Mark Bavaro was one of the most physically intimidating players of his time. Called “Rambo’’ by some for his silent assassin’s approach to the bruising side of pro football, he accepted the demands and the pain of the game he played. What he didn’t accept was the approach of Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Buddy Ryan or his team.
Natural rivals as NFC East contenders throughout his seven years with the New York Giants, annoyance was to be expected. Twice a year the Giants would battle their division rivals in a most physical manner. No quarter was given nor expected and Bavaro had no problem with what that meant. But as he tells our “5 Games’’ podcast listeners in this week’s final installment he did have problems with the Eagles. Serious problems.
“I didn’t like ‘em,’’ Bavaro tells Talk of Fame Network. “There was genuine hatred between the teams. Buddy Ryan would take a game and make it more violent than what it was. He’d dehumanize the opposition. When you do that, you can justify anything.’’
A staunch Catholic, Bavaro recalls how he sat down with a priest before one game seeking prior absolution for what he felt might very well become an effort on his part to seriously maim Ryan on the sidelines if the opportunity arose.
“I hate to say it because I love his kids, Rex and Rob, but he was such a curmudgeon,’’ Bavaro says. “Just a grumpy old guy. I knew I would do it.’’
After years of violent confrontations with the Eagles all Bavaro’s feelings came to a head on November 25, 1991, when he got into a fight with Eagles’ safety Andre Waters after a series of cheap shots from the Eagles designed to collapse a knee that was already badly injured. What he did after that he doesn’t to this day fully recall but he knows it led umpire Dave Hamilton to have “a look of horror on his face,’’ Bavaro remembers when Bavaro threatened him with bodily harm for throwing his penalty flag.
To learn why and what followed as well as how difficult it was for Bavaro to put all those feelings aside three years later when he signed to finish his career wearing an Eagles’ uniform just give a listen to today’s podcast at VoKalNow.com or subscribe to hear it and all our other “5 Games’’ podcasts at iTunes: