White has never felt appreciated until now. "The problem in the NFL," he says, "is that the owners look at their success as a tribute to their management. They consider the players interchangeable. Here they realize how important the players are. There's more of a symbiotic relationship than in the NFL. There are a lot of players who will come to this league, where relationships are better."
When White tells the younger players on the Blitz to do something, he also explains why. "Get wider on that coverage," he shouts. "See, you've got help on the inside." As much as they respect his leadership, though, his teammates aren't afraid to get on him. "Hey, Stan," one yelled, after White was delayed in getting to practice by a photo session, "Are you late or are we all early?"
White often sits out the drills to observe, a luxury he can afford because he's still in shape from the NFL season and because he doesn't have to prove anything to Allen. Standing alongside the parched practice field at Glendale Community College, White says he believes that "the older you get, the better you are. But I also know the quickest way to get into trouble is to think I can just walk through this new league. That's not true. Look at these young players. They're bigger, faster and stronger than I am. So I have to use my experience and the abilities I have left to keep my job. Fortunately, it's not just a physical game."
Now he wanders over and stands next to Allen. They converse frequently, Allen explaining how some technical aspect of the game was handled when he was at Washington and then asking White how it was done in Detroit. Both squint against the desert sun, a matched pair. White points at a young player and says, "He's very tentative, waiting for something to happen. Most of them are."
Meanwhile, Diethrich is saying, "Stan can advise us. We've all got to work together, and he can make the difference. We need to prove ourselves this first year because if we are a first-year failure, there will be no second-year success." Which is to say, like a critical bypass operation, the USFL has got to get it right the first time.