Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Saturday, October 30, 2004

UH’s iron men of ’58
took their lumps, too

THE old Hawaii teams, they knew about road trips and injuries and taking the field with a roster cut to the bone.

This is from what Talbot George calls the "Old Testament" of UH football -- the Termite Palace Days.

Anything in Aloha Stadium is "New Testament," he says.

George was the quarterback in 1958. He had transferred home after playing for Darrell Royal at Washington. His brother, Henry, had also eventually found his way back, after having played for Bear Bryant at Kentucky, Talbot says. A third brother, Nolan went to UH, too.

For a time, all three brothers started in the Hawaii backfield. Talbot thinks they were the first in America to have three brothers in the same backfield.

But back to the road, and being short-handed and hurt.

The Rainbows went on the road in 1958 with 27 men on the travel roster.

Twenty-seven guys, on the road, working their way east, game by game. They had three games in a row.

They were on the mainland for three straight weeks.

All they left with was all they had, with most of the guys banged up going both ways.

"Bradda, let me tell you something," Talbot George says, recalling the thumps that came from having to turn around and play safety on defense, too.

They were all battered, all bruised. All of them.

George says it was the quote from Britton Komine -- that the Hawaii receiver felt fine after last week's win, but he knew the pain was coming the next day -- that brought back the memories of all those hard knocks.

Those old Hawaii teams knew the feeling, too.

George had his own Hawaiian remedy. Drink a full cup of warm water flavored with a healthy dose of Hawaiian salt. It was sickening. But it worked.

"No more no aches and pains," George says.

These UH players should try it.

Because week in and week out, those iron men had to keep playing. Two reasons: They were rugged, tough guys.

And there was nobody else left.

George remembers dislocating his passing shoulder, then taking his arm out of the sling to play games.

The 1958 Rainbows took lumps on the road; 51-0 at Kentucky, 100-and-something guys against 27. Then 47-6 at Arizona State, where it was so hot, "We had to practice nighttime."

But even with all the injuries and the losses, the guys kept playing. At San Jose State, down 7-0, Hawaii had a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a touchdown. They went for two, and won 8-7, and the hurts went away.

The Rainbows were 5-7 that year.

George watches this year's team, and all the injuries make him remember how tough his team was, how those pains always came the next day. How that rugged 1958 bunch just kept coming back.

"Remember that boy Jackson a couple years ago?" Nate Jackson would have fit right in with those old Hawaii teams.

George likes Chad Owens' style, too.

"That (Abraham) Elimiman, that defensive back, he could have played with us."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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