In 1981 the Philadelphia Eagles were headed into the playoffs. Those Eagles (pronounced “Iggles” in Philly) relied on the arm of Ron “the Polish Rifle” Jaworski, and the sturdy thighs of Wilbert Montgomery. They wore Kelly green uniforms, not the trendy “midnight green,” designed by their present owner’s first wife, a skinny woman with New York hair. One sportswriter likened “midnight green” to “ocean purple.”
We watched the game on my black and white teevee, which we’d taken out to the front porch to get better reception. It was pretty blurry at times, but Montana was having a warm spell in early January, and it was a lot warmer than Philly. With plastic over the windows and a little space heater we dragged out with us, we were pretty comfy.
Smash mouth football it was that chilly Philly day in January, 1981, when the 12-and-4 Iggles hosted their arch-enemies: the hated Dallas Cowboys, every sad-ass wannabe in America’s Team. Chilly really wasn’t the word for it. Inside the cold unyielding concrete of Veteran’s Stadium, a stiff wind blew up the natural funnel of the stadium walls. A howling wind dragged minus 4 down to a wind chill in the minus-teens. The announcers were bundled up and blue.
Sounds like a song.
Announcer Tommy Brookshier proclaimed that the Eagles hadn’t scored in the first quarter since, well, since the last time they scored in the first quarter (one of those meaningless stats that announcers cling to). On the Iggles second play, Wilbert Montgomery burst through the line behind tackle Jerry Sizemore’s block on Ed “Too Tall” Jones, and scampered 42 yards for a touchdown.
Montgomery went on to shred many stats that day. The Cowboys hadn’t allowed 100 yards rushing (Brookshier also announced) all season in Philly. Montgomery ran for 194, and Leroy Harris added 60 more. Final total: Iggles 263 rushing yards, whioe holding Tony Dorsett to 41.
I was elated. Me and the boys high-fived, cracked a beer. The next week Sports Illustrated featured Wilbert on their cover, and I cut his picture out and glued it to the face of my 12-string Takamine guitar. Wilbert ran all over the west that year.
I’d played some football. My high school were champions, and at University of Delaware I was 5th-string center on the national champs, 1963, (small college). I’d loved my coaches, and some of their optimism and advice clung to me.
Frank (guitar) had played football, too, and I was able to drag him out to run a bit, and JR (sax) and I played basketball whenever we could. Add in the fact that we were all quitting cigarettes, and we became known as “the health-fanatic band.” Among bands, that is, not tri-athletes.