July 26, 1974
By Jim O'Brien
PHILADELPHIA - Moses Lajterman is living proof that the WFL failed in its attempt to outlaw or at least reduce the impact of all those little foreign-born kickers who'd been deciding too many pro football games in recent years to suit some tastes.
New rules and scoring changes eliminate the likes of Lajterman, and that's not so bad considering his story. Of course new leagues always seem to turn up unlikely heroes like Lajterman.
A 5-9 native of Argentina, and a yogurt salesman in New Jersey at this time last week. Lajterman kicked a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth period last night to provide the winning points for the New York Stars victory over the Philadelphia Bell before a WFL record crowd of 64,719 and a national TV audience.
The crowd, 29,000 of which were in either for free or on discounts was often unruly, youngsters spilling on the field on several occasions, giving the security guards fits, but Lajterman says it didn't bother him. Just the opposite in fact.
"The most I'd ever played before when I was at Montclair State," he said, "was 6000. So it was really great. The adrenalin was working."
Lajterman failed earlier this year in tryouts with both the Stars and the Bell, but got a telephone from Stars Coach Babe Parilli this past Monday when Peter Rajecki, the Stars regular kicker, couldn't play because of bruised ribs.
So Lajterman's role as a hero had to be doubly satisfying, especially since the club had two opportunities to win the game in the late going, but missed on two field goal tries.
Jack Simcsak, who taxied with the Giants in recent years, missed from 36 yards out, his attempt going wide to the right, with 2:18 remaining.
Then with only one second showing on the clock, and the horses of mounted policemen moving excitedly on the sidelines to keep the crowd back in a rather unique setting. George Chatlos missed a field goal try from 26 yards out. Stars defensive tackle John Elliott thought he'd tipped the ball slightly.
No Job Security
"My heart was beating so fast," said Lajterman. "I was praying he'd miss. I'd never had a chance to win a big game in high school or college, and this was a big moment for me. I wanted to win so bad. And I just hope I'll be able to be back next week."
It was a low moment for Simcsak, that's for sure. Bell Coach Ron Waller, beside himself after the defeat, indicated he was getting rid of Simcsak.
"It's wrong for me to condemn him, and I'm not condemning him," said Waller, "but I'm going to make a change."
Someone stole Chatlos kicking shoe on the sideline, as well as the team's kicking tee, as youngsters here were in a mischievous mood, and Chatlos had to borrow Simcsak's kicking shoe to attempt the last second field goal. It was obviously a bad fit.
Kickers lead a precarious life in the WFL, it seems. The rules makers are out to get them, and apparently there's no real job security.
Parilli, for instance, said Lajterman "will be kicking for at least two more weeks, and then we'll see what happens. Rajecki's ribs are expected to be healed during that time."
Rajecki beat out Lajterman in kicking competition with the Stars. Ironically enough, Lajterman was let go the day after he performed poorly in a scrimmage session in Islip, Long Island, against the same Philadelphia team.
"It was a make-or-break situation," recalled Lajterman, "and the pressure just got to me. I thought I was better than the Philadelphia kickers, though, so I tried their team next.
"I tried out for one day, and when I came back the next day I didn't even get to kick. The coach never gave me any balls to kick, and then he said, "Thanks for coming."
As it turned out, however, last night's game marked the second successive week that a player who'd been rejected by the Bell came back to beat them. It might be a good idea for the Portland Storm, the Bell's next opponent, to pick up Simcsak if he's released this week.
After Parilli telephoned, and said he needed a kicker, Lajterman told his boss in New Jersey about his dilemma. After one week on the job, Lajterman was looking for a leave of absence to sign with the Stars. "It's either Dannon Yogurt or football," the boss informed Lajterman.
"I liked the job, and it was good pay," said Lajterman, "but I worked all too hard not to play pro football." There's a new TV commercial in there somewhere.