State of the Hogs: Aspirin Man

Billy Joe Moody goes into the UA Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night. He was a nasty, hard-hitting fullback/monster man for the Hogs during the glory time of UA football.

The line in the Orville Henry column from 1962 says it all: "Billy Joe Moody is the kind of fullback a coach wants if you are going in on the goal line, or coming out."

Think about it. Defenses are stacked and the collisions are intense. There have been fancy terms for that area of the field, including the current favorite, Red Zone.

Really, it ought to be the hitting zone. Or, maybe the victory zone, where games are won and lost.

It's where Billy Joe made his living. That's why he's going into the University of Arkansas Hall of Honor tonight.

Moody was a fullback and monster man, the old term for strong safety. In those days, the monster was more of a run stopper than a pass defender. It was a position for hitters, just like fullback.

If ever there was a glory era at Arkansas, it was during Moody's time. He lettered in 1960-62. The Hogs finished in the top 10 all three years, played in the Cotton Bowl in 1960, and in the Sugar his final two seasons.

He spent his afternoons blocking for Lance Alworth, George McKinney, Paul Dudley, Billy Moore, and others.

Moody will thank all of those during his speech tonight. And, he'll look up when he speaks of his late wife Rosemary, the UA Homecoming Queen of 1962, who passed one year ago today.

"She would enjoy this," Moody said Thursday. "I think she will be looking down Friday night, smiling."

They first met in a hotel lobby after the 1961 Sugar Bowl. She was there with someone else, but he promised to call her when they returned to Fayetteville. They were married after the 1962 season, before the next Sugar Bowl.

During the courtship, teammate Tommy Brasher talked Moody into taking a dance class.

"Rosemary was in that class," Moody said. "I was not much on dancing, but that was a good move ... except I sure stepped on her toes a bunch."

They called Moody the Aspirin Man because he specialized in handing out headaches, with blocks or tackles.

"I'm pretty sure that came from Wilson Matthews," Moody said. "We were having the team meeting before some game. I think it was about over and it was asked if anyone had anything to say. I said, ‘Lets go pass out some headaches.' Wilson jumped sky high. I think he liked that."

Moody's favorite game was the 1960 victory over Texas A&M, the first of four straight victories to clinch the SWC title.

"I liked the A&M games the most anyway," Moody said. "They were the most like us, they really hit like us."

Moody played almost every snap and scored the game's only TD.

"I think it was from 13 yards out," he said. "I remember Billy Moore telling me the hole was big enough to drive a truck through as we went off the field.

"I can remember fumbling the ball earlier. They had a big linebacker who played in the pros. He knocked it loose. The very next play, he carried it and I knocked it from him. That's when we went down to score."

He'll always remember the time he subbed for Wayne "The Thumper" Harris.

"The coaches had said that if Wayne ever got hurt, there was no one to take his place," Moody said. "It was Baylor week when that was discussed. I think it was Wilson or maybe Jim Mackenzie suggested to Coach (Frank) Broyles that maybe I could.

"So that week in practice, they put me in at linebacker for Wayne. I'd run a bunch of plays there and then (assistant coach) Steed White put Wayne in to give me a rest. Coach Broyles was up in his tower and he started hollering, ‘Put Moody back in, put Moody back in.' Steed was next to me and said, ‘Do you hear some static from up there?' I started laughing and went back in.

"Sure enough against Baylor, Wayne got kicked in the head and had to come out. I went in. How many plays, I'm not sure. But they got Wayne's senses straight and he was right back. Wayne was like a rattlesnake. He hit you and you were going backwards."

Moody was drafted by the AFL, but was signed by the Los Angeles Rams. The North Little Rock product made the team in summer camp, but decided L.A. wasn't the place for him.

"The general manager was Elroy ‘Crazy Legs' Hirsch. I guess I had a mental lapse because I wanted to go home. I went to see Hirsch and he told me I'd regret it all my life. They won the championship two years later. I wish I'd stayed."

There are good memories of the trip to L.A. He recalls a dinner at the Brown Derby with the scout who signed him.

"We sat across the table from Jane Russell, the actress," Moody said. "I couldn't hardly eat for staring at her."

Moody called Alworth the best player in the nation and said it was an honor to block for him. "He was better than everyone as a passer, runner, receiver, return man and punter. He was a great baseball player, too. He had pro baseball offers when he finished college."

Baseball was Moody's passion, too. He didn't pick Arkansas until Broyles promised he could play both.

Baseball wasn't a big deal on campus then. Admission was free.

"Only people there were the other football players and our girl friends," Moody said. "But we loved it."

Football wasn't always fun. The tackling drills with Wilson Matthews at the controls were just brutal.

"His one-on-one drills were tough," Moody said. "He made you hit. No one hit like us in the SWC, except maybe A&M, but we could outhit them. You didn't arm tackle and play for Coach Matthews. We hit hard. That's the way Razorbacks played, he told us. And, we played that way."

That's the way Billy Joe Moody played.

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