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"Even when we play what we call double-headers, games Saturday and Monday nights," Vancouver's By Bailey, a successful salesman, said, "we get back to Vancouver by 3 a.m. Tuesday. I'm at my desk at 9 a.m. sharp."
But though all these things—Cureton's golden-brown leaves and soft white snow, lack of prejudice, career opportunity—sound great, most players come to Canada originally for just one reason—money. Canadian teams give the rookie a bonus for signing, usually $1,000, and after that pay bigger salaries than American teams for a shorter season.
"I was with Philadelphia, Detroit and the Chicago Cards for four years," Frank Tripucka, the old Notre Dame quarterback said, squirming in his chair with anguish, "and all that time I could have been getting four grand more a year up here! Sixteen thousand bucks! It still burns me up." Tripucka took over as head coach at Regina recently.
In one case a Canadian team offered too much money and not only came close to losing a player but almost broke up a happy home. "I played four years for Jim Trimble on the Philadelphia Eagles," Ralph Goldston, one of the best, and meanest, safety men in the game, said, "but when he left to coach Hamilton I was traded to Green Bay and got cut. I called Jim and he told me he'd give me $10,000. Hell, that was twice what he was paying me at Philadelphia. My wife said he was trying to make a fool out of me and told me not to go. When I did go she was so mad she wouldn't come to the airport with me. And then I got here and sure enough, I make $10,000. But my wife and I don't mention it."
Wray Carlton and his wife had an entirely different experience, thanks to Canadian football. Carlton, fast Duke halfback, was the third-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League draft and was leaning in the direction of Philadelphia when Coach Hampton Pool of Toronto heard of his impending marriage. Pool promptly arranged a honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean for Mr. and Mrs. Carlton, with final destination Toronto. They accepted. Pool, incidentally, is a travel agent in Toronto; he got Carlton and 5% commission to boot.
After all that intrigue, Carlton did not make the team and quit football. Pool was fired. Pool has probably spent his commission, but Carlton, at last reports, still had his wife.
Though Canadian football may be more demanding in some respects, most of the Americans playing there don't really care much, one way or the other. "What the hell," a half dozen Imports have told me, "you block, you tackle. That's football."
To specialists like Jack Hill of Regina, however, leading scorer among the five western teams last year, there is a big difference in Canadian football. One of Hill's jobs is to run back punts. "There's no fair catch and your own men can't block for you. You can't let it go—even if you're behind your own goal line you got to catch the thing and try to run it out," he said with a little shudder. "The other team can't come within five yards of you until you catch the ball, then—boom! It's suicide."
The players who have the hardest time adjusting to Canadian football are linemen from split-T teams. Take the sad case of Corky Gaines, a guard from the University of South Carolina. At South Carolina they played possession football. The quarterback rarely calls an outside play, and if he throws a pass the coach throws him in the briar patch. All the offensive guard does, therefore, all game long, is run into the man ahead of him. But in the Canadian wide-open game the guard must also pull out and hit the end, pull out and lead the interference, and drop back and protect the passer. Though the sage of Montreal, Coach Peahead Walker, was willing to keep Gaines on for his defensive ability at $9,000 a year, the young man became so confused that he fled to a London, Ontario semipro team to play the same game for $1,200.
Despite such tragedies, the Canadian game will most likely continue to attract many of the most sought-after American players. James E. Finks, who, after seven years as quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and one year as backfield coach at Notre Dame is now the smooth young general manager of the Calgary Stampeders, summed it up this way: