Raymond Berry is 86 years old now and just published a short autobiography of his life in football and beyond. While the prose is a bit stilted at times it is an easy to read and digest compilation of his career.
Raymond Berry is probably best known, along with Johnny Unitas, for the Greatest Game Ever Played when his Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship Game and first ever overtime game in NFL history. Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in that game and was integral in the Colts’ win. Those kinds of numbers would be incredibly impressive even in today’s pass happy NFL. The Colts went on to win the NFL Championship the following year and were extremely competitive throughout Berry’s 12 year Hall of Fame career.
What stands out most about Berry is he was not the most athletically gifted athlete, although he was fast and had great hands. He persevered and became one of the greatest receivers of all time through hard work and practice, practice, practice. He and Johnny Unitas were the linchpins of what could have been an NFL dynasty had it not been for the roadblock of the Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi.
Being a New England Patriots fan I was most interested in his years as the Patriots head coach including their loss to the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX 45 to 10. The 1984 Patriots, while they did go 11-5, really played over the level of their talent in my opinion, which attests to how good a coach Berry was. He makes the assertion that the reason the game was so lopsided is he was a new head coach and installed a new offense that year, whereas the Bears defense under Buddy Ryan had been running the same system for five years. Thus, had he had more time to install his offense, the level of play would have been more equal.
While the writing is somewhat uneven and the book jumps around subject wise a good bit, it is a worthwhile read for football fans.