Dick Westmoreland – November 23, 1998

autographed 1965 topps dick westmoreland
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DICK WESTMORELAND

Defensive Back

San Diego Chargers – 1963-1965

Miami Dolphins – 1966-1969

TT – As a defensive player you saw a lot of offenses, and played against a lot of offenses in college and the pros.  What were some things that you saw practicing against Sid Gillman’s Charger offenses had that were different from the others you played against?

DW – Say that again please. 

TT – What were different about Sid Gillman’s offenses than others you played against?

DW – Understand that I can give you a definitive answer now, but during that time that was my first year in the pros, so what I was going against was the first that I’d seen of any pro team.  Coming from college, we were a passing type of team in college.  What I saw that our team had was a multi-faceted offense – a great passing team, we threw the ball all over the field. We were known for throwing the deep ball, which is called stretching the defense, which was an exciting phase of the game.  The long touchdown bomb.  That’s what I noted from Sid, that we had an elaborate passing scheme that seemed to be a little better than most teams.  I think Oakland had a pretty good passing team and Al Davis was under tutelage of Sid.  So he took pretty much the same passing scheme with him to Oakland.  So that’s what I noticed.  What I really noted more than anything else is that we were a very smart football team.  You had to have some players that could grasp what was trying to be taught.  But we were a very smart team and Sid and Chuck Noll brought that to our team.  Sid mainly.

TT – There was great talent with those teams.  How did the offense change through the years?  Were there some of the things that Sid brought on a few years later that weren’t there when you came in ‘63?

DW – Probably depth.  More people that could do more things.  If someone was injured the next guy that came in would probably do a pretty good job, too.  That’s been a thing that, Al LoCasale was a great talent scout in procuring talent for the Chargers, and I think adding depth to our team, getting quality players that were really even on the taxi squad.  But we had vigorous practices.  You should see our practices, particularly between the defensive backs and the receivers.  What we called the skeleton drill.  Often times the linemen would watch us practice instead of practicing because it was so intense and what was going on was like… we had pride on defense and they had pride on offense.  It was pretty much game-type atmosphere when we were practicing.  We really went at it.  Not so much in tackling, even in our shorts and shoulder pads we were really going at it.  We really started practicing after practice, staying after practice.  Guys would, we had that kind of commitment.  Myself and some defensive backs might stay out with Lance and a couple receiver, we wanted to improve our basic skills.  Getting them to run out those, seeing how long we could stay in our back pedal before turning to run and things like that.

TT – What were some off the field type of innovations that Gillman brought about.  I know he was one of the first to use game film as a coaching tool.  What about some others that you might have seen?

DW – You mean in our practice sessions?

TT – In practice, in games, films, anytime, really.  Just some different types of tools that Gillman used to make you guys better football players.

DW –  Pretty much our townhouse kind of meetings.  We used to have both teams together, often times when we would go over the games that we had just played.  That became a critiquing period, but became kind of a ridiculing period too when a player got messed up or got beat or something to that effect.  But the good that I thought about it was that we wanted to play so hard and we wanted so hard not to mess up, that we didn’t want to be laughed at the next week in the film sessions.  And I thought that was real smart of Sid to have us all there watching and having kind of a loose kind of thing so that we could be real critical of each other.  I wasn’t like, “Oh, you’ll get ‘em next time.”  It was like, “Why did you let this guy do that.  Oh, look at him.  He’s beating you.  He’s really putting it on you.”  We were doing that kind of stuff on each other.  Sid allowed us to do that.  And I thought that made us a better team.  [It] made us a closer team because we critiqued each other.  We watched more film and studied more than I could believe when I came into the pros.  I thought we’d be on the field all the time.  But we just watched the films.  We’d take a 15-minute film and it would take us an hour to go through that.  Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.  Look at your steps, look at this, just really drilled it over and over again.  Just repetitiveness and seriousness and not leaving anything to chance.  As far as new innovations, we did things out on the field, we walked through things.  There really wasn’t any question about what you want to do with a situation because you had basically gone over it.  I just think that his thoroughness was a big factor.  I can’t really think of anything.  Today they still use films and of course the opposing guys, the skeleton.  The team will be putting a good picture up for us.  That’s about the best I can think.

TT – Gillman brought in Alvin Roy as one of pro football’s first strength and conditioning coaches? 

DW – We were the first pro team to start lifting weights.

TT – How did that help or hurt the team?

DW – How did it help?  And hurt?  Well, it really helped us because when you’re playing ball anything that you think that you’re doing that the other guy may not be doing that might give you an edge gives you automatically a mental boost, a psychological edge.  I get ready to go and I say, “Well, he hasn’t been training as hard.  He hasn’t been lifting weights, I have been running harder than him.  We do more than they do, so I should be able to last in the latter rounds.  I’ll try to get him in the latter rounds.”  I’m thinking that I’m in a little better shape than you are, so I’ll just try to go along with you until the end comes and then I’ll see if I can step on it because I should be in… I found out pro ball was a whole lot mental, what your mental state was really determined what you were going to be like.  I was a rookie free agent and I thought and acted as if I had been there all the while.  I didn’t really give a lot of credence to the all-pros and the other people who were there that were supposed to be so good.  I was able to really step up and shine as a result of having that kind of a posture in my mind rather that to say, “Well, it is going to take a year or so where I let those guys go in and I’ll just catch on and he’s much better than me.”  I didn’t take that approach.  Things progressed much better.  But what was your question?  I kind of went on my own track.

TT – I asked how Alvin Roy helped and hurt you.

DW – OK.  Alvin was a nice guy.  He had us lifting weights.  We lifted weights and did isometrics and isotonics.  One of them is the moving of the weights and the other is moving, pushing against a stationary object.  You just push up against an object that you can’t move, and hold it like that.  We lifted weights during practice.  We lifted weights in preseason and we lifted weights while training too.  Offense might lift in the morning, defense run in the morning.  Vice-versa in the afternoon.  So we were stronger and faster and better because we did it in conjunction with everything else.  We just didn’t lift weights all year long and then start playing and waste down.  If you do it while you’re playing, incorporate it into your practice sessions, then you can see the results.  Because you still have the muscle being loose and striated from the stretching and things like that.  So Alvin brought that to us and we won the championship that year.  So far as hurting us, I can’t see how lifting weights hurt us in any sense.  One thing that might have been negative, but we didn’t do that for very long, I think Alvin sort of introduced dianabol to us, like a steroid.  For a little while we used that.  And so obviously that probably hurt us in the long run, but we didn’t do that very long because we found out that was… The word was that might give you liver cancer 20 years from now, so we stopped using that.  But as a young player, I didn’t know one way or another.  I knew I got bigger and faster and stronger.  I knew I got bigger and stronger and I didn’t lose any speed.  A lot of times you gain a few pounds, you kind of slow down, but I didn’t slow down at all.  So that might have been a negative part of it.

TT – As a defensive player, how did game strategies need to be altered when different teams played the Chargers.  How did other teams have to change their defenses when they played the Chargers?

DW – They had to get ready for the ball being in the air.  They had to get ready for a torrid passing attack and perhaps the best multi-running facet in the league.  You see, we were not only a great passing team, but we probably had the best ground attack.   Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln, both backs were like 1,000-yard rushers.  So we had a great offensive line, so you really couldn’t get set for us offensively. I mean we had Lance and Dave Kocourek and Don Norton and Jerry Robinson.  Jerry was perhaps the fastest receiver.  He was about a 9.4 sprinter in the 100.  One thing about the Chargers, in those days the one thing that Sid didn’t really tolerate was dropping the ball.  You didn’t drop the ball in practice.  He would get on your case if you dropped the ball in practice.  So basically if the ball is thrown and the receiver has a chance of getting it, you can assume that he is going to catch that ball.  So then, whether we were running or throwing, we were an awesome offensive team.  And so that way a team had to prepare for us totally.  Most of the times with defenses, and I’m a defensive player, when you prepare for an offensive team, they got some weaknesses that you can ignore in a way.  They don’t do this very well, so we won’t plan for that.  We will play them for this and we’ll play them for that.  If that does come, then we’ll adjust.  But with us you could not leave anything to chance.  You had to try to cover everything, so therefore it kind of opened up everything for us.  And that was the genius of Sid Gillman with his schemes and the kind of personnel that he had.  But with the kind of attacks that we had, they talk about our passing attack and our running attack, but we had a great offensive line.  Pat Shea, Don Norton, Sam Gruneisen, Ernie Wright, Ron Mix, Who was the kid that was killed?  Jacque MacKinnon and we just had great players blocking for the players.  So it made our offense really go.

TT – What was Gillman like as a coach?  Was he well respected by the players?

DW – Sid was well respected by the players.  He was a great coach.  He was and excellent coach, a smart coach.  You know he had a lot of personalities to deal with.  But I thought that perhaps… My rookie year we were at a place called Rough Acres, California and the best thing about that camp was football practice because there wasn’t anything else to do.  We certainly got close as a team.  We didn’t have racial problems on the team.  This was back in the ‘60s, you know what I mean.  I’m talking about from the trainers, from the girls up in the front office, to every place.  We all got along real well.  We all came to each others houses after the games, like everybody would go to wherever it was going to be at.  Over at your house, over at his house and over there.  That was kind of a unique thing.  And we really talked about things out in the open.  We felt like…You’re a white guy and you sit over by yourself like that.  Well, all five of us black guys might come over and sit with you and say, “What’s up?”  We might grab you and make you come out and have a hamburger or something with us.  You know what I mean?  Either you are going to be with us, or you’re not.  We would do it like that.  And vice-versa.  We had a kid named Deputy Dog who was from Tennessee, Nashville I think it was.  We would always make jokes.  He would say, “Westy.  If my folks back home could see me swinging with you guys, they wouldn’t let me come back in the house.”  And we would say things like…

TT – Who was that?

DW – That was Deputy Dog, George Moore.  We would say things like, “I’m driving cross country.  I might come through your hometown.  I’m going to North Carolina.”  He’d say, “West, it’s OK.  Man, stop by.  You know you’re going to have to come around the back, though.”  We’d say things like that.  But it’s all right.  That’s the kind of way we were.  And it made for a great team.

TT – Were there any difficulties playing for Gillman?  How was he tough as a coach?

DW – Well, he didn’t tolerate mistakes.  Mental mistakes.  You could get beat physically.  But it was a joy playing for Sid.  It was a joy because we were a smart football team, he was a great leader, I knew that we had a chance to beat everybody we played.  I felt we were a superior team with a superior coaching staff.  I felt like we went out prepared.  Sid knows what he’s doing.  Sid knows what he’s doing.  Chuck Noll who coached the Super Bowl champion Steelers, man he was… One big factor that I liked in their style was that they were optimistic coaches.  What I mean by that is like they talked about your strong points and they kept you encouraged all the time.  I would be out there stumbling around and Chuck Noll would say, “No, no.  You didn’t look bad.”  He would say things like that.  “We’ll work on this, we’ll work on that, but I see some good things.”  He always saw a plus, where as personally I was critical.  I thought like, “Oh gee.  I’m going to get cut tomorrow.”  I thought I looked terrible.  But Sid and them, they kept everybody putting up their best.  We had torrid practices.  Our practice session was like humming.

TT – Tell me about the Rough Acres Ranch.

DW – Well, you might want to cut off your tape recorder.  Rough Acres was quite an experience.  I came to San Diego on my first plane ride.  I landed in the airport and went right out to Rough Acres.  I didn’t even see San Diego.  We drove about an hour, two hours out there.  And I work near there now, in Campo.  Yeah, I’m a probation officer.  I’m in probation work.  So Rough Acres consisted of a bungalow kind of barracks.  It was supposed to be a resort hotel for people that wanted to be away from everything.  But it didn’t make it.  It was designed for like…You and I, two roommates would have a bungalow.  The whole front wall was like a window.  Of course they had the clubhouse and places where we ate and all the filming went on.  That was a pretty large structure.  But the field was all dirt and wasn’t real good that we had to practice on.  It was really out there in nowhere.  I can remember the first time I saw a tarantula, this spider as big as your hand, black and furry.  Every night you’re just afraid to go to sleep around there.  There were rattlesnakes.  We had a guy that I called the old prospector.  He was like the guy who took care of the property around there.  He must have been in his 60s or something.  He looked like a cowboy.  He had a cowboy hat, the weather-beaten, wrinkled face.  He was the toughest guy out there.  He was tougher than any of the guys on the team.  He wasn’t scared of nothing.  He took a water hose and put it up in this rock that was in part of the building and got a rattlesnake out of there.  He pulled it out and killed it.  He’d walk around out there in the dark.  I mean, man this guy was tough.  He was tougher than any of our players.  Tumbleweeds, I didn’t know what tumbleweed was.  Here’s this big black object rolling toward you in the dark and you are walking down by your bungalow at night and it is dark.  So you’re running from some big black object rolling towards you.  I can remember at night sleeping.  My roommate was Nolan Richardson, who is the coach of Arkansas basketball team now.  He was my roommate.  After a while he was released from the team.  So I was in there by myself.  I think was once eating a bush right in front of my window.  I woke up one night and here’s this cow in front of my window, I figured I need a roommate out here.  It was almost like sleeping out in the open.  But it was just all of the elements around there and trying to get accustomed to rattlesnakes and tarantulas and bats.  Bats were up in the roofs and things like that.  We had a real wild rookie show then.  I’m not going to go into depth on it.  Whatever the results were, I think the team got sued.  They say we messed up some things around there.  Our rookie show was so good because not only was I in it, and I was a rookie.  But the team before that, which was Lance’s year, he was a year ahead of me, they didn’t have a rookie show.  So they had both groups in the same rookie show.  Man, did we put on a show.  We put on real entertainment.  We had quite a show.  But it was just a great year from the beginning to the end.  We played hard and we partied hard.  And it was from the trainers to the girls up in the front office to the taxi squad, the whole team.  See, we took everybody when we went places.  We had one guy on our team we called Gravy Train.  He was on the taxi squad.  We’d go places, we leave the keys to the camp and he’d just open up and have his run of the camp.  He didn’t do nothing, he was just making money.  We called him Gravy Train.  But that was pretty much about Rough Acres.  It was an excellent place to get your game together because there was nothing else to distract you.

TT – It was a pretty good camp, overall?

DW – Yeah, that’s where we were weight training.  ISO’s and everything out there.  The desert is pretty in early morning and late evenings.  The desert was pretty.  But in midday when we were practicing, it was hot.  But it was nice and pleasant in the morning.  Up in the fresh air and stuff.  It was quite, I think it was perhaps the best place for us.

TT – That kind of brings me into my next question.  The ‘63 team was probably the best Charger team of all time.  What made that team so great?

DW – You have to have a combination of things to fall for you.  Some intangibles.  Say at one point Bobby Beathard, who I think is a great General Manager, tried to draft according to personalities and check out your backgrounds and that didn’t necessarily work.  And you got some teams that have prior records of…Like right now we are having problems with Ryan Leaf, who we knew wasn’t quite mature.  He acts like a spoiled brat, or something to that effect.  I think, first thing that happened was that we just happened to have a great combination of personalities that came together, the right mixture of veterans and rookies.  Lance and Paul and Hadl and Mix and Tobin Rote and Ladd and Earl Faison.  A lot of the guys who were a little older, and Ernie Wright, they were great leaders, really.  Charlie McNeil.  And young guys like myself and Jerry Robinson and people like that, we gave them the respect that I think they deserved.  We kind of got under their wings and listened to them, listened to what they had to what they had to say.  Not only that, but we were…I was a rookie, but I was sort of accepted by the guys.  I remember we would go to New York to play games and I had relatives in New York, the guys would come with me to go over to my aunt’s house and eat.  So here I am, the rookie, and all the guys are going with me because we were going to get a meal.  Rather than saying, “Oh, he’s just a youngster.”  It was that kind of way.  We would follow the older guys and the older guys might follow us too.  They thought it was cool, not just a one way street.  They accepted some of it.  “Hey there’s the rookie.  What’s he doing?”  I remember I was buying clothes all the time.  So they said when Westmoreland came in, when he’d button his coat, his suitcase was packed.  That means I didn’t have no clothes.  “Now every dime he’s got he puts on his back.”  I can remember sitting around the poker games that all the veterans would be playing in.  They were putting their money in the bank and I had mine in my pocket.  But I can remember them when they needed money saying, “West, lend me this.”  I’m saying, “I wonder why I’m lending money all the time and these guys, they’re supposed to be making more money than me.”  The personality was OK, first of all.  The coaching staff gave us a lot of freedom.  What I mean by freedom was freedom to do the right thing.  We had to be in bed the night before the games, we went to movies like a high school team.  Even at home Sid would get us all together and we’d all go to the movies.  You couldn’t go to Tijuana.  Players that got caught in Tijuana were fined because of the trouble you can get into.  The equipment people, the front office people, they were so genuinely genuine.  Barron Hilton, who owned the Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton, his dad, too.  They were hands on.  They were there.  The Pernicanos, the owners like that.  They were there.  It really was easy getting to know each other.  They talked to you, not like they’re millionaires and you’re a little free agent.  The really, genuinely liked you and inquired about you and you were just as interested in them too.  That all kind of fell together like that.  We went places together on road trips, the whole team did.  Pat Rogers and Betty, all the front office people were on the planes and the equipment people and everybody was on the plane, except maybe the taxi squad.  We just had a great time.  I remember we’d have a party.  We might have a party over at Earl’s house.  He might live in a black section of San Diego.  And everybody would come over to Earl’s house.  The owner, the coach and everybody would come over to Earl’s house.  We’d have a party at Ron Mix’s house, everybody would go over to his house.  They didn’t hardly come to the parties at my house because I was a rookie and I was having those parties that…Well, the wives would ask, “Are you going over to Westmoreland’s house?”  But they’d say, “West, are you coming over to the party tonight?”  And I’d say, “Yeah, where is it?”  “Over at your house.”  Because I lived alone.  It was the fact that we had a great coaching staff, great players, great personalities.  There really weren’t any racial issues, and that’s what it was too.  Just about everybody really got on line.  If you came…Lance was from Arkansas.  And Lance was right on and cool and things like that.  We had Jews and blacks and everybody.  So it was just a great time and a great bunch of people that fell together.  I remember when I went to Miami, I didn’t find that kind of cohesiveness down there.  First, I didn’t find the coaching staff very smart, this was George Wilson.  I don’t mean to say.  I mean I didn’t always feel we were very prepared.  You can coach someone as long as they are on the team.  I don’t care if they are a 15 year veteran.  If I’m on the sidelines and you’re out there playing, there are things I can tell you about if I know the game too.  I thought down there, I asked the coach about things and, “Well, you’ve got it pretty much, Dick.  You’ve been around a long time.”  No, you can tell me things.  I might not be doing the fundamentals, or whatever.  That was the thing.  Plus, we knew we were a very smart football team, we knew we were very prepared.  Chuck Noll would say things and as soon as the game started, “Gee, that’s just what we did in practice.”  They are going to do this and they are going to do this, they’re going to do that.  And the first snap.  Boom!  Here they come.  “Hey, that’s what the coach said.”

TT – You did mention that there was never any racial problems on your own team, but I knew you came across some problems in other cities.  Can you talk about that for a little bit?

DW – I remember we had a racial problem down in Atlanta one year.  They didn’t want black players in this pool hall.  We went over there and they didn’t want us in there shooting pool.  But Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison were shooting pool.  Ladd was like 6’9” and 320 and Earl was pretty big.  So they didn’t like it, but we shot pool.  “You got somebody that’s going to put us out of here?”  What was great about being out of town, we were supported by our whole team.  You’d be right there too.   “What’s the matter, white boy?”  You wouldn’t say that, but you’d be right with us.  “Hey, what’s up?  What’s wrong with my friends?”  You would be with us as Chargers.  We supported each other with racial things.  I remember down in New Orleans, it was my first all-star game.  First Pro Bowl game.  We left the town, really.  To tell you the truth, the New Orleans Saints should be the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Dolphins should be the New Orleans Saints.  Because the Saints had the first option to get a team that year, and they were going to get a franchise from the AFL, the American Conference.  But since our team boycotted their town after the racial issues, they decided to get an NFL, NFL franchise because of what we had done.  Otherwise New Orleans had the shot at the first franchise.  They sort of integrated the Roosevelt Hotel and they were a little resistant.  I can remember coming down the elevator and this elderly white lady was about 70.  I’m all dressed up, getting ready for the town and I had a little cologne on and the lady said, “I smell something and it smells bad.   What is that smell in here?”  I said, “It definitely can’t be me because I just put some Brut on.”  I don’t know if she was inferring that blacks smell, or something like that.  But it would have been a real terrible time.  We were down in the French Quarter and I was with Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison and Dave Grayson and a few of the other guys and we heard a song being played in a little joint by James Brown.  So we were going to go in there, but they wouldn’t let us in.  You guys are playing a James Brown tune and we can’t come in?  What is going on here?  Take our music off then.  So Ladd said, “I should snatch these doors off the hinges.”  They were out there talking about it.  So we had a little conference out there.  So Walt Sweeney came up and he wanted to fight the guys there, the cab driver and everybody, the way they acted.  Jack Kemp was down there.  All the white players were upset, because we were intermixed.  There would be three, four, five black guys and seven or eight white guys and we were all together.  So they’re going to single us out.  Well, those other guys, “Well, we aren’t going to go in either.”  That’s just the way it was.  But had we stayed, there would have been some problems.  We were not the kind of players to…”They said, “Why do you want to go to the French Quarter?  Bourbon Street, that’s no place for you guys to go.”  The city officials were trying to get us to stay.  But it was kind of insulting and humiliating.  I can remember when we decided, at this place outside this club, there were going to be a few people out there arguing and all of a sudden I look around and spot 200-300 people stopped to watch the cavalry.  At that point I stopped being mad and I got a little scared.  I said, “Hey man, we better start thinking about getting out of here.  We kind of got a mob out here now.”  I was looking around and there were a couple people, but there’s a bunch out here now.  So then we finally left, and we couldn’t get a taxi to take us back.  We had to walk back.  We were already downtown, but we had to walk maybe 1/4 mile to the hotel that we lived in.  Walt Sweeney wanted to beat up the cab driver, but I figured enough of this.  Can you imagine staying there like that, where you can’t get a cab to take you around.  I can remember we ran into this black guy that lived down there on the corner.  He was on the corner and we went over to ask the guy, “Hey man, what’s with the white people down here?”  You know what the said?  “Man, you all better leave me alone.  I don’t know where you guys are from, but you all better leave me alone.  Things were pretty cool before you guys got here.”  But we finally left, went to Houston and played the game.  We got there on a Sunday morning and we left that Sunday night.  I remember my roommate was Frank Buncom.  He was quite a guy.  He didn’t go out much and stuff like that.  So he was just home sleeping.  So I came in and said, “Hey Frank, we’re leaving here, man.  We gonna leave this town.”  And Frank said, “Oh, What’d you guys do, man?  Man, I haven’t done anything, what’s going on?”  He’d been out sleeping.  But no, the place just wasn’t ready.  They just wasn’t ready for black players to be out when blacks were down at that time.  They were musicians and blacks had to go certain places, be certain places.  They didn’t exactly have the keys to the city.  And we, as athletes, we went everywhere.  I remember we were in El Centro one time, we went there to watch a fight and there was a hotel they say we integrated.  Because we all got dressed for swimming, all the players.  We run through the lobby with no clothes on and dive in the pool, people were getting out of the pool and stuff.  We had fun.  But Sid took us there.  We went there as Chargers.  We went places, we went to watch a Muhammad Ali fight.  That was things that our team did.  Events were going on, in training they would take the team to see Muhammad Ali, see something happen.  They didn’t spare stuff on us.  We lived in the Hilton Hotels where we went.  We traveled well.  We were first class.

TT – What are some things that people often overlook when considering Sid Gillman?

DW – What are some things that are often overlooked?  Well, Sid and I can’t talk about Sid unless I mention Esther, his wife.  I love her.  I love Sid, too.  But Esther, his wife, they were always such a beautiful couple and she was so very supportive of the whole thing.  She was just a great person to know.  She was steady and she was beautiful and the last time I saw her a few years ago she still looked great.  I can remember me and my wife were sitting at the table with Esther and Sid at some kind of function.  My wife and I were talking about, “Boy were getting older.”  We were in our 40s or something like that.  So Esther said, “What are you guys talking about?  Wait until you get up to 70 or 80.  You guys are crying about being old.”  I can remember her saying that.  But Sid was the General Manager as well as the Head Coach.  I think that is a difficult position to have.  One the one hand perhaps, you’re trying to save money and trying to get somebody for the best price you can.  On the other hand the true value of this person comes out and how much you depend on him and need him comes out.  What I mean by that is like a football team is like a combat outfit.  It’s a war game, really.  Except you get a chance to live.  But everything else is the same as in a war.  You are really trying to kill the guy, in a legal-like way.  But in your mind set has got to be, “I got to stop you.  I gotta go in and try to wipe you out.”  So we had to be like a combat-led outfit.  So I need you to tell me the truth and I need you to be leading me in the right way.  Which he did do.  But you can be on the one hand saying, “No, I can do without you, I can get you a dime a dozen.”  Then on the next hand say, “You are the best thing that happened.  You are the best guy on the field.”  I’m not saying that’s the way it was, but kind of the way when you have a General Manager and a Head Coach on the same job.  It can be like that.  You can feel like you didn’t get what you deserve or if you do get what you deserve and you don’t live up to the standards then he doesn’t feel good.  “I paid you money and you didn’t live up to it.”  I think the one thing they misunderstood him about is like he would get good talent, but he would let good talent go, too.  Myself and Jimmy Warren, who were two cornerbacks, I broke my arm and that next year I was not protected and Miami drafted me.  The year prior to that I had broken my arm.  But the two previous years I had been all-pro with the Chargers.  So a lot of times people would feel like he would get good talent, but he would let good talent go.  But he always knew he could find good material, good players.  I remember when one time all the defensive backs were once Chargers.  All the defensive backs I was playing with in the All-star game and things like that.  People would say that about him, he’d let people go who still have something to give.  But I got no qualms about Sid.  I love him and I appreciate him.  I know he thought I was an excellent defensive player, after practice he would talk to me and things like that.  I appreciated that.  But then he let me go down to Miami, too.  But I prospered down there.  That’s the way the game is.  But if there is anything they probably misconstrue about him it is the way you handle men.  He let Ladd and Earl Faison go and stuff like that.  Maybe that.

TT – Well that wraps up my questions.  I appreciate your time.

DW – I didn’t mean to talk so much.

TT – I appreciate it very much.

DW – What I want to close with is this; All of us who were during those eras, all of that were there, we genuinely love each other and we love each other today.  From Bobby Hood to Tom Denman to Pat Rogers to Sid to Chuck to Lance and Earl, Don Norton to all of us.  Keith Lincoln, Lance, John Hadl.  I know we all love each other still.  From that encounter.  That’s what I want to leave this interview with.  I want to thank Sid for really heading up that whole thing.

 

 

Todd Tobias (762 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.


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