Wherever they go and whatever they do, they like going through it together. From left to right they go 270, 269, 254 and 295, so if they want to go through it together, who’s going to stop them?
They are the senior starters on the Maryland offensive line: Tony Edwards, left tackle; Len Lynch, left guard; Jeff Holinka, right guard; J.D. Maarleveld, right tackle. The four of them live together, eat together, practice together, eat together, play together and--did I mention this?--they eat together. If you like them on the field, you’ll love them at the table.
“In 10 days of practice we went through $200 at Burger King,” Edwards said proudly. “And that was after we’d cleaned out the dining hall.”
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
a) The Visigoths
b) The Sixth Fleet
d) All of the above
For its football preview issue, Sports Illustrated photographed the four of them standing around--and, in the case of Maarleveld, laying on--a training table stocked with a 75-pound roast beef, a 30-pound turkey, a ham, much fresh fruit, assorted pies, cakes, cookie and stacks of pancakes.
Lights! Camera! Antacid!
“We killed the turkey,” Lynch grinned, Jack Nicholson style.
“Lasted 20 minutes,” declared Maarleveld.
“Killed most of the pies and cookies, too,” Lynch added. “The pancakes, we left.”
“It was lunchtime, not breakfast,” Edwards explained. “We were going to eat the roast, but they said it was for Lefty’s basketball camp.”
“We carved some of it anyway,” Lynch whispered.
“About 15 pounds,” beamed Edwards.
And did they share the swag with their teammates?
Edwards, the baby-faced one, an are-you-kidding-me expression swarming over his face, laughed. “We get to eating, we’re like ravished dogs around a bowl.”
They have lived together for two years now and despite the limitations that dorm life can place on growing boys--"only two bathrooms,” Edwards growled; “and no kitchen,” Maarleveld grumbled; “and no maid,” Lynch groused--they’ve grown so close that Lynch describes the inter-relationship as “like brothers rather than friends.” Probably more like the Great White North MacKenzies than the Osmonds.
Take Lynch. He’s an animal lover. Panthers and squirrels. Talk about a true radical-chic act, Lynch is so fond of panthers he had one tattooed onto his left calf. And he likes squirrels so much he had a puppet show with six of them last year. Not their whole little furry bodies, mind you, just their heads.
Lynch and Edwards had been squirrel hunting--with shotguns no less--and after Edwards had cleaned the squirrels and started cooking them (“First you par-boil them, then you fry them”; hey now, don’t all of you reach for your Remington at once) something reminded Lynch of Punch and Judy.
“The heads were just hanging around,” Lynch said, as if this kind of thing happens to him regularly. “I’m moody. I was in one of those weird moods. I put the heads in the window and had a puppet show.” Lynch hastened to add that “it was a real well-rounded show; each head had a name. But we got in trouble later on, because I went to get my knee scoped and these other guys left the heads in the windowsill for five days.”
Could happen to anyone, right? Moving right along. . . .
This living arrangement, it works then?
“No,” Maarleveld said. Pausing, one, two, “Lenny smells, that’s all.”
“See, nothing’s sacred,” smiled Edwards.
“It’s all out in the open,” said Lynch, “You get angry at a guy, you tell him. Like I say, ‘J.D., stop wearing my clothes.’ J.D. steals my underwear.”
“It’s true,” confirmed Edwards. “J.D. never does a wash.”
“I do it once in a while,” protested Maarleveld. “When my closet’s empty.”
“When my closet’s empty,” insisted Lynch.
Brotherly love. Ain’t it grand?
Offensive lines are the servant class of football: often seen, rarely heard from. So in the spirit of the exceptions to the rule--Fordham’s “Seven Blocks of Granite,” the Buffalo Bills’ “Electric Company,” which turned on The Juice, and the Redskins’ “Hogs,” they gave themselves a nickname, titling themselves, “The Beef Brothers,” extending membership in their club to everyone on the offensive line--from tackle to tackle, starters and subs--and to fullback, Rich Badanjek.
“He’s honorary,” Holinka said.
“A junior whopper,” Maarleveld ordained.
It’s nice to have a catchy nickname. But “The Beef Brothers” is derivative, don’t you think? Jeff Ruland and Ricky Mahorn had it first.
If you want to say with the food metaphor, how about “More Gravy,” or “Rack of Ram?”
Lynch said with all due modesty that the proper nickname for this offensive line would imply these concepts: “big, strong, dominating and good looking.”