“ I broke my arm with the Steelers in 1945 and they said, “You can still kick.” And they kept me for kicking, and look at the record books. I made four out of four in 1945. The team was a poor team and they didn’t score much, and they didn’t kick much. So I came home and quit football. Jock Sutherland came out as the new coach and wrote a letter and wanted me to come back. I said, “No,” and I opened a sporting goods store in Anaheim and moved to Long Beach. After I came home, the Hollywood Bears called and said, “Would you kick for us?” And I said, “Yeah, if I just kick. I am not gonna play.” They said, “OK.” Well I kicked 15 field goals and the Rams called me, the Redskins called me, and the L.A. Dons were just forming and they called me and I signed with the L.A. Dons. And I broke the records and everything, and kicked a 53-yarder, which was a league record. It still is because the league folded up.
But anyway, I did real well and when the league folded, the Giants called me. So I go back to New York and my wife wouldn’t stay at New York, so in ’54 and then ’55 I said, “I want to fly back and forth.” And they said, “Well, come back here.” And I went back and kicked for them. Then in ’56 I held out and wouldn’t go back and forth. So finally they let me go back and forth after Gifford missed a field goal. He kicked the ball and hit the center’s ass with the ball. His own center. And the ball rolled back and Cleveland picked the ball for a touchdown. I think it was Bob Gain, took the ball. I think they tied Cleveland, and Gifford went to Wellington Mara and said, “Hell, if we tie Cleveland, Jimmy Brown and them, we can win the championship. Bring Ben back, I can’t kick, I can’t do everything.” So I flew back and forth every week and helped them out and we won the championship.
And you know what? We had a big reunion 20 years later in ’76, then in ’96 we had another reunion. We all went back to New York and I sat way in the back and Gifford has the microphone, and Sam Huff gets up and tells how he knocked Jimmy Brown out-of-bounds and fore-armed him. Everybody’s bragging and talking, and I’m sitting way back there. Somebody said, “Why don’t you say something?” I said, “No, I’m nobody.” If it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t be there. I knew that. The way I kicked several field goals that were instrumental in winning, and we won the championship by one game, the playoffs, then we went into the championship and beat the Bears on an ice-frozen field. Even there I kicked two field goals on an ice field that you couldn’t walk on. I had one tennis shoe and one kicking shoe without any cleats. I took the cleats off and I did just a little one-step kick, and boom, kicked a 34-17, two field goals. I think the 40-something was as good as any 60-yarder anywhere. But in the field and weather and everything like that, that just made us roll. And we beat them 47-7. But I got no credit because the newspaper people don’t give a damn about kickers. I kept saying things will change, I kept saying, “Everybody will have a kicker.” I went 10 years as the only guy kicking. Everybody was a player-kicker. But evidently I had the talent that they wanted, and if people wanted me, I’d go. I’d go for nothing. I never argued about salary. My first salary was $200 a game, with the Eagles. And you know what? I got married back in Philadelphia and I bought a ring and I bought a little car, and drove home, all on the $200 a game. My room was $5 a week. So I didn’t need any money. That takes care of half of your questions.”
|... with Ben's passing I wonder now who has the mantle of being "the oldest living Giant"?|