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.
Many more imports, year-round residents, intend to become citizens when their five-year waiting period is up. One of them, Hardiman Cureton, the All-America guard from UCLA, is a man without a country. He has been charged with draft evasion in the U.S., and there is a bench warrant out for his arrest if he steps over the border. He has a year and a half to go before he can become a naturalized Canadian. In the meantime he has a good position with the H. G. Barter and Son engineering and drafting concern, a new home and few regrets. "I love the change of seasons, the buds in the spring, the golden-brown leaves of autumn, the soft white snow in winter," he said quietly, staring at his hands, a little embarrassed at the words that came out of his mouth. "This is where my wife and I want to raise our children."
Canada, according to many of the Negro players, is a land almost without prejudice. Two—Johnny Bright and Rollie Miles—are teaching and coaching in white schools, something they could hardly do back home. As a matter of fact, it is easier for any player to have any job in Canada. Before the season begins, American clubs have a training and exhibition-game period that lasts two months, then practice every afternoon. In Canada, preseason training lasts only two to four weeks, and working players take their summer vacation to coincide with it. From then on they rarely miss a day's work, as football practice doesn't begin until 5:30 p.m.
"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."
Think of it: Playing a pro football game Saturday night, another Monday night, and going to work on Tuesday morning. That's old school.
As for Uncle Corky: He was a combat veteran of the 82nd Airborne in the U.S. Army, was a POW in Vietnam, and to my knowledge still lives in Fayetteville, N.C., near Fort Bragg.