New York Times

March 19, 1974

By Al Harvin

New York WFL Club Signs Elliott;

Cappelletti Accepts 4-Year Ram Pact

Jet Tackle Played out Option - New League Holds Draft Here

Joe Namath, the New York Jets high-priced quarterback was the first pick of the New York Stars in the fledging World Football League's pro draft yesterday, but the immediate gain for the New York entry was the signing of John Elliott, the Jets' defensive tackle.

Elliott, a seven-year pro played out his option last season and will become a free agent on May 1, when all National Football League player contract options expire. He becomes the league's most prestigious signee so far.

Namath still has an option year to play on his two-year contract at $250,000 per year, the highest salary in the NFL. But that figure is likely to be eclipsed because of the competition the new league is creating for talent.

The Toronto WFL franchise for instance struck at the heart of the Miami's Super Bowl champions by picking Larry Csonka, the Dolphins top running back; Paul Warfield, their top receiver and Jim Kiick, another top running back, in the first three rounds. That's bound to give all three leverage for getting raises out of Don Shula, Miami coach.

Despite the fact that Elliott Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister and Marc Lalonde, the Health Minister, are threatening to introduce legislation to keep Toronto out of the United States-based league that is in direct competition with the Canadian Football League. Leo Cahill, general manager of the Northmen, spoke of offering "a package deal" to come to Canada when their options expire.

The Northmen also announced the signing of Danny White of Arizona State, who was the first quarterback picked in the NFL college draft when he was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round.

Charlie Evans, the New York Giants' bench-warming and unhappy fullback, was the first pick of the draft, held here in the Marriott Essex house.

He was chosen by the Washington-Baltimore franchise, which has already signed Bob Davis, the former Jet's backup quarterback, before he was traded to New Orleans last season, where he was released.

After that came a succession of dissatisfied backup players, seasoned older players and players considered a bit "flaky" by the NFL, sprinkled in with some stars the league is not that sure of signing, but were choosing for the record.

Near the end there were some "fun picks" typified by the following exchange on the 39th and next to last round.

"We'll take Cliff McClain" said the Southern California drafter. When told that McClain, a Jets reserve running back, had already been claimed by the Stars, he said, "O.K. then, we'll take O. J. Simpson," opting for the apparently happy all-pro Buffalo back.

Other Jets picked by the Stars besides McClain, whom they tabbed on the 17th round, were Randy Rasmussen, guard, on the 12th; John Schmidt, center, on the 23rd, and Ed Galigher, defensive end on the 27th. Former Jets picked were Gerry Philbin, defensive end (Philadelphia) on the 15th, and John Dockery, defensive back (Pittsburgh) on the 25th.

The Stars also selected Doug Van Horn, Giants guard, on the 28th round and a former Giants running back, John Fuqua of the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the 16th.

Today, the league's governors will meet to apportion the 26 NFL franchises to determine future rights to players dropped from those teams.

"Signing John [Elliott] certainly makes my job that much easier," said Babe Parilli, the former Jet who is the coach of the Stars. "I think John has not yet reached his potential, and he'll be an all-pro for many years to come.

"We're naturally interested in signing Joe [Namath]. Although I haven't spoken to him, from what I heard he's interested in playing out his option, seeing how we do and possibly signing with us next year. I'm going to get in touch with [Jimmy] Walsh, his lawyer.

Bob Schmertz
Bob Schmertz, owner of the Stars, and John Elliott, former Jet, examining a contract.