Brian Saxton, a former tight end for Boston College, described a try-out he had for the Dallas Cowboys a number of years ago. “This was the most bizarre tryout I’ve ever had.” Brian had been to a few pro camps, started some games for the Giants, and played with a number of Boston College gridders who wound up in the NFL so he knew what scouts and coaches looked for. This specific tryout involving about a dozen prospects was directed by long time Cowboy scout Jim Garrett, former head coach of Columbia University and the WFL’s Houston Texans. “Garrett brought along a guy who had to be 5’8” and about 260 pounds of solid steel. All we did was run at him and the guy would beat the hell out of us. He got down over me like a linebacker and just pounded me, no pads but he was going all out, full contact. It didn’t matter what position any of the guys were being looked at for, you ran at Garrett’s guy and he beat you down.” When asked about running patterns, catching the ball, and doing the other things any tight end would be called upon to do, Saxton replied “Nothing, we just fought this guy is what it amounted to and he was a guy you weren’t gonna beat physically.” Garrett’s final evaluation indicated that he liked whatever it was Brian did but it was confirmed by others that Garrett had his own unique way of evaluating talent.
As Vice President Of Football Operations and Head Coach of the Houston Texans Garrett came into his job on April 12, 1974, leaving scant time to put a decent team together for owner Steve Arnold, a New York-based attorney who had been involved with Davidson’s World Hockey Association, his American Basketball Association, and World Team Tennis. Arnold, with his pre-WFL Davidson association, was one of the six original franchise holders who entered the league at no cost. He was never called upon to pay the announced franchise fee of $700,000.00 but was, right into June and the start of the season, attempting to sell up to eighty-percent ownership for $1 million-plus. Immediately prior to the season’s kickoff the team showed a bank account balance of only $7,000.00 and could not afford to move into their announced corporate offices. As negotiations with potential buyers dragged on, the league itself was paying the Texans’ expenses. The financial mess was further highlighted by the hiring of Pete Mangum and Wayne Spruill, two coaches from Northeastern Louisiana State University. Both were to be personnel directors, moved to the Houston area and spent quite a bit of their own money traveling to scout players. A few weeks into their work, the Texans released them and declined to pay any of their expenses or salaries. MORE...
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