He was drafted on a whim, a raw rookie who'd never played college football but who looked as if he might help the Colts. The gamble paid off. Preston Pearson spent 14 years in the NFL, played in five Super Bowls and earned two championship rings.
The photo is tucked away in a box at home, a frayed reminder of Bill Stromberg's life before he became a suit and the CEO of investment giant T. Rowe Price. It's a picture of Stromberg, then a wide receiver for Johns Hopkins, catching a pass with a defender on his back. The reception, the 254th of his college career, set an NCAA College Division (a precursor to Division III) mark and put Stromberg in the record book.
A year after he set numerous NCAA records, garnered a groundswell of support for college football's highest individual honor and finished leading Navy to an unprecedented run of success, Keenan Reynolds is working on his skill set in near anonymity.
A framed photo of the Super Bowl XXXV champions hangs on Edwin Mulitalo's bedroom wall; a "Festivus" T-shirt, in his closet. They are cherished keepsakes for Mulitalo, a starting guard for the 2000 Ravens when they won their first NFL title.
From his seat at the Super Bowl on Sunday, Vonta Leach will summon the past — the Ravens' ascent to the top in the 2012 season and that glorious scoreboard, at game's end, which he'll not forget: Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31.
Carlton Bailey (Woodlawn) has three conference championship rings and the memory of that AFC title game in 1992, when he intercepted a pass by the Denver Broncos' John Elway and ran for a touchdown in a 10-7 victory that sent the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl.
They called him Fast Eddie, though he'd as soon run over football defenders as around them. For three years, Eddie Meyers carried Navy's offense, smashing school rushing records and leading the Midshipmen to three successive winning seasons (1979-81), a feat they wouldn't repeat for nearly 25 years.
Family is everything to Jean Fugett, a graduate of Cardinal Gibbons who played eight years in the NFL. Now 63, he lives in West Baltimore, cares for his parents at their home in Randallstown and dotes on his wife of 29 years and their three children, one of whom, Audie, married Orioles outfielder Adam Jones last year.
Nearly half a century later, Alan Pastrana's feats at Maryland in 1966 remain legend. That spring, as a sophomore, he played lacrosse and was a first-team All-American. That fall, as the Terps' quarterback, he passed for 17 touchdowns to set an Atlantic Coast Conference record.
The cards, letters and "Get Well" texts have slowed, but know that Rick Volk treasures them all. When the former Colts safety contracted throat cancer last year, aging teammates rallied around the three-time Pro Bowl selection as they are wont to do.
At 67, Will Hetzel writes poetry, speaks his liberal mind and revels in the psychedelic music of the late Richie Havens and The Jefferson Airplane. That he did the same in 1968, as a Maryland basketball star, caused quite a stir in College Park.
The giant spark plug in Johnny Egan's attic is nearly as big as he is. A gift from Bullets fans, the 4-foot trophy depicts the spunky guard's role on Baltimore's NBA team one-half century ago. Then, he'd come off the bench, time after time, to ignite the offense or fire up the defense.
For a decade, each autumn, Glenn Ressler's Sundays were much the same. The mid-mannered Colts guard would slip into the locker room, remove his glasses, put on his uniform and perform feats of strength. Players called him Clark Kent.
Emerson Boozer played 10 years for the Jets, retiring in 1975 as the team's career rushing leader (5,135 yards). He also left with a Super Bowl ring, from New York's 16-7 upset win over the Colts for the 1968 championship.
For five years Tom Gilburg punted for the Colts, averaging 41.4 yards a boot before quitting in 1966 with a bum knee. Three times, he finished among the NFL's top 10 punters while doubling as a second-string offensive tackle.
Dick Bielski grew up in East Baltimore during the 1940s, a chunky Polish kid who used to bound down the marble steps of his family's home on Madeira Street and race the one-half block to Patterson Park to play pick-up football games until dark.
Baltimore's first-round pick in the 1966 NFL draft, Ball helped anchor the offensive line for four years, during which the Colts (43-9-4) won two conference and three division titles. Knees shot, he bowed out following the Super Bowl victory over the Dallas Cowboys and took up a career in agribusiness.
Not Kunz. He's an attorney, all 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds of him, just three years out of law school and determined to make this career as estimable as his first. A Colt from 1975 through 1980, he anchored the offensive line and helped Baltimore win three straight AFC East championships.
A dentist in Parkville, Havrilak tends patients' chompers with the same hands that once passed, caught and cradled the football for the Colts. Every day finds him tackling a host of problems, from fillings to crowns to extractions to root canals.
A restaurant/sports bar in Portsmouth, Va., where Roger Browns lives bears his name. Brown, a onetime 300-pound All Pro defensive tackle, also owns establishments in Williamsburg and Newport News. On the menu is a club sandwich called the "Fearsome Foursome," a nod to the nickname given the celebrated defensive lines on which Brown played in both Detroit and L.A.
Earl Weaver called Don Buford "the best leadoff man in the game," and who's to argue? In five years with the Orioles, Buford batted .270, ran the bases with ferocity and helped the club reach three World Series.
Collier, who starred at Edmondson High and Morgan State, played on Pittsburgh's Super Bowl championship team in 1975-76. A rookie, he made the Steelers as a 14th round draft pick, scored a touchdown in his first game and even left his mark on Super Bowl X.
For 38 years Tom Brown has had their ear, in part because he has two Super Bowl rings and a resume to back him up. Green Bay's second-round draft pick in 1963, he initially spurned the Packers — then the NFL champions — to play baseball instead. An All-American at Maryland, where he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in hitting (.449), he was wooed by the Washington Senators who dangled a $12,000 bonus.
An All-American at Oklahoma, Mendenhall anchored the offensive line for eight years, starting in 1973. He won the job despite his compact build and stayed, while fighting off the two All-Pro centers acquired to replace him — Fred Hoaglin and Forrest Blue.
The win over Houston (2-14), before an announced 20,418 — one-third the size of Colt crowds of yore — snapped a five-game losing streak and left the team at 7-9. It ended an erratic two years in Baltimore for Pagel, a sophomore quarterback who led the Colts to two overtime victories after they'd gone winless (0-8-1) in strike-shortened 1982.
A pillar up front, Sullivan played 11 years with the Colts (1962-72), during which they went 104-45-5, reached two Super Bowls and won a world championship in 1971. Staunch and savvy, he starred at guard but played all five line positions, as needed, without missing a step.
Joe Aitcheson, a member of the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame, lives in a retirement community in Westminster, surrounded by keepsakes of a 21-year pro career in which he won a record 440 timber races and a record seven North American championships between 1961 and 1970.
He was Baltimore's first football star, an oddly named quarterback on a motley Colts team that boasted his strong arm but little else. For three years, Yelberton Abraham (Y.A.) Tittle led the club, won fans' hearts and even got his face plastered on the wrappers of Koester's Bread.
Don't misunderstand. Barry Krauss loved Baltimore — from the crabcakes to the Inner Harbor to the rich provenance of the NFL team that picked him sixth overall in the 1979 draft. But five years later, the Colts' move to Indianapolis proved a godsend for the players, said Krauss, a tough linebacker who played 10 seasons with a horseshoe on his helmet.
Four times as a rookie in 1983, Raul Allegre booted game-winning field goals for the Colts (7-9), who boasted his right leg and little else on offense. The Mexico-born kicker accounted for 112 points, or nearly half of the team's output that year, its last in Baltimore. Colts fans voted him the club's most valuable player.
For nine years, Hill policed the Baltimore backfield, protecting Unitas from defenders who thundered in to sack No. 19 or whoever was quarterbacking the Colts. Others got the glory; Hill got the satisfaction of a job well done.
Two years earlier, he'd played in Super Bowl III — one of five Maryland State players to suit up in that game. The others were Jim Duncan (Colts) and Emerson Boozer, Johnny Sample and Earl Christy (New York Jets).
He was a gritty 6-foot-3 guard from the Bronx with boundless energy and a long, sweet jumper that seemed to kiss the Civic Center's ceiling before finding its mark. "Bullseye!" Baltimore Bullets broadcaster Jim Karvellas would exclaim as Kevin Loughery scored again.
At 65, and living in Spring Branch, Texas, this is Hinton's calling — to help troubled youths navigate life's highways, the onetime Colts' wide receiver said. After six years in the NFL, and a career as a homebuilder, Hinton last year chose to go another route.