"The other night, we're making a bus trip," Karibo said. "We have a few seats left over, so we tell the boys we'd sell them the seats for three bucks for their wives. Maybe 10 guys hold up their hands, saying they'll pay the three. Then we get on the bus and the owner says, 'What the heck, it's only 30 bucks. I'll pay it.' So we got to where we're going to play the game, one guy gets up and says if he knew the club was paying he would of brought his wife. He wants the three bucks and won't suit up until he gets it. We gave it to him."
It would seem that rewards so small would engender effort on the same scale, but this is not true. The teams in the UFL hit with enormous enthusiasm, play intelligent football and seem to care about winning as much as, say, Notre Dame.
"We get two kinds of kids," Carpenter said recently. "We get the kid who will never make it in the NFL or the AFL but loves to play football so much that he'll take $50 a week and an outside job and work out at night just to stay in the game. You don't have to worry about his desire.
"Then we get the kids who were cut late by a major league club and feel that, with another year's experience, they can move back up and stick. They know that they are being scouted by both the major leagues. If they do well, they get another chance."
Some 30 UFL players were, indeed, given another chance this year. Only three were still around when the NFL and AFL finally cut their squads to size, but those three are enough to create enthusiasm among the ones left in the UFL.
Gareff, who never finished high school, and gave up a career as a barker in a carnival at 26 to go to college for his law degree, played his only football during his sophomore year in high school.
"I got interested in minor league ball because a client called me in Columbus and asked if he could field a team for $2,500," Gareff says. "We incorporated for $15,000 three years ago, played a bunch of hamburgers in tank towns before 300 or 400 people. I figured a good team in a city like Columbus could do better than that, and I was right."
Gareff modeled his league almost exactly on the NFL, appropriating league rules, playing rules and player contracts nearly word for word. "If we can bring the player salaries up to an average of $100 a game," he said the other day, "we're home free. Then we can offer the boys enough money so that all they have to do is play football for a living. But we have to be careful. We're a minor league, and I think we'll continue to be. If we get delusions of grandeur, we're in trouble. There's not enough money available in the parks we have to go big league. But there's a place in the Midwest for this kind of football. I think we've proved that."