- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"Tell me about Cash and Carry Pyle," the visitor said.
"Dapper, that's the first word that comes to mind. He went to the barbershop every day of his life, and he was immaculate. He wore that derby and spats and carried a cane, and he had that neat little mustache. The greatest ladies' man you ever saw. He was married five times, three times to the same woman, and despite everything you might have read, he was one of the most honest men I ever knew.
"Charlie had more good ideas than any 10 men about how to make a buck. He'd made and lost a million three or four times. If he were active today, there'd be no end to the money he'd make. But he was straight with me from the start. He owned two theaters in Champaign. One night I was in there and the usher said, 'Mr. Pyle wants to see you.' I thought he was going to give me a couple of passes.
"I went into his office and he said, 'How'd you like to make $100,000?' I said, 'You've got the wrong guy. I don't do things like that.' He said, 'I'm talking about playing pro football. I'll guarantee you that much.' I said, 'Well, I'm interested.' I was only with Charlie for about three years, but I got everything he said I'd get, and more."
What you have to remember about the times, Grange said, "was that there just didn't seem to be a future in football. Now, of course, the game gives so many atha-letes a chance, and that's good. There's money in it, and when you're at your prime you should be able to pursue it. I told Zuppke, 'I've played three years [at Illinois]. I've got more than three years left. I've got my life ahead of me. Are you going to take care of me until I'm 60?'
"We had some terrific arguments in his kitchen. He'd close the door and keep Mrs. Zuppke out. I said, 'You teach football, I'll take care of Grange.' I just couldn't accept the fact that it was all right for him to coach football for his life and not for me to play it. But most people take care of themselves first, and that's what he was doing. The colleges were scared to death that the pros would lure away their players with money.
"That's why I did it, of course. Football itself wasn't that important to me. But I went from having nothing to owning two or three cars at a time. I bought my father a $25,000 house, which was an expensive house in those days. I spent money like it was going out of circulation, until I learned better. I was a big shot. I drank Dom Perignon champagne. I wore a raccoon coat. I'd go into a restaurant and order from the right side of the menu. After I became a pro, if something I ordered didn't cost $20, I didn't want it.
"It was fun, but I don't think it was a good phase of my life. I noticed one thing that still seems to apply. Once you start getting paid to play, the crowds treat you differently. I got booed for the first time as a pro. It was a new feeling. I can understand it, though. They expect you to play up to what you're being paid. When we made that tour, the crowds only cared that I produced. They didn't care if I was tired or beat-up. I can't blame them. But it made football different for me.
"I don't have any complaints. I've lived the way I wanted, done what I wanted. I don't owe anybody. I couldn't be this way if it weren't for football. But I wonder now and then how the other guys are doing, guys who helped make the pro game, guys who played even after I did.
"Pro ball in the early days got two or three inches on the third page. After we made those tours, it was getting top headlines. We spread the NFL across the country, taking it to towns that never saw a pro game, doing anything to push the product. We played in Memphis one year, and after the game started, we were driving for a touchdown when the promoter came running on the field and told everybody we'd have to start over. The backer of the game was the founder of the Piggly Wiggly stores, Clarence Saunders, and he'd gotten caught in traffic and missed the kickoff. So we started over.