Not bad, huh, for a couple of young squirts? Good thing we taught them so well." The speaker was Jack Kemp, the former Buffalo Bills quarterback (1962-69) who is now a Republican Congressman from New York. The "we" consisted of Kemp, his wife Joanne and Dorothy Shula, wife of the Miami Dolphins' coach. There they were last Saturday afternoon, down on the 45-yard line at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H. just minutes after Dartmouth had closed out a 40-7 opening-game triumph over Pennsylvania.
Oh, yes. The young squirts Kemp mentioned are his 21-year-old son Jeff, the Dartmouth quarterback and the No. 1 Ivy League passer last season, and the Shulas' son Dave, also 21, a split end who holds just about every Big Green pass-receiving record. Playing only a bit more than a half against the Quakers, Jeff hit 18 of 25 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown. He also ran one yard for a score. Dave caught only two passes, for 30 yards. A third, good for 16, was called back because of holding. But with Shula double-teamed most of the time, Kemp was able to hit his secondary receivers, often in an area just vacated by Shula.
The result was Kemp's finest performance as a college player. He is a 6-foot, 206-pound senior who runs the 40 in 4.7. And his arm? Well, Dartmouth Coach Joe Yukica rates Kemp up there with the strongest throwers he has ever coached. That would include former Buffalo Bill Gary Marangi and Washington Redskin Mike Kruczek, whom Yukica coached at Boston College.
Unlike Shula, who was raised on the Dolphin sidelines, Kemp spent little time around pro players in his youth. When Jack Kemp led Buffalo to its second straight AFL championship in 1965, Jeff was six. By the time Jeff was 10, his father had retired. Oh, Jeff did sit in on a few Bills' practices, and he remembers Cookie Gilchrist, or Ed Rutkowski or somebody hoisting him up on a shoulder pad. "But Elbert Dubenion never asked me to play catch," he says. Mostly, Jeff watched from the stands, like everybody else. And not all his memories of his spectating days are bright. "One time there had to be 60,000 people in the stadium," he recalls. "And 59,998 of them were screaming, 'We want Lamonica!' "
September 28, 1980
At Winston Churchill High in Bethesda, Md., Jeff was a reserve until his senior year, when he led Churchill to the state AA championship. But the offense was a wishbone, and Kemp mainly ran with the ball. Small wonder he wasn't much of a passer when he arrived at Dartmouth. On the 1977 freshman team he was second-string behind a fellow named Joe McLaughlin. The next fall, on the varsity depth chart, he was listed behind Larry Margerum, and Margerum was behind Buddy Teevens, a marvelous thrower who ended up setting virtually all of Dartmouth's single-season passing records. So in 1978 Kemp didn't play a down. And even though he began last season as Dartmouth's No. 1 quarterback, it was partly because McLaughlin had wrenched an ankle and had missed a lot of practice.
Kemp wasn't an overnight sensation. Dartmouth scored 37 points in its first six 1979 games, of which the Big Green won one. In a 3-0 loss to Yale, Dartmouth gained all of 106 yards. Key linemen were injured. Kemp had trouble reading defenses. And Dartmouth's passing game was half drop-back and half sprint-out, and Kemp did miserably dropping back. His throwing style now is almost classic overhand, but last year he threw sidearm, which only compounded his difficulties. Gradually, Yukica drifted away from the drop-back. Soon 80% to 90% of Kemp's passes were sprint-outs. The line got healthy, Kemp came around, and Dartmouth won its last three games, including a 24-10 triumph over Brown that knocked the Bruins out of an Ivy co-championship.
"Jeff is now reading defenses well, picking out receivers well and setting up fine," Yukica says. "Everything he can do should surface this season. Believe me, he could do what Teevens did."
Unlike Kemp, Shula, also a senior, has been a starter since his sophomore year, when he caught 49 passes, a Dartmouth single-season record. Last season he set school career receiving marks for catches (81) and yards (1,064). He's 5'11" and 183 pounds, and as Yukica says, "When a ball hits his hands, all you hear is ffft." Dartmouth Tight End Mike Lempres says that in a recent practice Shula dropped a pass that was right in his grasp and a few players applauded, as if they had seen something special.
Shula grew up around the Dolphins, serving as ballboy, waterboy and all-around gofer. During games, he used to chart plays for an offensive coach. But what he liked most was running patterns alongside such receivers as Paul Warfield, Nat Moore and Howard Twilley and catching passes from Earl Morrall and Bob Griese.
Shula made himself a receiver. To help develop soft hands, he would palm a football, let it drop a few inches, snare it, drop it and snare it again. Then he'd close his eyes, drop it and snare it. Twilley taught him the subtleties of running patterns. For instance, there's the head fake. A split second before making a cut, the receiver should tilt back his head and thrust out his hands, leading the defender to think the ball's on its way. The defender looks up and the receiver cuts away from him. Shula wrote down that tip—and a lot of others. "Guys like Warfield are so fast they'd get open, but without knowing how," Shula says. "Twilley was slow, but he knew exactly how he did things."
Shula is also a connoisseur of drills. Two years ago at the Dolphin camp, he came across a receiver training film created by former Colt Raymond Berry. Shula brought a print back to Dartmouth, and Yukica has added the drills to Big Green practices. For example, a quarterback throws a pass to a receiver whose back is turned. The quarterback yells, and the receiver turns and catches the ball a split second before it smacks him in the head. "It teaches your hands to catch a ball that your eyes don't really have enough time to see," Shula says.
Shula's shortcoming is speed. A 4.9 is his best time in the 40, making him the slowest among all the players who carry the ball for Dartmouth. But if it weren't for Shula's speed—or lack of it—he probably wouldn't be a Big Green player. In high school he was recruited heavily in Florida, and he signed a sectional letter of intent with Florida State. But his relative slowness afoot had him worried. At Shula's request, an assistant coach of his team at Chaminade High in Hollywood, Fla., sent an unlabeled film of Shula to some friends at Penn State and asked them their opinion. The reply was: "Could be a dark horse, but he might do better at a smaller school." Soon afterward, Shula signed on with Dartmouth. And what if he were 6'2", and 198 pounds with 4.5 speed? "No question," Shula says, "I'd have gone to Notre Dame."
Still, he hopes to play football. One night last summer he was sitting with his dad on a patio of the family home in Miami Lakes. Don had been talking negatively about a rookie receiver who, he mentioned, had done "only" a 4.75 in the 40. "Well, why should I even bother?" Dave asked. "Who's ever going to give me a look?"
"Somebody will," Don replied. "You've proven you can catch the ball. You've consistently gotten open. Folks will always call you slow. And you'll always have competition from somebody faster. But if you work hard...."
Dave has always asked his father questions about football. "He was happy that I was so fascinated by the thing he did for a living," Dave says. "A lot of nights after dinner I'd take out one of his diagram pads to draw up plays and pass routes. He taught me a million things." Not so Jeff Kemp. Jack Kemp was always interested in Jeff's football, but other than teaching him such basics as the proper way to grip the ball, he seldom spoke of specifics.
"We talk a lot," Jeff says, "but usually what he wants to know is whether my state of mind is positive. He talks about having a sense of destiny. He says, 'Work hard, hang in there and your chance will come.' Or he'll say something like, 'In bed at night, do you visualize yourself out there, I mean really close your eyes and see yourself quarterbacking the team, play-by-play, going down the field?' Once I told him, 'Yeah, Dad, but along about the second quarter I fell asleep.' "
Off the field, Shula and Kemp are members of the same fraternity. Beta Theta Pi, and they're cut pretty much from the same cloth. Last winter, as part of a work-study program, they took jobs in Washington, D.C. and shared an apartment in Alexandria, Va. Shula, a history major, worked as a research assistant on the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee under Congressman Bill Stanton of Ohio, a longtime friend of the Shula family. Stanton also helped Kemp get work at the American Bankers Association.
Kemp kids Shula about his over-achieving, about always coming up with another new drill. Shula thinks Kemp is innately smarter than he is, a more gifted athlete, but a guy who could work a little bit harder. He kids Kemp about the sloppy way he keeps his room. Just before leaving for Washington, Shula went to Kemp's room and found him asleep with about four layers of clothing covering the floor wall-to-wall. Five minutes later, Kemp was up, packed and down in the lobby. "How'd you pack so fast?" Shula asked. "Easy," said Kemp. "I drew a line down the middle of the room. All the clothes on the side by the window, I left for my roommate."
Kemp thinks he's as driven as Shula but more relaxed. Oh, sure. Last Thursday night in Hanover's 5 Olde Nugget Alley, Shula sat in a back room, head bent over a piece of paper, drawing pass routes. Kemp was out front near the bar, talking with a coed. He was telling her about how his roommate just got a pilot's license and about how tomorrow morning they were going to rent a Cessna, take it up and buzz the campus. Which they did.
Kemp and Shula also differ in their opinions of what it's like to be the son of a famous father. "I hope people respect me for being Dave, not Don's son," Shula has said. He remembers, not so fondly, a moment after one game when the Dartmouth athletic director came up to him, stuck out his hand and said, "Great game. Congratulations, Don!" Kemp, however, never ceases to be impressed by his father. "The man's incredible," he says. "I'm proud when people call me his son."
Early in the Penn game Jeff took a snap, sprinted out to his right and ducked under an onrushing linebacker. Then, spotting Lempres cutting across the field, he rifled an eight-yard pass. Bull's-eye! Up in Section 6, Jack turned toward another spectator, nodded his head in approval and pointed to his right biceps. "Strong arm," he said. "He's faster, too, than I ever was." Jack watched each play intensely, now and then rolling his eyes skyward or clapping briskly like a hot-handed quarterback breaking out of a huddle. In Washington, Kemp might indeed sit on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, but at Dartmouth he stands—especially when the Big Green is on offense. Last fall he and Joanne attended all nine Dartmouth games. This year they plan to see them all, too—except the William and Mary game, which falls on the same day as parents weekend at Miami of Ohio, where their oldest daughter, Jennifer, is a freshman. "I want my kids to play football," Kemp says. "I want them to get knocked down and to pick themselves up again; to get booed and cheered. And I want to be there to see it."
So does Dorothy Shula. And probably Don, even though he has yet to see a Dartmouth game. Films, yes. Live, no. One weekend last October, Dartmouth and the Dolphins were both in Boston, the Big Green to play Harvard, Miami to face New England. Don made arrangements to be flown by helicopter that Saturday from a Dolphin practice in Foxboro to the game at Harvard Stadium, in case the workout began and finished early. In the end, he had to stick it out in Foxboro. "He's a very schedule-conscious guy," Dave says. "I understood. If a player of his asked to leave practice for a similar reason, I'm sure he'd say no. The head man must teach by example."