Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sonny Jurgensen and Me

I commuted to Penn every day from September 1957 until I graduated in June 1961 and then got my MA in 1962. I parked in the lot at 33rd and Walnut. The Philadelphia Eagles practiced at Franklin Field and also parked in the same parking lot. I crossed paths with the football players only once.

The parking lot attendant, a Penn employee, was small, wiry, pleasant, and very protective of me - for some reason. One late afternoon, as I headed to my 1954 blue and white Oldsmobile, he hurried over to me. "The Eagles football players are leaving now. You be careful. Especially be careful of Sonny Jurgensen." I said sure, and didn't have any idea what he was talking about. I later learned that Sonny Jurgensen had a reputation as a womanizer. What did I know? I was a senior at Penn and had my head in the books, my research, and my plans for graduate school.

Then, the attendant who had decided that I needed protection, pointed out the tall red-headed man that was walking with a group of other great big men. "That's him," he said. And then, this little man strutted over to the group of great big professional football players, stood right in Jurgenson's space, pointed to me, and told him, in no uncertain terms, to leave me alone. I got in my car and went home but I did take a quick glance behind me and saw the tall redhead shaking his head in wonderment.

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