Joe Margolis and Pat Fleming give different accounts of their first meeting. Fleming remembers watching Margolis struggling to impress a female classmate in a long Freshman Union dinner line, then walking over, introducing himself, and offering some advice on dealing with women.
Margolis doesn't necessarily dispute that version, but he remembers another Freshman Week encounter more vividly.
"The first time I met Pat, we were both walking through the Yard late at night after we'd gone to some of those parties everyone has Freshman Week," he recalls. "We ran into each other and started talking about football, and asked each other what positions we played. When we both said 'defensive end,' we laughed and said 'Wouldn't it be great if we ended up being the two ends?"
Not long after the pair showed up at the first practice for the freshman team, they found 11 other Yardlings with similar ends in mind. But by the end of that freshman season, Fleming and Margolis had established themselves as the top ends in their class.
It would be another two years before they became fulltime partners on Harvard's varsity line and established themselves as the class ends in the Ivy League, but in the meantime Fleming and Margolis became a nearly inseparable duo.
At the conclusion of freshman year, the pair decided to room together Margolis had lived with offensive lineman Mike Corbat, while wingback Jim Garvey, had been Fleming's roommate, and the foursome grouped together with several other football players--for upperclass housing.
It's sort of natural that Joe and I spend time together. "Fleming says. "We have a lot of similar interests, and since we play the same position, we're always together on the field and we're always going to meetings together.
And as sophomores and juniors. Fleming and Margolis did a lot of waiting together Playing on Special terms, the two terrorized Crimson opponents, but until this year their experience on the line was limited to backing up older and more experienced players.
"It was very frustrating at times, because we felt we might be able to help the team more," Margolis says. "I can't sit here and say I should have played more and be objective, but at the time, that was how I felt. It really helped to have Pat to talk to, because we were going through the same thing, and it helped to have someone to suffer with."
Neither end denies, through, that his apprenticeship served a valuable purpose. "I never knew how important experience was," Fleming says. "You hear so much about how hard it is for rookies in the pros and you don't actually believe it. But there really is such a feel necessary for the game, and you don't have that right away."
"I made too many mistakes earlier," he continues. "Our coach emphasizes the idea of the 'discipline of the defense,' and when I first got here, he didn't think I played with discipline. He thought I played 'Fleming Football.'"
"He did play Fleming Football," agrees Crimson defensive coordinator George Clemens. "Both he and Margolis had a lot to learn. They were just like most players out of high school. They didn't really understand defensive concepts--they just thought you lined up and hit somebody.
"They've learned so much since they started out," he continues, "Joe used to be overly aggressive, and he's learned how to control that and use it to his advantage. And Pat, in his early years, was a little soft. That's not meant to be a knock. He was just so conscientious that sometimes he worried too much about making a mistake."
"Now Pat's gained so much confidence that he's one of the best ends in the league." Clemens adds quickly, though these days, no one calls Fleming soft.
A native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Fleming (6-ft 3-inches tall.235 pounds) has spent his last seven summer vacations working on rodeo grounds, helping prepare for Cheyenne Frontier Days, an annual festival during the last week of July that Fleming, compares with New Orleans' Mardi Gras.