Thousand Oaks, Calif., was a beautiful place for a training camp. It had perfect weather and was set in the hills. As always, funny things happened in camp. One day, one of the players complained about how hard the beds were. Ken Locker, a trainer, noticed imprints on his back. He had been sleeping on a box spring for two weeks.
I was doing fine the first two weeks, receiving compliments from both players and coaches. I thought things were looking up, especially after having a good scrimmage against the Rams. But unexpectedly, one day a trainer said coach Tom Landry wanted to see me. I wondered if I had done something wrong. I definitely didn't think this was a final meeting.
Landry sat me down in his room. He told me they were only thinking of my best interests. Uh-oh. Landry said the reason they signed me was that there was a strong possibility they were going to trade White. They couldn't work out the right deal. He said I could definitely fill the needs of some other club, and they were releasing me in time to learn another team's system while it was still early in camp. I had gambled and lost.
If I had been doing poorly, I wouldn't have minded. I went to clean out my locker and found that my name had already been taken off my place between White and Hogeboom. Gary came and talked to me and wished me good luck. I appreciated that. Danny saw me talking to Gary, but didn't say anything.
GOODBYE, DALLAS; HELLO, CINCINNATI
In December 1985 I threw for Bengal head coach Sam Wyche. Wyche said he was impressed with my arm and quick feet. He said they couldn't sign me now, but they would keep in touch because there was a possibility that Ken Anderson would retire. If he did, they would be looking for a cheap backup behind Boomer Esiason and Turk Schonert. I said, "That's me!" However, there was also the possibility of Schonert's wanting to be traded. If this occurred, Anderson wouldn't retire and the Bengals would probably draft a QB. That's what happened; Schonert went to the Falcons.
GOODBYE, BENGALS; HELLO, CLEVELAND
The Browns' personnel director, Chip Falivene, phoned in February. He said he had been told to bring in two big, strong quarterbacks for a look-see. Big? Strong? Why was he calling me? Anyway, they flew in ex-Eagle Dean May and myself. The Browns were interested in signing a backup for two reasons: Gary Danielson was recovering from rotator-cuff surgery, and they didn't know if they would keep Paul McDonald, who had a hefty salary, to play behind Bernie Kosar. One irony was that Cleveland's new offensive coordinator was Lindy Infante. The day we worked out was also Lindy's first day on the field for the Browns. He laughed when he saw me because this was to be the third time I had thrown for him. He said, "Every time I see you, we're both in different colors."
Head coach Marty Schottenheimer met separately with May and me. We talked with one another later, and he had told us both the same thing. He liked the way we threw and also that we had some professional experience. The key was Danielson's recovery. As it turned out, it was rapid.
GOODBYE, BROWNS; HELLO, HOUSTON
Mike Holovak of the Oilers called in March and said they were going to bring in two quarterbacks to compete for the third spot behind Warren Moon and Oliver Luck. One of them would be ex-Falcon Ben Bennett. He said I was high on their list to be the other. He wanted to see me throw in Gainesville, where he was looking at Florida running back John L. Williams. I drove to Gainesville from my home in Tampa and threw probably as well as I ever had. Holovak said he definitely liked my arm and that he had seen me in the Bluebonnet Bowl in college. I really believed I was going to be in Houston. Holovak told me they wouldn't draft a QB because they were set with Moon and his million-dollar contract. The next week, Houston drafted quarterback Jim Everett of Purdue on the first round.
GOODBYE, OILERS; HELLO, NEW YORK II