Anthony Dorsett Lives in Dad’s Shadow
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ With players bustling in the hallways after another Blue-Gray all-star practice, an NFL scout peered into room 418 at the new downtown hotel.
``Are you Anthony?″ he asked.
``Yeah,″ Anthony Dorsett Jr. said.
Dorsett doesn’t play his father’s position, and he doesn’t go by his father’s name, Tony. The defensive back at Pittsburgh tries to live up to his own expectations, not those of people who saw his dad win the Heisman Trophy at Pitt and go on to a 12-year Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys.
``People need to realize that I didn’t play in the NFL for 12 years. He did,″ said Dorsett, who will play in Monday’s Blue-Gray game. ``And I’m Anthony. I’m not Tony. I never went by Tony. I never would want to.″
Dorsett also has not had the good fortune his father had at Pittsburgh. Tony Dorsett won the Heisman during Pitt’s national championship season in 1976. His son’s career at Pitt has been marred by one of the program’s dimmest eras. The Panthers won three games in each of the past two seasons and finished 2-9 this year.
Maybe that’s how the son of a football great could slip through a four-year career at his father’s alma mater virtually unnoticed.
``I’m not saying it was my team’s fault,″ Dorsett said, ``but we were 2-9 this year. If they don’t know, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t mind. I know what I can do.″
Even though he plays a different position, the comparisons are inevitable. Dorsett has his dad’s expressive face, if not his speed and deft moves. He’s about the same size at 190 pounds, prompting coach Johnny Majors to consider moving him to tailback this season when Pitt star Billy West went down with a season-ending broken leg.
Majors decided against it because Dorsett was too far along in his career.
``I always wished I could have been here when he was a freshman,″ Majors said. ``You always wonder, what if?″
The scouts this week have been careful to call him Anthony, but even they end up talking about the most famous Dorsett during interviews.
``I’ve had scouts here telling me they scouted my dad when he was coming out,″ Dorsett said.
Dorsett, who also will play in the East-West Shrine game, has heard favorable things from scouts this week. Then again, how can you tell the son of a Hall of Famer he has no chance? Dorsett knows the NFL is a cruel world.
``If I don’t make it, then I don’t,″ Dorsett said. ``God didn’t just bless me with physical attributes. He blessed me with a brain, too.″
There’s a knock at the door, and Dorsett answers it. It’s another scout. This one says he’s from the Browns, leaving out the teams’s city of origin, because that’s still up in the air.
Dorsett knows there probably will be more questions about Tony.
``I’ve grown up with it and learned how to deal with it,″ he said. ``I’ve accepted it. That’s who I am. It’s something I live with.″
And he knows it could be worse.
``I have friends who don’t even know who their father is,″ he said.