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New Giant Running Back Is No Giant

Apr. 14, 1964 - Dick James (pictured), the New York Giants’ newest running back, is no giant. He stands 5-9 and weights 182 pounds, thus sharing with Pat Fischer the designation as the NFL’s smallest player. Fischer, of St. Louis, is one inch taller and 15 pounds lighter.

Much will be expected of James next season. He will attempt to justify the Giants’ big trade which sent Sam Huff, a resident hero of Yankee Stadium, to Washington for Andy Stynchula and James. Dick is supposed to run like the wind and, in theory, would give the Giants the backfield speed Coach Allie Sherman insists the team must have.

“I know I’m going to be on the spot,” James said today. “But I welcome the chance to try and play for the New York Giants.”

With James, Sherman will be bucking a trend. The favorite pro football coaching concept in the last five years has been that of the “elephant” backfield — the combination of two big bruisers who run over, not around, opponents. Vince Lombardi of Green Bay started it with Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in 1959.

Today, James assessed his abilities.

“I can’t run over people like Jimmy Brown. But I can hit, and I can block. The Redskins occasionally had their backs blocking defensive ends on pass plays. I’ve blocked Marchetti and lived to tell about it.” Gino Marchetti of Baltimore, 6-4 and 245 pounds, has been widely regarded as the best pass rusher in pro football history.

James’s forte has been his versatility rather than ground-gaining.

He explained: “I’ve never had a chance to be a running back. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Every single season with the Redskins I finished training camp as a running back. Then someone got hurt, and I had to fill a hole at split end or flanker back, or at safety or cornerback on defense. I’ve played both ways every season. When Joe Kuharich was coach, I was a starter on both offense and defense.”

He asked when training camp opened and was told July 13.

“I can hardly wait,” he said. “Neither can Stynchula. It’s a little discouraging here in Washington. The fans get to booing, and the acoustics in the D.C. Stadium are excellent.”

Stynchula, at 248 pounds, will replace either Dick Modzelewski at left tackle or Andy Robustelli at right end on defense. He was a defensive end exclusively at Washington.

“For the Giants,” said Stynchula, “I’ll play anywhere.”

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