If the quarterback is first-rate, a professional football team can move through a season as easily as a river moves through a meadow. With no more than adequate aid from the rest of the team, the season will be a winning one. The three intent young, strong, arms shown here as they warmed up for last week's College All-Star Game in Chicago are pro rookies who may one day be just that good. Indeed, the San Francisco 49ers' George Mira, the Kansas City Chiefs' Pete Beathard and the Philadelphia Eagles' Jack Concannon were fiercely prominent among a bonus array of collegiate quarterbacks last year—a year, some scouts believe, that produced more can't-miss passers than ever before. For three years Miami's Mira, 5 feet 11, 190, kept his fans standing as he desperately ran left and threw right, ran right and threw left, and sometimes just ran until everyone gasped for relief. More calmly and with more help, Southern California's Beathard, 6 feet 1, 200, led the Trojans to the 1962 national championship and hit four touchdowns in one Rose Bowl game. Bigger still at 6 feet 3, 200, Concannon was a deadly sprint-out thrower who, almost single-handedly, brought Boston College back to major status.
For three weeks before their game against the NFL Champion Chicago Bears, the trio of rookies—Mira, Beathard and Concannon—worked under All-Star Coach Otto Graham, once a gifted pro quarterback himself and an honest appraiser of collegiate talent. Each player, Graham said, has problems to overcome along the always-harsh path to professional stardom. "Mira is quick," said Otto, "and a forceful leader. He has the best field vision of the three, primarily because he had to scramble so much at Miami. He has a strong arm and confidence. Of the three, he's best equipped to step in and play right now, but he's short and will have trouble seeing over the big linemen. Also, the way he flies off in all directions, he could get hurt." Of Beathard, Graham said, "Pete's going to be a good one, too, but it will take longer. He's never thrown from the pocket. He's not a fiery leader, but he's strong, can throw deep and he works." Concannon looked to Graham more like a halfback—"a boy with fine, deceptive speed, but a slow delivery." Beathard started against the Bears and passed surprisingly well from his strange drop-back position. Mira came on and did even better darting about in his familiar fashion. Concannon was not really tested. Aside from their loss to the Bears—the score was 28 to 17—the thing all three quarterbacks have most in common is money: combined contracts totaling close to $275,000. Missing at Chicago, however, was the highest paid rookie passer of them all, Baylor's Don Trull (see next page).
Two of three All-Star Game quarterbacks are NFL-bound: George Mira (left) to 49ers and Jack Concannon (above) to Eagles. Pete Beathard (below) goes to Chiefs in AFL.
Late All-Star drive against Bears finds Beathard (No. 12) later-aling wide to Mira, who passed and ran from surprise formation.
August 16, 1964
Dropping back, Mira is scanning the Bears' secondary for a receiver. Best of night, though a blocker here, was Charley Taylor (No. 37).