Scotts is Australia's gift to the NFL; Saints in first-ever title bid
He's about as American as Crocodile Dundee! To him Sydney is a place and not a name. Rugby is probably his best sport. He's loyal to the Queen. And when he says mate, he really means friend. Admit it ... one of the last places you'd probably look for Australian-born Colin Scotts is in the National Football League. But there he is, wearing uniform No. 69 and playing defensive end for the St. Louis Cardinals. As the first citizen of his country to play in an NFL game, he has become a legend in his spare time.
Former University of Hawaii football coach Dick Tomey, who recruited the 6 ft. 5 in., 260 lb. Scotts from an Australian schoolboy rugby team that was touring the United States, saw his potential immediately. He didn't even have to ask for a second opinion.
``With Scotts' obvious talent and his size, we figured we could teach him the rest,'' said Tomey , who now coaches at the University of Arizona. ``So we made him a defensive tackle because of his speed and aggressiveness. What we didn't discover until later was the way he could leap up and knock down passes. He made quarterbacks look twice before they threw the ball.
``Until we got him on a training program, Scotts had never lifted weights before,'' Dick continued. ``But he took his football with us very seriously. He seemed to feel like he was representing an entire country, like someone chosen to be in the Olympics. You wouldn't believe how much he cares.''
By the time Colin graduated from Hawaii in 1986, he had become the Rainbows' second-leading tackler. Maybe he never did understand the bulk of Tomey's football terminology, but he had all the instincts of a natural athlete, and his strong hands made him a very sure tackler.
``In addition to Scotts, who has a rich sense of humor, I also had some free-spirited Samoans on that team, plus several other characters in uniform,'' Tomey said. ``Every time Colin would sack a quarterback, he'd celebrate by doing the Kangaroo Hop, the Samoans would go into a native war dance, and those other guys would do something equally weird. Sometimes I used to wonder whether I was a football coach or a television choreographer.''
Sack dancing, of course, has been outlawed in the National Football League, so pro fans won't be seeing any of these shenanigans.
Even though Scotts was a third-round draft pick, the Cardinals still regarded him as a project. So that Colin would get at least some playing time, St. Louis coach Gene Stallings made him a special-teams player while he was learning what pro football was all about. Stallings also switched him from defensive tackle to defensive end to take advantage of his knack for rushing the passer.
Nothing seems to bother the outgoing Scotts, who comes from a well-to-do family with interests in land development and gold mines.
Walking in on Stallings and Scott when they are talking football is quite an experience. One speaks with a Texas drawl that can be cut with a sponge, the other with a sharp Australian accent that could pierce armor plate. Put them together and it's the biggest linguistic mishmash this side of the United Nations. But even if the listener can't decipher the sounds that come out, it's easy to see that the player and coach are getting each other's messages. Stram was serious about Wilt
Former Kansas City Chiefs coach and current NFL color analyst Hank Stram, has this to say in his book regarding his one-time interest in making Wilt Chamberlain into a pro football player.
``People thought it was just a publicity stunt when I brought Wilt in for a tryout. But I would have taken him in a second after seeing him handle a football.
``I had him stand under the crossbar of the goal posts. I told him I was going to throw the football a little above the bar. My first throw touched the bar and bounced over. Wilt asked me if I wanted him to start catching the ball, and I said yes.
``The next time I threw he leaped up, flat-footed, and caught the ball. I kept throwing. After a bit he was catching the ball with one hand like he was wearing a baseball glove.
``How could you possibly defense him? You'd have to have a 7-foot defensive back. I was all ready to sign him for the Chiefs, but his basketball club had other plans for him.'' Elsewhere in the NFL
From coach Buddy Ryan of the Philadelphia Eagles: ``We're a couple of drafts away from being a championship team, but we already have the right quarterback.'' Ryan was referring to Randall Cunningham, a three-year veteran, who this season has progressed from thrower to passer, and who is also an excellent scrambler. ``He's like a running back playing quarterback,'' says Washington coach Joe Gibbs. `` You are afraid to have your defense commit itself too soon against him.''
The New Orleans Saints, who have never finished better than 8-8 in their 21-year history, are still within striking distance of the first-place San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. ``This year we set consistency as one of our major goals, and so far we have made it happen,'' said coach Jim Mora, whose team is currently 7-3 with a road game coming up this week in Pittsburgh.
There might not be a better small wide receiver (he's 5 ft. 9 in. and 168 pounds) at going over the middle than Ernest Givens of the Houston Oilers. ``If you can concentrate on catching the football and not worry about getting hit, it makes things a lot easier,'' Givens said. Once interested in a major league baseball career, Ernest decided against it when a Lakewood High School pitcher kept striking him out - a kid by the name of Dwight Gooden!