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Jim Curry '78, Harvard's star wide receiver who caught a severe disappointment when he was not drafted by any National Football League team this spring, may get a chance to play in the pros after all.
The New York Giants signed Curry to a contract of undisclosed terms last Thursday, Vinnie Swerc, assistant to the Giants' general manager, said yesterday.
"It's been a good week," Curry said yesterday, "between signing last week and graduation, I feel pretty happy."
Curry said Harvard football coach Joe Restic contacted the Giants earlier in the spring and aroused their interest in him.
"I'm very pleased about it. Jim has wanted the opportunity, and the Giants are a good club for him to go to, because they're looking for help at wide receiver," Restic said yesterday.
"I think Curry is a fine athlete, and he comes from a program that's very prooriented in that Restic uses one of the most complex aerial offenses in the nation," Tom Merino, the Giants' regional scout who looked Curry over, said yesterday.
Merino said he did not know the terms of Curry's contract, but speculated that it is probably a three-year deal.
In his Harvard career, Curry caught 68 passes for 1268 yards and ten touchdowns, and punted for a 35.1 yard average. He stands second on Harvard's all-time list in catches and total yardage.
The receiver played only one game during his junior year, sitting out the rest of the season because of academic difficulties.
Restic said he was not sure if Curry's year off prevented him from being selected in the regular 12-round draft.
"It's hard to tell," Restic said "Take Russ Francis [the New England Patriots' tight end], for example. He was out of school for a year, he even dropped football, and still the Pats drafted him number one."
"I don't think that was really a factor," Merino noted.
Ivy League-bred players are few and far between in the NFL, although Harvard currently has two alumni lacing up the cleats in the big time--Danny Jiggets '76 with the Chicago Bears and Pat McInally '75 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Nonetheless, there is something of a stigma upon a footballer from an Ivy League school.
"The only reason they feel that way is because of the lack of spring practice in the Ivies. But I know that if they stick with Jimmy through the training season, he'll do the job for them," Restic said.
Curry said the Ivy stigma has deepened in the past several years, despite the advent of more Ivy League players in the NFL.
"They only drafted one player from the Ivy League this year. The attitude of most people is that the calibre of talent isn't that good here. The scouts should take a better look at the Ivies and at the whole New England region," Curry said.
Merino, who scouted for the Bears and the late World Football League before working for the Giants, dismissed the Ivy League stigma as "malarkey."
"There are not too many Ivy players around, but you never know. Sometimes you hit a sleeper," Swerc said. "Curry's a smart player and he seems to be a smart guy," he added.
"There's no question in my mind that I can make the team. They're very young at wide receiver, and I just want to get in there and give it my best shot," Curry said.
Merino was not sure whether Curry will make the Giants' roster, but he sounded an optimistic note: "He's really impressed me as a college receiver, and he'll lend some class to the Giants."
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