Hall Recall: Carl Eller

General Published on : 7/27/2004
By Gil Brandt
NFL.com Senior Analyst
Special to Profootballhof.com

I first heard of Carl Eller in fall of 1960 from Paul Amen, who lived in Winston-Salem, N.C., and had been the head football coach at Wake Forest but left coaching to become a banker. Amen did some part-time scouting for the Cowboys and was a very astute guy, willing to watch some Friday and Saturday games and such for us.

So one day, Amen spoke to his friend and former co-worker Murray Warmath, who coached with Amen at Army. Warmath was in Minnesota at the time and was looking for great players for his team. Amen knew of Eller and knew he was all but going to Ohio State ... unless he could go to another school and play with his buddy, Jay B. Sharp. Amen told Warmath this, Warmath offered a chance to play to both players, and that's how Eller became a Gopher. Eller just told me the other day that Amen was very, very influential in getting him to go to Minnesota. We knew all of this, and that's how we discovered Eller.

Eller's height and weight was 6-foot-5 1/8 and 226 pounds. ... He plays offensive right tackle and defensive left tackle in an Oklahoma defense (5-2-4 scheme). ... He never took on blockers; the defensive line would almost always slant from one side to the other, so it was really hard to evaluate him as a player based on what you saw of him as a junior. Team won the Rose Bowl that year. ... Has outstanding, unbelieveable quickness. ... I don't think he's playing as well as he did in 1962 simply because the team isn't nearly as good and opponents are concentrating on him. ... He's a very smart player and will be a defensive end in the NFL. ... Has the potential to be a star. ... Wish he were bigger; he is very slim with good height.
I remember watching Eller during the East-West Shrine Game after the 1963 season. I watched him, but I didn't scout him because he was already drafted by Minnesota. Despite being picked, Eller still practiced hard during the week and played hard in the game. In fact, he played like he was trying to improve his draft position.

During Eller's career, Dallas didn't play a lot of games against Minnesota. We played them 10 times -- four times in the playoffs. The first time we played against Eller was in 1966, and I reminded him of it when we spoke. We played in the Cotton Bowl and it was 100-plus degrees. One of our secrets was to have the away team's bench on the sunny side of the stadium, where they'd get hotter in their dark jerseys. Eller sweated like a man in a sauna, as did all of his teammates. But when you look at the film after the game, you can see that Eller played as hard on the last play as he did on the first play. The fact is, he played hard all the time.

Minnesota's home-field advantages were the weather and the dual-benched sidelines (both teams were on the same sideline). It was interesting to watch this tall, thin guy go on and off the field. We used to wonder how he played so well despite being so thin. He played left end during the era when sacks weren't official stats, but according to a very alert fan who kept the statistic as a hobby back then, Eller ended his career with 133½ sacks.

His 23-year-old son, Regis, a student at Minnesota, will be his presenter during his induction.