, mutinous fans were getting out a plank for a Buckeye football coach.
Francis Schmidt knew the Athletic Board was debating his future. He was the kind of man who'd rather die than be fired, so he quit before the board could act - as it certainly would have done. The board also accepted resignations of Schmidt's five assistants, two of whom would later make names for themselves elsewhere: Sid Gillman at Cincinnati and later in the pros; and Gomer Jones, who would become the architect of Bud Wilkinson's great lines at Oklahoma ...
When news photographers came around for a going-away photo, Schmidt, blatantly sarcastic to the end, told them, "You guys have dozens of my pictures in your files. Just dig out one of them and use it. And while you're at it, underneath it just say: 'Rest in peace.'" Three years later, at Idaho, he died of a heart attack. Some say a broken heart.
Nearly College Teammates Too

Football: The Greatest Moments in the Southwest Conference, Will Grimsley (1968)

A couple of years ago sportswriters of the Southwest Conference were call­ed upon to vote for the greatest football players to perform in the league over the last twenty years, or since World War II - an All-Era Eleven, so to speak.

The No. 1 choice was Doak Walker, brilliant backfield star at Southern Methodist University in 1945-49. Chosen in the same backfield, close to Walker in the voting, was Bobby Layne, who quarterbacked the rampa­ging Texas teams in 1944-47. Layne and Walker were teammates on the Highland Park High School team in Dallas - Layne a year ahead. They were the closest of friends who held each other in the highest respect and admiration. They went into the U. S. Merchant Marine together and came out at the same time. Only a quirk of fate kept them from playing on the same college team.

Bobby helped lead Highland Park to the bi-district title in 1942 and to the state high school semifinals in 1943. Upon graduation, he moved in with an uncle, a strong supporter of the Texas Longhorns, and played freshman varsity with Texas in 1944, while wartime restrictions against freshman play were waived. Walker, with another year at Highland Park, meanwhile led his team to the state high school finals.

When Doak was graduated from high school in 1945, the war was still in progress. He and his pal, Bobby, joined the U. S. Merchant Marine. The war suddenly took a quick and favorable turn, and their service was brief. On the last Saturday in October, 1945, Bobby and Doak reported to New Or­leans to receive their discharges from the service. It was a coincidence that their longtime friend and former coach at Highland Park High, H. N. (Rus­ty) Russell, also was in New Orleans on another mission. Rusty had moved in as assistant coach at Southern Methodist and the Mustangs were in the Crescent City for a game with Tulane. There was a happy reunion.

Also in New Orleans at the time was Blair Cherry, assistant to Coach D. X. Bible at Texas. Cherry was scouting SMU for the next week's game against his Longhorns. He was happy to see Layne but happier to see Layne's young friend and ex-teammate, Walker, widely sought by all Southwest Conference schools.
"Maybe we can get that boy to come to Texas," Cherry confided to Layne.
"Perhaps," said Layne, hopefully.

Doak was not committed but was leaning heavily toward his old high school coach, Rusty Russell, and his hometown university, SMU. Russell knew he couldn't dissuade Layne from returning to Texas but he hoped to keep Bobby from influencing the Doaker, and, somewhat ambivalently, he gave the two boys tickets to the SMU-Tulane game.

L: Bobby Layne, Texas; R: Doak Walker, SMU
It was almost a fatal blunder. SMU played miserably, losing to Tulane 19-7. After the game, Layne said to Doak, "You better come to Texas with me. Let's go over and talk to Coach Cherry."
"Okay," Walker said, his mind not fully made up.

The two young men raced to Cherry's hotel. The story is that, as they were going up the elevator to the coach's room, Cherry was coming down ano­ther lift to check out. They missed each other completely.

Walker returned to Dallas and immediately enrolled at SMU. Layne re­turned to Texas. So the two buddies took separate roads and, instead of winding up in the same backfield, they became opponents. Within a week they were aligned on opposite sides of the field, launching one of the Southwest's most exciting and colorful personal rivalries.

Walker, who never had played a minute of college football, said afterward that he didn't know how he made such a quick transition. "Bobby and I got out of the service on Friday," he recalled. "On the following Monday," both of us were in uniform, practicing. The next Saturday we were playing against each other - I as a freshman, Bobby as a sophomore."

The first meeting of these two former teammates was dramatic. Walker ran 32 yards for a touchdown that put SMU ahead 7-0. Layne rallied Texas in the final period. Bobby passed to Dale Schwartzkopf for one touchdown and, after intercepting a Walker pass, threw to R. E. (Pappy) Blount for a 12-7 Texas victory.

Editor's note: Layne and Walker finally played in the same backfield for the Detroit Lions 1950-55, during which time the Lions played in the NFL Cham­pionship Game three times, winning two.
Frank Gifford on Vince Lombardi
The Whole Ten Yards, by Frank Gifford & Harry Waters (1993)
Writers have carved careers out of making Vince Lombardi into something he never really was. The man I knew wasn't anything like that myth. In fact, he was one of the most down-to-earth human beings I've ever met. Maybe that's why I never called him "Coach" or "Mr. Lombardi" or, even in jest, "God." To me, and to most of us who really knew him, he was simply "Vince."

When Vince arrived in 1954 to take over our [New York Giants'] offense, we didn't like him at all. He was loud and arrogant, a total pain in the ass. We had a lot of nicknames for him, most of them unprintable. Vince had been a good high school coach at Saint Cecilia's and an outstanding back­field coach at Army, but he didn't understand pro football. He didn't have a clue. He immediately tried to install Red Blaik's offense from West Point, the old option T. The quarterback, moving down the line of scrimmage, ei­ther pitches the ball to the halfback or runs it. Now, our quarter­back was Charley Conerly, whose days of running with the football were long gone - and he knew it. A lot of the things Vince wanted to do just wouldn't work in the pro game.

When Vince got up to the blackboard, he might have been teaching his fourth-grade math class at Saint Cecilia's. "This is the twenty-six power play," he'd announce. "The twenty-six power play, do you have that, Jack? The first step is for the right guard to pull back. He must pull back, must pull back, must pull back. He must pull back to avoid the center, who will be moving to the offside. So the first step is for the right guard to pull back. Got that, Jack? The first step is back."

Vince Lombardi, FB Mel Triplett, QB Charlie Conerly

Vince Lombardi and Frank Gifford
We'd look at each other in disbelief. Here's a Charlie Concerly (whom Vince treated in the same way), having dodged bullets in the South Pacific and made All-America at Mississippi and lived through hell in the Polo Grounds, and he's hearing this guy tell him how to do it. You could see Vince was a terrific teacher, but these people had learned most of what he was teaching very early in their careers. They didn't require a lot of teach­ing. They required direction.

After our training-camp workouts, when many of the players gathered at a local beer joint, everybody began doing imitations of Lombardi. Some of them were quite hilarious. He just seemed a comical character to us, easy to parody. He had huge feet and big, long arms, and all those teeth. Some­one once quipped that Vince had thirty-two teeth like the rest of us, but his were all on top. When we weren't laughing at him, our attitude was that we'd survive him. Somehow, this guy would be exposed and gotten rid of. As far as we were concerned, it was just a matter of time.

Then Vince did something both humble and smart. He began dropping by our training-camp dorm after meetings to talk to us about different aspects of the game to solicit our opinions of plays. At first that ticked us off. Char­lie, Kyle [Rote], myself, and a few others were accumstomed to com­ing back to our rooms at the 11:00 P.M. curfew, making the bed check and then sneaking out for a few beers. Now here was this bigmouthed rookie coach with a pasta name blocking our escape.

"How are things?" he'd ask, pulling out a chair from the desk.
"Uh, fine, Vince. Everything's fine."
"We're having trouble runing the option play, aren't we, Charlie?"
Charlie, a man of few words if any, would pop his ankle and grunt some­thing like 'Yep." There was an awkward silence. Finally, I volunteered what we were all thinking: "It's really not what Charlie likes to run. We really don't think it's a going to be effective with Charlie."
"Well, what do you think about the fifty-four dive?" he replied. "How do you feel about the forty-nine sweep?"

Gradually, we felt comfortable enough to tell him. He'd just listen and nod. Then one night he suddenly said, "You know, if you don't mind, I could really use a little help from the older guys." Vince was a very intelligent man who sensed he was in trouble. So many coaches are so full of macho posturing that they'd have tried to tough it out. Vince knew better. What he was really telling us was, "Come on, I need your help."

That changed the whole tone of our relationship. All of a sudden, we found ourselves wanting to help him. We discovered that he was a real guy, a warm, funny guy. He was very Italian in the sense that he loved to laugh, loved his paste, and loved to have a few pops with his players. In later years, following practices, a bunch of us would drive over to his home in New Jersey, and his wife, Marie, would cook up a ton of spaghetti. We'd talk football and watch game films until Marie threw us out.

In terms of offensive strategy, Lombardi and the Giants learned from each other. Take the famous 49 sweep. When Vince installed it, he wanted the two guards who led the left halfback - yours truly - around the end to swing out several yards before they turned the corner. He wanted to be sure the penetration from our tight end blocking their linebacker didn't snarl every­thing up. Charlie and I disagreed. We felt the guards had to get to the corner as quickly as they could and turn it upfield. We knew that the defen­sive pursuit in pro football is too fast for that kind of maneuver. As big as Vince's ego was, he listened to us. We ended up running the 49 sweep half his way and half the way we thought it would work. The play turned out to be Lombardi's biggest ground gainer both in New York for me and in Green Bay for Paul Hornung. ...

Vince was famous for his tirades, but many, I felt, were calculated. Especi­ally the ones at our screenings of the previous Sunday's game films. That's when he'd really hammer someone's performance. ... Only once did I wit­ness Vince's theatrics backfire. We had a tough southern running back - I'll call him "Jones" - who, rumor had it, carried a knife around with him. He also performed best when no one got under his thin skin. During one film session, Vince seized on some frames that showed the guy failing to block a linebacker. "Look at yourself, Jones," he shouted, beginning his back­and­forth number with the projector. "Hear me, Jones? Jones? Jones? Jones?" After about a minute of this, from out of the darkness a very quiet, mean voice was heard: "Run that one more time, Coach, and I'll cut you." Vince gulped, swallowed deeply, and meekly hit the projector's forward button.

Put fifty men together for half a year, and you're going to see a lot of prac­tical jokes. We loved playing them on Vince, just to watch him explode. Like the schoolteacher he once was, he liked to have his pieces of chalk laid out just so before he began a blackboard lesson. And like mischievous school­boys, some of us would beat him to the meeting room to hide his chalk. Result: accusations, followed by expletives followed, more than once, by the crash of a hurled blackboard.

During practices, Vince hated anyone crowding him. He liked to stand ex­actly four yards behind whatever eleven guys were working on offense. The rest of us, who were not in the lineup, were supposed to stand at least three yards behind him. Naturally, we took that as a challenge. We were continually inching up to him, which invariably freaked him out. One day he threw down an orange peel to mark the line of demarcation. "Everyone stays behind the orange peel," he ordered. "Get in front of it, and you do a lap around the field."

We took that as an even bigger challenge. Each time he turned to watch a play, we'd push the peel closer to his rear end and creep closer ourselves. Finally, we were right on top of him.

When Vince looked back, he went ballistic. "I said, EVERYONE BEHIND THE BLEEPETY-BLEEP PEEL!" he screeched, his face turning a familiar purple. Then he glanced down and saw where the peel lay. It cracked him up. Of course, as soon as he stopped laughing, he moved it exactly three yards back.
See You in Detroit!
Starr: My Life in Football by Bart Starr with Murray Olderman (1987)
One of the most dominant teams in the history of professional football came very close to not even playing in a championship game. In 1962, there were no wild-card games ... Our team began the season knowing we had to win the Western Conference to earn the right to play the Eastern Conference champ­ions for the title. ... Our biggest concern, therefore, was Detroit. The Lions had a talented and hungry team, having finished second to us in our conference in 1961.

After destroying our first nine opponents - six preseason, three regular season - we hosted the Lions in game four. Detroit was also undefeated, and the crowd was buzzing as the fans entered Lambeau Field on a cool autumn after­noon.
We came close to giving the game away, then took it away. Statistically, we outgained the Lions all day. We outrushed them. We outpassed them. Unfor­tunately, we also turned the ball over four times, and Detroit led, 7-6, late in the fourth quarter.
With less than a minute to play, the Lions had possession near midfield. It was third down, and, as they approached the line of scrimmage, I asked Paul Hornung, "Do you think we'll get another shot?"
Paul said, "I hope so. I'm ready." Paul was handling the field-goal kicking and wanted desperate to win the game with a last-minute kick.
But Paul and I feared that the Lions would simply run Nick Pietrosante, their powerful FB, up the middle. If he gained the yardage necessary for a first down, the game would be over Even if he didn't, the Lions would send in S Yale Lary, the NFL's most effective punter, to kick the ball, forcing us to sus­tain a lengthy drive to win. The Lions' defense had been playing us tough all day, capitalizing on our miscues and holding us to two field goals. Most of our players were standing, but the mood was one of disappointment and frustra­tion, not excitement.
Milt Plum, the Lions' QB, walked up to the line of scrimmage, barked the sig­nals, and ... dropped back to pass. I couldn't believe it. Surely he was going to run a QB draw, not throw the ball downfield. I was wrong. Not only did he throw it downfield, but he threw it toward Terry Barr, who was being covered by Herb Adderley, our best athlete. Barr slipped slightly, but Herb planted his feet cleanly, stepped up, and intercepted the pass near our 45-yard line. I al­most ran onto the field right then. I was so excited. Herb wove through the Lion offensive players until he was finally tackled inside their 20-yard line. We mobbed him as the crowd burst into delirium. Their emotional level was noth­ing compared to that of Alex Karras, however.
After conferring with Lombardi and agreeing we should run the ball toward the middle of the field to get good field-goal position, I ran to our huddle to call our first play. I heard Karras, their volatile defensive tackle, swearing at the top of his lungs at Plum for throwing the ball: "You stupid son of a bitch, what the hell were you doing ...?" Alex halted his tirade, put on his helmet, and joined his teammates in their defensive huddle. We ran the ball to the 14-yard ine, brought in our field-goal unit, and listened to Alex's continuing outburst. I did not envy Jerry Kramer, our right guard, who had been lining up across from Alex all day.
We only had to convert the field goal to win the game. Jim Ringo's snap was perfect. I placed the ball on the turf, spun the laces toward the goalposts, and watched Paul's foot whizz just under my hand. The ball sailed through the goalposts and into the stands.
The game was decided by a defensive player, Herb Adderley, which was ap­propriate that day. But Alex Karras remained convinced that an offensive play­er, Milt Plum, was responsible, and Karras' diatribe could be heard by players, officials, and fans as we exited the field.

In 1962, both teams exited Lambeau Field through the same tunnel, at the north end of the stadium. To make matters worse, or at least more uncomfor­table, the opponents' locker room was separated from ours by nothing more than a ten-foot hallway. The doors on each end of the hallway were usually enough to prevent us from hearing the commotion next door, but not on that day.
For the first time since Lombardi joined the Packers, his postgame comments were interrupted. It was Alex again. In the visitors' locker room, he tore off his helmet, threw it at Plum, and hit him squarely in the chest. Lions head coach George Wilson jumped between them to prevent pandemonium from breaking out, and said: "Look, guys, it's my fault. I made the call."
As a matter of fact, Plum made the call, but Wilson tried to take the heat off him and get the players' minds off the game. "Hey, guys, shower up and let's get out of here."
Wilson's thinking was sound, but the showers refused to cooperate. When the Detroit players filed into their shower facilities, they received another slap in the face when nothing more than cold water trickled out. A few minutes la­ter, the Lions' equipment manager knocked on our door. "Dad" Braiser, our equipment manager, greeted him.
"What do you want?"
"I need to see Vince Lombardi."
"What for?"
"Our showers aren't working. We can't get much water and what does come out is ice cold."
"Dad" told Lombardi about the problem and he decided to let the Lions use our showers. I was glad I had already finished, as I didn't need any more ten­sion that day. For the next twenty or thirty minutes, our shower facility was silent except for the water streams from the shower heads.
When the Lions dried off and walked back to their locker room, I expected them to be discouraged. They were outraged. As their last player exited, he headed toward the hallway, stopped, and said, "See you in Detroit."

Packers celebrate Hornung's winning FG vs Detroit.
Did they ever.
The Lions had been hosting the Packers every Thanksgiving since 1952. With each succeeding year, the event grew in popularity and intensity. By 1962 it had become a national tradition for sports fans to turn on the tube and watch football on Thanksgiving. Vince Lombardi, however, detested the game.
Lombardi was the most organized and disciplined coach I've ever seen. He loathed anything that would throw us off schedule, or disrupt our routine.
In order to play on Thanksgiving Day, we had to fly to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon. And since we had to recuperate from Sunday's game by taking it easy on Monday, we had only this one day of intense practice before we had to play. So our concentration wasn't what it should have been on the day be­fore the game.
That would normally be enough to cause trouble by itself, but in 1962, it was compounded by the Lions' anger and desire for revenge.
By the time the first half ended, Detroit led 23-0. It seemed much worse. I was sacked six or seven times, including once for a safety ... Lombardi didn't have to say much in the locker room. We had played listlessly, while the Lions per­formed as though they intended to give us a cold shower in front of the entire nation.
The Lions continued to pour it on and were winning 26-0 at the end of the thid quarter. The rout was on and the Detroit fans loved it.
Although the Lions were clearly the superior team that day, the character of our team surfaced in the fourth quarter, when we outscored Detroit 14-0, despite the fact that their defensive line was teeing off on every play. As we walked off the field, I knew we would destroy our next opponent.
We defeated Los Angeles the following week 41-10.


Lions
sack Bart Starr on Thanksgiving 1962.
Postscript: Since the Lions had lost a second game, the Packers still won the Western championship with a 13-1 record.
Draftees or Prisoners?
The Other League: The Fabulous Story of the American Football League,
Jack Horrigan
and Mike Rathet (1970)
The AFL and NFL were duking it out for draft choices, raising player salaries across both leagues.
The NFL might in the long run have worn down its rival, but on January 29, 1964, NBC announced a $36 million television pact with the AFL. The league's solvency was assured.
The $100,000 draft choice contract would now be commonplace. Sonny Werblin [owner of the Jets] was the catalyst for a massive price escalation. When it came to signing a player, he put a price not only on playing talent but on any charismatic quality that might translate into money at the box office.
It was such star quality he saw in Joe Namath. "When Joe walked into a room, you know he's there. When another rookie walks in, he's just another nice-looking kid. Namath's like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig.

Joe Namath signs with the Jets, bringing smiles to the faces of
Coach Weeb Ewbank (left) and owner Sonny Werblin.
Werblin decided early that he wanted to sign Namath. First, the Jets negoti­ated a trade with Houston, giving up the rights to Tulsa QB Jerry Rhome in exchange for a first-round draft choice. That choice was Namath.
That was only the beginning. What followed was the biggest bidding contest in sports history up to that time, with the Jets and the St. Louis Cardinals match­ing offers. When Werblin got to $427,000, Namath was a Jet.
By now Operation Hand Holding had turned virtually into body snatching, with the fringe benefits offered verging on the exotic.
Notre Dame end Jack Snow was offered a honeymoon in Hawaii by the AFL Chargers, but Jack signed with the Rams. Pittsburgh LB Marty Schottenheimer accepted a deal with the Buffalo Bills because it included a rear window defroster for his new car.
Such special attention turned off Gale Sayers. The Kansas HB said he signed with the NFL's Chicago Bears rather than Hunt's Chiefs when the Kansas City owner opened a door for him. "It made me uncomfortable," said Sayers, "having a millionaire holding doors for me."

L-R: Jack Snow, Marty Schottenheimer, Harry Schuh
Consider the case involving Memphis State T Harry Schuh. Schuh became the object of a manhunt when the Oakland Raiders whisked him away from Jack­son MS where he played his final college game for Memphis State, to keep him out of the hands of the Los Angeles Rams.
His first stop was New Orleans, where the entourage cordoning Schuh off from the outside world stopped long enough to add his wife. Then it was on to Las Vegas, where Schuh's trail was picked up by the Rams.
The Raiders reacted rapidly. Too rapidly for the slumbering Mrs. Schuh. Schuh was flown off by himself to Los Angeles, en route to a new hideout in Hawaii.
Mrs. Schuh, awakening to find her husband gone, was told by the Raiders of the new itinerary. They suggested that she could best aid and abet the plot by flying to Los Angeles as a decoy, stopping there rather than continuing on to Hawaii.
The Rams, trying a different tactic, flew east, reaching Schuh's parents at their New Jersey home and persuading them, in the interest of their son, to ask the police to issue a missing-person bulletin. But the Rams were too late. Schuh had signed and become a Raider.
The NFL did the body snatching and the AFL did the chasing in the case of Prairie View receiver Otis Taylor. It all began with a telephone call Taylor received from the NFL's Cowboys inviting him to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas. He accepted, only to find he was a virtual prisoner, along with six other play­ers. Led by the NFL's baby-sitters, the six spent a dizzying time changing mo­tels four ties to confuse AFL pursuers.
"We could see we were being kept away from the other league," Taylor said. "They didn't even want you talking to anyone in the lobby. Once they knew you'd talked to somebody they'd move you to another hotel."
Meanwhile Lloyd Wells, a Kansas City scout, was trying desperately to track down Taylor. Wells finally learned of Taylor's whereabouts through friends and raced out to the motel, but was chased off by Taylor's guardians.
Wells came back, slipped in behind the motel, jumped a fence and located Taylor's room. He tapped on the window, convinced Taylor to make an exit through it and sped him away in a car to take a flight to Kansas City.
The Chiefs drafted him the next day and signed him immediately.
Owners in both leagues were now beginning to question the wisdom of such strenuous - and expensive - battles. Might it make more sense to think about merging the AFL and NFL?


L: Gayle Sayers; R: Otis Taylor
He Bought the Franchise for a Song - Literally
The League: Inside the NFL, David Harris (1986),

Texas Schramm Jr. was born in 1920 in Los Angeles. He enrolled as a jour­nalism student at the University of Texas shortly before the outbreak of World War II. There he played on the freshman football team and worked on the student newspaper. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Schramm joined the Army Air Corps and was discharged at war's end with the rank of captain. He finished his studies, then worked as a sports editor for two years before abandoning journalism for good. He got his first job in football in 1947 when he learned that the Rams managing owner, Dan Reeves, was looking for a new publicity director. As the Rams' general manager in the early 1950s, Schramm first met Pete Rozelle. It would prove a long association.

L: Tex Schramm; R: Pete Rozelle
Tex Schramm stayed with the Rams for ten years until driven out by the disorder inside the franchise. When the opportunity to go to New York and join CBS Sports arose, he jumped at the chance and was eventually re­placed by his friend Pete Rozelle. At CBS Schramm worked under Bill Mc­Phail as assistant director of sports, obtaining events to televise. Among the contracts he handled were those with the network's assortment of NFL teams.
Clint Murchison
Tex Schramm's path finally merged with Ro­zelle's at the 1960 League meeting at which Rozelle was chosen commissioner. The other hot issue that winter was the prospect of ex­panding the League by two more franchises, one to be located in Dallas. Schramm was rec­ommended to its prospective owner, Clint Mur­chison, by George Halas and Murchison hired Schramm as general manager of a franchise that did not yet exist. CBS let him resign contin­gent upon Murchison actually securing the fran­chise he sought.
The primary roadblock to NFL expansion into Dallas in 1960 was George Preston Marshall, then owner of the Washington Redskins and one of the most powerful figures in the League. Marshall's television holdings were largely in stations around the South, and he thought of the entire area as Redskins home turf. He had steadfastly opposed any invasion of the region by another football team. In addition, there was no love lost between Marshall and the rich young Texan, Murchison. During the 1950s, Murchison had sought unsuccessfully to buy Marshall's franchise with the idea of selling it should the NFL expand into his hometown, but the deal fell apart because Marshall insisted on being kept on by the new ownership in a management position and Murchi­son did not want him. Marshall led the fight to keep the NFL from expanding into Dallas.
Then Murchison played his hole card.
Marshall loved band music at football games and in particular loved his team's fight song, "Hail to the Redskins." He had, however, fired the song's composer, and in a fit of pique the bandleader had sold the rights to the tune to a Murchison crony. When Murchison threatened to deny the Red­skins the use of their theme song, Marshall relented and the Dallas Cow­boys were born on January 28, 1960. Not counting the price of the song, the franchise cost Murchison $600,000.
As the new franchise's general manager, Tex Schramm immediately set about building his reputation as a "football man." Though starting an NFL team from scratch was no small task, the Cowboys would soon be identi­fied by Rozelle as "the most successful modern expansion team in the NFL." At the fore in that rise was Schramm, "one of the game's great in­novators."
In 1962, for example, an IBM subsidiary approached the fledgling franchise seeking to sell it computers to handle its accounting problems. Instead, Schramm challenged them to develop a system to handle the task of choosing which football players to hire. Within a few years, the Cowboys' computerized system was acknowledge as the premier scouting appara­tus in the League. ...
Though long acknowledged as a "driving force" inside the League, Schramm confirmed his central role in 1966, when the war with the Ameri­can Football League had been going on for six long and expensive years. Several different informal contacts between owners of the two leagues had gone nowhere. The contact that finally led to peace took place between Tex Schramm and Lamar Hunt at Dallas's Love Field airport on April 6, 1966. The two men knew each other from the early days in Dallas, when Hunt's AFL franchise was located there.
At the time of their meeting, Hunt was headed to the AFL gathering in Houston, where Al Davis would be appointed AFL commissioner. Hunt and Schramm's first conversation about merger took place inside a parked car at the airport. "At this point," Schramm remembered, "we did not want to be seen together." Hunt was noncommital about the plan presented to him, but agreed with Schramm's proposal that that the two act as the leagues' intermediaries. A month later, the two met again at Hunt's home and then again the following week. At that point, Hunt was finally convinced that "any problems could be solved." That conclusion was followed by ano­ther month of frantic negotiations between Schramm, Rozelle, and the rest of the NFL owners on the one hand, and Hunt and the rest of the AFL on the other. All of it was cloaked in secrecy so intense that at one point, Schramm and Rozelle registered under assumed names in a Washington, D.C., hotel in order to meet with Hunt and then forgot to tell Hunt what name they had registered under. As a consequence, the AFL representative spent two hours in the lobby trying to locate them.
On June 8, 1966, the agreement for merging the two leagues was an­nounced. Its three key provision were the payment of $18 million in indem­nities by the AFL, a four-year interim period before commencing business as a single organization, and the retention of Rozelle as the merged NFL's commissioner. In all accounts of the process, Tex Schramm was described as its "architect."

Schramm, Rozelle, and Hunt announce merger.
Spurrier Delivers
Spurrier: How the Ball Coach Taught the South to Play Football, Ran Henry (2014)
Steve Spurrier saw greatness in a former fifth-string quarterback, looking through the tunnel to a field of dreams.
Shane Matthews, what do you want to run for your first play as starting quarterback at the University of Florida? Matthews thought a screen pass, or a draw play, might loosen up the team playing Oklahoma State in front of 75,428 Gators.
"Shoot no, they aren't paying me all this money to come down here and run the ball," Spurrier said.
"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere come the Gators!" the PA announcer bellowed.
Running out of the tunnel, waving to his father and mother beaming in the first row in the end zone, with his wife, children, and Florida teammates weeping for joy, Spurrier led the Gators onto Florida Field on September 8, 1990, as Florida's head coach - running across real grass, hoping to lay to rest the old school motto, "Wait until next year."
Scraps of that artificial turf Spurrier had ripped out and thrown to the curb got picked up and saved by disbelieving Gators, clinging to the past. He'd show them. Football is played on grass, under palm trees and tropical skies, with some guidelines he called "Gator Mentality."
"Trips left, X Short, Blue Slide, Z Cross," he told Matthews, clapping his quarterback on the shoulder pads and sending him out for his first play, a 35-yard completion.

Steve Spurrier and Shane Matthews
A nation of Gators hollered. Eyes had not seen, ears had not heard, such a backpedaling of defensive backs across the SEC, fearing an offense that passed first and ran last. ...
What should sportswriters call the passing attack Matthews triggered? He allowed that "Fun 'n' Gun" might lighten up the sports section his father carried around Green Cove Springs.
That gave the Gators the mindset to go into Birmingham and withstand an early 10-0 Alabama lead, block a punt in the fourth quarter, and beat the Crimson Tide 17-13 at their stadium. Showing the disbelieving Gators back home Spurrier's team could play with the big boys.
He'd met the enemy, and it was Florida. Former coach Galen Hall's $360.40 "loan" to a player needing to pay child support in 1986 made UF ineligible for the 1990 Sugar Bowl - and therefore unable to compete for the 1990 SEC Championship, the NCAA ruled the week after the win over 'Bama.
Spurrier put on his go-to-meeting clothes and went to debate university officials over appealing that punishment. Looking the deciders in the eyes, he said no one on his team had done anything wrong. The doubts of Dr. Robert Lancillotti, dean of UF's business school, could no longer be con­tained.
"We have never won the SEC! We're not going to win it this year! We've only won one conference game and we're talking about winning six more?"
"Wait until next year," the administrators had to say to the football coach, giving Spurrier what he really needed: someone to prove wrong.
Unfairness clouded his face when he huddled up his team and told them Florida would win that championship on the field - and he wouldn't let any­one forget who won it. Mississippi State and LSU got stomped at Florida Field, loud enough for the dean of the business school to hear. In the stadium boasting the SEC's loudest crowd, Spurrier sent Matthews onto the field with plays the Vols anticipated. They'd watched lots of film of Florida. When his tight end dropped a touchdown pass that would've tied the game at 7, cameras caught the velocity of Spurrier's visor hitting the ground. Big Orange rolled over Florida, 45-3 ... The major networks told their TV crews to keep a camera on the visor at all times.
Disbelieving Gators resurfaced. Florida never could beat Auburn and Georgia back-to-back. Hearing that Auburn had lost its library in a fire, Spurrier sent his regrets: "Some of those books hadn't been colored in yet." No. 4 Auburn lost 48-7 to Spurrier.
Florida still had to play Georgia the next week in Jacksonville. ... Fate fa­vors men who want to win. The Ball Coach added that the game the Gators annually feared was played in Florida, in a stadium called the Gator Bowl.
"We should beat them," he told his team. "We should beat them by a bunch."
With cheers ringing through the stadium, Spurrier stood by the locker room door, waiting for his mom and dad to celebrate a 38-7 win over UGA athle­tic director Vince Dooley's Dawgs.
Hearing about gatherings at cemeteries where cocktails were poured on the graves of Gators who'd lived and died without beating Auburn and Georgia back-to-back, Spurrier got ready to avenge the people who made them move out of a house they loved in Marietta, Georgia [when Bill Curry was hired as Georgia Tech coach and did not rehire Spurrier as O-coordi­nator]. His Gators clawed Bill Curry's Kentucky Wildcats, and stood alone atop the SEC at 9-1.
Scoring 35 points and gaining 450 yards a game, rewriting their coach's passing records, Spurrier's Gators ripped away 57 years of SEC futility and 84 years of mediocrity - fielding the best team in Florida football history.
A business school dean and a 45-30 loss to Bobby Bowden's Seminoles in Tallahassee couldn't deter the Ball Coach from painting "First in the SEC" on his stadium wall, to honor the 1990 team. ...
Parcells Batting for Payton?

From Parcells, A Football Life, Bill Parcells and Nunyo Demasio (2014)

Sean Payton's heart was racing almost as rapidly as his mind on the morn­ing of March 21, 2012. The Saints head coach remained in shock ... mo­ments after learning the NFL's verdict for Bountygate. ... Because the sur­reptitious program, involving at least twenty-two defensive players, viola­ted league poli­cies and had occurred under Sean Payton's watch, the NFL had banned him for the entire 2012 season.

Having expected a suspension of only perhaps a handful of games, Payton reeled from the harshest penalty ever handed to a head coach in the league's ninety-two-year history. It included a loss of almost $6 million from his $7 million salary. At this unimaginable low point, Payton, who hadn't missed a football season since his Pop Warner days, could think of only one person to consult. Five minutes after getting the shattering news, he dialed Bill Parcells.

Speaking via cell phone from his winter home in Jupiter [FL], Parcells calm­ed his former Cowboys lieutenant. During the brief conversation Parcells revisited an old lesson: collect as much information as possible before mak­ing any important decision. ...

Sean Payton and Bill Parcells with the Cowboys
The penalties could only be appealed to Commissioner Roger Goodell ... by an April 12 deadline. Parcells advised Payton, who'd set the process in motion, to use the intevening time for contingency plans. Owner Tom Ben­son empowered his disgraced head coach to find a temporary replacement, and early the next morning, Payton dialed Parcells again, this time with an impassioned plea: fill in for him as head coach for the season. Payton em­phasized his mentor's leadership qualities and his unique skill set as a for­mer GM, head coach, and linebackers guru.
"Listen, you can help us out here. You can do all those jobs."
Parcells replied, "I'll think about it."

The 49ers hadn't been the only team in late 2011 to quietly try luring Parcells back to the sidelines. In November, Penn State contacted him after firing Joe Paterno ... Parcells responded to that inquiry by recom­mending Eric Mangini, whom he'd taken an increased role in mentoring since the young coach had become estranged from Bill Belichick. So Penn State interviewed Mangini before hiring Belichick's offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien.

After having shown zero interest in the Nittany Lions and briefly contem­plating the 49ers job, Parcells strongly considered accepting New Orle­ans's short-term gig. Despite being only five months away from age sev­enty, Parcells wanted to help one of his favorite pupils, someone he con­sidered to be like a son.

Parcells's NFL staffs, including the one in Dallas, had given small cash in­centives for statistics such as special-team tackles inside the 20-yard line, blocked kicks, and defensive turnovers. While those inducements technically violated league rules against salary-cap circumvention, the practice remain­ed widespread - it was the NFL's version of jaywalking. ...

Joining the Saints would mean only a six-month stint, and part of Payton's rationale on his replacement stemmed from intimately knowing Parcells's tendency to coach from year to year anyway. After Bill's Dolphins tenure, the Saints also provided an opportunity for him to burnish his legacy late by guiding an NFL-record fifth team to the posteason and, in a best-case sce­nario, punctuating his career with a third Lombardi Trophy. Conversely, Parcells faced a quandary: returning to the sidelines would reset the clock on his Hall of Fame eligibility. Five years after the 2012 season would put Parcells at age seventy-seven before his next crack. After being snubbed in February, however, Parcells refused to base his decision solely on the whims of Hall voters.

On March 27, Sean Payton made his first public comments since receiving his suspension. While taking questions from reporters at the NFL owners meeting at Palm Beach, Florida, he caused a tizzy in the sports world by broaching the possibility of Parcells as a temporary replacement. Parcells's friends, his family, the media, and his former players inundated the retired coach with calls, texts, and e-mails to offer opinions or glean insight. ...

Bill Parcells lived about twenty miles away from Palm Beach, so a few hours after Sean Payton's media Q&A the sullied coach took Saints execu­tive vice president and GM Mickey Loomis to a nearby golf course to meet Parcells for the first time. The threesome played eighteen holes, giving Loomis and Parcells an opportunity to get acquainted. In discussing the New Orleans gig with Payton, Parcells became increasingly intrigued. The Saints were an offensive juggernaut, led by one of the best players of his generation. Parcells had reached three Super Bowls with different quarter­backs, but he'd never coached a signal caller of Drew Brees's caliber.

The Pro Bowl quarterback had heard a great deal about Parcells from his head coach, and before New Orleans played in the 2010 Super Bowl, Pay­ton introduced Parcells to Brees. The retired coach enjoyed getting ac­quainted with the Purdue product, and Parcells sensed that the feeling was mutual. Brees was Parcells's type of player, based on his football passion and ultracompetitiveness. ... He relished his first chance to coach an all-time great at quarterback ... Nevertheless, Parcells maintained res­ervations about the job. Sure, Bountygate had upended the franchise and created turmoil, a situation that he enjoyed addressing. But New Orleans needed a leader to keep things from cratering until Payton's return, not someone to jump-start the franchise, which is what Parcells loved most.

Perhaps the most significant drawback involved Payton's staff. Parcells had no direct ties to anyone on it, a disadvantage compounded by the gig's brevity. Parcells said to himself, "So if things don't go well, people will say, 'This guy tried to change everything we were doing.' And if it does go well, people will says, 'Well, shit, he had a built-in advantage.'"

Still, Payton emphasized the pluses. For one thing, New Orleans's off-sea­son setup and practice structure were virtually identical to Parcells's sys­tem.

After about a week of vacillation, with the media reading the tea leaves daily, Parcells remained open to the job. But he wanted to ease his nag­ging concern about overseeing an unfamiliar staff, one likely to view him as a lame duck. So Parcells asked the Saints for permission to hire two disci­ples with head-coaching experience. The organization obliged, and Parcells took steps to lure Al Groh, Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator, and Eric Mangini, an ESPN analyst two years removed from guiding the Cleveland Browns.

While Tom Benson ... and Payton embraced the idea, Loomis seemed re­luctant about it, perhaps sensitive to the effect on the incumbent coaching staff. Also, some reports speculated that Parcells would land an executive role in the organization after Payton's return. "Who knows what Loomis really thought? I don't have any idea," Parcells says. "I don't know Loo­mis; I only met him once. But guys like me threaten guys like him." In early April, the appeals process for Payton gave Parcells an extra week to weigh matters, and he focused on his reservations.

Absent from the sidelines for six years, Parcells enjoyed retirement ... Par­cells had a sweet deal with ESPN, too, working a few times each year on prime-time specials like Bill Parcells' Draft Confidential.

Finally, Parcells remained uncertain about whether he possessed the en­ergy required to do things in his maniacal way. ... So on April 11, Bill Par­cells informed Sean Payton that he would be staying retired, but he offer­ed to be of assistance in any other way possible. When news broke about Parcells's decision, his friends responded with a mixed reaction that en­capsulated his own ambivalence. ... Bill Parcells felt at peace. "I'm at a different place in the world now."
Jerry's Not Happy

"Jerry Football," by Don Van Natta Jr., ESPN the Magazine 9/15/2014

"I am still so damn mad," he snaps. "I get madder, every day, about missin' him." Him is Johnny Football.

At the NFL draft two weeks earlier, Johnny Manziel, the freshman Heisman Trophy winner and Instagram antihero, had fallen to the first round's 16th slot, owned by the Cowboys. Twitter nearly imploded.

Among the organization's football minds, only Jerry Jones wanted Manziel. Stephen Jones, the Cowboys' executive VP in charge of player personnel, had lobbied hard against choosing Manziel. "I'm still so damn mad at Ste­phen," Jerry tells me, while Jones' younger son, Jerry Jr., says, "I'm the head of sales and marketing - where do you think I came down?"

But head coach Jason Garrett, his staff and the team's scouts had strongly advised against drafting Manziel. After all, Romo is entering the second season of a seven-year, $119.5 million contract, with $55 million guaran­teed. But he's also 34 years old and coming off his second back surgery in less than a year. The inevitable quarterback controversy, not to mention the three-ring circus of Romo, Manziel and Jones in Big D, would have distracted everyone and could have provided enough TNT - and TMZ - to blow up the team.

On draft night, fans and haters watched, enthralled, when Manziel fell in Jones' lap, their partnership looking preordained. In the draft room, Jones appeared anguished as he ground his No. 2 pencils in his right fist, the clock ticking. But Jerry Jones always gets what he wants, right?

L: Tony Romo and Jerry Jones; R: Stephen Jones
No. Heeding everyone's advice, Jones selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin, picking a player to protect Romo over a player who would have had Romo hearing footsteps. "I can't believe that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus didn't buy the biggest elephant in the world," [former director of scouting for the Cowboys Larry] Lacewell says.

In his suite during the George Strait concert, Jones introduces me to Romo, who asks about the subject of this story. Jones answers for me, "Passin' on Manziel for Romo."

The surprise draft decision reveals something not widely understood about his boss, Romo says: He selected a sound fundamental player needed to improve the offense, not the high-risk matinée idol of the draft. "More than anything," Romo says, "it just shows a lot of people that we're here to win - not just be a flashy program."

Jones is beaming. He returns the sell: "And what is amazing," Jones says, "is if there's anybody on this planet that could've handled Manziel compe­tin' with him ..." Jones drapes his left arm on Romo's right shoulder. "This guy could handle any damn thing - this is your fighter pilot. This is your fighter pilot. This is the guy you want goin' in, droppin' and winkin' at 'em, and comin' out and drinkin' beer. This is him. So he could handle it. It wasn't a question of not handlin' it." The analogy, such as it is, puts a smile on Romo's face.

But during our initial conversation at the Ritz-Carlton several weeks earlier, Jones speaks longingly about Manziel's potential benefits to the Cowboys, long-term. "If we had picked Manziel, he's guarantee our relevance for 10 years," he says. "The only way to break out is to gamble - take a chance with that first pick, if you wanna dramatically improve your team," adds Jones, who likens himself to a riverboat gambler. "That's why I wanted Manziel, but I was the only guy who wanted him. I listened to everybody ... and I'm ... not ... happy."

On the Radio City Music Hall stage, as Zack Martin donned a Cowboys baseball cap and hugged Roger Goodell, Jones seethed back in the draft room. "There's only one thing I wanta say," Jones whispered to Stephen. "I'd have never bought the Cowboys had I made the kinda decision that I just made right now."