The Galloping Ghost

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No. I went back in the summer of 1929, and we made one of those blood-and-thunder action serials, the kind that were shown every Saturday in those days. It was called The Galloping Ghost , and it was full of things like falling out of airplanes and speed boats running underneath the docks and into posts. We didn’t actually fall out of airplanes, of course. They’d go up and shoot the ground, and then we had an airplane suspended about ten feet in the air. It was a double exposure. It was really an exciting thing, you know, like the Perils of Pauline . Later that fall I was playing against the Giants in the Polo Grounds, and Steve Owens, who later coached the Giants, he tackled me on one play. And before I got up, he said, “Red, I missed that last episode, but what happened when you fell out of that airplane?”

In that movie serial you thwarted a bunch oj gamblers who were trying to fix football games. Did you ever run into this sort of thing outside of the motion pictures ?

Nobody ever suggested it to me, and I never heard of a player that ever came in contact with it at all. I don’t think that anyone has ever thrown a game. I would suspect maybe that points have been shaved, from what I’ve read in the newspapers years ago and things, but I don’t know. I never came in contact with it, so I’ve just been a babe in the woods as far as that is concerned.

Why didn’t you continue to play for the Chicago Bears your second year in professional football ?

As I said, my contract was with PyIe, not the Bears. Well, the second year PyIe wanted a third interest in the Bears, and Halas wouldn’t do it. So PyIe started the American Football League. PyIe and I each owned half of the New York Yankees, which I played for, and another travelling franchise built around George Wilson, who had been an All-American at the University of Washington. But the league failed, and later I gave PyIe my interest in the two teams. I don’t even remember how many teams we had in 1926 or who they all were, but I’ll never forget that it rained every Sunday all fall. I don’t think we had one sunny Sunday. And of course in those days people did not buy season tickets. If it was a nice day, they’d come to the game. We lost a bundle. The American League disbanded, and in 1927 the Yankees became part of the National Football League. The Yankees were playing Chicago that year, and late in the game I went up for a pass, and when I came down, I caught my cleats in the sod, and George Trafton, the Chicago center, fell over me, and I hurt my knee. I was on crutches for three or four months and thought for a while that I would never play football again. I missed the entire 1928 season, and when I did come back, I couldn’t cut. So the injury was the end of me being much of a running back, because straight runners are a dime a dozen.

Was it PyIe who brought you back to football in 1929 ?

No, it was George Halas. My contract with PyIe had ended, and I absolutely thought my football career was a thing of the past. But Halas practically insisted I come back and give it a try. I played through the 1934 season for George, and then I coached for him three years more, and I never had a contract with him. It was kind of an odd relationship in a way. I would go along, week to week, drawing what money I needed or what I wanted, and at the end of the season I’d go down to the office, and Halas would say, “Red, how much do I owe you?” Whatever figure I would mention, he never questioned it. He’d just have a check made out for it. Maybe it was good psychology, because you never overemphasize the money thing, you know, when you’re making the judgment yourself. But if anyone asked me who my best friend was, I’d say George Halas. We haven’t agreed on everything, but tomorrow if I need fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, I could go to George, and I’d have it in ten minutes, and he wouldn’t even ask me what I wanted it for. George was one of the originators of the National Football League. I’d say Uiere would be no league if it hadn’t been for people like Halas and Tim Mara of the Giants and, of course, Curly Lambeau of Green Bay and Art Rooney [Pittsburgh] and George Preston Marshall [Washington] and Bert Bell [league commissioner]. Those are the fellows who kept the league going. Halas is bullheaded about pro football, and in the early days he moonlighted to make money to keep his franchise in Chicago going. If anyone deserves what he has today, George Halas is that man.

How much pay did you average during your playing days with the Bears ?

I really don’t remember. I think I was paid by the game, maybe a thousand dollars a game or whatever it was. It varied, depending on how good a year I thought I had. I was paid very well, considering what the other fellows were paid.

What were the other fellows paid ?