Olean Times Herald

Both Crist And Giants Will Be Stronger in 1975

SALAMANCA – Chuck Crist’s friends and neighbors in these parts should take one more long, hard look at the slim ‘n trim shoulders of Crist.

It could be the last time that they’ll see them so slim ‘n trim for, within a few weeks, he’ll be the central figure of the noble experiment that will see a new-look Crist when the 1975 National Football League action resumes again next summer.

“Coach (Bill Arnsparger) has planned the weightlifting program to build up my shoulders, so that’s why I won’t be spending the off-season here (in Salamanca, Crist’s hometown),” Chuck said, explaining why he won’t be substitute teaching in Olean area schools this winter.

The 1975 season will mark the one-time Salamanca Central School’s all-around athlete’s fourth with the Giants and it could be the year “that I’ve finally made it.”

Made it?

After three years, made it?

Crist explained: “Well, last year I wasn’t assured of my position (defensive back) until mid-season and then, only after I had a talk with the coach (defensive coach) and I had to get something straight.

“At the start, I was alternating with Powers (Clyde, first year draftee from Oklahoma) and it upset me. I didn’t know if I would be pulled from a game after a bad play or what. Finally, I had a talk with the coach and got it off my mind. After that, I was the regular in there and things were much easier, mentally, for me.”

Crist, these days, is still the kid that can be confused with the Crist just out of Salamanca Central. There’s the mustache, true, and there’s the much more poised Chuck Crist, but he’s still the kid that could be the one next door.

He does know where he’s going – that’s the reason why he’s mighty pleased to be under the wing of Arnsparger in the off-season. “He wants us to be near (Giant’s headquarters) and that’s the way I want it. This Giants’ team of ours only won two games last year, but we lost about a half dozen of them by a touchdown or so, and in the final two minutes of each game.

“Our record may read as helpless as the other bad teams, the San Diego Chargers, for example, but you can ask any of the coaches who beat us if we are that bad. They’ll tell you otherwise.”

This is the 23-year-old Crist, and his dark hair is not as long as it was several years ago, but it’s still on the mod side. He’s still the 205-pounder, but he doesn’t look like it.

In fact, Chuck could pass for a ballet dancer and not a pot-bellied three-year veteran of the NFL wars.

How does he see that Super Bowl meeting between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings?

“I’d like to see Pittsburgh and I think they have a chance,” Crist replied, “but Minnesota has been ‘there’ two years and missed out both times. I think that will decide the winner – the experience of going through that Super Bowl week. That’ll be the difference and Minnesota will win.

“You have no idea how that week before the Super Bowl is, the reporters and TV people and all. Those New York writers will swarm all over, peeking here and there, going over every little thing. The specialty man, for example – long ignored during the regular season – will be given that big exposure.

“Minnesota’s (Alan) Page, (Carl) Eller, and the other veterans have been through this and they’ll be able to handle it all. Pittsburgh? It’ll be new for them.”

Crist, three years ago, made the Giants’ roster without having played one minute of college football. He was the basketball star at Penn State, although upon graduation from Salamanca, he had a scholarship that had both football and basketball written on it.

Looking back on it, Crist would have given football “a shot, but,” he says, “remember, when I was at Salamanca, basketball was the game I considered the major sport. How else in these parts? What with St. Bonaventure, Canisius, Niagara as major college basketball powers, and no college football, well, it just had to be basketball when I went to college.”

Crist’s immediate future, obviously, is not coaching.

“Last year, I did teach (substitute at Limestone, etc.) and, naturally, I am considering a career as a high school coach, but, not now. It’s football and I’m confident, more than ever, I’ll be on a New York team that will be something next season in Shea Stadium (New York).

Crist was one of the NFL Players’ Association’s more articulate members during last summer’s strike that saw the players lose ground in their demands from the NFL club owners. “I think we’re worse off now than before and I, for one, do not belong to the Association. We didn’t have the unity that an Association needs when it goes on strike.

Crist on a few other topics:

(1) Astroturf or natural turf?

“I know this, Pittsburgh’s turf, whatever it is, (Astroturf) is the worst in the business. It’s like going down on concrete. Naturally, the best is natural turf, but where we played (Yale Bowl, temporary home of the Giants) it was the ‘Mud Bowl.’ Why, there were games when we’d walk out on the field and we’d sink into the mud right up to our ankles.”

(2) How about Joe Sanfilippo, your old coach at Salamanca?

“He should be coaching football and I hope he does get back into it. I understand he has applied at Jamestown. I do know this, Coach will only accept on his terms. He’s that firm a coach.”

(3) What about the college bowl games over New Years?

“Well, I listened to the Orange Bowl game and was fed up with the announcers commenting, so many times, about (Bear) Bryant alternating his quarterbacks. They (the announcers) couldn’t understand why the Alabama coach (Bryant) was alternating Richard Todd and Alan Rutledge at quarterback. They seemed puzzled. It was no puzzle to me. After all, Bryant had been doing that for 10 games in the regular season and he was winning, wasn’t he?

(4) What about the “No Shows” during the last NFL season?

“Those ‘No Shows’ were season ticket holders, right? They had paid their money, so the owners could care less. Those people will still buy their season tickets this coming year.”

(5) What about the recession and inflation? Won’t they affect the sports picture this coming season?

“I don’t think so. People will still want sports and players will still want to get whatever they can from the owners.”

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