This is an article from the Aug. 30, 1999 issue
BAUGH, AGE 85
Redskins 1937-52; 6'2", 182 pounds; led the league in passing,
punting and, as a safety, interceptions in 1943; charter
enshrinee into the Hall of Fame, in 1963
MANNING, AGE 23
Colts, 1998-present; 6'5", 230 pounds; first pick in the 1998
draft; passed for an NFL-rookie record 3,739 yards last season
Manning has an unflagging interest in his host, and Slingin'
Sammy is more than happy to oblige with stories from his playing
days. At one point, standing alone in front of Baugh's modest
trophy case, Manning says, "I'm a student of the game, and
everyone should know about guys like Sammy." By day's end the 62
years separating the two quarterbacks have melted away in the
triple-digit Texas heat. When Baugh finishes his last story and
the men say their goodbyes, they do so with the closeness of
kin. Manning smiles and waves as he departs, fortified by seeing
what it is to be 85 and still slingin' 'em. As Manning's car
pulls away, Baugh's blue eyes dance; the old quarterback knows
that his legacy is secure with Manning. To no one in particular,
he punctuates the thought: "That ol' Manning's one hell of a
kid, isn't he?"
GREGG, AGE 65
Packers, Cowboys, 1956, '58-71; 6'4", 249 pounds; played on
seven title teams and in nine Pro Bowls; appeared in 188
consecutive games; inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977
BOSELLI, AGE 27
Jaguars, 1995-present; 6'7", 318 pounds; second pick in the 1995
draft; played in three Pro Bowls; generally regarded as the best
left tackle in the game today
The two offensive linemen discover they have more in common than
their position. Gregg diagrams the Packers' vaunted sweep of the
1960s, showing Boselli the intricacies of the play. "Yeah, we've
got a play something like that," says Boselli. Gregg mentions
that when he was a player, his toughest critic was his wife,
Barbara. "Yeah, same with me," said Boselli, referring to his
wife, Angi. "One time I sat out a play," Boselli says, "and she
told me she didn't understand how I could do that when she was
having to sit in the hot sun watching me."
Asked about his toughest assignment, Gregg answers without
hesitation: Baltimore Colts defensive end Gino Marchetti. "He
was the best I ever faced because he would make you work so darn
hard," says Gregg. "I'd be so tired after playing him that I
couldn't move for a day." Boselli nods. "There's a guy like that
today in Baltimore, Michael McCrary, who just keeps coming," he
says. "I try to throw him on the ground and lie on top of him
just to tire him out."
JONES, AGE 60
Rams, Chargers, Redskins, 1961-74; 6'5", 272 pounds; coined the
term sack; unofficial leader in career sacks, with 180 1/2;
inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980
STRAHAN, AGE 27
Giants, 1993-present; 6'4", 280 pounds; has had more sacks (29)
over the past two seasons than anyone else; signed four-year,
$32 million contract extension that makes him the NFL's
second-highest-paid defensive player
Jones has visions of doing to the sand sculpture what he did to
NFL quarterbacks for 14 seasons. Six times during the 40-minute
photo shoot, he will ask, "Y'all done? Can I wreck it now?"
It should come as no surprise, then, that when asked about his
patented head slap, Jones is only too happy to demonstrate it in
slow motion, bringing his left palm flush up against a
reporter's right ear, producing a ringing sensation that lingers
long after. "You think that rings?" Jones says. "I had a metal
plate cut to fit in the palm of my hand." To this day his grin
is distilled evil, an offensive tackle's nightmare. "I used to
wrap that mother with a wet cast, then let the cast dry. That's
what you got upside your head, every 30 seconds."
The affable Strahan listens attentively. Because he grew up in
Germany, he didn't get much early exposure to the NFL. "I've
seen the films," says Strahan. "This guy was the best ever. I
didn't know about a lot of guys, but I knew about Deacon Jones.
He made defensive end a glamour position."
BROWN, AGE 63
Browns, 1957-65; 6'2", 232 pounds; ran for 12,312 yards, led the
league in rushing eight times, averaged 5.2 yards per carry,
scored 126 touchdowns--all records at the time; three-time NFL
player of the year; inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971
WILLIAMS, AGE 22
Saints, 1999; 5'10", 236 pounds; '98 Heisman Trophy winner;
Division I-A career rushing leader, with 6,279 yards; Saints
traded all their picks in the '99 draft and first- and
third-round selections in 2000 for the opportunity to take him
with the fifth pick in the draft
Williams knows full well that he's in the company of greatness.
Though he never saw Brown play, Williams understands the
standard by which his career will be judged. "A lot of players
come into the NFL and think they're the greatest thing ever, but
I have respect for what came before," he says. "I know
linebackers are faster now and defenses are more specialized,
but the game is essentially the same as it always was. Toughness
is the most important quality for any running back, and Jim
Brown was amazing. He used to carry people on his back."
Williams seems mesmerized by Brown, who among other things talks
about Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, the pool parties that he hosts
for members of inner-city gangs, his role opposite Al Pacino in
the upcoming Oliver Stone film Any Given Sunday and--how's this
for incongruous?--his close friendships with Louis Farrakhan and
Bob Knight. When Brown gives his views on some of the NFL's
other legendary running backs, Williams is impressed by the
degree of insight. "This kid hasn't proved he's a great runner
at the pro level yet," Brown says, putting his hand on
Williams's shoulder, "but I give him respect for what he did in
college, and I welcome him into the fraternity. He reminds me of
Earl Campbell, and people were scared to death of that man.
There's room for all kinds of greatness."
LAMBERT, AGE 47
Steelers, 1974-84; 6'4", 220 pounds; two-time NFL Defensive
Player of the Year; inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990
BROOKS, AGE 26
Buccaneers, 1995-present; two Pro Bowl appearances; has
averaged almost 129 tackles per year
Lambert takes one look at the fishing ensemble Brooks has
chosen--black dress shoes, brown slacks, a sleek black
shirt--and the crusty linebacker says, "Those don't look like
fishing clothes to me, man. You look like you're going to the
The afternoon produces one keeper: "How's my favorite man in the
world, Tony Dungy?" Lambert asks, referring to his former
Steelers teammate and Brooks's current coach. "He knew more
about our defense than our coaches did." Brooks nods and says,
"Coach is right on the money." "He's too nice, isn't he?"
Lambert says. "I once told Tony he had to be meaner if he wanted
to be a coach." "He makes you want to play and do well without
screaming at you," says Brooks. "Yeah," Lambert replies, "Chuck
Noll was the same way."
LARGENT, AGE 44
Seahawks, 1976-89; 5'11", 187 pounds; retired as NFL's alltime
receptions leader, with 819; caught a pass in 177 consecutive
games; inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995
MOULDS, AGE 26
Bills, 1996-present; 6 feet, 204 pounds; led AFC last season
with 1,368 receiving yards; set NFL playoff record with 240
receiving yards in a wild-card loss to the Dolphins
Moulds's second trip to the nation's capital isn't anything like
his first. Largent, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma,
blows through the Capitol past security guards and signs that
say DO NOT ENTER as easily as he once ran past defensive backs.
Largent leads an awestruck Moulds through a doorway above which
another sign announces OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER and approaches the
man sitting at the reception desk. "Tell Denny I'm coming in,"
Largent says, just before bursting into an adjoining room where
J. Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.) sits at the head of a long table.
The three men chat for a few minutes before Largent drags Moulds
into another hallway. "I'll be right back," says Largent. "I've
got to go vote on the flag-burning amendment." Moulds leans
against a wall and watches a harried Henry Hyde (R., Ill.) pass
by. "I haven't been to Washington since I was a kid," he says.
"I didn't see anything like this."