Monday, May 10, 2010

The Old AFL: The Tall, Yes, And The Short Of It

Charlie Tolar was five-foot-six and weighed 200 pounds. You could be taller than Charlie Tolar and still not have had your last growth spurt. Patty Duke was taller than Charlie Tolar. He's shown looking up in this picture because that's where his eyes were permanently fixed. But Charlie Tolar was a bowling ball without the holes drilled, a guy who simply would not go down, a guy who couldn't be tackled down low because there was too much of him down low and couldn't be tackled high because there was no high. He gained more than 3,200 yards in seven seasons and scored 21 touchdowns, when he wasn't bumping into opponents' knees or running up the backs of his own linemen.

Ernie Ladd was six-foot-nine and weighed 312 pounds. He wrestled professionally and liked to play ping-pong and chess in his spare time. He spent eight years with the Chargers, Oilers and Chiefs, tore an Achilles' tendon and was out of the league before he was 30.

The American Football League was the great melting pot, as far as pro football was concerned. But you were probably better off if you kept to the middle.

-- From the original Football With One Stick Gum, 1999

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