If things don't go well for the Giants in the first half of their Super Bowl showdown with the Buffalo Bills in Tampa Stadium tomorrow, and if Coach Bill Parcells decides some halftime inspiration is in order, he could do worse than to ask the lads to go out there and win one for Big Al Blozis.
If things really look bad, he could even invoke the memory of Jack Lummus.
Neither is a household name, but at a time when the National Football League championship game is being played against the backdrop of a nation at war, appeals in the names of Blozis and Lummus would seem to be especially appropriate, in the Giant locker room or a Saudi Arabian bivouac. Brief, Memorable Careers
By some reckonings, at least, the Giants -- and the nation -- owe one to Blozis, the huge lineman who gave his all to the team during the 1942 and 1943 seasons and then gave his life for his country in World War II.
There is a similar debt to Lummus, a promising receiver from Baylor who never had a chance to go beyond his rookie season in 1941. He, too, was killed in action before he could fulfill his promise as a player.
Of course, before he gives his halftime speech, Parcells might just have to be briefed first.
The coach was not born until just before the 1941 season, the only one in which Lummus played, and was barely a year old when Blozis, a 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound tackle, charged through the Washington line during a memorable 1942 rookie performance against the Redskins, stretched out one long arm and slung Slinging Sammy Baugh to the ground. Two Deaths in 1945
Parcells was only 2 years old when Blozis roared through the 1943 season with enough intensity to make an all-league team, and he was a toddler of 3 when Second Lieut. Alfred C. Blozis was cut down by German machine gun fire on Jan. 31, 1945, and when First Lieut. Jack Lummus died on Iwo Jima a month later.
The only member of the Giants' organization old enough to recall the two war heroes can't be of much help to Parcells.
"I was in the service myself," Wellingon Mara, the team's 75-year-old owner, said the other day, recalling that he had seen little of Lummus during the player's single Giants season as a substitute end, and that he was in the Navy during the brief Blozis era.
Even so, Mara well recalls what Parcells's predecessor Steve Owen said about the ferocious tackle, a Georgetown all-American who had also set a series of national and world records in the shot-put by the time he joined the Giants.
"I remember his exact words," Mara said. "He said, 'He'll be the best tackle who ever put on a pair of shoes.' " 'Could Have Been Greatest'
Someone with a better memory of Blozis is Mel Hein, the center who joined the Giants out of Washington State in 1931 and stayed through the 1945 season.
"If he hadn't been killed, he could have been the greatest tackle who ever played football," the 81-year-old Hein said yesterday from his home in California, where one of his proudest possessions, the Lieutenant Al Blozis Memorial Trophy for Sportsmanship, which Hein was awarded in 1945, is on display on his mantle.
Hein, who recalled Blozis as an "amiable fellow," has special credentials when it comes to assessing his former teammate. In those days, when an hourlong football game meant 60 minutes' work, Hein backed up the line behind Blozis on defense and usually played right beside him on offense when the Giants lined up in their favored A-formation, an unbalanced variation of the single wing.
"I felt comfortable having him next to me," Hein recalled. "He was real strong and real fast."
So fast, in fact, that on Giant kickoffs, Blozis was often 10 yards ahead of his nearest teammate when he brought down the ballcarrier. 'All Over the Field'
"He made tackles all over the field," said Hein, who still marvels both at how good Blozis was as a rookie and how quickly he improved. "He was good his first year; the second year he was great."
Blozis, who was born in Garfield, N.J., and was a star athlete at Dickinson High School in Jersey City before going to Georgetown on a track scholarship, was regarded as the strongest player in professional football and had the physique to prove it. To see him naked in the dressing room was "an awe-inspiring sight," Arthur Daley once wrote in The New York Times.
Curiously, the very size that made him so intimidating on the football field kept him out of the military until late 1943, when, after repeated attempts, Blozis finally persuaded the Army to waive its size limit and accept him. It took further persuading to get from a desk job to the front lines. (During infantry training at Fort Benning in Georgia, Blozis, who had to give up the shot-put and the discus when he became a professional football player, established the Army hand grenade record with a toss of 94 yards 2 feet 6 1/2 inches.)
During his final furlough, in 1944, Blozis played in three games, including the championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 17. Two days later, he sailed for France.
A little over a month later, the man who always led his teammates down the field on kickoffs left his platoon behind and set off through hip-deep snow in the Vosges Mountains of France to find a missing sergeant and a private. He never returned. Medal-of-Honor Winner
Lummus, just a dim memory to Hein, never really had a chance to make his mark on the football field, but glory did not elude him. It just came at great cost.
On March 8, 1945, after a 48-hour rampage in which Lummus was credited with almost single-handedly wiping out three Japanese fortifications, the lieutenant, leading his Marine platoon on a charge against their final objective, shrugged off two hand grenade wounds and then stepped on a land mine.
The explosion tore off his legs, and Lummus instantly recognized the sigificance of the devastating wounds. As he told a startled surgeon before he died, "I guess the New York Giants have lost the services of a damned good end."
For his efforts, Lummus was awarded the Medal of Honor.
For his, Blozis became the stuff of legends.
Although newspaper accounts indicated that Blozis's body was never found, Joe McCluskey, a 79-year-old former distance runner who competed with Blozis for the New York Athletic Club, says he knows better.
"I heard he was hit 38 times," he said the other day. "He was a big target. He was so strong the first bullets weren't enough to kill him." Missing Plaques
Plaques in honor of the two players were once affixed to a wall at the Polo Grounds, but they were lost when the Giants moved to Yankee Stadium. Blozis's jersey number, 32, was permanently retired, which is why Ottis Anderson, No. 32 during his years with the Cardinals, wears No. 24 with the Giants.
While Giants fans may not remember Lummus, who is buried near his boyhood home in Ennis, Tex., he has not been entirely forgotten. In August, the Motor Vessel Lieutenant Jack Lummus, a 673-foot, 22,700-ton cargo ship, left its Guam station as part of a four-ship squadron that was delivering enough food, weapons and other provisions to the Persian Gulf to supply an expeditionary brigade of 16,500 Marines for a month.
The Bills weren't around during World War II, but if Coach Marv Levy needs to supply some halftime inspiration, he won't be entirely without resources. Bob Kalsu, a guard with the Bills in 1968, was the only N.F.L. player killed in Vietnam.