FanPost

Crazy-Eyes Nomellini

Found this entertaining bit about Leo Nomellini, an old Niners great on the defensive line. It's George Plimpton interviewing his old Lions teammate, John Gordy. Kind of makes you realize what a terror Leo the Lion must have been:

"What sort of player is the toughest for an offensive lineman to play against?"

    Gordy settled himself in the chair opposite. "The quick ones," he said. "Like that Alex sleeping back there in the hotel. Or Art Donovan of the Colts. Leo Nomellini of the 49ers. He was a horror. One time in San Francisco, Earl Morrall, who was quarterbacking for us then, came out in the papers the day before the game and said that Leo Nomellini was over the hill. I gave this big yell when I read it, and I said, 'If you think he's over the hill, you go and play against him.' Nomellini was a raving maniac trying to get to Earl that afternoon. Of course, to get to him he had to get through me, and oh Christ!"


    "What could you do?"


    "You could just hope for the best," he said. "If you had to play against Leo or Donovan, one of those great cats, it meant that for five days before the game, from Tuesday on, it was very hard to sleep nights."


    He grimaced. "The worst thing about playing Leo Nomellini was that he had these eyes that crossed. He had no teeth either, and his mouth was always open, so that behind the bars of his helmet he looked like a death's head. But it was the eyes that were the worst -- those awful crossed eyes. Sometimes you can pick up from a guy's eyes where he's going to make his move; he'll flick a look, and you can read him. But Nomellini's! One one way, one the other. Hell, if you ever looked at those eyes, you could feel the strength drain out of your kneecaps -- like a sparrow facing up to a cobra. It was not a heartwarming sight."

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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