Generation Next of QBs gets ready


October 23, 1994|By KEN MURRAY

No sooner had Edmonton quarterback Rickey Foggie delivered a 31-24 victory over Baltimore in a relief role last week than he made a pitch for increased playing time.

"You can't get better sitting on the bench," he said. "Put me out there on a consistent basis and I'll show I am capable of moving a team."

If timing is everything, Foggie can only hope he's finally in the right place. At 28, in his seventh CFL season, the one-time Minnesota standout has been the Eskimos' backup for two years to Damon Allen.

Timing? Allen, a 10-year veteran, becomes a free agent in February, and U.S. expansion will be tempting. "My first choice is to play here [in Edmonton]," Allen said. "But in an open market, you want to look at all your options."

If Allen goes, Foggie could wind up in the driver's seat. Or he could wind up out in the cold.

He got a chance at a starting job in Toronto under Don Matthews in 1990 and threw for a career-high 21 touchdowns with five interceptions. When he was intercepted 44 times over the next two seasons, he traded places with Tracy Ham in the record 16-player swap between Edmonton and Toronto.

Regardless, some quarterbacking jobs should open up in the next few years. Of the top 10 quarterbacks in this week's passer efficiency ratings, only one (Timm Rosenbach, 28) is younger than 30, and he was cut. The three at the top -- Winnipeg's Matt Dunigan, Calgary's Doug Flutie and Ham -- total 29 pro seasons.

Who will make up the next generation of CFL quarterbacks?

Jim Popp, Baltimore's player personnel director, says the best are Marvin Graves of Toronto, Keithen McCant of Winnipeg, Anthony Calvillo of (for now) Las Vegas, Shawn Jones of Baltimore and Michael Payton of Saskatchewan.

"Graves will be a star in this league," Popp said. "He sees the field; he's very athletic. He's the prototype CFL quarterback."

McCant went 5-2 filling in for the injured Dunigan in his second year. Calvillo has shown he can throw the deep ball. Jones took Georgia Tech to the 1990 national title, and Payton, from Harrisburg, Pa., was Division I-AA player of the year in 1992 for Marshall's national champion.

"Shawn has phenomenal running ability," Popp said. "He's got to use that to his advantage. That's the way Ham, Allen and Flutie were. Now those guys scramble instead of running."

Jones, 24, said he's taking advantage of playing behind Ham and John Congemi. "Next year I'll be a lot better than I am now," Jones said. "What I've seen this year helped out a lot."

Frying in the desert

The CFL's decision Friday to move the final Las Vegas home game, scheduled for Nov. 5, to Edmonton on Nov. 6 should surprise no one. Attendance at Sam Boyd Stadium for last week's Winnipeg game was announced at 2,350 -- and 800 of those fans flew from Manitoba on a charter sponsored by the Blue Bombers.

Las Vegas had an average crowd of 11,877 for its first four home games. The average dropped to 6,004 for the last four.

The alternative to moving the finale to Edmonton was to play at a neutral site. And while the test market idea made sense, the league probably made the right decision.

They picked who?

Commissioner Larry Smith, the man who took the CFL to the Las Vegas desert in the first place, was chosen "Marketer of the Year" by the Toronto chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Runners-up were Richard Gallop of Ontario's Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Don Woodley, managing director of Compaq Canada Ltd., a computer firm.

Imagine the year they must have had.

Working for peanuts

Eskimos halfback Robert Holland runs a small concession stand out of his locker at Commonwealth Stadium to provide drinks and snacks for his teammates. Why the creative revenue? "I've got to supplement my income and add some peanuts to the peanuts they're paying me," he said. The Eskimos drew the line, though, when he started printing an intra-team newsletter under the pseudonym Snoop Snooperson. There's no more newsletter.

Then there is the innovative suggestion by Ottawa Rough Riders owner Bruce Firestone, who says he's reducing his salary cap from $2.5 million (Canadian) to $1.8 million next year. That would mean major reductions in salaries. And that had Larry Smith huddling with CFLPA president Dan Ferrone over collective bargaining bylaws.

No deal for Barry

Winnipeg tried to deal wide receiver Alfred Jackson to the B.C. Lions for cornerback Barry Wilburn before the Oct. 15 trading deadline. Wilburn, the former Washington Redskin, went on the block when he shouted at coach Dave Ritchie about his reserve role and was suspended for one game. But on the day Winnipeg made its offer, Wilburn told the Lions he'd accept his sixth-man role and voided the trade. . . Posse place-kicker Carlos Huerta had a streak of 18 consecutive field goals broken when he missed a 56-yarder against Winnipeg in Week 15. It was the fourth-longest streak in CFL history.

Pirates prove seaworthy

Shreveport announced a crowd of 12,465 for last week's 24-12 victory over Sacramento, but there were only 1,500 in the stands on a rain-soaked weekend in Louisiana. The field was a quagmire after three straight days of rain and three straight games, including a Grambling game the night before. Sacramento had rushed for 269 yards in a 56-3 demolition of the Pirates four weeks before but ran for 32 in the mud last Sunday.

Playoff suggestion

Sacramento president Tom Bass wants the CFL playoff format revised to eliminate the chance of having two many Eastern losers. Bass would like to see the top three teams in each division qualify, and the teams with the next two best records get wild-card berths. The Gold Miners play in the West, naturally.

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