Fame and Flame
A couple of football warhorses ended their Harvard careers in appropriate ways a few weeks ago.
The ancient Soldiers Field press box, nemesis of sportswriters and broad-casters and, really, no better protection against chilling wind than a tent of Saran, tumbled down in flames torched by a well-intentioned (and reporter-funded?) arsonist.
Soon after, a Crimson stalwart who has been on our minds since passing for 250 yards in one half against Colgate three years ago was plucked from the halls of Lowell House by another Boston-area institution, the New England Patriots, who may want to employ him as their quarterback in a year or two.
"I'm just now starting to come back down to earth a little bit," said Brian Buckley, the only signal-caller picked by the Pats in last month's NFL draft, and a "real prospect," according to coach Ron Erhardt.
Buckley journeyed to Schaefer Stadium yesterday for a Patriots press conference. "I've never seen anything like it; the Globe and Herald and everybody who covers the team were there," said Buckley, who, unlike the late pressbox, hasn't gotten used to attention from such luminaries. Despite his sparkling 1980 campaign, the Marblehead native didn't receive the serious consideration he deserved by the national media, especially after the loss to Yale that put a damper on the successful season.
Some of the finest reporters in the nation have noticed the press box, on the other hand. Our own man over the river last year, Jeff Toobin, claimed the departed structure supplied the journalists with "too much wind." However, he also said that about some of the journalists.
But back to Buckley, who right now is one of four quarterbacks on the New England roster, along with ailing Steve Grogan, Matt Cavanaugh and possible free-agent Tom Owen. The mathematics aren't bad: "Erhardt says he wants to go with three quarterbacks," Buckley said, "and if Owen leaves there may be a spot. This seems to be the ideal situation, and if I show them what I can do, maybe I can catch on."
Coming from the Ivy League, Buckley wasn't too sure how he fit in on the national level. "I though maybe I should forget about it when I hadn't heard by 3 p.m. on draft day," he said, "But then I called home and got the news. I was kind of surprised it was the Patriots, because I flew to Dallas and New York for physicals for those clubs and they seemed more interested."
As it turned out, Buckley was rated as one of the few area players with propotential. "When I found that out, it really spurred me on," he said. "Those guys know their stuff, they don't fool around, and if they think I can make it. I should be able to."
So, this fall Buckley will try studies of a different kind--like a playbook six inches thick. "There's so much to learn mentally, and you have to get that down before you start with the physical," he said. "Any pro offense will look complicated to any rookie but I won't have to worry about academics so I'll have time to concentrate. Hopefully, they'll invest their time in me."
But just ask Harvard coach Joe Restic about investing time in Buckley. The senior sat for a frustrating three years with few chances besides the Colgate game to show his skill, before making it big last season.
And speaking of investing, with any luck the athletic department will take this perfect opportunity to equip Soldiers Field with a press box of the new, modern type--maybe model it after the Astrodome. That would be an investment in good publicity, because comfortable, well-fed reporters will surely make the Brian Buckley's of the future look better in the papers the next day.