The Galloping Ghost

PrintPrintEmailEmail

First of all, my contract was with PyIe, not the Bears. I never did have a contract with the Bears. PyIe and Halas agreed to split the gate receipts, and then Charlie and I split our share. Charlie was honest as far as … well, with me, anyway. A lot of people used to say he was gypping me, but he never did. The day after we beat the Giants in the Polo Grounds, PyIe gave me a check for fifty thousand dollars, and I remember it was coming up close to Christmas, and I remember going out to Wheaton and giving my father a check for five thousand dollars and driving a new automobile out and giving it to my brother. That was probably the biggest kick I got out of making money. That, and paying off a few debts I owed. I owed five hundred dollars for a raccoon coat, which I paid off.

D idn’t you endorse a lot of different products ?

Charlie had lined up all these endorsements when we were in New York to play the Giants. The only thing I needed to do was just meet the people. I never had any part in the discussions or anything. I guess I was the first football player to have a manager or a business partner like that. But we endorsed a lot of things, including football dolls and soft drinks and a candy bar and even a meat loaf. I would have been embarrassed to ask for some of the prices that PyIe used to ask for—and get, by the way. PyIe also signed me up to a movie contract that time in New York. As I recall, we were supposed to get a percentage or something. Anyway, Charlie made out a check for three hundred thousand dollars and flashed it around to the press. It was strictly a friendly promotion, and we didn’t receive anything near that amount, but he had a lot of people believing it. Then the following summer, when we went out to Hollywood to film One Minute to Play , the script called for the big game to be played on a fall afternoon on the east coast. Well, nobody wanted to spend a lot of money to hire extras for the crowd scenes, so PyIe came up with the idea to stage an exhibition game in Los Angeles that would be free to anyone who came wearing a hat and overcoat. You know, twelve thousand people dressed like that showed up in the middle of July, and we were able to shoot all the crowd reactions we needed.

Did you like working in the movies in Hollywood ?

It was awfully hard work, believe jne. You’d get up at five o’clock and be over there at the studio many times until nine or ten at night. It was no fun. But One Minute to Play was shown throughout the country and did very well. A year or two later I made another silent movie called Racing Romeo , which never amounted to very much. But I did get to work with Barney Oldfield, who did a lot of the driving sequences in the movie, and I got to know Jim Jeffries, the old fighter. And had I known that Wyatt Earp was living out there at the time, I certainly would have looked him up, because he was one of my great old heroes from the West.

W ho were some of your other heroes ?

I’ve always admired men like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. These were guys who came from nothing, from no place, from poverty—same way I did, and nobody was ever poorer than Grange when he was a kid. I admire people like that. I have nothing against them, but I don’t admire rich kids who never worked a day in their life and their old man dies and leaves them a few million dollars. I met Babe Ruth, incidentally, the first time I played in New York. The Babe came up to my room at the Astor Hotel. Bless him, it was real nice of him, and he said, kid, I want to give you a little bit of advice. He said, don’t pay any attention to what they write about you, and don’t pick up too many checks.

Didn’t you have any heroes who were football players ?

Well, the fact is that I’m not a great football fan. I prefer baseball. To me football was work. Playing a game was fun, but the doggone practice, that’s the toughest job in the world. Also, after I stopped playing, I broadcast three hundred or so football games, including play-by-play for the Bears for fourteen years. So just to see two teams play football, that doesn’t have an awful lot of appeal for me.

But what about Jim Thorpe, ihe Carlisle Indian ?

Jim wasn’t a hero of mine, but we did get well acquainted, and I liked him a lot. I only played one exhibition against him, and he was past his prime by then. But when I was living in LXJS Angeles, he used to come over to the house two or three times a week. Jim was Jim’s worst enemy, you know. A great, talented guy, probably the greatest athlete that ever lived, and a lovable kind of guy, too. PyIe used to have a party trick he’d work with Thorpe. Charlie had two quarters with the same kind of marks on them. He’d get Thorpe to plant one quarter in an orange for him. Then PyIe would show everybody the other quarter and tell them he was going to magically pass the quarter into that orange over on the table. Then PyIe would say a lot of hocus-pocus and palm the quarter. Well, one night everybody gathered around the table, and when they opened the orange, old Thorpe had put two dimes and a nickel in it. It was the only time I ever saw PyIe get mad at anyone.

Were those the only two movies you made in Hollywood ?