- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
July came, and practice. Without the experience he would have gained in his senior year, with everything to lose—job, his wife's happiness, his last chance to prove himself—he pressed too hard. It was obvious that he was going to be cut from the squad.
And then McDougall made one of the most momentous offhand remarks in the history of Canadian football. "You know," he said in the locker room one day, "my father was born in Canada."
After a moment of stunned silence Jr. Coach Jim Trimbleand President Gaudaur both went for the phone. They called Gerry's mother in California, asked her to airmail proof of her late husband's Canadian birth. The precious documents arrived the day of the opening game. Gaudaur flew to Ottawa, the capital, with the papers, then rushed back with governmental approval. He rounded up a judge and dragged him to the stadium.
And there in the dressing room before the game, clad in his hip pads, Gerry McDougall was sworn in as a Canadian citizen.
Canadian McDougall was no longer competing with Americans to make the team, but with his new-found countrymen. The pressure was off. McDougall, 6 feet 2, 218 pounds, fast and hard to bring down, went on from there to become the best back in Canadian football. Last year he led the league with 1,053 yards gained for an average of 5.9 per try, and scored two touchdowns in both the Grey Cup and All-Star games.
Off the field McDougall is sales representative for the Fruehauf Trailers Co., with Hamilton and environs his exclusive territory. Thanks to the canny foresight of Angus McDougall in being born in Nova Scotia, his son Gerry, at the age of 24, is now making over $30,000 a year.
Non-imports, like McDougall, are the most important players in Canada. The 12 Americans on each club can hardly play against each other efficiently for 60 minutes of two-way football. Thus football games are won in Canada today by the teams with the best Canadians. Both Winnipeg and Hamilton, which played for the Grey Cup the past two years and are picked to repeat this year, have enough good Canadians to play platoon football.
Some of these Canadians have familiar-sounding names. Buddy Tinsley, a Winnipeg co-captain, happens to be a Canadian from Waco, Texas. He never heard of Winnipeg until 1950, when he got an offer to come up and play. He looked the town up in an atlas. He is, of course, a naturalized citizen. Some of his counterpart countrymen are Vince Scott of Hamilton, John Bove of Ottawa, Nobby Wirkowski of Calgary, Rollie Miles of Edmonton and Chuck Quilter and By Bailey of Vancouver. Becoming naturalized is football insurance. It is pleasantly reassuring to 10-year veteran Vince Scott, for example, 34 years old, 5 feet 8 and 230 pounds, not to have to keep beating out those hungry American rookies, eight inches taller and 12 years younger.
Many more imports, year-round residents, intend to become citizens when their five-year waiting period is up. One of them, Hardiman Cureton, the All-America guard from UCLA, is a man without a country. He has been charged with draft evasion in the U.S., and there is a bench warrant out for his arrest if he steps over the border. He has a year and a half to go before he can become a naturalized Canadian. In the meantime he has a good position with the H. G. Barter and Son engineering and drafting concern, a new home and few regrets. "I love the change of seasons, the buds in the spring, the golden-brown leaves of autumn, the soft white snow in winter," he said quietly, staring at his hands, a little embarrassed at the words that came out of his mouth. "This is where my wife and I want to raise our children."
Canada, according to many of the Negro players, is a land almost without prejudice. Two—Johnny Bright and Rollie Miles—are teaching and coaching in white schools, something they could hardly do back home. As a matter of fact, it is easier for any player to have any job in Canada. Before the season begins, American clubs have a training and exhibition-game period that lasts two months, then practice every afternoon. In Canada, preseason training lasts only two to four weeks, and working players take their summer vacation to coincide with it. From then on they rarely miss a day's work, as football practice doesn't begin until 5:30 p.m.