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The Pro Game

What a trip!

About the Author

Tom Danyluk
Contributing writer

Recent posts by Tom Danyluk

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Posted Dec. 16, 2010 @ 1:25 p.m. ET
By Tom Danyluk

I saw the video of Jets strength coach Sal Alosi toppling that innocent Miami coverage man on the sideline and, yes indeed, it was exactly as described — an appalling, amateurish display.

I mean, if you're going to trip a guy, at least put some style to it. Study the technique films (i.e., Moe, Larry, Curly). Get full extension on that leg, man, stiff and well-braced! Ham it up a bit, eyes to the sky with a bit of a whistle, the What? Who? Me? dressing. Have some pride in your effort — you're a professional out there!

Instead, Alosi pulled the Charmin act on the sideline, soft-plying like some kind of sinister ballerina. That wasn't a trip, it was a knee bend. It was Natalie Portman in the "Black Swan." It was Woody Hayes creaming Charlie Baumann with a Twinkie. A disgrace.

Last night the MLB Network airs an epic not seen in years — Pirates and Yanks, Game 7 of the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field. ESPN Classic counters with its retro Bowl Blitz and the '05 Rose — Michigan vs. Texas, and there's Chad Henne the freshman passer, gunning it all over Arroyo Seco and nearly taking down the Longhorns with four big TD throws. Sky's the limit with this guy, someone said, and all nodded yes.

Henne works for the Dolphins now; the numbers he posted in New York last week vs. the Jets were 18 (thrown), 5 (caught) and 55 (yardage gained). At age 25 he's looking completely overmatched out there, a career that continues to drift backward, the cuffs of some inexplicable stunted growth. The curious case of Chad Henne, the freshman who was born good and never got any better.  

The Eagles nip the Cowboys, and there's Tashard Choice of Dallas, surrendering his Bic to Mike Vick and pleading for a signature. For footballers, it's the ultimate in submissive behavior. For the rest of us, it's just an autograph. And the sweetness of the moment reminds me of another penmanship tale my father used to tell.

Forbes Field again, this time 1953. A bus is nearby, in front of the regal Schenley Hotel — Giants or Cardinals or Packers unloading for an upcoming tussle with the Steelers. Kids and teens await in ambush, three deep and armed with pads and pens. The frenzy begins. Can I have an autograph, Mister Gifford … Mister Rote … Mister Parilli … Mister Trippi? Please, sir, please … please?

Pop is posted nearby with one of his buddies, watching things begin to boil. Suddenly he's not just nearby anymore, he's been swallowed into the crowd, and now the kids are handing him pens and programs and he's signing and his buddy is signing and it's a full-blown autograph hall of mirrors.

Finally one kid wises up. "Hey — wait a minute! You're nobody!"

"All right, get the hell outta here, kid!"

The Bengals are 2-11, and in case you haven't seen it, here's Terrell Owens' recent capsule on why the club, after a playoff post last year, is once again back on sewer duty.

"I think there's underachieving from the top down," he said. "You start with the owner, you start with the coaches. And obviously we as players, we are a product of what the coaches are coaching us throughout the course of the week. Of course, we have to go out there and play the game. But in order for us to do what we're allowed to do at the best of our abilities, the coaches have to put the players in the best position."

He's throwing this all at Marvin Lewis, the longtime Cincy head coach. And what I don't understand is how Lewis has gotten a pass with the national media all this time, considering the clumsy, knock-kneed way the Bengals have operated during his reign. In eight years he's had two winning seasons and continues to la-di-da about his business.

Lewis gets big credit for unleashing an all-time defense on the league — the Ravens monster of 2000 — where he was that unit's official coordinator. But he has unleashed butterflies since. The highest Cincinnati has finished in total defense since Lewis gained control was fourth — that was last season. This year he's 21st, a much more in-line number. Prior slottings have been 12th, 27th, 30th, 28th, 19th, 28th.

You wonder if the wrong Lewis got all that 2000 Ravens credit. You wonder if it really wasn't a coaching thing at all, that it was simply the work of a real talented infantry. That the Lewis who really mattered on that club was named Ray.

More autograph biz. Decades back, an actor named Danny Thomas owned a nice piece of the Miami Dolphins franchise. Thomas was good with the fans, and one time an admirer handed him a picture of Jesus of Nazareth and requested a signature. The skies opened, the heavens waiting to see how he'd handle this one.

"I can't autograph a picture of Our Lord," he finally laughed to the woman. "I know I've done well, but not that well."


Tom Danyluk is an award-winning freelance writer based in Chicago. His book on pro football, "The Super '70s," is available at You can contact Tom at

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