NEW YORK (AP) – Dicky Maegle clearly recalls everything about his trip toward the end zone in the 1954 Cotton Bowl: dashing around right end, faking out future NFL star Bart Starr, breaking free for what would’ve been a 95-yard gallop.
And then getting nailed by a player who came flying off the bench.
Maegle gladly retold the story Monday night of those sideline shenanigans, shortly after a New York Jets assistant coach was suspended and fined for tripping a Miami Dolphins player.
“I saw that play yesterday and I thought, ‘I know how he feels, it happened to me,’” the 76-year-old Maegle told The Associated Press from his home in Katy, Texas.
“You can’t be too sympathetic with those clowns,” the former Rice halfback said. “If a guy can’t compose himself, then he doesn’t belong on the sidelines.”
Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll was running down the field, out of bounds, while covering a punt. Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi stuck out his left knee and sent Carroll sprawling. Carroll was down on the ground for a few minutes, and later returned to the game.
The Jets suspended Alosi for the rest of the season, including playoffs, and fined him $25,000.
“He’s lucky he wasn’t banned for life,” Maegle said. “That guy could’ve broken his legs. I could’ve been paralyzed.”
“You put those chalk lines on the field for a reason. You’ve got to keep your butt behind them. That just can’t be tolerated,” he said.
Already a college star, Maegle became a national figure after Alabama’s Tommy Lewis made the infamous hit. The play still draws viewers on YouTube, with more sure to watch now.
Rice led 7-6 in the second quarter when Maegle took off on a sweep. He juked as he turned the corner and Starr, who became an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, had no chance in the Alabama secondary.
“Bart once told me I wouldn’t have been famous if he hadn’t missed me,” Maegle said.
Maegle sprinted up the sideline and had a clear path. Or so he thought. Lewis, without a helmet, lunged from a few yards off the field and crashed into Maegle, knocking him down hard. Lewis then immediatey went back to the bench and sat down.
“I didn’t know what hit me,” Maegle said.
The officials awarded Maegle a touchdown, one of his three TDs in the game. He set a then-Cotton Bowl record with 265 yards rushing as Rice romped 28-6. Lewis, Alabama’s starting fullback, scored the Crimson Tide’s touchdown.
At halftime, Lewis found Maegle and put his arm around him.
“I couldn’t hardly get off the field, he was crying and apologizing so much and hanging on me,” Maegle said. “He just kept saying, ‘I was so full of Alabama, I couldn’t let you score.’”
A couple days later, Maegle said, he and Lewis appeared together on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“That was all right, until I found out they’d booked me and him to stay in a hotel room together at the Waldorf,” Maegle said. “I got Mr. Sullivan off to the side and told him I wasn’t so sure about that. I told him that he’d just come off the sideline to tackle me. I said I was afraid he might wake up in the middle of a nightmare and throw me out the window.
“Mr. Sullivan took care of it and got us separate rooms,” he said.
Maegle went by the name “Moegle” when the play occurred. A few years later, he got it changed to make it read the way it was pronounced.
Maegle went on to play in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. To this day, though, it was that sideline hit that stirs conversation.
“I don’t ever get tired of talking about it. People have such a curiosity about it,” he said. “No one had ever seen anything like it.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.