- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003

A moment of silence please, for George Plimpton, who, when the chips were down, ran for six yards on a quarterback draw against the Detroit Lions in 1971.

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Of course, nowadays, anybody could run for six yards on a quarterback draw against the Lions. Back then, though, when folks like Alex Karras and Mike Lucci were on the prowl for Detroit, it was a much bigger deal.

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Everybody remembers Plimpton “playing” for the Lions in their 1963 training camp — the basis for his bestseller, “Paper Lion.” We tend to forget, however, that he quarterbacked the Baltimore Colts in ‘71 against the Lions between halves of a preseason game at Ann Arbor, Mich. Little-known fact: The Detroit players balked at giving up part of their halftime until ABC, which was filming a special on Plimpton, agreed to pay them. No fewer than 91,745 people were on hand at Michigan Stadium to watch George take his lumps.

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He did take his lumps, too. On the first of his four plays, a fullback dive that went nowhere, he got belted in the helmet — after the whistle — by Lions defensive end Jim Mitchell, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty. The next play, a halfback run over the right side, also gained nothing, and the third, a quick slant to the split end, failed when Plimpton’s pass was batted down at the line. The aforementioned QB draw was the only play that gained any yardage.

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Don “the Human Bowling Ball” Nottingham, who carried on the fullback dive, once told me, “I was really not too crazy about being in there with George. I was the last guy picked in the draft that year and was more concerned with getting into the [real] game for a couple of plays. I felt like I was a guinea pig being in there to get slammed.”

• • •

Gordon Bowdell, the intended receiver on the quick slant, said Plimpton was “pretty accomplished at it in practice.” Unfortunately, George had hurt his thumb in camp and wasn’t 100 percent (whatever the heck that was). “He kinda reminds me a little bit of Pat Paulsen,” Bowdell said. “You’re not sure what he ever did, but you sure liked him.”

• • •

Odd Couple: Bill Belichick, whose Patriots knock helmets with the Redskins today, is good buddies with Jon Bon Jovi, who recently was named owner of the Arena League’s expansion Philadelphia Soul (and also, from what I hear, dabbles in music). In fact, after the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Belichick and his wife joined the Bon Jovi tour in Europe when the group was playing with the Rolling Stones.

“I talked to Bill the next day [after the Super Bowl win],” Bon Jovi told SI Online. “I told him that I thought he should wear the ring on his middle finger. A little-known fact about Bill is that he’s a closet drummer.”

• • •

For what it’s worth, Tom Brady’s biorhythms for today would seem to bode better than Patrick Ramsey’s. (Go to facade.com/biorhythm and plug in their birthdays — Aug.3, 1977, for Brady, Feb.14, 1979, for Ramsey — if you want to see what I mean.)

• • •

As painful as the Redskins’ club-record-tying 17-penalty game was last week, it wasn’t nearly as bad as their 17-penalty game against the Steelers in 1948. They lost that one by a field goal, too — 10-7 — but the finish (as described in Rich Tandler’s “Complete History of the Redskins, Volume 1”) was positively excruciating:

“Pittsburgh took possession on downs at the Washington 41 with about a minute and a half to go. It appeared that [defensive back Bob] Nussbaumer had squashed the threat when he intercepted [Johnny] Clement’s pass, but a penalty against the Redskins nullified the turnover. Then [the Steelers] Joe Glamp missed a 21-yard field goal, but the Redskins were offside. Another offside pushed the line of scrimmage down to the 3, and Glamp’s game-winner came on the next play.”

• • •

The last penalty-free game in the NFL, by the way, was in 1940 (Steelers vs. Eagles). You have to remember, though: There were only four officials back then — the referee, umpire, linesman and field judge — so players could get away with a lot more. (Which makes the Redskins’ 17-flag game in ‘48 all the more remarkable.)

• • •

As hanky-filled games go, nothing tops the Bears-Browns rumble in 1951. The two teams were hit with 37 penalties for 374 yards — both records (the latter by a healthy 64-yard margin). Between the whistles, Cleveland’s Dub Jones (Bert’s dad) tied the league mark by scoring six touchdowns. He put the ball in the end zone the last five times he touched the ball.

• • •

News item: A federal judge declares the national Do Not Call list unconstitutional.

Comment: Barry Sanders says he will appeal.

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Isn’t Bob Watson, vice president for discipline under Bud Selig, really just the baseball equivalent of a meter maid?

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Reading about Carlos Delgado’s four-homer night against the Devil Rays, I found myself wondering about this Pat Seerey guy who was mentioned in all the stories. Seerey is one of four American Leaguers who have had four dingers in a game … and I didn’t know a single thing about him. Here’s what I found out (courtesy of BaseballLibrary.com):

1. He was a fire hydrant of an outfielder (5-10, 200) who played only seven seasons in the majors, from 1943 to ‘49, mostly with Cleveland.

2. He batted .224 for his career and swatted a modest 86 home runs — with a high of 26 in ‘46.

3. He hit the “quad” against the Philadelphia A’s on July18, 1948, just six weeks after the Indians had traded him to the White Sox. Two of his shots came off Carl Scheib, the others off Bob Savage and Lou Brissie.

4. At the time, he was the only player in big league history to total 15 or more bases twice in a game. (He also did it in ‘45.)

5. Six days later, he became the first major leaguer to strike out seven times in a doubleheader.

6. He led the AL in strikeouts four times, even though he never had more than 414 at-bats in a season.

• • •

Quote of the Week: “People always talk about me losing 24 [games]. They forget that I had 10 of our 40 wins.”

— ‘62 Met Roger Craig in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Quote of the Year: “Basketball shorts that are a little wet in the rear after a hard game look good on a man.”

— Heather Locklear in the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire

• • •

Speaking of basketball, additional research has turned up three other famous hoopsters — besides Jack Sikma, that is — who wore No. 43 (Craig Kilborn’s number at Montana State):

• Jeff Ruland with the Bullets. (Thanks to Woody in Mechanicsville.)

• Brad Daugherty with the Cavaliers.

• Gus Johnson at the University of Idaho.

And get this: The numbers of Sikma, Daugherty and Johnson have all been retired.

• • •

There’s one small sticking point in the negotiations between the Atlantic Coast Conference and Notre Dame, a source tells me. Notre Dame wants everybody in the ACC to convert to Catholicism.

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Hey, come on. If an Irishman can’t make a joke like that, who can?

• • •

And finally …

Had this weird dream the other night that the U.S. women lost in the World Cup when a bunch of players came down with food poisoning after a pregame brunch. The headline on the back page of the Daily News read: Green Eggs and Hamm.

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