Thursday, December 6, 2007

Testaverde Charms Carolina Banquet Audience With Stories Of Red Grange, George Halas As A Water Boy

Greensboro, NC (Dec. 6) - Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde, the oldest player in the NFL, delighted an audience of seniors with his recollections of legendary football greats such as Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, and a teenaged George Halas.

Testaverde, speaking at the annual "Life Begins At 70" luncheon banquet in Greensboro, charmed the audience of over 300 with his personal accounts.

"It really took me back," sighed attendee Virgil Huggins, 88. "Vinny's stories of how he and Grange used to try to throw the pigskin through an old tire were wonderful. I'm so proud that the's the Panthers' quarterback."

Added fellow attendee Erskine Tubbs, 84: "I especially liked how Vinny would poke fun at himself when he was a wide-eyed youth hanging around with Halas when Halas was a Bears water boy. Classic stuff."

A then-48-year-old Testaverde celebrates a win with Jimmy Johnson in the QB's college days, circa 1966

Testaverde, signed earlier this season after injuries depleted the Panthers' QB ranks, led Carolina to its first home win last Sunday. And he used that win to draw an analogy.

"That win (on Sunday) reminded me of something Nagurski (Bears running back in the 1930s) told me before he was set to play the Canton Bulldogs in 1933: 'We're due', " Testaverde said to chuckles and polite applause.

Testaverde's speech was interrupted six times by applause, four times by violent coughing from luncheon attendees, and twice by paramedics.

"I think it's terrific that the NFL has a guy of Vinny's sense of history," said luncheon organizer Betty Phillips, 73. "When he told the crowd of how he first decided to become a football player after watching Grange play at Illinois, well, you could have heard a pin drop. That is, if Charley (Davis, an attendee) hadn't had his coughing fit."

Testaverde told of how his desire to be an NFL quarterback came from watching the league grow from its infancy.

"They needed fellas who could throw the ball," Testaverde said. "The forward pass was just coming to the forefront in the pro game. So I kind of jumped in one day at practice.

"The rest, as they, is history."

Testaverde further impressed the crowd by informing them that he would stay to sign their prescription pill bottles, and pose for photos -- though he showed his age in doing so.

"Who wants an autographed daguerrotype?," Testaverde said.

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