Jerry ''Beaver'' Mathers was thrown around by an Oakland Raider
Super Bowl winner John Vella barrelled over the Beav.
Sheesh, and you thought Eddie Haskell was a bully... That guy's got nothing over the brawling brutes that make the gridiron their home. We'd throw a flag on the field if we saw the beating the Beav took from this future NFL offensive lineman.
When Leave It to Beaver wrapped up its six-season run in 1963, its star, Jerry Mathers, was 14. So, with much more time on his hands than he was used to, Mathers did what most kids his age do.
"I went to high school then," Mathers told the Arizona Daily Sun in 1982, "and I had a very happy and very normal adolescence."
This, of course, will come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the biographical details of many child stars. Many in Mathers' position have failed to transition from kid actors to well-adjusted young adults. There are tons of child stars who do not have a happy, normal adolescence. Acting on TV or in the movies as a kid is something that ruins lives. Mathers, however, is an exception to the rule.
Even though all the other kids knew who he was, Mathers maintained that he was never bullied for being the Beaver. In his estimation, Mathers was never teased because when he got to high school, he immediately tried out for, and was accepted on, the school's football team. It seems that even TV stars are susceptible to the archetypical high school hierarchy. Football, and the people who play it, have been at the top of the pyramid for a long time. Mathers played linebacker and center, even though he wasn't very big. His position on the field gave him an in with the football crowd and raised his social standing on campus.
"I thought about trying to keep up with football," Mathers recalled, "until my senior year when a big freshman really knocked me around on the practice field, so I realized I'd better find something else."
It might have eased Mathers' bruised ego to learn that this big freshman, John Vella, went on to have a big career in football. Vella played tackle at the University of Southern California and was part of the school's baseball team when it won the 1970 College World Series.
After college, Vella was a second-round draft pick for the Oakland Raiders. He began his professional career on an offensive line that included four future NFL Hall of Famers, including Bob Brown and Art Shell. Together, the team would dominate the '76 Minnesota Vikings at Super Bowl XI. Vella would join the Vikings for the final year of his football career in 1980.
While Beaver's football aspirations may have been mowed into the dirt, he was still grateful to have grown up with a normal high school experience.