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The World Football League Web site presents an interview with former Portland Storm quarterback, Greg Barton

Greg Barton earned Junior College All America honors playing quarterback at Long Beach City College with a team that had to be one of the strongest in the nation. Barton played quarterback at Tulsa and was drafted by the Lions in the 1968 draft in the 9th round, Barton played behind Greg Landry and Bill Munson before playing out his option in 1970. Barton joined the CFL's Toronto Argonauts where he signed a five-year, $350,000 contract. In a game against the Calgary Stampeders, Greg broke his finger and was sidelined for the season. After spending 1973 as a Personnel Director, Greg signed with the World Football League and played the entire season for the Portland Storm. As the team entered the 1975 season he worked to keep the players together as a unit and sought local investors for ownership. Portland attorney Richard V. Bayless stepped in to assume ownership and he hired oft-traveled Bob Brodhead as President and General Manager, who, in turn, named the 28-year old Barton, the youngest head football coach in the sport. In October of 1975, the Portland Thunder folded with the rest of the league.

WFL: How did you initially hear about the WFL? Weren't you playing in the CFL?

GB: Originally I was in the NFL, and then I went to the CFL, and when I was up there I was also in management. John Bassett Sr. owned the Toronto Argonauts, the team I was with, and John Bassett Jr. was talking about going to a new league…the World Football League. Originally they were going to have a Toronto franchise, and I'm sure he got into it a little bit with his dad over that, and you know that's how he ended up in Memphis.

My head coach up there was Leo Cahill, who later became Memphis' general manager, and then Gibson…Coach Gibson was up there with us in Toronto, and he later became one of the coaches in Memphis, so you know the Toronto connection in the CFL where it ended up really being the Memphis connection…Bob Gibson and all of the guys…and then anyway I heard about it that way.

I went to Southern California, and I was down there, and Bruce Gelker got hold of me. He owned the Saddleback Inn's down there…Gary Davidson, Gelker, and myself…a few other people met, and they asked me if I wanted to come to the World Football League. At that time I was a free agent, and I could do it, so I decided I was going to do it, and I actually signed with Gelker in Mexico City.

WFL: Oh really?

GB: Yeah…so anyway I signed a contract with him in Mexico City. Then just as we were getting ready to go to Mexico City…I believe that was when they were having all kinds of student riots down there…that type of thing, and if I remember right it was so long ago, but if I remember right they decided not to go to Mexico City, and they decided to go to Portland, so anyway my wife Heather and I hoped on a plane, and we went to Portland.

WFL: Had you been to Portland before?

GB: No

WFL: So it was a new city for you?

GB: Yeah…Bruce Gelker at the time…he had me helping him sign players. Because when I originally went to…when I left the NFL I had been at Detroit…I had played out my option…I was traded to Philadelphia. Rather than go to Philadelphia I ended up signing in Canada, and part of the deal was not only was I going to be a player, but I was going to be a player-coach. Then I was going to be the Canadian Player Personnel Director, so for years…three or four years I ran the Canadian Football League draft up there, and I also did a lot in management up there and coaching, so when Gelker brought me in you know he wanted me to help with that end because I had experience in it, and so you know I probably signed maybe five, six, seven players right away before any coaches came in. Then…then let's see who was next one up there…then Dick Coury came up there as the head coach…then he brought in Craig Fertig, who I had known him very well because when I was playing at Long Beach City College…Fertig had recruited me to USC pretty hard, and so I knew him pretty well. Then Jim Martin was the next guy in. He was our offensive line coach. When I was playing for the Detroit Lions he was our offensive line coach…no he was the defensive line coach at Detroit. He had also recruited me out of college when he was at Idaho State, so I knew him pretty well. Then after that…then Ron Mix came in as the general manager.

Then I immediately became a player after that. I probably signed maybe ten or twelve players prior to those guys getting settled.

WFL: Were you originally excited about the chance to play in Mexico City or did you think it was farfetched?

GB: No, I didn't think it was farfetched. A couple of years before when I was with the Lions. We had an exhibition game scheduled down there against I believe it was the Boston Patriots at the time. That game was canceled because of student riots down there…all kinds of problems. Then so that was the only time I was ever even thinking of Mexico city when I was with Detroit when we were going to play an exhibition game down there, but then when this thing came up…you know it's kind of you're young and dumb…hey you say whatever…you know I then ended up going to Portland…Portland is a great place and ended up actually staying here…raising a family here. No…World Football League I have great memories of it.

WFL: Did Bruce Gelker always have plans to own the team or do think he was going set it up, and try to find other investors to take it over?

GB: I think the original people in the World Football League…I think the original people led by Danielson…or uh Gary Davidson…I think it was there way of saying… hey look we could…it could be a wham bam thank you thing or we could be in here and get out, and I think there was a little clan of those guys…they were all nice guys, and I don't mean to be anything negative, but I think there were a lot of guys…Sam Battistone…he owns Sambo's Restaurant.

WFL: Exactly…he actually was involved with the Hawaiians team that first year.

GB: …but what I was saying they were all buddies in southern Cal, and you know they all kind of shot off and took different teams. I think the original goal for a lot of those guys was hey let's put it in place…let's hire a staff…let's get the team…let's get the thing ready to go…get everybody excited, and you know the investors will come. Which typically is what does happen in those kinds of things, so that was my opinion…that's what happened.

WFL: Do you think the fact that the economy was not the strongest at the time at that point kept people from coming into the Portland team…investor wise?

GB: Investor wise…well…yes, actually in Portland…what happened in Portland is Gelker had the team…then yeah the economy…was you know was so-so at that time, and you know. The thing was being put together…Portland at that time…you know Phil Knight wasn't here with Nike…Paul Allen wasn't in the northwest…Microsoft wasn't in the northwest…you know things have changed dramatically in the northwest over the last twenty years as far as money. At that time you know truthfully the next year when the World Football League was being put together I was the one that kind of ramroded that and there was not a whole lot of money people you know in the northwest in terms of sports fanatic type guys, but you know today there's a lot more.

WFL: I'm surprised that Phil Knight hasn't started a league all on his own.

GB: Well…I mean you know…it wouldn't be out of the question. You have Paul Allen here. You got Knight here. You got Microsoft up north, and with those three guys combined, how much money is there? You never know what will happen with those guys. I think…but to get back to the other thing. I think Gelker wanted to sell. Do I think…I think he had a hard time finding investors in what he really wanted. He wanted to find someone local. That was the goal of the original WFL was to go in…get it going, and to sell to local people. It worked in some cities. Obviously it didn't work in Portland. Then as the season went on it was interesting they bought in a guy name Harris in.

WFL: Robert Harris. Wasn't he a Canadian?

GB: Yes. What was interesting on that is when I was in the CFL in management up there…Harris had applied for a CFL team…expansion team.

WFL: In London?

He was denied…yes, he was denied because they just didn't think he was strong enough financially…that he wasn't capable enough of doing it, and so it was interesting because when I was playing I remember Craig Fertig coming up to me, and he said…my nickname was Hawk…he said; "hey Hawk, are troubles are behind us, buddy. We got new ownership coming in." I said, oh great. He said; "Canadian…Canadian guy." I said, oh really, and he said; "Harris is coming in." I thought, oh boy. Nothing against him personally, but I remember…I'm not saying he is a bad guy or anything, but I when I was up in the Canadian Football League his group was denied, and when I heard he was the new owner…I had…you know I wondered a lot, so I was going, oh boy.

WFL: It makes you wonder if he's got the money to make it work.

GB: Yes, the Canadian Football League did not give him a team, so anyway immediately they changed the Detroit game to London, Ontario, Canada where Harris was from.

WFL: We had the pleasure of speaking with Bubba Wyche, who was the quarterback of the Detroit Wheels. Bubba said that Harris promised the Wheels $25,000 to change the game to London, Ontario. He also said there were not a lot of people who showed up to that game.

GB: Well the nice thing you can tie in, and you have a scoop here is you know…originally…he applied for a CFL franchise to go to London and was denied.

WFL: Interesting…so you think it was his intention was to move the Storm to London?

GB: What his intention was…no question in my mind…what his intention was to bring the World Football League to London, and then what his intention was…I guarantee you this, and take this one to the bank. Is he and you can't blame him for this was we have a television contract down here now and if this World Football League takes off I'm the first one in Canada. Now the next thing we get a Canadian team maybe a World Football League…another team maybe in Montreal. Then I think he was hoping the CFL would have financial problems, and then the CFL would merge into the WFL.

WFL: And create one North American League.

GB: Right and he would now be a pretty strong person that because he created it, and then I think he would he felt, and then the next step is what happens if all of a sudden the NFL takes us…all of it. Now he is kind of an Al Davis. Probably in his mind at that time…that's probably the things that were going on behind closed doors…you know hey we get our foot in the door here in Canada…the World Football League is going to be a success…it takes off…the CFL has financial problems. We basically come in take ‘em on. We end up with Vancouver, Canada…end up with Toronto, Canada which is a New York. We have Montreal now…we have the three big cities. We dump a few of them…get rid of them. Now we have one heckuva of a program. We put so much pressure on the NFL they have to merge with us.

WFL: Earlier you mentioned Dick Coury. What was your impression of him?

GB: I love Dick Coury…love Dick Coury. He was a very good coach. He was a quality person. Still is a quality person. His son, Steve Coury is a high school football coach here in Oregon at Lake Oswego high school. Steve use to coach with Mike Gottfried at the University of Pittsburgh. I remember throwing passes to Steve when he was about 6 or 7. He became a great player at Oregon State, and played a little in the CFL, and now he is coaching. His dad is now retired after what twenty some years in the NFL. He comes up here and helps his son coach at the high school level just for fun. I see him maybe once a year. I can't say enough good things about him. Just a tremendous person, and interesting football background.

WFL: Did you keep in touch or hook up with him when he came back to Portland to coach the Breakers in the USFL?

GB: I did the radio. I did the radio for the USFL. Do you remember Ray Scott? Ray Scott and I did the radio together.

WFL: The Breakers actually drew well in Portland.

GB: Well the Storm…believe it or not. I'm serious about this. I've been around…not like I'm a pipe dream or something. I think the World Football League…the Portland franchise really was good, but the problem with Portland at that time and truthfully might still be…I'm not saying this for fact. This is an assumption is the next year when I was trying to put the World Football League together. After eight months of battling we finally did it. I came to a conclusion. That is the city of Portland…if you look at the history of Portland. Everything in the winter was successful. Look at the old Portland Buckaroos hockey team…look at the Portland Trail Blazers, and now the Portland Winterhawks which is junior hockey. Very, very successful. If you look at anything in the fall, spring or summer in the history of Portland it's been up and down. I think it is because Portland is in the northwest…we're right near the beaches…right near the mountain for skiing. Lot of family up here. The people in the fall, spring and summer…we don't have a lot of couch potatoes up here.

WFL: As the team is starting to take shape, and the league is still young. The Storm prepared to play their first game in Philadelphia at JFK Stadium. What are your memories of that game?

GB: I stand to be corrected. When we came in on the bus. There were two stadiums there…is that true?

WFL Yes, Veterans Stadium and JFK.

GB: I remember just sitting there thinking…my God there are cities all over the country that would kill for a stadium, and here is two of them. Now it's not that uncommon, but at that time you know I had been in the NFL for three years, so you know I had saw all of those cities…I remember that.

I was really impressed with Philadelphia's offense. Ron Waller…I thought was ahead of his time a little bit. When you see the 4-5 receiver sets today are very common. He was ahead of his time. He was using 4-5 receiver sets then…they spread you out some. They were very difficult to stop. I remember their quarterback…King Corcoran. He had a good game against us. There was a big crowd. The place was very electric that night. Obviously later on I read where they gave all of the tickets away.

Portland Storm quarterback, Greg Barton, attempts a pass on opening night against the Bell at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.

WFL: Out of 55,000 people there were only 13,000 paid

GB: That probably sounds right. If you look at the paid attendance throughout the league for the two years…that's about… you know…those are my memories. That's really about it.

WFL: As the season goes on…when did it become evident there were financial problems for the Portland Storm?

GB: There were a lot of things I saw. Number one I think when we were…when I was in there by myself I was bringing in players that had CFL or NFL experience. Then it was interesting as other people came in…you know as I kind of moved over just to play we were bringing in a lot of northwest college guys. Which was fine…no problem, but I knew at the time because of my background I think…that we were in some trouble just on the field because for example in Memphis everybody was talking about Csonka, Kiick and Warfield. I could care less about those guys. What I was worried about was the guys like…they had a guy, Ron Mikolajczyk…you know I just have to get my head screwed on thinking of those guys, but they had a ton of guys who I played against in the CFL.

WFL: Like Ralph Hill

GB: Yeah…there you go. All kinds of guys that were absolute studs…I mean they were studs, and you know so…then I looked at a lot of teams around the league, and I was going God these guys are bringing in guys like as linemen…offensive linemen and defensive linemen, and linebackers and corners…they were bringing in guys who had played four, five, six years in the CFL or NFL, and it seemed like we weren't doing that, and that really worried me up front…as just a player, and I know we had good coaches…Coach Coury seriously is a good coach…Martin is a good coach…we had a guy…Ray Braun…excellent coach…Jim Martin I said excellent coach…we had Marty Schottenheimer the first of the year as a player, and then player-coach and all that. So coaching wise we were good I just thought…when you…I thought we had two seasons…like early in the season…we were very, very young or the veterans that they brought in were like fourteen or fifteen year veterans that were just you know…really past their prime. Most of the teams like I repeat myself that I think were most teams were four or five year type guys. Then about the half-way point of the season…just talk about the team first…all of a sudden I thought we were really starting to make some good moves from a front office standpoint or whatever you want to call it…cause now we were bringing in more players that had that experience of playing in the NFL or CFL, and still were pretty good players…we brought in Rick Redman…Pete Beathard…we brought in probably fifteen guys like that.

WFL: Paul Guidry

GB: He was a stud…yeah he was a good ball player. Now there's a good example…we didn't have the Paul Guidry's, who was about an eight…nine year veteran at the front of the year. In the second half of the year we started to getting' those kind of guys. Now that I think…I think on the field the second half of the season as a team we were more competitive with rosters in the league…as far as the financial end I knew as soon as Gelker could not get the investors…that you know we needed we were going to be in some trouble…then when I knew Mr. Harris came in I worried…and not…like I said nothing against him personally…I just worried because I was probably the only guy in the city of Portland, and most certainly on our team that knew that his group had been turned down in the CFL, and usually in the CFL at the time we had a very good league…you know we had…like every other program you have some financial problems, and I think they were…the CFL today I'm sure today they are still looking for strong financial people to come in, and if you get turned away usually that is not good.

WFL: Going back to the game in London, Ontario. How is that presented to the players? Was it presented as a chance for a payday or to promote the WFL?

GB: I'll tell you a funny story about it in a second because I do remember one that was hilarious, and it's a true story.

I know more than the other guys did because I knew what was going on…because of my background. I mean I knew why we were going to London…we were going there for the reasons you and I had already talked about…it was the guy's dream of creating the CFL…the merger…the whole thing. The other players didn't know that…I think …I think to the players probably from our standpoint…I don't remember, but I am making an assumption…I am assuming at the time we were probably lead to believe it was Detroit facing the financial problems.

WFL: The Detroit Wheels financial problems were well publicized at that time.

GB: yeah…right…they were moving the game to London because Detroit was…just wasn't going to support it. I'm sure of that. I'm positive that's what happened…but a true story.

You can talk to Craig Fertig. He will vouch for this. We were warming up the day before the game, and I remember throwing a pass…there was…we were at a practice field…where there was kind of a small little lake…not lake…small little stream next to the practice field, and the stream was kind of running fairly fast…you know kind of like a white water thing, and it went into the stream…five minutes later…ten minutes later Mr. Harris came back holding the ball and the bottom of his pants were all wet…he went and got the ball, and I remember Craig Fertig standing next to me and said "Hawk, that's not a good sign." When you look back that tells you a little bit there.

WFL: Were the players excited about going to London, Ontario?

GB: You know…I think…you know…to be honest with you. I think most guys just like to play football, and most guys just say; "hey, it's a game, and were going to go play." I don't think…to be honest I don't think from our standpoint…I don't think it was a major deal…you know you got to look at us…were entirely different than Detroit…we have a brand new owner…he's from Canada…I'm just talking about the players who don't know who this guy is…he's from London…the rumors are hey he might want to move us to Canada…players going…hey whatever if this guy is strong financially as everybody says he is…this might be good for us. I'm sure that is what most of the guys were thinking. Boy, this is going to be awesome if we move to Canada…we're going to be the strong, strong owner because you know that is when somebody takes over something…any business and everybody gets excited because a lot of fresh money comes in, and borrowing power…staying power…a whole new thing. I was just one of the guys.

Bruce Bergey…Bill Bergey's brother…Bruce is one of the guys I signed in Portland…by the way he has become a multi-zillionaire through building here for twenty years. He's one I had signed…he had played for the Kansas City Chiefs…played at UCLA, and then he signed…we played together in Toronto…CFL…and when I came here he was one of the first guys I signed…he was a very good defensive end for us, but I think he was the other guy that understood that this is not going to be good. He had been up there, and he and I were very close friends, and I shared some of those thoughts with him. The rest of the guys I think were thinking optimistically though.

WFL: We've done some research through articles from the Oregonian. A lot of the articles bring up a core group of players. A lot of articles mention when Ben Davidson came on to the team. When he joined the Storm was it a sense of optimism? He was on the tail-end of his career.

GB: You know…Ben was a great guy…really a good guy, and I had played against him in the NFL…as a player he was past his prime, but the guys all liked him…he contributed a lot…you know his presence. He's just a good guy.

WFL: With the younger guys he had to help them on defense.

GB: Oh yeah…he did all of that. People have a misunderstanding about that guy…the old football fans who watched him actually you know…the guy was very intelligent. When you sit down and talk to him he could talk about any subject. My understanding is he had some daughters that did some great things in swim. Ben was a guy, who is just a good dad, so I saw a great side to him.

WFL: Greg, name a few more players on the Storm who stood out…like Rufus Ferguson.

GB: Rufus Ferguson was a great kid. He had a great personality. Great person…smart kid…tough kid…very talented…really was a fan favorite.

WFL: He wasn't a big guy, but a hard runner.

GB: He was a good tough kid…had it altogether. Everyone liked him…he was just a really likeable guy…had a lot of talent. You're talking about just the first year, correct?

WFL: Yes…well first or second.

GB: It's just the first year…let me see…

WFL: Guys like Jim Krieg…

GB: Jim Krieg…he was a great kid…University of Washington receiver. Very talented kid…very good. Bob Christensen…tight end from UCLA…really a talented player…a guy that would probably…I played with…and you know Charlie Sanders was…you know…you consider him…you know in the top ten percent for tight ends in the NFL, and Bob probably in the NFL would have been in the…you know under the fifty percent thing, but I think Bob was good enough to play in the NFL. He was a good kid. We had…I remember they brought in…let's see here…Sam Silas…do you remember him?

WFL: Yes…how about Dave Costa?

GB: Sam Silas…he was another one that was past his prime. I think he was on his ninth or tenth year. Great guy…really intelligent…God he was intelligent…would have been a great guy now working right now in the NFL with their players association…really a good guy. He was a good football player, but you know…he had lost a couple of steps.

Marty Schottenheimer was with us, and I think Marty was in his seventh year…eighth year. Marty was a good football player, and a great guy. I think as the second half of the season moved in we ended up having maybe…you know…eight or nine more types like Marty. Like when you mentioned Guidry…you know that type of kid.

WFL: Rick Redman.

GB: Yeah…Rick Redman…you know that was the type of guy Marty was…at the front of the year we didn't have those type of guys…let's see who else stood out…I'm just talking about the front of the year…I think you know those were the type guys who I remember at the front of the year.

WFL: As the first year came to a conclusion, the Storm was much improved, and there was talk of making the WFL Playoffs. I remember reading an interesting article about the last home game being moved to Orlando, Florida. Apparently a group was coming in to buy the Florida Blazers. How did the Storm players feel about that?

GB: If I remember right…the players were not happy at all. They knew we were really being taken advantage of. You know what I am saying…and you know and that was the night I really felt sorry for Dick Coury…because like I said…I think the guy was an excellent football coach…and you know…he was the point…where you know it's hard to control what you're doing because from a coaching standpoint you are always stressing structure and discipline, and commitment, and all of that. As you go through anything especially in sports…just like life itself…I guess in any business, but in sports that I know is everything starts at the top, and when a player knows that it's a class organization they do things right, and you see the owner…you see the general manager they're doing things right…then as a player you tend to understand that is what is expected. Well at that point I think all of the players lost total respect for everybody in the higher level, and that's no disrespect to Dick Coury or to Ron Mix or to any of those guys, but I think the players just felt…you know…you guys are good guys, but you don't have anything to say constructively because you can't control anything…you're being controlled, and so a lot of the players…I think…you know they played…you know they tried, but I think their heart wasn't in it, and I think when we went to Florida I really felt sorry for Coach Coury…because you know he's the guy to the very end was just busting his rear end trying to make the thing work, and I think he is also a players type of guy, and he understood, so I think his heart was bleeding for the players because he felt they were being lied to and manipulated just like he was, but I think he put the players in front of him where he felt worse for us than himself.

WFL: There were reports where the players on the Storm went without pay…borrowing food from people or…

GB: Well it wasn't that bad. I think the newspapers kind of blew it up some. I think what happened there was…there were some restaurants in town that were kind of fans, and to be honest maybe there were some of the restaurants trying to get the publicity too…that would know a couple of players that would say; "hey bring five or six guys in, and we'll take care of you and stuff." You know I'm sure every bachelor on our team ran over there

Now you know a couple of other players just came to mind that the season went along the first year. We ended up with Joe Wylie from Oklahoma, and I'll tell you that guy was a player…he was a great player, and a great kid.

WFL: We mentioned Ron Mix before. Did you work with Ron Mix?

GB: No, in front of the year I was just doing some things before he came in. Once they hired him I was just a player then, but then he brought in Pete Beathard, and Pete did a great job. He's a good guy, and he contributed. He did a great job. I'm trying to think of a couple other additions…we brought in Robert Holmes from the Kansas City Chiefs, and he came in, and really did a nice job. Rick Redman…we already talked about…Paul Guidry…we already talked about. Let's see there were a couple…Jerry Inman…he played with the Denver Broncos.

WFL Dave Costa

GB: Yeah…Dave Costa…yeah he came the next year…Leland Glass…we picked up from the Green Bay Packers…Steve Thompson was a defensive end we picked up I believe from the New York Jets, so what I am saying is um…Ron Billingsley came in…he was from Wyoming, and he had been playing for San Diego, so it was interesting the second half of the year…you really had two teams…you had one team in my opinion that was put together, and you know it was a great group of guys, but we didn't have experience. The second half of the season I think we got more guys with more experience, and I think we played pretty well in the second half of the season.

WFL: When during the 1974 season did you realize the Portland Storm were done or that it was over?

GB: Maybe being a quarterback I was in a unique position because I think when you're the quarterback the coaches tend to talk to you more, and I was pretty close with the coaches, and so I was always finding out things when they found them out, so plus I knew the situation with the Harris deal where most people didn't.

WFL: Did he ever pull the team together and tell them he was just done with it?

GB: Robert Harris?

WFL: Yes.

GB: No

WFL: So at the end of the season no one really knew what was going on.

GB: No…No, and like I said I don't blame Harris. I mean everybody is trying to make you a dollar. Some people have the ability to leverage, and get into something, and buy a house for a little down. All of a sudden the market is right, and they end up doing really well…well if all of the sudden you do that the market turns on you a little bit you might be in some trouble. Harris seemed to be nice enough guy…I didn't know him that well, but it just didn't work. I think Bruce Gelker was in it to get out.

WFL: How did you find out the Portland Storm folded?

GB: If I remember right…I think our…what was our last game…Florida?

WFL: No, it was the Hawaiians in Honolulu.

GB: When we went to Hawaii…when we played there…I remember after the game absolute total depression on almost everybody's faces. I remember just watching them …you could just see the coaches were just beat up, and again even though I was a player…I had been a little different than the normal player because I had been in some coaching and management before, and there was no doubt in my mind I remember sitting there going everyone of these coaches right now is on the phone everyday calling colleges…calling CFL…calling NFL teams, and they are looking for jobs right now, and there was no question in my mind…you know players were in a real tough situation because players were under contract, and you really couldn't go out and do a whole lot with other teams when you're under contract, and then you can say well no the contract is null and void…well says who? It was that kind of situation you take a kid like say Joe Wylie at the time…well he was under contract even though he hadn't been paid…I mean what did the contract really say…in other words could he have just signed right then with Green Bay, and obviously most NFL teams weren't going to sign until the off-season. There were a lot of…everybody was confused…probably upset…mad…just about every negative word you can think of. Like probably my feelings at the time were feelings more sorry for Coach Coury then anybody else because I saw the guys stay with us at the whole time when I think he could have bailed, and I saw a guy…you know eight, ten, fifteen hours a day just like you would see a Dallas or New England or anywhere else as a staff preparing for games and all of that…in other words it's business as usual even though they weren't getting paid even though they knew the ship was sinking, so I had nothing but the utmost respect for those guys.

WFL: You think if the players aren't getting paid, the owner should show up, and explain what is going on. Did Robert Harris ever offer any kind of pay schedule?

GB: Yeah…you have to remember. It was an unusual circumstance because London, Ontario is a long way from Portland…I'm a long way from you guys.

WFL: So you really heard from Robert Harris through Ron Mix?

GB: Yeah and Ron Mix was really in a tough situation…really in a tough situation. There's a guy who is a really smart guy…very educated guy…a guy with a lot of experience in the NFL and stuff…practicing attorney, so you know he is no dummy, and so you know I am sure…again I don't know this for fact, but I'm sure Ron probably had something in his contract when it started off you know he had a lot of bonus type things in there, and maybe even a chance to pick up some small percentage of ownership. Maybe he did have some small part…you know he is in a tough situation as an ex-player and a very good player for a lot of years. He knew exactly what the players were going through. His heart was right there with the players. There's no doubt in my mind. Also as a guy that is just a professional…his heart was with the coaches, and as a guy who worked for the owner I think he tried to stay loyal…tried to follow his dream, and so it was just tough for those kind of people.

WFL: It was like a battle on two or three or four different fronts.

GB: Yeah…yeah and again in like I said I always felt… I know I kind of understood that from all those different sides. Like I said I could also see the probable frustration of a guy like Harris. I mean he probably was sitting there saying; "My God if I had the perfect world I would have the money to pay the players. We would be getting huge crowds. We'd be getting more television contracts. We would be merging with the NFL."

WFL: Were there anymore…you mentioned the Detroit game. When you sit around with friends and family, and you talk about the Storm and WFL. Are there any other anecdotes like that you remember or that you share with people?

GB: Well off the top of my head. The first year…I do have some great memories. I'll tell you…I played in the CFL, and I played with Joe Theisman up there, and we went to the Grey Cup, so I played a pretty high level of football, and I was in the NFL, and I'm telling you the WFL…the level of play was very high. It was very competitive football. It was interesting like…when you know we would play say like I said a Memphis, and everybody is talking about Csonka, Kiick and Warfield. When you play the Hawaiians everyone is talking about Calvin Hill. I'm telling you they were the name guys. I remember watching…you know when we played Memphis. I have a lot of respect for John Huarte obviously…Heisman Trophy winner and great player. His backup was pretty good.

WFL Danny White

GB: yeah…I remember watching Danny White warm-up when we played them, and he was warming up and I was warming up. Quarterbacks check each other out and I remember saying to myself this guy is a good looking kid…this guy is a good looking player, and you know I'm not saying the World Football League made him, but you know I'm sure he would tell you now…hey it was probably good for him. Like Steve Young…I'm not saying the USFL made Steve Young, but it sure didn't hurt him. Some of my memories were seeing a lot of big name coaches…seeing a lot of great players…really impressed with the level of play. I remember watching Anthony Davis when we played the Sun in the second year. I thought he was just a stud… just a great player. Pat Haden…I thought he was an excellent player, so I have memories of that.

Another memory I have is I had played for the Detroit Lions. There was a coach who came up to me and talk to me about a young quarterback that he had that need some help. I went out to his practice to help him out a bit. He called me a few times, and I helped him out from time to time. I tried to help him get to some places…his name is Gary Danielson. All of a sudden where Gary thought the World Football League was a disaster…you know he played for and I stand to be corrected…New York Stars, and he did okay in the World Football League. I think he was in the CFL with Calgary, and then he went to the Detroit Lions and had a five…six year career…great career, and then he boomeranged that to what he is doing now on television which is awesome, so I see a lot of things like that. I remember a lot of little stories like that. Like the Danielson's were…where they ended up at. I feel good about that.

WFL: Greg, we want to come back and visit with you again, and then we can discuss the 1975 WFL season when you helped organize and become the head coach of the Portland Thunder.

GB: Well I'll tell you. It was a journey. I just thought of another story that might interest you.

WFL: Okay…great.

GB: When I signed with Mexico City, and then all of a sudden I'm going to Portland…ok now this is a true story. My last commitment to the Toronto Argonauts before I left was I would conduct their Canadian Football League Draft. I went up to Toronto and I did their Canadian Football League Draft. Then I came back and the WFL had their NFL-CFL Pro Draft, and I remember talking to Bruce Gelker and he said would you help me on the draft and I said sure, so I'm in California…this isn't completely accurate because I don't exactly remember where everything was, but he said would you…if I call you at home could you help me with the draft because I had something else I had to do, so I said yes. The week before I did the CFL Draft for Toronto. The next week he is calling me from wherever he was and he said okay it's our pick in the first round, and here is who has been taken, and so I said take so and so. Then he calls back, and he says; "We got a problem." I go "What's the problem?" He said; "The Southern California Sun just drafted you in the second round." And he goes, "you forgot to draft yourself." I said that is stupid." Why would I draft myself, I'm with you," but I was drafted by Southern Cal. As I was hanging up the phone I turned to my wife, Heather and I said; "Okay we have a choice here. We can go back to Canada, and stay in management. We can sign with Southern California with Tom Fears or we can play in Portland if we can figure out how to get my rights back," and she said; "You're kidding me," I said; "Heather, it just happened," so true story.

I'm in Southern California. I'm in Long Beach. This is where it all happened. I get a call from Tom Fears. He said: "we just drafted you," and I said: "Yeah, that's what I hear, "and he said; "I want you as a quarterback." I said okay: "Hey Coach seriously I just got to tell you a couple things that are happening here." I said; "You know I basically signed with Bruce Gelker," and he said: "Well that was before the draft. You can't do that." I said; "I was even helping him with the draft." He said; "Well you were doing a good job for him, but not good enough," and so I didn't know what to do. I flew up to Portland. The first thing I remember coming into the office. I was there and there was a memo from Southern California from Curley Morrison (Sun General Manager), and he told Gary Davidson that they had me, and I can't play for Portland. For me to go to Portland, and I got it in some books. I still have the original letter…that they had to have a number one and number two draft pick. Then I remember getting another letter…seeing another letter from Gary Davidson, and he sent it to Curley Morrison, and he said: "We can't get into this kind of fight right away because how can we build a league." We're trying to put something together and if all of a sudden you're losing draft choices we're not going to have any parity right away. I thought oh my God what a weird way to start this whole thing.

WFL: What a great story.

GB: Yeah…that's true.

WFL: Did you keep any mementos? Do you have any game film footage?

GB: I don't have any film footage, but I have some game programs and all that kind of stuff.

WFL: Thanks Greg, we'll talk soon.

GB: Thank you.

NOTE: The Greg Barton interview was conducted by Jim Cusano. This interview was slated for the World Football League Hall of Fame Web site, but was never posted, and is used with permission. This interview is property of the World Football League Web site, and may not be used without the written permission of the Web site owners.