underdog - the Bears and Rams are favored to whip the league-leading Lions and Colts. Respectively, so that makes the 49ers automatic favorites to win the Western title.
MASSEY '58 SLOT BACK? NEAR TRAGEDY FOR STARR
DEC 12 (Boyes Springs, CA-Green Bay Press-Gazette) - It was Saturday morning at Brookside Park in Pasadena. Carlton Massey, a rough defensive end, lined up at slot back during the Packer offensive warmup for the Ram game. He shot straight downfield for 35 yards and then gathered in Bart Starr's long shot over his shoulder while two defenders bumped him around lightlike (considering sweat clothes). "Maybe that's the spot for him - slot back," Coach Liz Blackbourn observed later. "He's too light for defensive end; these big fullbacks are heavier than he is, it seems," Liz pointed out. Massey would become a key slot candidate if Ron Kramer is called into service - as expected, and maybe for three years. Massey, himself, says he'd "like to try right from the start in training camp next year." Carlton is no stranger to pass catching and he's hefty enough at around 220 to do some blocking. The former Brown was an All-American end at the University of Texas and in his senior year he and Johnny Carson, now of the Redskins, were the top two pass catching ends in the country...The final Pasadena practice came within a foot of being quite tragic. To give the ends a brief break, the spare quarterback will run at end on occasion. Starr stepped into Max McGee's spot at left end and proceeded to fire downfield and take a long pass from Babe Parilli. Bart was headed straight for the fence (at the 400-foot mark in the baseball park) and/or flag pole as he caught the ball. Blackbourn yelled "fence!" and Bart whizzed just inside the pole and stuck out his arm to “bend” his crash into the wire fence. Fortunately, the fence gave some. Blackbourn called that phase of practice right away and switched to platoon drills. “Things had been going terrible on injuries and when that happened I figured we’d better stop,” Liz said. On the day before, Bill Kinard sprained his ankle with such force that he tore open the tape on his ankle. After returning from practice and the Starr incident, Trainer Bud Jorgensen informed Liz that x-rays showed that Sam Palumbo’s lower leg was broken, though he had been working lightly at drills for two weeks. Then the game and Ron Kramer’s break…And speaking about injuries, even a Packer player’s wife suffered a broken bone. John Symank’s wife, Sarah, sustained a fracture of a small bone in her leg when she fell down some stairs at their apartment, 1738 E. Mason, last week. John was happy to learn that his wife and baby-to-be-soon are both doing fine. John’s mother, Mrs. Ann Symank, came in from Phoenix to see the Ram game…Among the Packer cheerers at the Ram game were Dr. Robert Gosin, Dr. Thomas J. Durkin and Les Kelly of Green Bay and Dan McCartin of San Francisco. McCartin, the former Bayite, came down for the weekend. Kelly, a member of the Packer executive committee, is spending some of his vacation on the west coast. Also here in recognition of jobs well done are Bob Schwartz and Earl Halck of the Bays’ ticket department. Curly Lambeau missed his first Packer-Ram game Sunday in LA in years; he is back in his old hometown, Green Bay, for the holidays. Lending a hand in the Packer dressing room was big Carl Mulleneaux, the former Packer end, who coaches a junior college at Santa Monica. “My heart’s still with the Packers and always will be,” Carl said. Coach Liz Blackbourn took one look at Mulleneaux and told him “to suit up – we can use you.” Carl, other than for the gray hair (crew cut, at that), looks ready to go.
PACKERS TO SHOW TIDY PROFIT
DEC 12 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - There's gold in these hills - and the Packers should take enough loot out of sold-out Kezar Stadium Sunday to swell their gross profit (before tax deductions) for the 1957 season to $50,000. This was the word from General Manager Verne Lewellen here Thursday as he was assured of finishing in the black for the fourth year in a row. During the three years prior to 1954, the Packers lost $52,000. "Our total operating expenses have gone over the million dollar mark for the first time," Lewellen said. "The biggest single increase has been in player salaries. Hornung and Kramer aren't of the cheap variety and then too we've picked up two more players (from 33 to 35) this season," Lewellen continued. "The increase in player salaries has amounted to $65,000." The Packer GM recalled that it was only four years ago that the club got no more than its guarantee on the West Coast. Payoffs of today have been responsible for the club finishing in the black. Sunday's sellout (60,000) should represent the Bays' biggest money take. Despite 70,572 at the Coliseum last Sunday, Green Bay took home only $52,000. While talking about attendance figures, the conversation switched to the Packer Milwaukee picture. Although Lewellen said he was in no position at this time to make a definite statement, it was his belief that the club would play four league games in Green Bay next season and two in Milwaukee. "The Rams howled about their cut at Milwaukee this year," Lewellen pointed out. "They got about $100 over their guarantee ($20,000), so they want to play in Green Bay. I suppose the 49ers are unhappy, too, but they haven't approached me yet." Lewellen said that in the past four years the club has increased its net surplus from nothing to $140,000. It is his belief that with a quarter of a million in the till, the club wouldn't have to look upon the West Coast trips for a making or breaking year. "We're not in the business to make money," Lewellen concluded. "We just want to keep football in Green Bay." Meanwhile, out at the Sonoma Mission Inn, Coach Liz Blackbourn continued to groom his Packers for the 14-point favorite 49ers. And he emphatically said his club has a chance to knock off the title contenders. "If I didn't think so," he said, "I'd call off practice for the week and enjoy myself playing cards or maybe a little golf on the nice courses they have up here. What would be the sense of me working myself and the boys if I felt i would do no good? All of us could be taking it easy and having a little fun. Instead, we're here to do what we can about making a game of it. I don't say we're going to win it, but I do say that's what we have in mind." If this week's drills bear any indication on what will transpire Sunday, the 49ers could have their hands full. The Packers actually believe this club can be had.
PACKERS REALLY GOT SOMEBODY IN CURRIE
DEC 12 (MIlwaukee Journal - Oliver Kuechle) - The Green Bay Packers got themselves somebody when they picked Dan Currie, Michigan State's center, as their No. 1 man in the recent pro draft. "They not only got one of the best lineman of this year," Duff Daugherty, his coach, opined after the Journal's All-Star football dinner at the Milwaukee Athletic Club Wednesday night, "they got one of the best lineman of the last half dozen years." Daugherty, for all of the humor with which he always spices everything, is a man of very sincere feelings and when he says anything he means it. It was not in this particular case, then, a gratuitous plug for a boy who happened to play for him. "They'll be able to play Currie wherever they need him in the line. We had him at guard in his first couple of years, then at center, and we toyed for awhile putting him at tackle. He could even play end - he's fast enough. We had him down around 230 this year, but he could play at 240. And one of the best linebackers I've ever seen anywhere - ever." Milt Bruhn, with memories of Currie's play against Wisconsin a month ago still fresh, winced an assent...PACKER 'FARM': "You know," Duff chuckled, "we've been a pretty good farm for Green Bay. They could field half a Michigan State line next year if they wanted to. They've got Norm Masters (240) at tackle right now, they are going to get Hank Bullough (guard) back from the Army in a couple of months, and they could play Currie at end - and it wouldn't be bad, no, sir, not bad. I'd take them. Bullough - just heard from him the other day - has put on quite a bit of weight in the service, not fat, weight. He's up around 245 or so now and in shape." Daugherty expressed puzzlement why his quarterback of this year, Jim Ninowski, was not drafted earlier than the fourth round. (Cleveland got him.) "The pros are always looking for passing quarterbacks and here they had one of the best we've ever had right under their noses (Michigan State has had a succession of good ones - Morrall, Wilson, Yewcic, Dorow, etc.). "Ninowski is just an ordinary guy on defense - not as good as Morrall for instance. The pros platoon, though, and Ninowski can sharp shoot with any of them. He can run, too - a good runner. Big and tough. Those clubs that passed him up, if they wanted a quarterback, really muffed something."
'GAME BREAKER' HOWTON FINDS DEFENSES MAKING LIFE TOUGHER ON ENDS, PASSERS
DEC 12 (San Francisco) - The Green Bay Packers do not have many "game breakers", which is one reason they are last in the NFL's Western Division. One great one they do have, a fellow who can conceivably go all the way on any play, is Bill Howton, their all-pro end. Howton sat before the fireplace at Sonoma Mission Inn, where the Packers are preparing for their season finale with the San Francisco 49ers here Sunday. He was wearing a gray letter sweater with a blue "R" on it, a memento of his college days at Rice Institute. Red haired and of slight build, Howton is 27 years old and in his sixth pro season. He possesses great speed on the field and he answered the questions in the same way he runs, fast, but with sureness. The interview went something like this:
Question: How many different patterns or routes do you use in trying to get free on a pass play?
Answer: Oh, we have maybe 25 or 30 individual patterns with variations for the right end, but we use about five of them as "bread and butter" patterns - "hooks", "swing hooks", "hook outs" and "rights" and "lefts". The others we use to take advantage of certain defenses.
Q: For example?
A: Well, against the Rams at Los Angeles Sunday, Shofner was playing me to the inside, so we needed something to the outside. We ran a "post corner" meaning Howton ran downfield toward the defender, then slanted toward the middle and then back toward the sideline corner. We made it go for about 30 yards.
Q: In your six seasons what changes have you noticed in pro football.
A: The offense hasn't changed much, but the defense sure had. They all try to put on a bigger rush on the passer now. Then you often don't have time to run down and finish your maneuver. You can't rush your maneuver or it throws the timing off and the quarterback, under that rush, will upset the routine if he throws too soon.
Q: How do you feel about linebackers who line up in front of you on a pass play and try to hold you at the line of scrimmage so you can't run your pattern?
A: It's part of the game. The defensive man is allowed to use his hands until the ball is in the air. Of course, there is a lot of unnecessary holding, tackling and blocking, but it's a judgment call and the officials seldom see it or call it. I guess they have too many other things to look for. Caroline (of the Bears) blocks on every play. You just have to try to throw him, or elude the block or jump over. They have another man about 10 yards waiting to pick you up. The idea is to slow you up so you lose a couple of steps and can't get out there before they get to the passer.
Q: What is the difference between having an experienced quarterback like Tobin Rote (whom the Packers traded to Detroit last summer) and a young quarterback like, say, Bart Starr (present Green Bay regular, in his second season)?
A: I certainly wouldn't want to knock Starr, because he is a very fine prospect, but the "big" quarterback like Rote or Norm Van Brocklin or Layne has that advantage of experience which you just can't beat. They throw the ball where no one can intercept it or knock it down. They get it out where you reach for it and don't have to wait for it. They have to anticipation which is so necessary. The difference between a touchdown and an interception is only a yard or two. The quarterback has to anticipate the end getting a step on his man. He can't wait until the break is actually made or the defensive man will close up again. It's got to be anticipation and it takes time for a quarterback to get that. Some never do and others just suddenly seem to get it all at once.
Q: Which player or team gives you the most trouble?
A: I'd have to say Warren Lahr of Cleveland is the one man who has been toughest for me. He seems to know what the play is going to be and he reacts awfully fast. Detroit usually doubles up on me so we usually pass to the other side. Shofner of the Rams is a very good rookie and should be great in a few years. He's got that speed.
Q: Do you and the quarterback do any "ad libbing" on pass patterns?
A: Not after the ball is snapped. In college we had a play where I had the choice of trying to beat the defensive man either of two ways, but then the quarterback just waited back there until I made my play and he only had to watch me. The pro quarterback has too many receivers to watch and not enough time for there to be anything like that up here. On the line of scrimmage, though, before the ball is snapped we often convert plays. We have a set of hand signals which I use to tell the quarterback the pattern I'm going to run. Hands on hips for one, rubbing my chin for another, spitting on my hands - five signals altogether. We use these when he hasn't called my pattern in the huddle. Then I give him my pattern after I look at the defensive setup. Or when a running play is called in the huddle and he changes with an audible signal to a pass play. He can call the switch to a pass play in the signals but he can't call the patterns so the ends (Howton and McGee) indicate with hand signals which patterns they will run.
Q: Any chance of the opposition stealing these signals?
A: No, because I go through the same routine on running plays and on plays where my pattern has already been called. In those cases the signals don't mean anything. If they try to steal 'em, it would be like a baseball coach telling a batter a curve was coming and then having the guy hit in the head by a fast ball.
YA OR BRODIE? STILL A QUESTION
DEC 12 (San Francisco) - Tittle or Brodie? That was the question in the 49er camp at Redwood City yesterday as the San Francisco pros went through a spirited hour and one-half session in preparation for the Green Bay Packers Sunday. Y.A. Tittle, veteran quarterback and money player, jogged on ailing legs but admitted his battered underpinning felt “lots better than Tuesday.” Rookie John Brodie, who hurled the game winning pass in the final seconds to wrest victory from Baltimore last Sunday, worked with the offensive unit in perfecting pass patterns…ALBERT STALLS: Coach Frankie Albert refused to pick his starter this early in the week. “Don’t rush me,” he said. “It’s not game time. As of right now, we’ll go with Tittle. But how can we be sure? By Friday we should have a better idea.” YAT, who has delivered in the clutch all season while enduring the hardest whacks of rivals, pulled a muscle in his right leg against the Giants two weeks ago and then suffered a muscle spasm in his left leg that forced him to hobble out of the Baltimore contest in the waning minutes of the fourth period. “It may be a spasm, but it feels like a muscle pull to me,” he said yesterday…TITTLE TAKES IT EASY: Both legs were given the whirlpool treatment and bound with tape before Tittle reported on the field. Albert indicated YAT will rest all week, except for loosening up his pitching arm. “Brodie will be at the controls in practice,” said the 49er coach. Observers felt that even with a rapid recovery, Tittle would be able to do only passing from a tight pocket against the Packers. If he is nailed on rollouts or caught by shooting linebackers, he may be sidelined in a hurry and possibly lost for any playoff games…’I’LL PLAY – TITTLE: Tittle, like an old pro, is not counting himself out. “I’ll play,” he said. “A few days can make a lot of difference.” Brodie’s experience since the regular season opened is confined to nine passes, six completed for 88 yards and two touchdowns. In another development yesterday, tackle Bobby Cross discovered from X-ray pictures that his toe was unbroken. The digit is sore but he can play. R.C. Owens, flanker back, was back on the job after a day off to have a tooth extracted. Larry Barnes worked at fullback. In view of Gene Babb’s sprained knee, he may start.