There's a lot of difference between the spoken and the written word, and if you don't believe it go listen to one of the genial, not-too-soft-spoken gents who make their living beating the drums for college football teams around the countryside, listen to them talk and go off by yourself and read one of their effusive press releases. You wouldn't think the man was talking about the same bunch of pigskin pushers.
Whenever one of the athletically minded public relations men can get you alone, provided you show even the barest courtesy, he'll yammer at you for as long as you'll let him on what a great team he has coming up this fall. As early in the year as July, he's ready to tell you about the men who are going to run ring around all comers in October and November.
"Now look at this kid Brown we've got," he'll start off. "He's one of the greatest natural passers and runners I ever saw. Better than Bertelli. And Fast? . . . at school he ran the hundred in 9.6. Two years in the Army have really filled him out, and if Brown doesn't make All-American this fall something's sure wrong." That's the beginning. A good tub thumper has the same story on everyone who has even looked at a football suit.
So you so home and start to wonder if maybe you aren't going to have a pretty rugged time in the fall.
Then, by way of the U. S. Mail (which has rules about perpetrating frauds) the press releases come in. Try and find something about this guy Brown. Go ahead, try. This is what you find, "Among the candidates for backfield posts are: Brown, Campbell, Howard, Leonard, Mackewitz, . . . Brown is fast, and while he may not yet be ready, after two years in the Armed services, he has shown some promise of development." So where has this All-American got to?
The drummers are cagey, that's all Brown might be an ace and he might be a flop, but whatever happens the press agent is covered. And in case Brown doesn't show so well, there's nothing on paper to throw up against the publicity department.
"But you should see this kid Smith that's back after three years in the Navy. Why, he's. . ."
Exceptions do seep through every once in a while, though. This week Dartmouth football publicity went overboard for a pair of ends, Mo Monahan and George Rusch, who, if you want to believe the written word, should both be out earning a living for their poor mothers with the Chicago Bears, instead of hanging around Hanover. Superlatives drip from a page and a half of purple prose, but before the final period was inscribed on the release, the more cautious of the writers had his covering sentence. "No matter how superior Holy Cross proves to be against a Dartmouth team that unquestionably has its weaknesses. . ." Right there they cover themselves. Not on ends Monahan and Rusch the release sticks to them right through--but with a little wedge like that a fast talker can do almost anything.
From the Crimson's first opponent this year, Connecticut, comes a cautiously worded spate of pre-season dope. "Head Coach J. O. Christian has used several backfield combinations during the past week in an effort to assemble his most effective unit for the opener against Harvard." This notably tough team, is made tougher by the presence of a Mr. Trojanowski, who played fullback for Connecticut Huskies last year, and was at season's end, conceded to be one of the finer backs in New England. So what do they say about him? "Wall Trojanokski is set for a starting role. . ."
Most modest of the pre-season tip sheets to come this way so far is one from the Coast Guard Academy. It might be because the Coast Guard doesn't have very much to talk about from last season, having been unable to win a single game, but it might be that a press agent has gotten his fingers is the pie and has gone all over modest. They appointed a new head coach there this spring and four 200 pound tackles are listed on their roster. They might have something.
You never can tell with press agents.