Art Donovan, The Storyteller

In 1975, Sun reporter Frederic Kelly sat down with Art Donovan, turned on a tape recorder and let the Colts' first Hall of Famer spin tales about his playing days. Here are some excerpts:

"We used to throw cold buckets of water on each other, and one day (coach) Weeb Ewbank sent word out that the next guy he caught throwing water he was going to fine $1,000. So Gino Marchetti says to Carl Taseff, 'Listen, Gaucho, we'll throw one more bucket of water and we'll throw it on 'The Horse' (Alan Ameche). I'll stand here,' he says, 'and when The Horse comes around the corner, I'll nod and you let him have it.'

"So, anyhow, here comes Weeb out of his office, all dressed up to do his TV show, and he comes around the corner and Marchetti nods and Gaucho lets the bucket of water go and -- oh, my God! -- he sees Weeb and he goes running after the water with the bucket and Weeb is standing there drenched saying, 'You SOB. You dirty, no good SOB,' and Gaucho is saying, 'I'm sorry, Coach. I'm sorry, Coach,' and the guys are rolling on the floor and crying and laughing and Weeb is so mad he's shaking and there's that poor bastard Gaucho standing there saying, 'I'm sorry, Coach. I'm sorry, Coach.'"


"One time they really scared the life out of me. They put a groundhog in my bed. This was up in Westminster, at training camp, and I come in one night from the movies and Art Spinney says, 'Hey, Fatso, there's a six-pack of beer for you underneath the covers.' I say, 'Hey, terrific, let's watch a little TV while we're drinking it.' So, anyhow, I pull back the covers and there's this damned one-eyed thing laying there looking at me.

"Geez, I swear to God I nearly died. I'm screaming, 'What is it? What is it?' And Spinney's saying, 'Gee, I don't know.' So anyhow, I have to go upstairs and sleep on the floor on account of my bed is a mess with blood all over the sheets and blankets from that thing in it.

"So the next day we're all happy because we're breaking training camp and it was all planned that they were going to spike the orange juice with vodka at the last practice. So I go over for the afternoon session and there's this kid there, Bruce Godwin, who used to help Freddie Schubach with the equipment. Anyhow he's standing there and I pass him and I'm singing on account of I'm happy. Training camp's over, you know?

"So I open my locker and that SOB is hanging in there by a string. The groundhog. I slam the door of that locker and run out of that damned locker room and this kid, Bruce Godwin, he's in front of me and I run his [butt] right into the shower room and I run out the front door and almost get hit by a car coming up in front of the gym. I was so scared, I'm telling you. It scared the living bejesus out of me.

"See, what happened was Alex Sandusky had gone hunting the morning before they put the thing in my bed and he had shot this groundhog and knocked half the poor bastard's head off and then he brought it back and they put it in my bed and when I went upstairs to sleep that night they got it again and hung it up in my locker.

"They did something like that to Buddy Young, only they put a bat in the room. See, they caught a bat and lured Buddy into the room. Before that, they unscrewed the light bulb so when Buddy tried to turn the light on nothing happened. The poor SOB was scared out of his mind. He ran right through the window, right through the screen, and he must have run a mile before he stopped."


"The score is tied in the third quarter against the 49ers, and we get the ball and John Unitas calls timeout and comes over to the bench and says to Weeb, 'What've you got?' And Weeb says, 'What've you got?' And John says, 'Well, I'm not sure, so what've you got?' And Weeb, he starts walking away. He won't answer him.

"So John, who's naturally nervous at this point, says, 'Weeb, for cripes sake, what've you got? What do you think I should do?' And Weeb says, 'Well, John, what do you think you should do?' And John says, 'Aw, bull, Weeb!'  And he goes back in and throws a pass for a touchdown and damned if Weeb didn't take credit for it. Right hand to God. Weeb got up at a banquet a couple of days later and he's talking about the play and he says, 'Yeah, well, I told John to go back in there and try that 38-deep pass.'"


 "So ... we were at the movies and we used to wear these blue denim jeans and a lot of the guys didn't wear any underwear under their jeans, you know, so we're waiting to go to our seats in the back of the movie in Westminster, and this guy Tom Cosgrove, he comes up behind me and yanks my pants down. I got no underwear on, see, and there's my big, fat, white rear end all exposed and there's two old ladies standing behind Cosgrove.

"I get so embarrassed, so nervous, I can't pull my pants up and there's these two old ladies laughing and giggling and going 'hee hee hee' and I'm yanking and pulling at my pants and I can't get the damned things up. It was terrible. So anyhow, I finally get them up and I'm looking for this guy Cosgrove on account of I want to kill him. He runs out of the movies and I chase him, but I can't catch him, which is lucky for him because if I had got him he wouldn't have been around for Weeb to cut after the Steelers game."


"So another time I had this one jacket for a long time and it got frayed around the cuffs and collar, but I still liked to wear it because I felt comfortable in it, and we're in Long Beach, Calif., and I'm standing in the lobby of the hotel and Marchetti and Dick Syzmanski sneak up behind me and rip the damn jacket off my back. It was funny and everybody laughed and all that, and I took the jacket and threw it in the trash can in the hotel.

"A couple of hours later, I come down to the lobby and there it is, the jacket, wrapped around a nude woman statue. So I grabbed it again and put it in the trash can of the lady who cleaned the hotel. The next day I'm getting on the bus and the bellman, he comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I got a package for you and it's COD and it's $3 postage.' So I give him $3 and we take off and we're going to the airport to go to San Francisco and I open the package and it's the damned jacket.

"So I take it and throw it out the window of the bus. Now, this is outside Long Beach, and I figure, 'Well, that's that.' So, anyhow, we get to San Francisco and the night before the game this bellboy comes up to me in the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel and says, 'Here, you got a package and there's postage due.' I say, 'What the hell is this?' So I pay him and open it up and it's that damn jacket. So now I take it and throw it down the laundry chute of the hotel.

"About two weeks later, I'm back in Baltimore and I get another package that I've got to pay $5 for and what the hell if it isn't that damn jacket again. So it's cost me about $22 to get rid of the damn thing. So I give it to my wife and tell her to throw the damn thing away. So then the Shriners had this thing for the team and this is about eight months later and they invite me and when I get there they present me with that damn jacket again.

"What happened, see, is that they paid people to get it back from where I threw it. Then, when I threw it out of the bus window, the guys in the second bus stopped the bus and got it and wrapped it up and sent it from the airport in Los Angeles up to San Francisco. They paid some guy to get it out of the chute in the hotel in San Francisco and then someone got it from my wife after they mailed it back to Baltimore."


"So, a whole bunch of us closed up this bar one night in Westminster and headed back to training camp and when we got there we tried to drive up the steps. So, anyhow, Weeb wasn't there, he was back in Baltimore, but he left one of the assistant coaches in charge and he caught us coming in and reported us to Weeb when he got back.

"So Weeb sent word he wanted to see Gino Marchetti, me, Tom Finnin, Don Joyce, Ordell Braase and Art Spinney. All of us were defensive linemen except Spinney, who was an offensive guard. So we go down to Weeb's room and knock on the door and Weeb says, 'Everybody come in except Spinney.'  So we go in and Weeb starts, 'You guys are making fools out of me and a mockery of this football team that could be the greatest football team ever assembled.'

"He's going on and on and getting all excited and he says, 'But, dammit, how can I fine people that I think more of than I do my own son?' And he starts crying and carrying on, only we know he can't do anything because because, hell, he can't fire the whole defense, and one of the guys says, 'Aw, Weeb, cut the bull. Fine us, for cripes sake,' and Weeb stands up and shouts, 'Get out of here! Get out of my sight!' And as we're walking out, he shouts, 'Send Spinney in here, dammit!' And that poor bastard Spinney, he goes in and Weeb fines him a hundred bucks. Geez, I'm telling you."

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