JULY 20, 1981
Ask Vince Ferragamo why he thinks one of his former teams, the Los Angeles Rams, bolted to St. Louis in 1995 and he offers a not-so-surprising answer. "Money," he says. "Plus, maybe there wasn't such a great sense of loyalty. It's a business, you know."
Ferragamo has long known that. In April 1981, a little more than a year after quarterbacking the Rams to a near upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, Ferragamo also left L.A., signing two one-year, $400,000 contracts with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. "It was strictly business on my part," says Ferragamo, who turned down a one-year, $300,000 offer from the Rams. "The emotional stuff was taken out of the equation. I love California, but I was thinking about my career."
Ferragamo, who had been a college star at Nebraska, thought wrong. In his one CFL season, he played less like Vince Ferragamo and more like Vince Neil, throwing 25 interceptions in 13 games. "It was more like a minor league," he says of the CFL. "We had a team on the downside with a lot of players who weren't going to be around much longer."
Ferragamo left Canada and re-signed with the Rams for three more seasons, but he failed to rediscover the Super Bowl magic. He ended his career in 1986 after less-than-memorable stints with the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers. Ferragamo was, to a considerable degree. an athlete who could've been but never really was. There were sparks of greatness—30 touchdown passes in '80 (he first appeared on SI's cover in December of that year, next to the words RAM POWER)—but also injuries and inconsistency as he battled for the Rams" starting job. Ferragamo still goes through the what-ifs. "My whole career was spurts," he says. "When I got the chance, I'd always play well. But I was given only short periods to do it. It could've been different. I really think so."
Nowadays Ferragamo, 43, divides his time among his family (his wife, Jodi, and daughters Venessa, 15, Cara, 13, and Jenna, 12), his Touchdown Real Estate company in Anaheim Hills, Calif., and the Vince Ferragamo Foundation, which raises money for the Special Olympics. As busy as he is, he nonetheless feels something is missing. "The thrills I had on the field in L.A. and even Montreal—you can't duplicate those in the corporate world," he says. "Sometimes I'll do a motivational speech, and that's the closest I come in terms of getting fired up. I'll be honest. I miss playing the game."