Butkus, Montour, and the Times

Today's NYT has a long feature on Dick Butkus and his adventures with the Montour football team. Butkus seems to be meshing with the real Montour coaching staff -- but he's having problems with the modern athletic mindset.
Montour (1-1) was preparing to face the formidable, larger, better Hopewell team. Kickoff drills were going awry. Receivers were not holding on to the ball. And there was the running back who prefers playing in games to going all out in practice. Butkus loved to practice, over and over and over, at Chicago Vocational High and the University of Illinois and then with George Halas's Bears. He finds any lapse in hard work unacceptable. You play, you play hurt, until you are too injured to give it all. "If they don't want to practice, then get out of here," he said with a growl. . . .

"I won't accept losing," Butkus said. "It's a cancer. We're making inroads. You can see it in their faces."

He cannot stand slackers, like the player who does not want to play on special teams. "I just about hit the roof," he said. "I didn't understand."

Butkus used to play on kickoff teams when his right knee, the one he has had replaced, was killing him. "If you love the game, we should have a problem getting you off the field," he said.

What would he make of Big Ben, who brings it on game day but (according to Jeff Hartings) seems to lose interest in practice?


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