The Baltimore Colts won back-to-back NFL championships in 1958 and '59, and they did it with one of the first teams to be loaded with huge linemen. Tackle Jim Parker, at 275 pounds, anchored the offensive line, which protected John Unitas, while end Big Daddy Lipscomb (290) and tackles Don Joyce (280) and Art Donovan (280) formed a wall on defense. And on a light day, backup tackle Sherman Plunkett played at 305.
"We had a whole team of guys who had to struggle to make their weight every Friday," Parker says. "Even [defensive back] Bob Boyd. I remember one night before a weigh-in, Boyd had to lose eight pounds, and he sat up all night. Every 30 seconds he'd spit into a cup, but he made the weight."
Other tales from those pre-Nutri/System days with the Colts:
•Parker and the Cadillac sauna. One year Parker was five pounds above his 275-pound limit, and he didn't have much time to make the weight. So he put on a rubber sweatsuit, got into his Cadillac, rolled up the windows on a 95° day, put the heat on high and went for a 45-minute drive. "When I took the suit off, water poured out of the bottom," Parker says.
•Joyce and his weekly fast. Teammates say he never ate a full meal between Monday morning and the Friday weigh-in. "Joyce would make the weight," says Donovan, "and then go out and eat five pounds of raw beef."
•Donovan and the bare facts. He didn't like running or lifting weights or any other form of exercise. "The only weight I ever lifted," he says, "was a 16-ounce can of Schlitz." On Fridays, Donovan stripped naked and took out his false teeth before getting on the scale.
•Plunkett and the midnight snacks. Plunkett never earned a weight bonus in 10 seasons with the Colts, the Chargers and the Jets. "I even tried to get his wife to help once," says his former coach Weeb Ewbank. "I told her if Sherman reported to camp one year under 300 pounds, I'd give her $1,000." During one Colt camp, Plunkett's roommate, Parker, awoke to a munching sound in the dark. Thinking there was a rat in the room, Parker turned on the light and prepared to do battle. No rat. Just Plunkett, eating from a five-pound tube of liverwurst, with cheese and saltines.
Parker and Donovan, good friends and former teammates, size each other up.