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Rumblings Book Review: By A Nose, by Smerlas and Curucci

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Another idea surfaced when I learned that Vero Beach was loaded with armadillos. I had never seen one before, except in pictures. And the only thing I knew about them was they looked like rats covered with shells. As soon as I found out they went absolutely crazy in a confined area, tearing up everything in sight, the prank alarm went off in my head.

"Couldn't you just imagine one of those things loose in somebody's room?" I asked Haz. We got Ritcher, and the three of us went on an armadillo hunt.

It didn't take long to spot one, digging away in the dirt. The next question was, how were we going to capture it?

"Let's sneak up from the back," I said. With that, I got behind Ritcher, Haz got behind me, and we began tiptoeing.

All of a sudden, the armadillo turned around and spotted Ritcher. Threatened by the sight of the hairiest beast it had probably ever seen, the armadillo got up on its hind legs and let out sort of a bark. Ritcher and I spun around and started running. Ritcher runs a 4.6 forty; you need a sundial to time me, Yet I was passing Ritcher - that's how terrified I was.

"Hey, wait for me!" Haslett screamed.

By a Nose, by Fred Smerlas and Vic Carucci, is a terrific combination of Bills history and comedy. Need proof? Just sample some of Fred's player evaluations.

 On former Patriots All-Pro OT John Hannah:

The first time I saw John in a game, I thought I was on the set of a science-fiction movie. It looked as if someone had taken his helmet, filled it with wax, and placed it in the middle of his shoulders. Without the helmet, his head looked like a giant hunk of flesh with eyes.

On himself:

At 6'3" and 300 pounds, I guess you could say I have the perfect build to play nose tackle. True to my Greek heritage, I have relatively short legs and a large upper body. Picture a jukebox with hair.

This book had me laughing quite a bit, but if you look closely, it isn't just comedy. It was quite interesting to get a different look at former Buffalo Bills head coach Chuck Knox. In Joe DeLamielleure's book, Joe talks about Knox with more than a little disdain. Smerlas, on the other hand, loved Ground Chuck, and felt that he was the best coach the Bills had during his tenure there.  Yes, that includes Marv Levy.

Was it worth it?
This book was printed in 1990, right after Fred's last year with the Bills and just before he left for a season in San Francisco; therefore, you may have a hard time finding this book in your local Barnes and Noble. If you know where to look (Amazon, yard sale, flea market, eBay, etc.), you should be able to get your hands on this book for less then five bucks like I did, and it is well worth it.

General Impressions
I'm going to hand out my best grade ever here - A++. This book may not have been the most informative book when it comes to learning about the Bills, but it was by far the most entertaining.  It follows Fred through his Bills career with a little background on him here and there. But the best part of this book, by long shot, is the chapter entitled "Frick and Frack," which delves into the relationship between Fred and fellow Bill Jim Haslett. It tells of some of the adventures these two had. Let me just say that this must have been a very interesting era to be a Buffalo Bill. 

I will leave you with this last bit that I still chuckle at:

Like any newcomer to Buffalo, I was introduced to the local delicacy - chicken wings. It was love at first bite. I'd order them nightly at camp, as many as two hundred at a time, and toss the bones in a corner on my side of the room. It didn't take long for the pile to become a small mountain to attract bugs. Not that there was anything left for them to nibble. I also loved sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts. I'd always eat sunflower seeds when I had trouble sleeping. Haslett would be on the other side of the room, snoring away, and I'd be spitting the shells on him. He'd wake up covered with the remnants of my sunflower-seed binges.