CFLs' Pringle puts hurt on foes after surprise trade AFTER THE PAIN, A CAREER GAIN

September 08, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

The issues were loyalty and convenience when Mike Pringle rolled into Baltimore last June in an agitated state of mind.

The loyalty of the Sacramento Gold Miners was in question; Pringle's convenience was in doubt.

That was 3 1/2 months and one very curious trade ago. Today, the deal that brought the 26-year-old running back to Baltimore's Canadian Football League team for "future considerations" looks indeed like a gold mine to Pringle and the CFLs.

Halfway through the season, Pringle is second in the league in rushing yards with 759, and is one of the prime reasons the CFLs (6-3) are tied with Winnipeg for the Eastern Division lead.

Last week, Pringle ran for 232 yards in a 28-16 win over Shreveport.

This week, in a tantalizing reunion, he goes against his old teammates. Just don't call it a grudge match.

"I can't go into any one game thinking revenge or trying to play harder than I already do," he said yesterday. "If anybody says they will have a better game because of something that happened -- traded, cut or bad blood -- you were cheating in the previous games.

"I'm not saying it wouldn't feel good to beat my old teammates. I have friends on the team. [Losing] would be like getting beat by your little brother. I want to beat them because of that, not because of anything that happened in the organization."

Pringle felt he was entrenched in Sacramento. He helped the Surge win the World League championship in 1992, rushing for 507 yards. A year ago, he was mostly a blocking back with the Gold Miners, but still accumulated nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards.

Then there was the fact he lives in Mission Hills, Calif., just 15 minutes north of Los Angeles, and his family also lives on the West Coast. His mother, Annie, would travel to see most of his games.

Put it together and Pringle was stewing about the May 28 trade when he arrived.

"When it happened, it made me realize even more this is a business," he said. "I thought loyalty should come into play. I was a running back two years and won one world championship in the World Bowl. I wasn't out there just getting by, I was very productive."

Pringle never got an explanation on the trade, even in a phone conversation he had with Sacramento coach Kay Stephenson last spring.

"Kay's very articulate, but he had a hard time explaining why I was being traded," he said.

Apparently, not many could rationalize the deal. When former Sacramento center Nick Subis signed with Baltimore in June, he was stunned to see Pringle in camp, too.

"I saw him getting taped and said, 'What are you doing here?' " Subis said. "I still don't understand why they let him go."

Sacramento could use Pringle. He is averaging more rushing yards (84.3) than the Gold Miners (77.2) as a team.

He ran for 172 against Hamilton four weeks ago, then hit the jackpot in Shreveport. On a night when the CFLs went with third quarterback Shawn Jones, Pringle bulldozed the Pirates for the highest rushing total in the league this season. He gained 174 of the 232 in the second half.

It was the first 200-yard rushing game of Pringle's four-year pro career and it earned him and his offensive linemen a night out.

Pringle has an arrangement with the linemen that he buys them a meal if he runs for 100, but they buy him a meal if he gains 200. They'll all eat tonight at a restaurant in Little Italy.

Tackle Shar Pourdanesh said Pringle is quick to compliment his linemen after a good run. Pourdanesh wasn't sure what Pringle was saying early in the year, though. He remembers Pringle yelling a lot after botched runs.

"At first, I thought he was yelling at us," Pourdanesh said. "Then I realized he was yelling at himself. It took some getting used to. He's a very emotional player. The only time he's quiet is when he has a big run."

Pringle was quiet Saturday. He had runs of 29, 27 and 30 yards and then had an 83-yard touchdown -- the CFLs' longest of the year. He averaged 13.6 yards a carry.

A move that originally seemed a setback for Pringle has become a career gain.

"I'm happy here in Baltimore," he said. "I enjoy carrying the ball as much as I am. I'm also thankful for the time spent last year at fullback. It helped me understand the game better."

NOTES: Coach Don Matthews said slotback Shawn Beals (hamstring) will stay on the injured list this week. He will be replaced by Reggie Perry in the starting lineup and Joe Washington on the roster. . . . Defensive tackle Jearld Baylis practiced yesterday with a brace on his ailing left knee, but rush end Elfrid Payton (knee) sat out most of the team drills.

IN A RUSH

Mike Pringle's performance against Shreveport on Saturday night was the fifth best in CFL history.

Player, Team, Opponent, Date, Att., Yds.

Ron Stewart, Ottawa, Montreal, 10/10/60, 15, 287

George Reed, Saskatchewan, B.C., 10/24/65, 30, 268

Lovell Coleman, Calgary Hamilton, 9/15/64, 25, 238

Willie Burden, Calgary, Winnipeg, 11/2/75, 34, 238

Mike Pringle, Baltimore, Shreveport, 9/3/94, 17, 232

Source: Canadian Football League

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