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COLTS FLASHBACK: GINO MARCHETTI

Posted Jul 5, 2012

Gino Marchetti played for the Colts from 1953-64 and in 1966. Marchetti was with the Colts for two World Championships, 1958 and 1959, and he was voted to a club-record 11 straight Pro Bowls. Marchetti was acclaimed by many as the greatest end in league history, and he was voted to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team in 1969 and 75th Anniversary Team in 1994. Marchetti was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972, and his jersey number, 89, is one of seven retired by the Colts. Marchetti lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with his wife, Joan. Marchetti visited recently with Colts.com. This is the first of a two-part visit.


What are your thoughts on Don Joyce, a former Colts teammate of yours and a club personnel official later on who passed away recently?

“I roomed with Don for a few years, but my first recollection of him was my first game as a rookie offensive tackle for the Dallas Texans.  That evening we played the Chicago Cardinals, and Don was a defensive tackle.  My job was to block him.  I have to tell the truth.  He beat me up and showed me a part of football that I’d never seen before.  He used elbows and little fists.  He did everything.  I remember thinking after that game, ‘Is this game for me.’  He put the fear of God in me.  After that, he was one of the nicest teammates I’ve had.  He was a friend to everybody.  I can’t say enough about him.”

 

How good was it seeing Raymond Berry present the Lombardi Trophy at the last Super Bowl and how important do you think it is to honor the game’s greats?

“I thought it was a nice gesture to make to honor a former player.  Raymond is a Hall-of-Famer who got to enjoy another moment.  I thought it was nice.  I remember what they did with me and some former teammates one year.  They invited some former Colts and Giants to help flip the coin at the Super Bowl in Miami (Super Bowl XXXIII).  That was nice for me.  I enjoyed it.  I met John Elway and Denver beat Atlanta that day.  I sure enjoyed it.”

 

Are you surprised at how big the NFL has become compared to other sports?  It wasn’t always that way and you may remember a time when it wasn’t.

“Oh, gosh, yes, yes.  When I started, 25,000 to 30,000 fans was a big deal.  There was hardly any television.  You look today, after that 1958 Championship game the stadiums just filled up.  Television came in and Monday Night Football, which started around 1970, was really great for the game.  I really like the game as it is today.  Some of the things like the showmanship I don’t like, but that’s part of the game, I guess.  The NFL is such a big deal today.  I used to think (years ago) college football was the best.  It was the sport I enjoyed the most.  Today, it’s even better than it was five or six years ago.  It’s progressed.  They’ve taken on pro-type offenses.  They have quarterbacks now who can throw and receivers who can catch.  They’ve made the college game very interesting to watch.”

 

What is it about football that makes it so important for fans to watch?

“The most intriguing thing is watching guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the top athletes.  There are some really great athletes in the sport and people watch because they know how good the athletes are.  These guys aren’t ham-n-eggers out there.  They’re real, real good athletes.  I like to watch it, too.  In the NBA, I like to see a guy like Kobe Bryant.  It amazes me what some of these guys today can do with their bodies.”

 

Who were your most memorable teammates, and what made them memorable?

“The first Colt I ever met was ‘Fatso’ – Artie Donovan.  He was the best, funniest guy to be around.  He cheered up the locker room.  Not only that, but he was a hell of a football player.  He wasn’t very fast.  The coaches used to time us in the 40-yard dash.  I don’t know why they did that because on the field you never really ran 40 yards, maybe 20, 15 or 10 yards.  Artie was timed in like six seconds.  The line coach told Artie, ‘If a guy comes to camp and you beat him, he’s gone.’  We had a big guy come in one time and they had Artie race him in the 40.  Artie came in first.  The coach told that guy, ‘Keep running.  Go up that hill into the locker room.  You’re finished.’  The guy left.  Artie was so quick side-to-side that it was unbelievable.  He was a good pass rusher, too.”

 

Who was the toughest teammate you ever had and can you give an example of his toughness?

“The toughest and meanest guy that I personally knew was Bill Pellington.  He was a middle linebacker.  What made him really mean was that he was that way in practices and scrimmages, too.  When a receiver would run across the field, he would go out of his way to knock him down.  Every time we had a scrimmage, he would get into a fight with one of his teammates.  On the field, he was the same way.  They were all afraid of him.  Teammates wouldn’t want to work against him.  During the games some of the players he knocked down, they weren’t crazy about playing against him either.”

 

Who was the most talented teammate you ever had and what talents did he have that impressed you the most?

“John (Unitas) is John, but the guy who gave our offense the chance to do a lot of things was Lenny Moore.  Lenny, I’ve seen him score running backwards and every way possible.  Probably one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen made was made by him (against Detroit).  I would have to say Lenny.  At that time, Weeb Ewbank would put him out at flanker.  They (other coaches in the league) didn’t do that in those years.  The first time we did that was in an exhibition game and I remember Lenny caught a three-yard pass and went for an 80-yard touchdown.  I said, ‘Wow, we have something there,’ and we did.  Lenny had a great attitude, too, which is important.”

 

What was the most memorable game you played in?

“The one that got the most recognition was the 1958 Championship game, but I think the best game we ever played in was in 1958 against San Francisco in Memorial Stadium.  We were losing, 27-7, at halftime and they were knocking us all over the field.  At halftime, we walked in the locker room and the first thing you saw was a chalkboard.  On the board, (Head Coach) Weeb Ewbank had written, ‘Must score four touchdowns.  Hold 49ers to zero.’  We went out and played a great half and won (35-27).  What made that so special in my mind was we won and Pittsburgh, with Bobby Layne, beat Chicago.  The Bears lost and we won, and that gave us the Western (Conference) title.  It took a great comeback by us, and I remember it to this day.”

 

Which teammate of yours played the most or the best pranks?

“We all took turns going after Artie (Donovan).  We put a bat in his room.  Alex Sandusky once shot a possum and put that bloody thing in Artie’s bed.  We put water in his bed.  Anything, anything.  He never got mad.  You did whatever you wanted to break up the monotony, and he went with the joke.”

 

Did you ever pull a prank on a teammate or coach that you remember?

“Yes.  I pulled one against Carl Taseff.  One day we were in the locker room and I got a bucket of water.  We were fooling around throwing water and (Head Coach) Weeb Ewbank had to go to a luncheon.  He was walking out of his office and I saw him and Carl was supposed to throw the bucket of water at Alan Ameche.  When Weeb walked back, I gave the motion to Carl to throw the water.  He threw it, but it was at Weeb.  Have you ever seen a guy try to catch a bucket of water?  He threw that water and went after it with the bucket so it wouldn’t get all over Weeb.  I guess that was the worst thing I ever did.  Poor Taseff, he didn’t know what to do.  It was all in fun.”

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