A former St. Louis Cardinal recently passed away. Enos Slaughter was a top-notch player, and a top-notch bigot and racist, a man to be totally disrespected. In 1947, Jackie Robinson’s rookie year, it was Enos Slaughter who started a petition among his fellow St. Louis teammates to strike before they would get on the same field with a black man. The petition was a non-factor, but Slaughter never relented; prejudice just doesn’t relent. "Enos, you were a miserable human being", and I cleaned that up. (I cleaned it up for my two magnificent grandchildren, ages 3 and 1; Elizabeth and Jacob read the Sports Junkie every week. As a matter of fact, they’ve answered 83% of my trivia questions.)
Story of the Week
It remains one of the most memorable throws in Super Bowl history, though the object was not a football, and the toss fell incomplete. Bob Lilly, the Cowboys’ defensive tackle, punctuated the dramatic conclusion of Super Bowl V by heaving his silver helmet 40 yards through the Miami sunlight.
As Dallas’ first-ever draft pick, its first Pro Bowl representative, and its first consensus all-pro, Lilly was especially devastated by the Baltimore Colts’ 16-13 victory. The Cowboys had been derided as "Next Year’s Champs," and their stumble against the Colts in a game pockmarked by mistakes would prolong the stigma.
Dallas had every opportunity to win this game. In years to come, and in retrospect, Bob Lilly stated that he feels the infamous helmet toss was his feeling of frustration about the Cowboys finding another way to blow a big game.
The fact that they had been in a position to win the game was a tribute to Lilly, who joined the Cowboys in time for their second season in 1961 and became a cornerstone of their famed Doomsday Defense. He earned his first of 11 Pro Bowl trips as a defensive end, then moved to tackle after his second season.
Lilly was remarkably agile for such a tower (6-5, 260) of strength, and, according to a former teammate, he had the kind of vision associated with great running backs. Per fellow lineman Ron East, "Most defensive tackles have trouble just keying on the offensive guard, but Lilly keys on the entire offensive line and the ball at the same time."
For years, the Dallas coaching staff forwarded game films to the league office, accompanied by play-by-play sheets with alleged holding infractions against Lilly circled. Former umpire Pat Harder testified to the fact that Lilly got held as much or more than any lineman he ever saw. Former Cowboys line coach Ernie Stautner, himself a Pro Football Hall of Fame player, frequently told Lilly that it was the opposition’s only chance to neutralize his great talent.
A Texas native who starred at TCU, Lilly was a Lone Star legend well before Dallas drafted him. He added immeasurably to the reputation of playing in every one of the Cowboys’ 196 scheduled games during his 14 pro seasons, and returning three opponents’ fumbles for touchdowns. But the individual achievements paled in comparison to the fulfillment he realized in Super Bowl VI.
One year after temporarily losing his head in a rage, Lilly got even as his team thumped Miami, 24-3. Fittingly, the play that symbolized Dallas’ domination featured Lilly, who burst through the Miami line late in the first quarter, and teamed with Larry Cole to chase Dolphins’ quarterback Bob Griese back, way back into his own territory and tackle him for a stunning loss of 29 yards. That play was poetic justice for the frustration felt by this great Hall-of-Famer just one year earlier.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only player to pinch-hit for both Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski? It’s that legendary Boston household name, Carroll Hardy.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the first black pitcher to win a World Series game? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.