Hey, Jim Kelly! Try some warm olive oil on top of your head, ya bigcrybaby.
Hey, Marv Levy, put a bookmark in it. Patton never won a Super Bowl, andall that history hasn't done you much good, either.
And Thurman Thomas, hang on to your helmet. Art Donovan once played with aguy who didn't think he needed one.
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 XXVIItoday, The Sun checked in with Donovan, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman, torecord his unvarnished opinions.
Donovan is often seen on local television and nationally on "Late Nightwith David Letterman." But this time, he was pontificating from the ValleyCountry Club in Towson, which he owns and operates. As usual, Donovan was, howshall we say . . . candid.
Question: If the Bills lose this Super Bowl, it will be their thirdstraight Super Bowl defeat. Can you imagine what it is like to lose somethingthat big, that many times?
Answer: You have to take one game at a time. It doesn't matter if theylost two in a row or five in a row. This game is a completely different gameall together. If they lose, it's not the end of the world. They'll just bericher.
I was never in a Super Bowl, but I know in the championship game in '58 inNew York, we were so much better than the Giants, and we're losing in thefourth 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 inlife 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. Hethrows an interception, and he comes over and complains to the ballboy thatthere's not enough air in the football. But when they win he's throwing theballs up in the stands. But I like Frank Reich, and if he was quarterbackingI'd be rooting for Buffalo.
Q: Which Smith do you like better, Bruce or Emmitt? And which one is goingto have a bigger impact on the game?
A: Emmitt, he's a hell of a runner. But I think Bruce Smith, the rightdefensive end for Buffalo, is a vastly overrated defensive end. He couldn'thold Marchetti's jock. I think that No. 91, the middle guard, I don't evenknow him, [Jeff] Wright I think his name is. I don't even know where he comesfrom, but to me, he is the best defensive lineman they have. And they havesome great linebackers.
I watch the game strictly as a guy who played defense all his life. Iwatch what they do to Smith and on running plays, they don't even have toblock him on account of he takes such an outside rush. These guys on TV havebuilt 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 theyaren't my team, and I'm part of America.
Q: The media has made quite a fuss over the fact that Thurman Thomas, theBills' running back, misplaced his helmet at the start of last year's SuperBowl and missed the first couple of plays. Anybody you know ever do anythingthat dumb?
A: We had a guy who forgot to put his helmet on playing against the Ramsout in the [Los Angeles] Coliseum. It was Don Shinnick, a linebacker, and DickSzymanski 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 officialsmade us take a timeout, and Shinnick was over on the sidelines looking for itwhile 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'tmuch 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 lotof bald guys that are young. I thought I was going bald when I was young, andI 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 1945and my mother every night put warm olive oil on my hair. Whatever hair I haveshe saved.
Seriously, it's a smart quarterback's game. You gotta be thinking all thetime, and especially the quarterback, because he's the catalyst. But they'reno smarter today than [ Johnny] Unitas or Bobby Lane or [Norm] Van Brocklin orY. A. Tittle.
When I played, there was offense and defense. Now they say it is theepitome of football. Guys come in to pick their noses. What do I know fromthat?
Q: The losers of this game are going to make $32,000. What was yourbiggest paycheck? What did you do with your bonus money?
A: Our biggest paycheck I guess would have to be the '58 championshipgame. 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 NationalBoh and Mr. [Jerry] Hoffberger donated so much,but who else, I don't know. Itwas 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 anowner that close? Is it a good thing?
A: Arkansas. Great. That means we got three clowns now. Those two guys andthe President. I wonder if they play a saxophone.
Who knows? It took them to the Super Bowl. I guess you can't get muchbetter than that. I'm not a Jimmy Johnson fan because when he coached thatMiami bunch, they were nothing but a bunch of gangsters evidently. And whenthey went to the bowl game against Penn State, they all showed up in Armyfatigues. I wonder what they'd do if they heard a gun go off. So then PennState goes out and shoved the ball down their throats sideways.
Q: Marv Levy, coach of the Bills, reads history books and quotesChurchill. Did you ever know anybody that smart? Did you ever know it to helpthem play football?
A: [New York Giants general manager] George Young is brilliant. He readsbooks. Me, I'm not that smart. I went to college to play football. I guess Ilearned something, probably by osmosis. The priest that taught us religionsaid, "I don't like what you do, [but] as long as you come to my class, I'llpass 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 havebeen the greatest football coaches of all time.
Q: This is the last Super Bowl before free agency. Did anyone else everwant you bad enough to try to get you away from the Colts? And would you havegone?
A: Nobody came after me, first of all. I take that back. One time theywanted 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 ofyears? There's no way. I met my wife here. I raised my kids here. I did verywell 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 wasgoing to quit and become a cop in New York. It didn't work out, so the bestthing that ever happened to me was I stayed here. I'm serious. By now, I'd bea 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 SuperBowls. Dallas has a bunch of cocky kids, guys who have plenty to be cockyabout. Which would you rather have playing beside you?
A: Hey. Dallas got to the Super Bowl, didn't they? They played betterteams 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 goodrunning backs in Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas. If you were playing in agame this big, who would you want the outcome to rest on -- a quarterback'sarm or a back's back?
A: I don't care who wins, but I might pick the Bills because the guy whois their general manager [Bill Polian] went to the same high school I did inthe Bronx. I never met him, but they tell me he is a very smart guy. And givenmy 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.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun