We were coming off a 9-1-1 Big 8 Championship season (including a 13-3 Orange Bowl loss to Penn State coached by a young up-and-comer named Paterno). The following Spring a fearsome man-child transferred in from Ft Scott JC.
He stood 6’8” weighing 280 with a 32” waist. Whoa! There were rumors he had been a mafia bodyguard in Milwaukee where he also had, supposedly, done “porn”. His name was John “The Tooz” Matuszak. Not one member of that Missouri football team would have wanted “The Tooz” to date his sister.
The “Don’t date my sister/daughter” Rule, spoken or unspoken, exists in every locker room in America. The players always KNOW who the scariest “loose cannon – short fuse” crazies are among’em.
John Matuszak lasted three semesters at Mizzou. At a frat party a ROTC dweeb supposedly made a pass at John’s date. Undoubtedly the bravest or stoopidest ROTC dweeb of all time. “The Tooz” hit the guy once in the face crushing numerous bones in the process. Thus ending John’s Mizzou football career.
Matuszak transferred to Tampa, became a top NFL draft choice and enjoyed a two Super Bowl rings NFL career with the Oakland Raiders during a period of the late 70 – early 80s when Al Davis collected hard-cases like “The Tooz”. At the height of his Raider days Playgirl interviewed him. John listed his #1 ambition to be breaking Wilt’s record of 10,000 female couplings. “The Tooz” died of a massive drug overdose while still a few thousand short of “The Stilt”.
None of us who met “The Tooz” back in Spring 1970 were ever surprised at anything we heard or read about him. And none of us would have wanted him “to date our sister”. Matuszak, for all his awesome physical tools, was far too undisciplined to ever be a reliable player…. that and the sumbitch was a “bully”. I recalled John during last season’s Richie Incognito mess.
As we are digesting an all-you-can-stomach news buffet about Football bad boyz, you can be sure that the players, for sure, and almost as certain the coaching staffs, of every major college and every NFL team have their own unspoken list of characters on their team that they would NOT want “to date my sister”…. or “daughter” in the case of coaches.
Every major college football staff has “one of THE Top recruiters in the country” on their staff. Not just UNC’s infamous John Blake and SEC’s notable vagabond Trooper Taylor. Go on any program’s monkey boards. They all boast “one of THE BEST recruiters”. It must be true if you read it on a monkey board.
Recruiting was not it’s own cottage industry back in 1970. But whichever one of Dan Devine’s assistants signed “The Tooz” knew he was signing a “loose cannon”.
I maintain that any college coach who has recruited for 10-15 years can spot a likely “loose cannon” in the first ten minutes of a face-to-face meet. “The eyes”….. the body language….. the hesitation when his high school coach discusses him. One longtime recruiter says he can tell “by how he treats his mamma”. A 17 y/o disrespecting his mamma was a WARNING Will Robinson!
Ignoring all the warning signs is easier if the blue-chipper is especially fleet-o-foot and can bench press a Buick.
The standard rationale is “Yes, this kid has issues but if we can keep him on a tight leash, maybe we can get a few years of production from him before he becomes the NFL’s problem…. but sooner or later he’s gonna go BOOM”.
…. but sooner or later he’s gonna go BOOM”. Such timebombs are ticking in locker rooms all across America. But, of course, not Your Team’s because Your Team only recruits “high character kids”. 🙂
Other than QBs, place-kickers and holders for place-kickers “big time football” at either the college or pro level is not a wellspring of rational human beings possessing the psycho-circuit boards of the average Rotarian. I purposely left off punters because they are weird in their own category. ….. maybe the same can be said regarding “ir-rational” for “postal workers” and “members of the Manson Family”.
We are not currently experiencing an hourly BREAKING NEWS rash of incidents involving postal workers or hippie cultists. NFL officials wish we were.
Have you noticed that for going on two weeks we have NOT received “what Michael Sam had for breakfast” or “the name Redskins” updates. Johnny Manziel has taken a headline backseat to Rice / Peterson / Hardy-gate. The ill winds of domestic violence and child abuse have blown those tedious topics off the front page.
Football certainly has all sorts of character-building aspects most of which involve “getting back up after being knocked down” and “delivering a blow is preferable to receiving one” and “don’t quit when the going gets tough”. “Playing thru pain” and/or “causing someone else pain” is at the essence of the sport.
Monotonous sedentary activities can also cause lobotomy screws to loosen with resultant damage to innocent bystanders but Football is the rare activity where millions cheer the process of men hurting one another and celebrating them what do it the most effectively.
Priming oneself to go out and play football; or priming others to do so as a coach is a process not unlike loading nitro glycerine in the bed of a pick-up truck then driving that truck down a rocky road. At the end of that road – if you arrive in one piece – might be “a ring”.
Flipping the switch between football and polite society or combat patrol and polite society is as difficult as gathering up a gaggle of actuaries and telling them to run downfield and cover a kick. Do WHAT? Individuals trained for one environment don’t morph well into the other.
Concerning football’s current bad boyz AND the yet-to-be-identified bad boyz in the months to come. A pox on all of’em. Their teammates and coaches already know who they likely will be.
Somewhere right now in America, some one’s sister/daughter is about to date “a loose cannon”.
It won’t be John Matuszak. “The Tooz” fried his quite abby normal brain in 1989….. shortly after being banned for life from ever setting foot in the Oakland Raiders facility. Eventually even Al Davis didn’t want John to date his daughter.