Calvin Hill recalls his WFL days; Upton Bell, Tony Adams recall WFL daze


Calvin Hill

(Photos courtesy of Dallas Cowboys)

Talk of Fame Network

This week’s “Out of Their League’’ trip takes us to the short-lived but wild-eyed World Football League, which lasted only two years but shook up the status quo in the NFL in 1974-75 before going broke.

Rick, Ron and Clark visit with former Pro Bowl running back Calvin Hill, who recalls why he jumped from the Dallas Cowboys to the Hawaiians when he never expected to do so. He’s joined by Tony Adams, one of the league’s THREE MVPs in their only full season, who recalls the six-foot trophy he received for his efforts when all he wanted was a paycheck.

“I only played three games (in the WFL because of a knee injury) but I made more money than I made in 12 years in the NFL,’’ Hill recalled on the Talk of Fame Network’s latest broadcast. “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what they offered. I brought back the cashier’s check to my room and for 10 minutes I looked at that check.’’

Hill called his teammate, Hall-of-Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, from Honolulu seeking advice. Staubach urged Hill to bring the offer back to Dallas to negotiate with the legendarily tight-fisted Tex Schramm. But after two bitter negotiations, Hill’s wife thought otherwise.

“She snatched that check out of my hand,’’ Hill said with a laugh. “’You know how Tex is,’ she said to me. I’d been treated pretty shabbily by Tex.’’

Hill signed a future’s contract with the Hawaiians, as other NFL stars like future Hall-of-Famers Paul Warfield and Larry Csonka did, and played a lame duck season in Dallas in 1974. It was a difficult time but not because his teammates in Dallas held it against him.

“It was difficult because I got sued!’’ Hill said. “The Cowboys sued me and Craig Morton. That was really frightening. I’d never been in a court room.’’

That was also the strike year of “No Freedom, No Football.’’ Hill won the suit, but the players lost the strike, and a year later he was in Honolulu until the WFL folded.

“I thought we were pretty good,’’ Hill said of the WFL. “It wasn’t the NFL but we had guys who were really good players. It was a really competitive league.and we practiced right next to a beach.’’

Adams quarterbacked the Southern California Sun and split the 1974 MVP with running backs Tommy Reamon and J.J. Jennings. Adams set the WFL single-season record with 3,900 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, parlaying that into a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs a year later.

Despite his success, Adams still recalls the sting of losing a first-round playoff game to the Hawaiians despite being heavily favored. The reason? Three starters went AWOL.

“It cost us the game,’’ Adams said. “They did what they had to do. They hadn’t been paid.’’

Rounding out the WFL remembrances is Upton Bell, son of legendary NFL Commissioner Bert Bell and the owner of the original New York Stars, who moved during that first year to Charlotte and became the Hornets. Bell remembers how he had to talk a sheriff into having the team’s uniforms released because the former team owner in New York had stiffed the dry cleaners. He also regaled the hosts with a tale of how his team got to play an important late-season game against the under-financed Florida Blazers only because Bell guaranteed to pay the opponents’ salaries.

The Hall-of-Fame guys also discuss how the WFL dismantled the Miami Dolphins’ dynasty and get into some present-day debates over the demise of RG III in Washington and the Hall of Fame senior committee’s controversial decision to present Dick Stanfel for a third time for entry into the Hall.

The “Borges or Bogus” segment examines the unexpected ascension of Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo and doesn’t find Rex Ryan’s decision bogus, while our Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, explains why the 49ers’ Super Bowl chances have disappeared before they’ve played a game — and not because they lost 11 starters. It’s because the Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area, which has been the kiss of death for the host city’s team 37 of the 43 times it was played in an NFL stadium.

The guys also lament the passing of legendary Tennessee Titans’ scout C.O. Brocato at 85 and Ron states the Hall-of-Fame case for former Buffalo Bills nose tackle Fred Smerlas.

That and more available this week on over 80 radio stations around the country, on iTunes and the TuneIn app or at talkoffamenetwork.com.

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