Raymond Berry Baltimore Colts
"Luck is something which happens when preparation meets opportunity. One play may make the difference in winning or losing a game. I must be prepared to make my own luck.”
The Raymond Berry story is one of determination, dedication and desire. Berry, who needed to wear special shoes because one leg was shorter than the other, didn’t become a starter on his high school football team until his senior year – even though his father was the coach.
As an end for Southern Methodist, he caught all of 33 passes in three seasons. Why the Baltimore Colts selected him, even as a “future choice” on the 20th round of the 1954 draft, is a mystery. A long shot to make the Colts, Berry was determined. He practiced and practiced, catching passes from anyone willing to throw to him. He concentrated on making the difficult catch and running perfect patterns.
Although he had just average speed, he developed, by his own count, 88 different moves to get open. He ran patterns within inches of how they were diagramed. In 1956, Johnny Unitas became the Colts’ quarterback and Raymond was ready to put all his hours of practice to use. Together the two gave the Baltimore Colts one of the greatest pass-catch teams of all time. Three straight times Raymond led the league in receptions and caught a then-record 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns in his 13-year career.
A first- or second-team All-Pro choice in 1957 through 1961 and again in 1965, he was selected to play in six Pro Bowl games during his career. A sure-handed receiver, Raymond fumbled only once in 13 years. Perhaps his greatest moment came in the famous overtime 1958 NFL Championship Game. He set a then-record with 12 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Several of his grabs came in the Colts’ life-or-death, last-minute drive to the tying field goal. In the overtime period, two receptions good for 33 yards were the major gains in Baltimore’s drive for the winning score.