In the end, because of my schedule, it came down to a choice between Mean Joe Greene or Larry Csonka, two longtime combatants. I ultimately chose to do Csonka — because of the artistic opportunities afforded by his famously (and hideously) broken nose.
Oddly enough, the fierce Miami Dolphins fullback who rushed for more than 8,000 yards and won a Super Bowl MVP award, declined — on the grounds of vanity.
"If it's going to be there a long time," Csonka told me firmly, "I want the nose to be straight."
Perhaps he was thinking of his legacy. Maybe it was because he was born in Stow, Ohio, just north of Canton on Route 77, and he had a special sensitivity regarding the Hall of Fame. Whatever the reason, Csonka wouldn't pose until he had undergone plastic surgery to correct the bend in his prodigious beak.
"How about a little crick in the nose?" I asked him in the final posing session.
Csonka shook his head.
Indeed, in the finished version the bust has an admittedly prominent — but stone straight — proboscis.
When Miami reporters called me to ask him what happened, I laughed.
I told them: "There's no way I'm arguing with Larry Csonka."