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Authors: Dan Jenkins

Semi-Tough

BOOK: Semi-Tough
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Semi-Tough

By Dan Jenkins

 

A portion of this book has appeared in PLAYBOY magazine.

Copyright © 1972 by Dan Jenkins All rights reserved

Library of Congress catalog card number 72-78289

Published simultaneously in Canada by McClelland and Stewart Ltd.

Manufactured in the United States of America by

Kingsport Press, Inc., Kingsport, Tennessee

Designed by Kathleen Carey

First Edition

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

 

 

 

Good Old Pals

 

I could halfway fall in love,

For part of a lonely night,

With a semi-pretty woman in my arms.


from "Nuthin' Much to Want,"

a song by Elroy Blunt

 

 

 

 

I GUESS BY NOW THERE CAN'T be too many people anywhere who haven't heard about Billy Clyde Puckett, the humminest sumbitch that ever carried a football. Maybe you could find some Communist chinks someplace who don't know about me, but surely everybody in America does if they happen to keep up with pro football, which is what I think everybody in America does. That, and jack around with somebody else's wife or husband.

Anyhow, Billy Clyde Puckett turns out to be me, the book writer who is writing this book about his life and his loves and his true experiences in what you call your violent world of professional football.

I happen to be writing it in my spare time between running over a whole pile of niggers in the National Football League.

And let me get something straight right away which bothers me. Just because I may happen to say nigger doesn't mean that I'm some kind of racist. One of the big troubles with the world of modern times, I think, is that somebody is always getting hot because somebody else says nigger instead of nee-grow.

Because of this very thing I said nigger just now to get your attention. It seems to have a certain shock value. But
I don't think nigger in my heart. Not the way some people do when they mean a nigger is a lazy sumbitch who won't block or tackle or wash dishes fast enough.

It's just a word, anyway. Nigger, I mean. It's just a word that some dumb-ass plantation owner made up one time by accident when he tried to pronounce nee-grow.

I say nigger sometimes in jest, and most of the time I'll say it to a nigger who understands what I mean. On our team, in fact, we even have a play

a deep pass pattern

which some of us call Niggers Go Long.

I also use a few words like hebe and spick and some other things which might not necessarily flatter a person's name and address, but actually this is how a lot of studs talk in the National Football League.

We're fairly honest. We might call a spook a spook, unless he's a spick.

What I'm getting at is that a football player is a football player and nothing else as far as we're concerned. Now if a nigger doesn't want to be a nigger in real life, that's something else. But I sure know several who can block and tackle themselves pretty damn white.

My best buddy Shake Tiller and me decided a long time ago about this racial question. We decided that nobody can help being what he is, whether it turns out to be black as a cup of coffee at a truck stop, or a white Southern dumb-ass like most of our parents. A man makes himself a man by whatever he does with himself, and in pro football that means busting his ass for his team.

So Shake and me joke about this racial business. Like me and Shake have this thing that we say to people at luncheons or banquets when they come up to ask for our autographs and grill us about what it's like to play pro football.

"Aw, we don't like it so much," Shake or me will say. "Mainly, we just like to take showers with niggers."

 

A few years ago when Shake and me first came up to the New York Giants

back there before we turned the Giants into a winner

I remember that there were some racial problems going on around the league.

Seemed like everybody was some kind of a holdout. There were salary arguments and pension disputes and a lot of courtroom business, and if it wasn't the white stud quarterback who wanted another two million dollars, it was the spook flanker.

These were days when there were more hell-raising agents in the dressing rooms than there was tape.

This was back when the owners and coaches had a saying they lived by. They said a team with seven spooks could make the play-offs and a team with nine spooks could get to the Super Bowl. But a team with ten spooks or more probably couldn't beat Denver.

Back then the newspapers were full of some crap about the Giants being overdue for some racial turmoil because they had slowly become a squad with almost as many spooks as Catholics. This was when Shake Tiller made his first big impression on the team even though he was a rookie.

Everybody knew Shake could catch balls and give the Giants a deep threat like they'd never had before. But everybody didn't know Shake had a big old heart in him about like a grapefruit that went around feeling things in regard to the world in general.

It was up at Yankee Stadium one day after practice that Shake made this talk to the squad which, I think, helped us to become a well-knit unit. Shake brought the racial turmoil out in the open where the Giants could all look at it.

Shake stood up on a bench in the dressing room and said, "I think we got some shit we need to talk about, man to man."

I recall that Puddin Patterson from Grambling, our best offensive guard, was flopped out on the floor picking at his toenails, and when Shake said that, Puddin belched real loud.

"Puddin's with me," Shake said. "Anybody else?"

Nobody said anything, but
T.J.
Lambert, our big old defensive end from Tennessee, hiked his leg and made a noise like a watermelon being dropped on concrete out of a four-story building.

When
everybody
stopped laughing, Shake got into his talk.

"I think a man has a right to be whatever he wants to be," Shake said. "By that I mean if we've got any niggers who'd rather be spicks, then I say we ought to buy 'em some sombreros and guitars. On the other hand, if we've got any hebes who'd rather be chinks, then I say that's all right, too. But I also think a nigger can be a nigger if he wants to."

Shake said, "There's only one thing. If a nigger's gonna be a nigger, then he better be able to block."

Puddin Patterson butted in and said, "Say, baby, that don't seem fair. Cat don't have to block if he's tired, does he?"

Everybody laughed again.

Shake smiled himself and he said, "That's right, Puddin. You don't have to block anybody at all, but you know yourself that a sumbitch who don't block or tackle is nothing but a nigger hebe spick with a little A-rab thrown in. By the way. We got any A-rabs around here?"

Puddin said, "
T.J.
Lambert smells like one

with a goat under each arm."

As far as I know,
T.J.
Lambert is about the meanest sumbitch that ever lived, much less stunk. He's about six feet five and weighs about two sixty without a towel wrapped around his freckled belly. I'd guess he takes a shower about every five days and some people say that this alone is what makes
T.J.
so mean.

They say that when
T.J.
was in college at Tennessee he kept a mad dog chained up in his room in the dorm and used to feed it live cats. They say that instead of going down the hall to the toilet
T.J.
had a habit of taking a dump in his closet. And when it got to smelling so bad in his room that even
T.J.
would notice it, they say he would throw a bunch of newspapers in the closet and set fire to the whole mess.

I would never say to
T.J.
's face that he smelled like anything other than perfume because I think a man who can live with a mad dog and a closet load of dump can be expected to bust up some furniture every now and then.

We say the
T.J.
stands for Torn Jock because that's what
T.J.
does to anybody who carries a football in his general direction. He tears their jock off. Actually the
T.J.
stands for Teddy James but you'd sooner call
T.J.
an A-rab than his real name.

When Puddin Patterson said
T.J.
smelled like an A-rab that day in the dressing room,
T.J.
walked over to where Puddin was laying on the floor and cut another one that sounded kind of like a washing machine that was breaking down.

I guess I could tell stories about
T.J.
Lambert for as long as somebody would listen but I think certain things ought to be personal.

However, I think I ought to explain about
T.J.
's ability to fart. Now that I've brought it up, in other words.

He sure can fart is what I'm getting at. And he can do it in as many different tones as you can imagine. And almost any time he wants to.

You can go up to
T.J.
and say, "Give me a long slow one," and
T.J.
can give you a long slow one, right away. You can ask him to give you a short sweet one and
T.J.
can lay it right on you.

As a matter of fact,
T.J.
has always claimed that he can fart in a lot of different colors, too, but of course I don't know anyone who ever cared enough to check up on it.

When
T.J.
went over and cut one at Puddin for calling him an A-rab, Puddin looked up and grinned, "Say, baby, was that one purple-pink with a little touch of green?"

And
T.J.
said, "Naw, it was light brown, the color that some niggers are, if they're lucky."

Puddin only laughed and said, "Sure would like to see me a nigger some day to find out if that's true."

While I'm on the subject of
T.J.
's exceptional talent, I can't resist telling about his wedding night when he and his wife, Donna Lou, got married. He likes to tell it on himself, so I can't get into any terrible trouble with him.

It seems that when
T.J.
and Donna Lou got married they checked into a motel in Knoxville, and one of the first things
T.J.
wanted to do was play a little trick on his bride.

So when Donna Lou was in the bathroom changing into her nightgown,
T.J.
got naked and laid down on the bed and spread out his big old pink legs with his ass facing the bathroom door.

"I was gonna give her my Class A boomer,"
T.J.
says. "When she come out of the bathroom, I was gonna cut one that would jar the window shades, and then for the rest of our married life there wouldn't be no trouble about me fartin' around the house. You never know whether a woman likes that kind of thing."

What happened of course was that Donna Lou came out of the bathroom and for the only time in his life, old
T.J.
's talent betrayed him. Instead of farting, he shit all over the bed.

When Donna Lou gets drunk enough these days, she enjoys telling the story herself and she refers to
T.J.
as "old Rudolph Valentino over there." At which point
T.J.
is liable to unleash his Class A boomer.

But I've gotten away from Shake Tiller's talk to the squad.

My buddy said, "You studs don't have to listen to me because I'm only a rookie, and I'm what a lot of you spooks might think of as a red neck with a terminal case of the dumb-ass, but this team will wind up in trouble if we don't talk about it.

"So far as I can tell, we've got a real good bunch of ass holes around here and some stud athletes, both black and white. That's really all that matters. I want to get it straight that me and Billy C. there don't give a fuck what color any sumbitch is if he wants to win.

"There's no way I can prove to any of you spooks that I'm not a Southern dumb-ass because you don't know me so well yet. But I'll tell you this. The trouble with the world is not that a nigger can't get
in
a restaurant somewhere. The trouble is that a nigger can't get thrown
out
."

About right then, Puddin Patterson said, "Baby, you 'bout to make some sense."

"Well, I'm not up here to talk about the world," Shake said. "All I want to make clear is, a nigger who plays football can whitewash himself by knocking down more sum
-
bitches than knock him down. And when he knocks down enough, he'll look around one day and find out he's rich and famous. Then he can go buy a Cadillac and a big house and start fucking up a good white neighborhood

or whatever it is you guys like to do."

Shake grinned in order to let everybody know that was a joke. The spooks, I mean. Some did and some didn't.
A couple of them just kept on standing around with their arms folded, staring down at the floor. As if they were listening to an assistant coach who was reminding them they had to quit stealing socks and sweatsuits.

Puddin Patterson said, "Say, baby, you don't have no idea what it's like to be black, you dig? So how come you standin' up there layin' out all this jive?"

Some spook voice from the back of the room said, "Tell me somethin'
about
it."

And another spook voice said, "Two, four, six, eight. Texas gonna integrate."

Shake answered Puddin. "All I'm talking about is trying to be a good football team. Is that what we're here for?"

Puddin said, "We doin' a job, baby. You catch them balls and I'll block them folks. Ain't nothin' else to it."

BOOK: Semi-Tough
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