Harvard's wide receivers have always been an eccentric, talented, publicity prone contingent, and those of recent years are no exception.
Pat McInally '75, the Crimson's first All-American since 1954, was a bonafide free spirit. A sure bet to finish last among receivers in the traditional 12-minute run on the first day of practice, McInally managed to break most Crimson reception records and to shine as the brightest star in a season that looked like the Southern Cross.
McInally's awkward gait and gangling frame--described by one coach at the 1974 Senior Bowl as "positively the worst body I've ever seen on a football player"--was easily recognizable. But even if McInally had been proportioned normally he would still have been conspicuous by virtue of his personality.
Crimson faithful were reminded of this last spring when the now Cincinnati Bengal returned to Cambridge for the day. McInally spent the better part of an afternoon kicking a volleyball over the Lowell House tower into the courtyard, retrieving it, and then repeating the feat. Kicking a volleyball over the Lowell tower is no easy task (next time you pass Lowell, stand by the tower's base and look up). But then, who would want to spend a spring afternoon kicking a leather ball over Lowell?
The present furor notwithstanding, Jim Curry has indicated that he too fits the Crimson split end mold. Curry was selected Exeter Academy's "athlete of the decade" for his prowess in basketball, baseball, and football. At Harvard, he quickly established himself as a player to watch for the future. His speed was unmatched and his moves were a series of fluid sprints and sharp breaks.
There were several observers who whispered among themselves that Curry was better than All-American McInally. The opportunity to show his wares came last season for Curry and he sparkled as the Crimson captured their first Ivy League championship.
Yet Curry is not your average "football player." He has a remarkable aptitude for the piano and was enrolled in seven courses at the time of his "academic violations." Albert Einstein might have found himself enveloped in similar problems if he had committed himself to a similar schedule. Who wants to spend a spring taking seven courses?
Why is it that wide receivers seem to be such a different breed? Perhaps it is because of their position in the game's structure. Even more than the quarterback, the wide receiver is aloof from the battles of the "trenches" and the sharp impacts that characterize the game. Instead, the wide receiver darts through the battling titans and if he captures the ball, their battles are rendered relatively meaningless.
The knowledgeable fan watches to see if Bernieri is reading the B.U. crossblock properly while the usual dolt in the stands is silently or verbally coercing Kubacki to "heave it long." The wide receiver is somehow above the nitty-gritty of the game. His position is one of free form and imagination in a game of percentages and execution by form. Perhaps for these reasons, the wide receiver stands apart in the game and their personalities seem to follow in the same vein of uniqueness.
By the way, Curry's replacement in the lineup is junior Lawrence Hobdy, who, like Curry, has speed, and who floats across the field with the same seemingly effortless flow. One player remarked that Hobdy's grace and skill reminded him of Paul Warfield; an extreme judgement of Hobdy's abilities, but nonetheless we have been alerted. We're watching for you, Larry--on the field and on the campus.