Former Colts star Andy Nelson gets surprise for his 84th birthday

Rick Volk, former Colts safety, and Glenn Murphy, a diehard fan, surprised Andy Nelson Friday to mark the former All-Pro safety’s 84th birthday at his barbecue restaurant in Cockeysville.

Nelson, one of the oldest living Colts, played for Baltimore from 1957 to 1963 and starred on both the 1958 and 1959 NFL championship teams. Volk, 72, spent nine years with the Colts (1967 to 1975) and helped them win the Super Bowl in the 1970 season.

On Friday, looking fit and trim, the two oldtimers hugged, reminisced and shared their aches and pains.

“How old do you feel?” Volk asked.

“About 100,” Nelson said. “Rick, you look like you’re ready to play.”

Volk smiled. Three years ago, the onetime All-Pro fought throat cancer but recovered.

“Can you still run a 4.8?” he asked.

Nelson rolled his eyes. “Do your shoulders hurt?”

“They’re all right, but my hips and knees are not the best.”

“Hey, you’re still gettin’ around. You look good, Rick.”

“Well, I’m 12 years younger than you. I hope I’m as good as you when I’m 84.”

Murphy, 58, then ticked off Nelson’s NFL statistics, including 33 career interceptions.

“I only saw Andy play on film, but he was tough,” said Murphy of Gettysburg, Pa.

“I’m losing my short-term memory, but I remember 50 years ago,” Nelson said. “When we played, they treated concussions with smelling salts and fingers. They’d hold up their fingers and ask, ‘How many do you see?’ If you came close, you went back into the game.”

Then Nelson returned to work, dishing up pulled pork and black-eyed peas as he does daily at the restaurant he opened in 1981.

“I’m just glad I’m still here to be remembered,” he said.

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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