WHY NOT PRO FOOTBALL ?
Says Hayman: Let’s cut out the phony amateurism and have straight pay for play—we have the talent: all we need is the money
As told to JIM COLEMAN
In 1932 a short, sharp-featured, keen-eyed fellow from. Syracuse attracted the attention of discerning critics as he hovered on the fringes of the Toronto rugby football scene. His name was Lew Hayman and he had been brought to Canada by Warren Stevens to assist with the coaching at University of Toronto. With two games of the schedule remaining, Buck McKenna, coach of the famous Argonaut Rowing Club football team, threw up his arms in despair and yelped for help. The “mystery man” from Syracuse came on the run and the stumbling Argonauts won their final two games.
The following season Hayman axis appointed coach of the Argos and promptly won a Dominion Championshipemdash;defeating Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the final game. Since then he has won three more Canadian championships and has established a reputation as the most successful coach since the advent of the forward pass. His Argonauts won in 1937 and 1938 and he coached the RCAF Hurricanes to another national title in 1942emdash; and in each case his final victims were those same Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
A shrewd strategist and a born gambler, llayman’s teams hailt;e played intelligent, daring football, frequently baffling and beating teams which were better-equipped with manpower. An innovator who has made football his main business for the past 12 years (interrupted by nearly three years in the RCAF), Hayman has a long range view of the game and its possibilities in Canada.
THE football questions which are posed most often these days are: Should we have out-andout professionalism? Should we toss aside the shabby pretenses of pseudo-amateurism? Should we come right out and hand the boys their salary cheques instead of slipping them something behind a closed
door? Should we get away from a form of hypocrisy which has been assailed by press, radio and the players themselves?
It is only sensible that a scat-back should receive something more than three rousing cheers for those long runs which lift thousands of spectators from their seats, screaming as if they had just won a $2,000 daily-double. It is only sensible that a lineman should receive something more than a few ounces of liniment, 100 yards of adhesive tape and a friendly pat on the back for getting his ears kicked off when he spends a perspirat ion-soaked Saturday afternoon exchanging bruises, lacerations and contusions with some truculent husky on the opposite side of the scrimmage.
To put it bluntly, however, Canada hasn’t yet reached the stage where professional football could be sufficiently remunerative for a man to make it his profession.
Ultimately we shall come to professionalism, but not until we have larger stadia, larger leagues and longer schedules. You can’t pay men decent salaries whenemdash; as is the case in The Big Four of Eastern Canadaemdash;you have only three regularly scheduled home games and possibly a couple of play-off contests. Basically, I am in favor of complete professionalism, but only when the men who provide the spectacle on the field can be paid respectable salaries.
Before someone points out that, as a former American, I am contravening the rules of international diplomacy, 1 would like to point out that Canadian football is my business. It’s a great game, a thrilling spectacle, and our own domestic brand of football player is as good as any in the world. We have had Canadian players whose names would have been ns well known as Sammy Baugh, Whizzer White and Bronko Nagurski if only they had attended U. S. colleges and had been Continued on page 66
Keep the /,FQOt/# In Football
HERE’S what Hayman says: The healthy state of Canadian football is emphasized by the fact that it is subjected to constant criticism from its own players, coaches and officials.
As a purely personal opinion, I would suggest that, since the advent of the forward pass, we have made a serious mistake in removing the “foot” from football. In the past two years I have had ample opportunity to travel from coast to coast, observing the various seta of rules under which our game is played. Ultimately we will get together on a standard set of rules, and at present the variations in playing conditions aren’t of vital importance. What is of importance, though, is the fact that the teen-aged players on the corner lots are forgetting that a football was intended primarily to be kicked. This is emphasized in western Canada, where the kids don’t kick a ball any moreemdash;they PASS it !
Today there isn’t a single outstanding kicker in Canada. Ten years ago we had men like Huck Welch, Ab Box, Frank Turville and Bummer Stirling who could smack that ball so high and far that you’d swear it. had been inflated with helium. Give me just one kicker today who could be compared with those fellows and I’ll trade you three running backs, a passer and a good running guard.
One of the essential features of the Canadian game is kicking, and we should resist stubbornly any attempt to have the rouge and the kick for single points removed from the game. The rouge is one of the most thrilling and important plays, and if you don’t believe me, just watch a coach writhe on his bench and treat himself to a firstclass case of incipient stomach ulcers the next time that one of his halfbacks stands behind the goal-line, waiting to receive an enemy punt.
The great Ice Bowl game which the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa Rough Riders played for the Grey Cup in December, 1939, was decided in the last seconds of play by one of those punts which earned a single point.
The score was tied, 7-7, with a minute of play remaining, when Winnipeg recovered a fumble deep in Ottawa territory. On the next play Art Stevenson kicked the ball into the Ottawa end zone. Gambling in an attempt to stave off defeat, the Ottawa safety-man attempted to return the kick on the run but it slithered out of bounds only about 20 yards out from his goal-line, and Winnipeg took possession. Stevenson didn’t make any mistakes on the next playemdash;he booted the ball far and high for the winning point.
It would be folly to dispense with a play like that which can break up a ball game.
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exposed to the bright glare of publicity which attends any outstanding football figure on the other side of the border.
Pay for Play?
First, let us take a calm, clear look at this question of out-and-out professionalism. Let us descend to crass, monetary elementáis. After all the boys must eat, and you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a 250-pound lineman throw a headlock on a threepound steak.
Under present conditions the best that a Canadian team could hope for is five home games with an average gate of $10,000. That gives the team total receipts of $50,000 and they could spend that without drawing a deep breath. Here are a few of the trifling expenditures:
Rental of stadium...... $ 7,500
Equipment replacements 2,000
Travelling expenses .... 5,000
Reserve for medical
Training Table: one 60c. meal for 40 men, five days weekly for approximately 12 weeks 1,440
TOTAL ............. $17,940
That would leave the club with slightly more than $32,000 to pay the annual salaries of the coach, the manager, the trainers and approximately 40 players.
The answer is obviousemdash;with the present limited facilities at our disposal, it would be grossly unfair to expect a boy to make football his vocation at an annual salary of less than $1,000.
The day will come, though! The day will come when we have municipally owned stadia capable of seating 25,000 or 30,000 customers. The day
will come when speedy air travel will make it possible for an Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto team to play regularly scheduled games in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, and, by the same token, the Blue Bombers, Bronks and the Grizzlies can keep gridiron engagements in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal or Hamilton.
As an immediate policy then, for Canadian football, I would phrase it thusly: Pay ’em as much as the gate receipts will permit; provide the players additionally with sound, all-year jobs with opportunities for advancement; And remove the opprobrious term “athletic bum” from the sporting lexicon.
Iam suggesting only a system which already has been employed with successful results by the enlightened executive of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In pre-war years the Winnipeggers were criticized vehemently for their wholesale importations of U. S. college stars but, in reality, they showed excellent discrimination in their importations and they gave many young Americans a splendid opportunity to become respected members of their adopted Canadian communities.
How well the Americans capitalized on these opportunities can be seen in the case history of Bert Oja, who was brought to Winnipeg from the University of Minnesota. Oja played a leading role in winning the Bombers their first Dominion Championship in 1935 and then he expressed a desire to complete his training in dentistry.
Accordingly, the Winnipeg club enrolled him in the Dentistry Faculty at the University of Alberta and he travelled by plane from Edmonton each week end to play for the Bombers in their games at Winnipeg, Calgary and Regina. In return for little more than a year of Canadian football, Oja received his degree in dentistry, established a successful practice in Winnipeg and, soon after the outbreak of war, was commissioned in the Canadian ! Dental Corps.
Take the case of Art Stevenson, a really fine quarterback who went to Winnipeg from little Hastings College in Nebraska. Stevenson was enrolled in the Medical School at University of Manitoba. He was the keyman on several of Reg Threlfall’s most successful Winnipeg teams and, when he graduated, he was commissioned immediately in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
Not only did the Americans benefit from the football-job proposition. Reg Barker, a Torontonian, played exactly one year of football for the Argonauts. As a result of his football associations he obtained a position with the Goodyear Rubber Company and received an excellent promotion and a move to Winnipeg.
Doug Turner, one of the best centres I have been privileged to watch in action, studied engineering at University of Toronto. The Hamilton Tigers were anxious to obtain his football services and he was persuaded to accept an engineering post in Hamilton. The war cut short his gridiron career but, when he returns to civilian life, he will go back to the position which his football skill won for him.
Oja, Stevenson, Barker and Turner ¡ are the type of men who would have made a success of life even if they had j been born with one leg. But the fact j remains that it was football which gave them their chance to move to the front rapidly in their chosen field.
In veering toward outright professionalism we must make it clear that many of our best players in recent
years have refused ID countenance the j hanky-panky of shamateurism. For instance, Bob Isbister, who was one of the outstanding stars of the championship Argonauts in 1937 and 1938, wasan amateur in the finest sense of the word —he played football simply for the love of it. In a country such as Canada j j it is certain that thrro will he many i men like Isbister, ar.J our rules of professionalism must he such that they won’t be excluded from competition.
At times it has heen a little difficult to understand why the officials of football clubs have gone to elaborate lengths to disguise the fact that their players have been receiving more than a cordial handshake and an embossed windbreaker at the end of the season. In view of the fact that the press has subjected shamateurism to such derision, it isn’t exactly betraying any trade secrets to mention that one I talented quarterback in eastern Canada had his home completely furnished by his grateful employers.
It wasn’t considered diplomatic to cross his palm with silver but all parties managed to avert their gaze ! while the moving-men trundled the new furniture through the doorway.
From some western quarters there has been an insistent cry that we must return to a policy of importing U. S. college players before the game can be revived completely.
Again—and with some reservations which will be explained later—we would like to stick out the Hayman chin and suggest that such a theory is arrant nonsense. In the days when our importations of American players were at a peak, Canadian boys showed that they were just as good or better on the football field.
In making this comparison I am not unmindful of the fact that some of the Americans who came to Canada were such fellows as Fritz Hanson, Abe Eliowitz, Warren Stevens, Skinny ¡ Baysinger, Johnny Ferraro, Wally | Masters and Red Carlson. I didn’t have an opportunity to see Howard Cleveland, Lynn Warren and some of those other fellows who played in the West, but all of them came here with topnotch reputations.
We Grow Our Own Too
The fact remains, though, that none j I of them—with the exception of Hanson j —could carry that ball any better than Ottawa’s Andy Tommy, Balmy Beach’s ! Eddie Thompson, Argos’ Art West and another fellow named Red Storey who j had quite an afternoon for Argonauts j against Winnipeg Blue Bombers. (Note j to Winnipeg readers: we hate to bring i up the name of Storey.)
On a basis of comparative manpower j there is only one department in which the Americans surpass our game—that j is in line play. The answer, though, is quite simple. In Canada, linemen are ; restricted to five yards of blocking while the American linemen can block anywhere on the field. In other words, ¡ the Canadian game emphasizes backj I field play.
For the rest of it, our Canadian ! passers have come along remarkably in the slightly more than 10 years during which the play has been permitted in this country. It is true that, as yet, we haven’t developed a forward passer of the stature of Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman or Davey O’Brien but, for that matter, the United States, with 10 times our population, has developed only one Baugh, one Luckman and one I O’Brien.
We have done reasonably well. Passers such as Bill Stukus and Ab Box would be as good as many AmeriI ; can college stars. Incidentally, Box was the only punter I ever saw whose j
kicking ability didn’t deteriorate after he accepted a forward-passing assignment. You’d go a long way in any country before you could find another man who could kick and pass in the same class with Box.
In all probability the zone of interference will be increased in Canadian football some day; and for that reason forward-looking Canadian teams could afford to import some top-grade American linemen. In that respect, too, Canadian teams would do well to make contractual agreements with professional clubs in the United States, thus obtaining the use of players whom the American clubs are attempting to keep “hidden” from their rivals. If you don’t think that our linemen are reasonably proficient, how can a fellow like Winnipeg’s Les Lear win a starting assignment with the Cleveland Rams?
Canada All-Star Team
Because of my American background, I cannot be accused of nationalistic propaganda if I attempt to cure Canadians of an athletic inferiority complex by selecting a native Canadian football team that bears comparison with anything south of the border.
In venturing into these treacherous regions of selection I would point out that these nominations are confined to those players whom I have seen in actual competition. A coach who spends every Saturday afternoon wrestling with himself on a bench doesn’t have an opportunity to watch teams in other leagues. For that reason I have seen only a few Intercollegiate games, a few Ontario Rugby Football Union games, and, in recent years, several in western Canada. For that reason it was impossible for me to see such great performers as Don Young of McGill and Paul Rowe of Calgary Bronks. However, I was sufficiently interested in Rowe to practically break both arms in an attempt to persuade him to come east to play for Argos.
There is another extremely important qualification in selecting this team. I have been in Canada for only 13 years and accordingly didn’t see fellows like Pep Leadley, Harry Batstone and many others in action.
Let’s start off with a few Canadianborn linemen:
For snapbacks you could have quite a handy trio in Doug Turner (University of Toronto and Hamilton Tigers), Curly Moynahan (Ottawa) and Mel Wilson (Winnipeg.)
For inside wings the best I’ve seen would have to include Les Lear (Winnipeg), Bill Ceretti (Winnipeg), Tiny Herman (Ottawa) and Jim Palmer (Argos.)
There has been an abundance of fine middle wings, or tackles as they call them in western Canada and the States. Take fellows like Dave Sprague (Hamilton and Ottawa),Brian Timmis (I saw him only in his final year, but that was enough for me), Tommy Burns (Montreal and Argos). Pete Jotkus (Montreal) and Bunny Wadsworth (Ottawa). For some peculiar reason the best western tackles I saw in action were Americans and, as examples, I might cite Martin Cainor and Bob Cosgrove.
For outside wings I’ll take Wes Cutler (Argos), Bernie Thornton (Argos and Winnipeg), Jeff Nicklin (Winnipeg), Tony McCarthy (Ottawa) and Seymour Wilson (Hamilton).
When you get around to selecting backfielders over a span of 13 years in Canadian football you take your life in your hands, but if by any trifling chance you fail to agree with these nominations, please send your protests to the editor, prepaid.
Continued on page 71
Continued from page 69
I’d start off immediately with Bummer Stirling of the Sarnia Imperials. Then, I’d take Ab Box of the Argos and Balmy Beach. Once you’ve assured those two of a place on your team you’re in trouble. It’s impossible to differentiate among the rest of them.
You can’t forget men like Bob Isbister (Argos), Normie Perry (Sarnia), Gordie Perry (Montreal), Eddie Thompson (Balmy Beach), Andy Tommy (Ottawa) and Andy Bieber (Winnipeg).
If that isn’t enough—and we’re not ranking them in order of preference, by any means—how about Huck Welch (Hamilton), Frank Turville (Argos and Hamilton), Don Crowe (RCAF Hurricanes), Jack Parry (he may be greater than Hanson eventually), Tony Golab (Ottawa), Joe Krol (Hamilton), Jim Farmer (Western U.), Teddy Morris (Argos)—their present coach—Bobby Coulter (U. of T. and Argos) and Tommy Daley (Ottawa).
There’s a squad for you.
Give a coach about two months with those fellows and an unlimited expense account and you’d have to build a 100,000-seat stadium to handle the crowds that would watch them.
Bring on those Chicago Bears!