Football can be brutal, but most keep their wits


It's a good idea to remember on this monumental day that football does have its amusing side and that the participants are capable of making fun of themselves and their colleagues.

Here are a few examples collected over the years by Martin D. "Mitch" Tullai, long-time former football coach and history teacher at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville.

Art Modell, Ravens owner, on the prospects of backup quarterback Stoney Case: "Stoney turned into a pebble. I don't think he's the answer."

Steve Spurrier (right), Florida coach, telling fans that a fire at Auburn's football dorm had destroyed 20 books: "But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored in yet."

Sam Rutigliano, Cleveland Browns coach, on the divine power of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis: "He knows the serial number of the Unknown Soldier."

Ernie Accorsi, New York Giants general manager, regaling a football banquet audience about his high school team: "What a team! We once played a game where our opponents walked off the field because they objected to the officiating. Three plays later we scored -- on a partially blocked field goal."

Woody Widenhofer, Vanderbilt coach, on what he wanted his team to show against Alabama: "The kind of confidence that the 82-year-old man had when he married a 25-year-old woman and bought a five-room house next to an elementary school."

Frank Luber, WCBM Radio, related the following story to his morning co-host Sean Casey:

"A friend asked John Unitas (left) how much he might be making if he were playing in the NFL. Unitas replied: 'Oh, about $500,000."

His friend: "Half a million? Why, some of these guys are making $2 million, $3 million and more a year."

Unitas: "Yeah, but I'm 61 years old."

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (right), on his family: "When our first child came, I told my wife, Ann, 'This is our cheerleader.' As our sons came along, I would say, 'This is our quarterback,' or 'this is the center,' and so on. When the sixth child came, Ann said, 'This is the end."'

Ordell Braase and Art Donovan (right), former Baltimore Colts greats, bantering about their college experiences:

Braase: "My coach used to have bed check for me every night."

Donovan: "Yeah, what happened?"

Braase: "No problem, my bed was always there."

Buddy Ryan, Philadelphia Eagles coach, to Mike Quick, who after he was elected captain, asked if that meant he would have the authority to exert more power and make decisions: "Yeah. You can call 'heads or tails' on the coin toss."

Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville, on 266-pound guard Mike Kelly: "He was threatening to retire this year but said he was afraid to go home because he was afraid his dad would kick his butt. I told him, 'If you do go home, send me your dad."'

John Breen, general manager of the Houston Oilers, about a bad Oilers team: "We were tipping off our plays. Whenever we broke from the huddle, three backs were laughing and one was pale as a ghost."

Iowa State coach George Veenker, to a banquet audience: "I would like to introduce the boy who made our longest run of this season, a run of 90 yards. Unfortunately, he didn't catch the man with the ball."

ESPN analyst Bill Curry, during the Penn State-Indiana game [2000] after a terrific block by a pulling guard: "That's one of those Susan B. Anthony blocks - they look like a quarter but are worth a dollar."

Beano Cook, ESPN analyst, after undefeated Virginia lost to Georgia Tech and was knocked out of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference: "This is the worst thing to happen in Virginia since Appomattox."

Bum Phillips, after his South team lost to the North in the Senior Bowl game: "Now I know why the South lost the Civil War. They must have had the same officials."

Jack Molesworth, Western Maryland College football coach, upon learning of Michigan' s annual football budget: "With that kind of a budget, I could invade Albania."

Tom Brokaw, NBC-TV anchorman, addressing the NCAA's honors luncheon as its master of ceremonies: "I'm honored that you invited me, especially when for $10,000 and a new convertible you could have had the top running back prospect at SMU."

Pete Axthelm, ESPN analyst, about kickers: "A game settled by kickers is like going to an art gallery and missing the masters to view some finger paintings."

Lafayette coach Edward "Hook" Mylin, after having lost a game by the lopsided score of 46-0, was leaving the stadium and accidentally bumped into a woman on her way out.

"Pardon me," he said, "no offense."

Her response: "You're telling me."

Bernie Miklasz, Baltimore News American sports reporter, on a 37-0 Colts loss to Miami: "The Colts' chartered plane touched down safely on the return trip to Baltimore-Washington Airport Sunday night. It was the only Colt touchdown of the day."

John Mackovic, Kansas City Chiefs coach, who feels professional athletes are different than they used to be, notes the following changes in the way coaches have addressed their players over the years:

"Go over and stand in the corner."

"Please stand in the corner."

"How about if you went over and stood in the corner."

"How about us talking about you stand in the corner."

"Why don't I go over and stand in the corner for you."

University of Miami coach Dennis Erickson, describing a football fan:

"A typical fan is a guy who sits on the 40, criticizes the coaches and the players and has all the answers. Then he leaves the stadium and can't find his car."

John Bridgers, upon taking over Baylor's football program: "We're going to be optimistic like the three good Baptists who were shipwrecked on a desert island and immediately arranged a Sunday school attendance goal of four."

Buddy Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers coach, reviewing an old Chicago Bears film: "Their defensive line play was so dirty, it left a ring around the screen."

Knute Rockne, Notre Dame coach, on coaching: "Halfbacks are born. Some coaches take a lot of credit for having developed certain halfbacks. What is generally meant by that is that a man with a lot of talent comes to a coach, and the coach does him no particular harm."

Bill Tanton, former Baltimore Evening Sun columnist, on coach Tom Osborne and Nebraska football: "He coaches in a state where the university's sports information director once said: 'The most important thing in this state is Nebraska football. The second most important thing is Nebraska spring football.'"

Jim Nantz, CBS-TV sportscaster, on Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson: "The only time Jim didn't run up the score was 27 years ago when he took the SAT."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad