King Tut may be a better interview than Wilbert Montgomery of the the Philadelphia Eagles, so General Manager Jim Murray rescued the reporters today. "He's Whispering Wilbert," Murray said. "He talks with his feet. The other guys have the good quotes; he has the yardage."
Murray is the fellow who encapsulated Coach Dick Vermeil for the struggling press seeking an image, when the general manager said, "He's right off a cornflakes box."
Vermeil looks like a Little League Sonny Jurgensen, but shows his emotions more, with jutted jaw. He is what George Allen would like the world to think he is -- an eagle scout.
He is the incorrigible workaholic who sleeps some nights on a cot in the Eagles' office at Veterans Stadium. Vermeil didn't hesitate to hire a former head coach with glamorous credentials, Sid Gillman, as his specialist in experimental offense.
Nor did Vermeil hesitate to term himself a "horse's ---" after the Eagles' only loss, to Atlanta, saying the next day that he should have gone for a field instead of an unsuccessful fourth-and-two gamble.
There is a new breed of player today who doesn't buy the work ethic, but the Eagles' coach has them practicing three hours a day and team leader Montgomery thrives on it, plus 25 carries a game.
Vermeil said he would like to be able to run the ball about 40 times on Sunday against the Redskins and throw it about 25 times. Asked if that were not hard on a running back, Vermeil said, "A lot of great backs have run the ball 25 times a game for a number of years . . . such as Gale Sayers and O.j. Simpson.
"Not to give the ball to Wilbert 25 or more times a game would be dumb coaching . . . like driving a car in second gear. Wilbert could go again on a Wednesday after playing on a Sunday. If we had another Wilbert I'd have each run the ball 15 times. There is a contrast to the past because most running backs take better care of themselves today.
"You ought to watch him block on linebackers. He does miss a pass block once in a while."
Montgomery was asked why he was so successful in running against the Redskins in their first game this season.
"The opportunities were there; the blocking was good; the coaches called the right plays." What if the Redskins key on him?
"That makes me run harder."
He says he tries to stretch out the defense and then cut back, or tries to outrun the pursuit.
As for carrying the ball so much, he said, "Twenty-five times is not a lot if you expect to rush for 1,000 yards. Most backs don't get started until the second half. By then you have seen every front (defense) the other team has. You get stronger. I feel good coming out a of a game. You have to get your rest -- about eight hours a night -- and eat right.
"You know the streets: Philadelphia is a wild town. On a typical evening I relax and watch television."
It was just a year ago that Montgomery and some of his teammates were jumped coming home from a baseball playoff game and Montgomery skinned his knuckles defending himself.
Vermeil is so guileless that he made no attempt to keep the Redskins in doubt on whether quarterback Ron Jaworski will play after spraining an ankle on Sunday.
"I'm sure he'll play," Vermeil said. "He was dropping back fine today in practice; working like it never happened though the footing at the workout in the Navy Yard was not the greatest.
"That is probably why my wife told him last Sunday night. 'Go home and put some kielbasa (Polish sauage) and beer on your ankle and it will be all right.'"
Verneil said Wednesday's practice was the best of the season.
"Sid Gillman said it was the best pro practice he had ever seen," the head coach related.
"It was full speed and getting out of hand. We we afraid of somebody getting hurt, so we lightened up the tempo today and took out the heavy contact on the recommendation of a couple assistants so we won't leave our game on the practice field, like we might have done against Atlanta."