Tom Callahan is a walking cliche.
The 6-ft., 6-in., 270-lb. Harvard football captain is the Big Man on Campus. A gentle giant off the field.
On the field, and at the Boat-house Bar where he bounces, he's completely different. He becomes consumed with intensity and he focuses on the game at hand.
"He leads by example," teammate John Sparks said. "It's so cliche, but that's what he does. he gets out on the field and does it."
He is the first offensive tackle named captain in eight years. He is a silent soldier on the gridiron who sees himself as a leader on the field--not in the locker room.
"I try not to say too much because I'm not very good at it," Callahan said. "I try to get it done on the field. If you're whipping people on the field, the guys will see that and that gets more 'spec' than stumbling over words."
Callahan was first and foremost a basketball player until he got to Harvard. He played some football, but hated being placed on the line "with all the slow uncoordinated guys"--the guys who got no 'spec.'
Callahan attended Weston High School, just outside Boston, where he captained the hoops team and played some football, too. He then continued his athletic prowess during a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy before joining the Crimson's freshman football squad--and the Harvard Classics club basketball team--in 1987.
Callahan will never forget the Classics' 1988 meeting with Walpole State Penitentiary inmates. After a mandatory strip search, he received some advice from a prison guard.
"He said, `If a riot breaks out, keep your head down and run for the door. You better be quick because I'm not gonna wait for you,'" Callahan recalled.
Playing center, Callahan had to cover a 6-ft., 9-in., 370-lb. Rastafarian named "Kool Mo Green". Green had "Kool" tattooed onto one hand, "Mo" engraved on the other. Needless to say, the Classics were victorious and there was no riot.
On the gridiron, Callahan has followed the guard's advice during his time with the varsity--he's quick, he keeps his head down and he knocks opponents off the line. He was able to apply some of hisbasketball skills, chiefly quickness, to hisfootball position.
"Over four years, Tom Callahan has developedmore than any other player," defensive end JohnBrzezenski said.
Lately, there has even been talk of a future inprofessional football for Callahan. Various NFLteams have already taken a look at the tackle.
"If I wanted to go pro, I'd have to make it thenumber one priority in my life," Callahan said."I'd have to work on my speed and gain 20 to 30pounds. Then I might get a shot at it."
For now, Callahan would rather concentrate onhis goals for immediate future. In descendingorder, he would like to win an Ivy leaguechampionship, stay healthy and win games.
Callahan singles out Yale, Princeton and HolyCross as priority matchups for his team. Yale forobvious reasons, Princeton because he has neverbeaten the Tigers and Holy Cross because of theCrusaders' poor sportsmanship--Callahan has beenangered by their propensity to run up the scorewhile walking over the Crimson. In their lastmeeting, Holy Cross tried an onside kick whileleading by more than 40 points.
Callahan and the Crimson may have their workcut out for them this fall. But how hard can IvyLeague football be after you've battled under theboards with Kool Mo Green