Jamestowner Makes NFL Playoff
By Hugh Brown
December 6, 1960
Me?.... I Wasn't Mad At Anyone -- McCusker
(Editor's Note -- Hugh Brown of The Evening Bulletin at Philadelphia comes up with a witty on Jim McCusker, Jamestown, who plays a stout tackle spot for the Philadelphia Eagles, winners of the National Football League's Eastern Divisional title Sunday. McCusker, the first Jamestown man to ever play with a major Pro team, will now be in his first National Football League playoff.)
PHILADEPLPHIA -- Many years ago, when this journalistic migrant was composing headlines for the Cops and Robbers Department, the man in charge would glance at the phrase, "Suspect Sought in Slaying," glare at the offender, scrub out the word "Suspect" and substitute "Fiend."
"Fiend, fiends," he would scream from under his green eye-shade. "Its got guts, its got gore, its got class. Besides, it's two and a half units shorter." (A unit is a headline measurement, one unit for the s and u, one-half for the i and t.)
Later, when the migrant crossed over to the Department of Sweaty Heroics, the word "fiend" was as useless as a chaperon at a beatnik bash. But, ah, in this new, wonderful world of fantasy and fleeting fame, there was another word, connoting even more guts and gore and class... "Avenge."
"Slobsky Hurls No Hitter, Avenges Self on Ex-Mates"... or "Blimpsky Runs 70 yards To Avenge Old Score."
Well, did Jim McCusker have any old scores to avenge Sunday? And how about those ex-mates? Cleat holes in their kissers, maybe?
Happy Over Change
"I was the happiest lad in the world when the Cardinals sent me to the Eagles," McCusker responded. "I could have kissed Mumbles (Wolfner) and Pop (Ivy) and Stormy (Bidwill) for doing it. But don't get me wrong. I had no love in my heart on Sunday. How can you love anybody who stands between you and $5,000.?"
In 1958, the Cardinals, then in Chicago, loved McCusker dearly. They made him their No. 2 draft choice from the University of Pittsburgh, just behind John David Crow, from Texas A. & M.
"It was also Ivy's first year as a coach," McCusker said, "and we had at least 14 rookies on the squad. We were very impressionable. It was bad enough when the Giants beat us 20-7 on a flock of fumbles. But when the Eagles came along a week later and tied us 21-21 with 30 seconds to go, it killed us. That was the one in which Bobby Gordon ran the ball out of the end zone on fourth down instead of kicking and missed the first down by two yards.
Four Over Cards
Last year, McCusker was traded to the Eagles, along with Jerry Wilson and Tom Catlin, for Jerry Norton. Thus far, McCusker has participated in four straight victories over the Cardinals. Has he noticed any difference in them since he performed with them, and what is the difference between playing left tackle for Pop Ivy and the same position for Buck Shaw?
"Well, they've got two years more experience," McCusker related, "and they got some pretty good players from the Rams for Ollie Matson. Most of their trouble when I was there was in their defensive secondary. Also, Crow was hurt most of the season. I'd have to say they are at least 50 per cent stronger. They're 5-5-1 now. When I was with them, they were 2-3-1.
"The offenses used by Ivy and Shaw are different. With Ivy's offense, you've got to hold your blocks longer because the half-backs have to come over from the wings. The nomenclature (numbers for calling plays) is also different. But how could I have been going out to St. Louis to avenge anything? The Cardinals paid me well, treated me well, and we (the Eagles) have beaten them six straight."
Off the field, that's the way McCusker is -- the handsome, soft-spoken, unconceited type. When Eagle line coach Nick Skorich saw him in his first practice scrum at Hershey, he said, "he's a nice big, strong boy, but he doesn't seem to have that mean streak." Two plays later, McCusker was snarling and ramming his fist into the space between the bicuspids in a veteran's gum line.
Makes Hole, Follows Play
"He's only 24," said Skorich of the Eagles' No. 75, "and he's going to be one of the best offensive tackles around. He's always following the play up. In a draw play, for instance, he'll gouge out the hole, then try to catch up with the ball carrier to give him more blocking."
McCusker wouldn't specify how he went from Jamestown, N.Y., High School to the so-called Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, but he intimidated that the best offer got him. Pitt's line coach, Jack Wylie, always fancied McCusker on defense, so it isn't strange that the Eagles fancy him there too when the goal line's virtue is being defended.
The subject, himself, was asked if he had any other athletic abnormality, aside from having no interest in avenging himself on anybody.
"Yes, he said, "I have always been a tackle. Never anything else."