Anderson: “The game was a little bit different in that I mostly covered the tight end as a strong safety, and when they got to a slot receiver we would a lot of times switch to a zone defense. So as a tight end I would say John Mackey, who’s in the Hall of Fame from Baltimore, was the first really big guy that could run and intimidate. You had to be aware of where he was and try to avoid having him swat you out of the way.”
Which defensive back or player did you look up to growing up?
Bell: “I’d have to say Brian Dawkins because for the simple fact I felt like when I was in college I played kind of similar to his style. He’s a guy that I grew up watching and a guy who I wanted to emulate. I got to meet him at the Pro Bowl two years ago.”
Anderson: “I grew up in Boulder, Colorado where the University of Colorado was so I was a big Colorado Buffalo fan. My hero was a guy by the name of Carroll Hardy, who is the only person ever to bat for Ted Williams. He played both professional football for the Cardinals and professional baseball for the Red Sox, but he was a great running back. He was number 27 and so that was my high school number and I was a running back in those days. Once I got to college I became a strong safety and Tom Brown was a safety for the Green Bay Packers. That was the one pro football team we got on TV in Colorado so he was the strong safety that I looked up to.”
What is/was your favorite defensive alignment or play to run?
Bell: “When they call a safety blitz for me that kind of gets my blood boiling and it’s just that opportunity to make a play because you have no responsibility. Your only responsibility is to try to get to the quarterback and you’ve got to love that.”
Anderson: “It’s what we called split coverage, which was a combination man-to-man and zone coverage. Based on the release of the tight end, if he released on the inside the weak safety would pick him up man-to-man and if he released outside I’d pick him up. The guy that didn’t have the tight end would double the flanker. So I probably made more interceptions off of that defense because to the quarterback it looked like I was covering the tight end but I really had the inside technique of the flanker and so we could get the cornerback to play outside technique. So the corner could be good on the out patterns and I’d be good with anything that came inside. We had a lot of defenses that you really couldn’t tell if we were zone or man-to-man because we all lined up exactly the same all the time, so the quarterback had to read us on the first move. Jake Scott and I used to take a false step in a zone whenever we went against (Joe) Namath because he’d read the first step and then we’d curl and come back and he’d look up and say, ‘You guys are in the wrong spot.’ Bill Arnsparger was brilliant and he put us in great situations.”
What is the most important asset for safety?
Bell: “Communication skills are the most important. You have to be able to get people lined up because you’re the quarterback back there and if anything goes wrong back there then you know it’s going to result in a touchdown. So you have to be able to communicate with the guys and you have to be a smart player.”
Anderson: “The most important asset is to wrap your arms up and make a tackle when you have to make a tackle. Our jobs have changed quite a bit. Because there are so many split receivers it’s changed how you play defense. We could hit receivers anyplace on the field as long as the ball wasn’t in the air and that’s changed an awful lot. I think the most important thing is never make a mental error. We had to be more responsible for containment on end sweeps so we had to beat the crack back block, pick up the tight end and then get across and take on the guard and fullback, so we’d turn the play in so they can make the tackle. We played more like a linebacker a lot of times than the safeties do today.”
What is/was your best asset as safety?
Bell: “I’m a ball hawk and I’m always around the football. With me it’s see ball, get ball and that’s about as simple as I can explain it, just see ball, get ball. That’s me.”
Anderson: “I’d say my best asset was knowing where the ball was and catching it when it got near me. Plus I had an awful lot of fumbles so as long as you’re around the ball I recovered an awful lot of fumbles and made interceptions. Our whole idea was how do we get the ball back for the offense.”
What was your most memorable play of your career?
Bell: “Back when we won the division against the Jets in New York. I remember Merling made a big play with an interception he ran back and I lit Brett Favre up on that day, too. I got a pretty good hit on him that day so that stands out, along with winning the division on their field.”
Anderson: “The most memorable play was against the Baltimore Colts in the championship game in 1971 where I actually had seven perfect blocks by the defense scoring a (62-yard) touchdown that enabled us to go to the Super Bowl. Johnny Unitas threw the pass and Curtis Johnson tipped it. I started on one sideline and came across the middle and guys just kept falling down because my blocker were just knocking the guys down like bowling pins. Curt Gowdy and the cameraman got an Emmy Award and I got the game ball. It was just a marvelous play and Nick Buoniconti told me, “Well Dick, I went out and got a hot dog, cam back and you were still running.’ I said, ‘Nick, that’s because you were the only one that didn’t make a block.’ So that was the play and the four interceptions in the first half against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football was probably the most memorable game.”