Colts Alumni Interview: Ray Brown, Part 2

Ray Brown of the 1958 Colts championship team continues his conversation with ColtPower's Ed Thompson, talking about being Johnny Unitas' roomate, head coach Weeb Ewbank, the Colts defense, and much more!

Q: What was it like playing at Memorial Stadium during your career? 

Ray Brown: Nice stadium, nice field. It was something a lot of football teams did back then; played in the city's baseball stadium. It was special because it was Baltimore, but nothing really about the stadium.

Q: What do you remember most vividly about the 1958 Championship Game? 

RB: I remember still having a small cast on my hand from the San Francisco game. As far as the game, I remember most vividly a pass that was caught on the other side of the field from me and I was in pursuit. I caught the receiver at about the same time someone else did and we knocked the ball loose. I'll be darned the ball hit the ground, bounced right back up and along comes a guy, I think it was Alex Webster of the Giants, and he picked it up and ran it down inside the five-yard line. We knocked that ball loose only to have it bounce right back up into a Giants player's hands. 

Q: Tell us a bit about your fellow starters in the Colts secondary back in 1958 and 1959 ... 

RB: Andy Nelson, Carl Taseff and Milt Davis [the other starters in the secondary] were great guys and very suited to their roles. Andy had good speed, range and good hands. Taseff was kind of short and stocky but he was tough, he would go up in there and take them on. Milt Davis was a good interceptor, so it was a good secondary and we were definitely aided by the defensive line of "Big Daddy" Lipscomb, Artie Donovan and Gino Marchetti and Don Joyce. They put pressure on the quarterbacks, which helped the defensive backs.

Q: Who was the one guy on the Colts defense that the rest of the defense looked to for leadership on the field? 
RB: There was no one that stood out as a verbal or vocal leader. But you certainly couldn't help but take some leadership out of the performance out of a guy like Gino Marchetti, for example, who was one of the best defensive ends to ever play the game. Artie Donovan was always solid, consistent and tough. There was no one that stood out as "hey he's the leader of this defense," we just talked each other up, but the performances of Gino and Artie in particular stood out.

Q: What was it like to be Johnny Unitas' backup?

RB: Well, it was interesting. It was awesome to watch him; he was such a steady performer without making a big noise about it. But I was also his on-the-road roommate. They put the quarterbacks together on the assumption they would talk about the offense and the game plan and help each other. He was a wonderful guy to room with, nice and easygoing. We would have late-night bed checks, so we would go for a nightly snack in a room with hamburgers, food and beer. And after we ate, John would be signing autographs for some kids in the lobby -- and you'd almost have to pull him away [because of the bed checks]. But he would say he's signing autographs and being nice to people. He was a super-nice guy. 

Q: Unitas had a competitive fire, but he was also very level headed. Many times you couldn't even tell when he had made a great play versus when something wasn't going well out there on the field for him. Was he like that on a personal level, as a roommate, did you see much of a change in him after a loss versus after a win?

RB: No, he was very even-tempered with a consistently good attitude. I notice that the Manning boys, Eli and Peyton, have somewhat that same reputation, very steady. 

Q: What was it like playing for Weeb Ewbank? 

RB: He was different from any coach I had had before. He was a detailed person, not much of a loud talker. He didn't yell at you out on the field. When he said something to say to you it was not in a loud voice. To some extent, among the Colts, there were some characteristics the others didn't like. It had to do with a perception that he would tell a player one thing and do another -- or would do something without adequately communicating, according to some of the guys. But he won, and that's the main thing.

Keep checking in at ColtPower for the final installment of this series in which Ray will give his thoughts on the many eventual Hall of Famers he played with during his career in Baltimore.

Note: Article photo provided by the Indianapolis Colts and is used with permission.

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