Hey, Marv Levy, put a bookmark in it. Patton never won a Super Bowl, and all that history hasn't done you much good, either.
You, Cowboys. America isn't big enough for America's team and Donovan, America's most loquacious and irreverent former Baltimore Colt.
As the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills prepared for Super Bowl XXVII today, The Sun checked in with Donovan, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman, to record his unvarnished opinions.
Donovan is often seen on local television and nationally on "Late Night with David Letterman." But this time, he was pontificating from the Valley Country Club in Towson, which he owns and operates. As usual, Donovan was, how shall we say . . . candid.
Question: If the Bills lose this Super Bowl, it will be their third straight Super Bowl defeat. Can you imagine what it is like to lose something that big, that many times?
Answer: You have to take one game at a time. It doesn't matter if they lost two in a row or five in a row. This game is a completely different game all together. If they lose, it's not the end of the world. They'll just be richer.
I was never in a Super Bowl, but I know in the championship game in '58 in New York, we were so much better than the Giants, and we're losing in the fourth quarter and I said to [ Gino] Marchetti, "Hey, if we lose this game, what a damn shame." But hey, life doesn't end there. There are more things in life than the Super Bowl.
I don't know about this Bills team though. I don't like [quarterback Jim] Kelly. I don't like the way he acts. He's a damn crybaby. He throws an interception, and he comes over and complains to the ballboy that there's not enough air in the football. But when they win he's throwing the balls up in the stands. But I like Frank Reich, and if he was quarterbacking I'd be rooting for Buffalo.
Q: Which Smith do you like better, Bruce or Emmitt? And which one is going to have a bigger impact on the game?
A: Emmitt, he's a hell of a runner. But I think Bruce Smith, the right defensive end for Buffalo, is a vastly overrated defensive end. He couldn't hold Marchetti's jock. I think that No. 91, the middle guard, I don't even know him, [Jeff] Wright I think his name is. I don't even know where he comes from, but to me, he is the best defensive lineman they have. And they have some great linebackers.
I watch the game strictly as a guy who played defense all his life. I watch what they do to Smith and on running plays, they don't even have to block him on account of he takes such an outside rush. These guys on TV have built him up to where he's a Superman, and believe me, he's not.
The Cowboys, I never watch. They say they are America's Team. Well they aren't my team, and I'm part of America.
Q: The media has made quite a fuss over the fact that Thurman Thomas, the Bills' running back, misplaced his helmet at the start of last year's Super Bowl and missed the first couple of plays. Anybody you know ever do anything that dumb?
A: We had a guy who forgot to put his helmet on playing against the Rams out in the [Los Angeles] Coliseum. It was Don Shinnick, a linebacker, and Dick Szymanski says, "Shinnick, where's your helmet?" Shinnick went to feel for it, and says, "Oh my God, I forgot it. I'll play without it." But the officials made us take a timeout, and Shinnick was over on the sidelines looking for it while we were giving him all kinds of hell. And he says, "Hey, leave me alone, will ya? I'm nervous enough."
He didn't even know he didn't have it on until Szymanski said something.
Q: Pro football has been pretty tough on Jim Kelly's hair. There isn't much left. Or is the game, with its situation defenses and no-huddle offenses, just tougher on what's underneath the hair?
A: Hey, he's gonna be a young guy and be bald, that's all. There are a lot of bald guys that are young. I thought I was going bald when I was young, and I used to put mud in my hair because a guy told me it was good for your hair. It must have worked. I still got some.
What did work was warm olive oil. I came out of the Marine Corps in 1945 and my mother every night put warm olive oil on my hair. Whatever hair I have she saved.
Seriously, it's a smart quarterback's game. You gotta be thinking all the time, and especially the quarterback, because he's the catalyst. But they're no smarter today than [ Johnny] Unitas or Bobby Lane or [Norm] Van Brocklin or Y. A. Tittle.
When I played, there was offense and defense. Now they say it is the epitome of football. Guys come in to pick their noses. What do I know from that?
Q: The losers of this game are going to make $32,000. What was your biggest paycheck? What did you do with your bonus money?
A: Our biggest paycheck I guess would have to be the '58 championship game. We got $5,000 as our share and some benevolent people gave another $5,000 each because we won the game. Who it was I never asked. I know National Boh and Mr. [Jerry] Hoffberger donated so much,but who else, I don't know. It was none of my business, I took the money like a thief in the night and I ran. I used it to put a fence around the country club here.
Q: Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson, the owner and the coach of the Cowboys, were roommates when they played at Arkansas. Did you ever see a coach and an owner that close? Is it a good thing?
A: Arkansas. Great. That means we got three clowns now. Those two guys and the President. I wonder if they play a saxophone.
Who knows? It took them to the Super Bowl. I guess you can't get much better than that. I'm not a Jimmy Johnson fan because when he coached that Miami bunch, they were nothing but a bunch of gangsters evidently. And when they went to the bowl game against Penn State, they all showed up in Army fatigues. I wonder what they'd do if they heard a gun go off. So then Penn State goes out and shoved the ball down their throats sideways.
Q: Marv Levy, coach of the Bills, reads history books and quotes Churchill. Did you ever know anybody that smart? Did you ever know it to help them play football?
A: [New York Giants general manager] George Young is brilliant. He reads books. Me, I'm not that smart. I went to college to play football. I guess I learned something, probably by osmosis. The priest that taught us religion said, "I don't like what you do, [but] as long as you come to my class, I'll pass you. You'll learn something just by sitting there."
But I don't think quoting history is going to help you win football games. If that was the case, then General Patton and General MacArthur would have been the greatest football coaches of all time.
Q: This is the last Super Bowl before free agency. Did anyone else ever want you bad enough to try to get you away from the Colts? And would you have gone?
A: Nobody came after me, first of all. I take that back. One time they wanted me to go to Canada, but I didn't go. I knew how great I had it here. Would I be crazy to leave Baltimore and go someplace else for a couple of years? There's no way. I met my wife here. I raised my kids here. I did very well financially here. Why would I want to go anyplace else?
The only other thing I was ever going to do -- after the '54 season, I was going to quit and become a cop in New York. It didn't work out, so the best thing that ever happened to me was I stayed here. I'm serious. By now, I'd be a retired inspector in the department or I'd be a dead cop.
Q: Buffalo has a bunch of seasoned veteran guys who have been to two Super Bowls. Dallas has a bunch of cocky kids, guys who have plenty to be cocky about. Which would you rather have playing beside you?
A: Hey. Dallas got to the Super Bowl, didn't they? They played better teams than Buffalo did. Who'd they play? The Jets twice, the Patriots twice, the Colts twice, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Blind . . .
Q: You have two good quarterbacks in Troy Aikman and Jim Kelly. Two good running backs in Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas. If you were playing in a game this big, who would you want the outcome to rest on -- a quarterback's arm or a back's back?
A: I don't care who wins, but I might pick the Bills because the guy who is their general manager [Bill Polian] went to the same high school I did in the Bronx. I never met him, but they tell me he is a very smart guy. And given my druthers, why wouldn't I root for him instead of those creeps from Dallas? They're in another world anyway, those people in Texas.
Hey, but anybody who reads what I think is crazy in the first place.