Alouette Coach Joe Scannella, a former special-teams coach with the Oakland Raiders, says Ferragamo's biggest adjustment is picking up the extra defensive back who is in the pass coverage because there are 12 men on a side in the CFL. With six interceptions in four exhibitions and five more in the two regular-season games, Ferragamo is obviously having trouble with that extra man. Also, the wider field (65 yards vs. 53⅓ in the NFL) puts a premium on quickness. Ferragamo is a classic dropback quarterback with little mobility, as his career rushing record with the Rams (42 yards in 21 carries) will attest. And though Ferragamo's offensive line isn't small by Canadian standards (it averages about 250 pounds), no one is pretending it can offer Ferragamo the kind of security he got from, say, Doug France or Dennis Harrah of the Rams.
Ferragamo recognizes all these problems. Yes, the extra defensive back has been troublesome, but he'll work it out. Yes, the wider field seems made for rollout quarterbacks, but don't forget that rolling out cuts the field in half. Yes, the offensive line isn't like the Rams', but neither are the opposing front fours.
Off the field Ferragamo can't expect to match the fringe benefits he enjoyed in the U.S. He did both national and regional commercials, but felt he had only begun to crack the market. "A lot of people were hesitant about giving me big endorsements because my situation with the Rams all along was so up in the air," he says. "I go to the Super Bowl and the next year the Rams come out and say Pat Haden will be the starting quarterback." His looks (choose one from the following list of regulars—1. matinee idol, 2. sculpted, 3. classic Italian) had gotten him offers for appearances on Fantasy Island, Laverne & Shirley and B.J. and the Bear. He turned them all down—"I had to be a little careful with my image because I'm a football player first"—but, no doubt, the offers would've kept coming.
Ferragamo does get attention in Canada, of course, and he's handled it well. So have his teammates, particularly backup Quarterback Gerry Dattilio, who had the most to lose from Ferragamo's arrival. A roll-out quarterback who runs well, Dattilio was the Eastern Conference's most valuable player last year, only to lose his job to Ferragamo before the first jumping jack of training camp. "I don't like the situation, though I'm taking it better now," says Dattilio. "There's no doubt that Vince, being the type of person he is—a hard worker, a good guy and all that—has made it easier."
But the Ferragamos have had to make adjustments, too. They'll return to their house in Irvine, Calif. after the season, but for now they're living in a modest apartment complex in West Island, a predominantly English-speaking Montreal suburb. Jodi is trying to get by without a dishwasher, a garbage disposal or a double sink, deprivations which undoubtedly interest her husband less than, say, the extra-defensive-back problem. Jodi's spirits picked up last week when Vince bought her a new Trans Am, but she has yet to make sense of the dubbed version of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. "Ted Baxter speaking French will just blow you away," she says. But the biggest sacrifice of all? "We can't find any Mexican restaurants in the city," says Jodi. "It was our second anniversary recently and Vince asked me what I wanted. I told him to fly me back to California for some Mexican food."
The Ferragamos are making an effort to learn passable French. They're in diffferent classes because Jodi studied the language in high school; she can count to 1,000, while Vince struggles to 50. "I'm not trying to become real proficient," he says. "I just want to pick up some of it to get along. Things like, bonjour, ma-dame or comment ça va?" But it's slow going. Football takes up a lot of time and Ferragamo is a frequent class-cutter: He missed two last week while preparing for the home opener.
That preparation seemed wasted early in the game as the Alouettes, who trailed 21-1 at halftime, resembled the team that lost 48-8 in the opener. Had Skalbania not been vacationing in Greece, surely he would have been tempted to come roaring into the dressing room at halftime. But, finally, the American cast got moving. There was Scott hauling in Ferragamo's second TD pass with 8:57 left to bring the Alouettes to within 21-15. There was Souliers Blancs picking up 17 yards on a wide-receiver screen to give Montreal a first down at the Toronto one with only 19 seconds left. And there was Overstreet leaping over the goal line on the next play to tie the game at 22-22 and set up Gerry McGrath's winning placement. It was exciting enough to make Ferragamo (18 of 38 for 240 yards and two TDs) shout, "Au revoir, NFL, au revoir!" One wonders, though, if the NFL hasn't already said, "Au revoir, Vince Ferragamo, au revoir!"