Boston Globe

February 19, 1974

By Leigh Montville

Yes, I do mourn the Bulls


December 1973 - February 1974


There's one thing you can say about mourning the passing of our city's newest football franchise - a man doesn't have to fight through a crowd to reach the casket. 

If ever there has been an unlamented death, this is it. The median reaction has been an unstifled yawn. All the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth involved couldn't fill one 30-second commercial story of a woman discovering shirts with a case of ring-around-the-collar. 

Even the immediate family doesn't seem very concerned. The coach and the front office folk and the unsigned draft choices and even the owner simply are packing their Samsonites and heading for the Big Apple. So long Boston. Hello N.Y.C., Herald Square, Maxwell's Plum and m-o-n-e-y.

Sic transit Boston's WFL franchise. 

Doesn't anyone care? Is there no voice out there that will eulogize this still-warm body? Was this an idea totally without merit? Isn't there one saddened face in this room? 

Yes, sports brethren, there is. It belongs to me. 

If a pallbearer is needed for this letterhead of a football team, I'm available. My black suit has been pressed. My Army-issue low quarters still will take a shine. 

I'm going to miss the Bulls, even though the first story I wrote about them concerned their demise. I think the Bulls could have provided a great service to local professional football. I think they could have bought us some fun. 

Stop, I know your arguments - I know there are better ways to spend your money and than in a visit to Boston University's Nickerson Field at X dollars per ticket; I know this would have been the development of a bad team in a bad economy. No one in my family had suggested we start saving for a brace of season tickets.

What I'm saying, is that the Bulls wouldn't have hurt. If you weren't buying a ticket, they were free. For nothing down and nothing per week we could have received a long list of the usual sports machinations - hiring, firings, a colossal influx of semi-greats and never-greats - during June, July and August, the deadest sports month of the year. 

Even viewed from afar, the Bulls had a chance to bring football back to us on human terms. Against the back-drop of a competitor in Foxboro that seems to be moving closer and closer to the workings of the Pentagon ("I'm sorry, Coach Fairbanks can't be disturbed. Try again in December."), this new team offered the zaniness of old times. 

Could we actually have heard someone say the game plan had been to run at the fat tub of a defensive tackle instead of the usual garble about gaps and zones and tendencies? Could we have seen a team that actually encouraged having any and all stories written about it? Could we have had football discussed on a level a good-deal lower than the concern for the nuclear defense of the North American continent? Could have made this a fun game again?

There was that chance with the Bulls. They could have given us a fresh look at a product that increasingly seems to resemble its own big-business idea of itself. We might have been able to see people involved again instead of those stop-action cardboard cutouts the NFL highlights every Sunday with a jazz background. This could have been a refreshing change.

Which brings us to the Bulls vs. the Patriots.

The one drawback that might have been noted in this situation is that old chestnut that "the talent would have been diluted." To say that, however, is never to have seen the Patriots play football. The Bulls were shooting at a much-lower star (and with many more weapons) than the Whalers were in tackling the Bruins.

The only effect the Bulls could have had on the fans' relation to the Patriots would have been a good one. Competition for the dollar usually benefits the person holding the dollar.

Would ticket prices be raised slower with a competitor working the other side of the street? Would that gas-eating every-Sunday traffic jam be solved sooner? Would the always-complaining season-ticketholder be treated a little bit-friendlier?

The Bulls could not have hurt. They probably would have played one scatter-gun season at Boston University and they probably would have died, but in no way could they have hurt anybody except their own stockholders and the ones in Foxboro.

If nothing else, the WFL team could have given local pro football a little fun. And that is quality that has been missing for quite a few years.

Sic transit the Boston franchise. I'll at least stand for a moment of silence.