Big Is Better At Andy's Place
By Larry Harris
One of the feel-good success stories in the local restaurant game is how former Baltimore Colt Andy Nelson started cooking pork shoulders at home many years ago and eventually converted that hobby into a sprawling, family-run complex in Cockeysville that packs 'em in, day in and day out.
The bodacious size of Nelson's pulled pork sandwiches has even become a standing joke with some customers, many of whom are too young to remember when Nelson was one of the premier defensive backs in the NFL and a key member of the Colts’ 1958 and ’59 championship teams.
It's no joke with Nelson, though. The All-Pro safetyman takes his barbecue seriously. "They get on me about how much meat I put on a sandwich," he said recently as he surveyed his sprawling catering outlet. "Well, I have never cheated anybody in my life, and I don't intend to start now."
Well, actually Nelson, who grew up cooking pigs in his home state of Alabama, did cheat a couple of times early in his Colts career. He and fellow All-Pro defensive back Milt Davis used to clamp 5-pound weights under their armpits when they got on the scales at weekly weigh-in time.
While behemoths like Jim Parker and Sherman Plunkett were struggling to lose pounds, Nelson and Davis were trying to bulk up to 175 so that coaches would allow them on the field. How times do change!
Another trusty old Colt, Tom Matte, used to boast that he never was thrown for a loss on a run from scrimmage during his long NFL career. "At Ohio State, we always learned to go forward," said Matte, who played under the legendary Woody Hayes.
If recent games are any indication, there are a couple of present rushers who may claim the same distinction one day. Tampa Bay's Earnest Graham and the Cowboys' Marion Barber both run like they're mad at somebody.
Graham's rise to prominence is just another great example of "Next Man Up." When the Buccaneers lost Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman in successive weeks, Graham stepped in and suddenly became a back nobody wants to tackle head-on. He can also catch the ball, making 13 grabs out of the backfield against the Lions last week.
As for Barber, he's probably just peeved -- and rightfully so -- that he has to share duties in Dallas with Julius Jones.
The entire NFL world is saddened by the loss last weekend of Max McGee, the former Green Bay receiver who scored the first touchdown ever in the first Super Bowl. McGee, 75, toppled from the rooftop of his home in a fatal fall while cleaning up leaves.
He was always known as a party animal, but McGee ran pass patterns so well that the old Baltimore Colts had a route they called a "Max." It was a simple turn-in at medium range and receivers like Jimmy Orr and Ray Perkins added their own special twists to it, but it was still a "Max." Today they would probably call it a "skinny post."
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Everybody knows what an event it will be if the New England Patriots go 19-0 -- and that possibility definitely exists. But what glamorous prizes will the Dolphins and Rams draw if they finish 0-16? … Randy Moss' two end-zone catches last Sunday are just further proof that the man has an invisible shield around his skinny body that resists all efforts of defensive backs to penetrate. … All are raving about Rob Bironas and his record-setting eight field goals for Tennessee, but when is the last time his name came up? How about last season when he booted a 60-yarder to beat Indianapolis?
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Cameron Snyder, one of the finest football writers ever to tote a portable typewriter (remember them?) and a member of the media wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, recently celebrated his 91st birthday. His health isn't the best, but the former Baltimore Sun stalwart still has enough fire to curse present day columnists, announcers -- and coaches.
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Now-retired Wayne Chrebet was glad to see Dolphins quarterback Trent Green gracefully accept the move to injured reserve after that brutal concussion a couple weeks back. The former Jets receiver himself is lucky he has his wits after a career filled with violent collisions. He says NFL teams must do an even better job of policing the brutal hits that thrill fans but sometimes lead to tragic consequences down the road.
"They made new guidelines with it being the doctor's decision and amount of time away from the game," Chrebet said. "The truth is that we [the players] are going to lie. I lied about it. Everybody has lied about it, whether it's your head, knee or any kind of injury. You have to take it out of the players' hands."
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Lines worth reading:
"You need those playmakers, those game-changers, because mere competence does not win NFL games. Competence lets you go on 11-play, 70-yard drives that end with the arrival of the field-goal team. Competence lets you hang around long enough to have your heart broken, but that's it."
--Rich Hoffman, Philadelphia Daily News
Issue 2.43: October 25, 2007