THROUGH THE EARLY EVENING and into the night, they came in a constant flow to pay their last respects to a high school football coach named Theodore W. McIntyre. His former player, Willie Wood, who is now coaching the Toronto Argonauts, came, as did men who traded their cleats for three-button suits years ago; retired teachers and new coaches filed past the bier; his Omga Psi Phi brothers sang.
Sitting in the St. Stephen & The Incarnation Church off 16th Street, they said goodbye as if a father and friend to a man who wrote 20 years had used football to regenerate young lives at Armstrong Technical High School.
The funeral was held on nearly the same date as that for small-time drug pusher and accused police killer Bruce Wazon Griffith, just a few blocks from where Griffith allegedly killed police officer Arthur P. Snyder.
That funeral, and the outpouring of people who attended, marked a life that was wasted but that also served as a warning. The funeral for McIntyre served to clebrate a life of achievement.
About a thousand people streamed into St. Stephen. The eulogy was conducted by a white minister, Father Jack Woodward, and all read lines from McIntyre's favorite poem. "The Way to Win": There's no easy path to glory There's no rosy road to fame; Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But its prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit, For a rugged disposition And a "don't-know-when-to-quit."
Between 1936 and 1956, Ted McIntyre produced 12 championship Armstrong teams. While the city's Dunbar High School was gaining a reputation as an academically elite school in the separate and unequal days of the past, Armstrong was just as busily turning out outstanding technical graduates. A good number of them, lured by the thud of pigskin reverberating in crisp autumn air, submitted
Some of McIntyre's strong men include Police Chief Burtell Jefferson, architect Charles Bryant, who designed Dunbar High School, Wilson High principal Maurice Jackson and Maryland Del. Decatur Trotter.
"We [traveled] by truck that had a canvas top," recalled Earl Telfair, now a government illustrator who has written a pictorial history of Armstrong football between 1936 and 1956. "All the team would pile in and off we'd go to Baltimore, or Annapolis . . . It was the good ole truck -- the gas fumes and the cold air! By the time we got to our destination, we were too cold to play ANYTHING but that was the way it was.
"Coach Mac . . . would pack various containers with such things as spaghetti and meatballs, goulash, fruit -- and always plenty of orange or grapefruit juice . . . He knew that some of us did not always get the proper nourishment at home, so he provided as much as he could.
"In quiet moments, Coach Mac always talked to us -- tried to impart some of his knowledge, his wisdom -- tried to give us confidence both on and off the field. Listening to him, I decided to get serious about school. He molded us into the strong people we are today.=
A genuine character, Mac alternately carried either a big stick or rubber hose to "motivate" his boys, and wore on the football field a funny little shop apron and a sailor's hat. But he had dignity and bearing, and his alumni sound like a mini-Who's Who of pro football. Besides Wood there was the late Hall of Famer Len Ford. Not all of his "grads" would match those great achievements, of course, but they were all Mac's boys." ". . .I should like to think that I represent the thousands of dedicated men throughout this country," Mac said when he traveled to Canton, Ohio, in 1977 when Len Ford was inducted into the Hall of Fame, "who, year in and year out, toil laboriously and uncomplainingly on the countless high school fields of the nation, smoothing, polishing and shaping an immature, uncoordinated young person into a reasonbly finished product . . ."
Though he grew up in the South, his life seems really to have begun when he followed in his older sister's footsteps and entered Morgan College in Baltimore. He majored in biology on a scholarship obtained through his athletic prowess -- he played left end for Morgan for four years.
He grew to manhood under the tutelage of scholar-athletes like Dr. Charles R. Drew, who coached at Morgan to save money for medical school and who would go on to become a pioneer in blood plasma research. There, "Mac" gained the confidence and the willpower to know that he could achieve. His youthful impetuousness became determination by the time he began his teaching and coaching career at Bluefield (W.Va.) Institute.
At Armstrong, he set about building football teams that displayed the power of pure confidence; he beamed like a father when they reached their goals.
Clearly, Ted McIntyre was from a simpler time. He was a conservative man who held onto the old values. "His football boys gave him new golf clubs, but he would use his old rusty clubs," said best friend and arch rival Sal Hall, the retired Cardozo coach. "But he had within him a quality that very few people have -- a genuine love and caring for people, a kindness, a great deal of determination."
His close friend and neighbor Charles H. Baltimore, who was the Armstrong basketball coach, said his players realized "that he would go to bat for them, that they could depend on him. Many of these kids were not from affluent families and the high school was their life." t
McIntyre seemed to be a man who defied the odds -- he whacked players who showed him no resentment; he was called "mean and unusual," even "crazy." But he was adored.
Some of Mac's kids were from broken homes. But if they followed his rules and wanted to play football, he would suit them up even when all knew they'd get no chance to play. But he believed in education as much as football and made many careers possible. His "former footballers" saluted him at a twentieth reunion in 1977.
And they came that night, to say goodbye, to a man and to an era.