'All hell broke loose'

Jaworski: One time during the '75 season, Shack got a death threat. This is at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Rosenbloom used to invite friends like Johnny Carson and Jonathan Winters and Sammy Davis Jr. to hang around with us at the buffet the night before a home game. Well, I get up to our room, and Shack is clearly nervous. He tells me some club officials just told him that they were beefing up security because of a death threat. Not to make light of it, but I told him maybe I should ride to the Coliseum with [running back] Rob Scribner -- the Rams couldn't afford to lose both quarterbacks.

Harris: That was the longest night of my life. We had security outside the door. They escorted me to the game. Man, I ran through that tunnel to the field as fast as I could. I don't remember much about the game [Harris actually can't even recall the Rams' opponent]. But I do remember running fast through the tunnel on the way out.

Knox: Harris' life was threatened? He never told me, but I'm not surprised.

McCutcheon: We were fairly close, so I knew about the death threat and the hate mail. You have to say this for Shack: He was troubled by it, but he never let it affect his preparation.

Along with the heat, though, came a little warmth. There were more than a few bumper stickers that read Join The James "Shack" Harris Fan Club. And a young quarterback from L.A.'s Alexander Hamilton High would hang around Rams camp for a glimpse of Harris.

Warren Moon, then a star QB at LA's Hamilton High, became a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and 2006 HOF inductee: I was a huge Rams fan to begin with, and to suddenly have an African-American quarterback I could look up to was a great thing. We'd go to training camp to watch him, and we used to sneak into the Coliseum through a fence to see him in preseason. He had this tremendous arm strength, but what I really tried to emulate was the way he stood in the pocket, so tall and calm. I never got to meet Shack until I went to the University of Washington, but I do know he came to see me at West Los Angeles Junior College. He later told me he watched from his car because he didn't want to get out and cause a commotion.

Mack: One of the knocks against Shack was that he didn't call his own plays, but that was Chuck. He may have had the courage to start a black man at quarterback, but he didn't trust him, or any quarterback save for maybe Hadl, to call his own plays. I kept telling Ken Meyer, our offensive coordinator, that they should give Shack and Jaws more freedom.

Jaworski: We found out what they really thought of us the night before the 1975 Thanksgiving game in Detroit. When you see Shack, don't forget to ask him about the ceiling tiles.

Harris: [Laughs] Our room in the hotel in Detroit is right next to the coaches', and we think we hear them talking about us. So, we lift out the ceiling tiles to listen to what they're saying. They're talking about us, all right, in the most inflammatory way imaginable. I'm kinda used to it, you know, but Jaws … he was shocked that they would bring up his Polish heritage like that. I calmed him down. But I also wrote down everything they said.

Shack beat the Lions 20-0 with three touchdown passes. Then the two quarterbacks conspired in a completely different way in their opening 1975 playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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