On December 14th, 1958, the New York Giants beat the Cleveland Browns in the last game of the regular season on a Pat Summerall field goal to force a playoff game – also against the Browns - the following week. During the locker room celebration that followed the win, Tim Mara, the head of the family that owned the Giants, raved “How about that Summerville?” Then he said, “But what the hell, I’m paying him good money, and he doesn’t even play. All he does is kick.” That’s one of my favorite stories from Jack Cavanaugh’s new book, Giants Among Men: How Robustelli, Huff, Gifford, and the Giants Made New York a Football Town and Changed the NFL. I love Mara getting the kicker’s name wrong. I also like the fact that the “good money” “Summerville” made in 1958 amounted to $15,000.
And here’s another thing I like. In his discussions with the players from those Giants teams of the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s, Cavanaugh found that those players don’t like the contemporary game. “I hate it,” Sam Huff told Cavanaugh. “Guys jumping up and down after they make a tackle. Hell, they’re paid to make tackles.”
Fans of the contemporary NFL may feel Sam Huff is being unnecessarily cranky, but even they are likely to enjoy Giants Among Men.