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  August 7, 1999



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Football fever catching on
By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
  I had the pleasure to meet Doug Flutie when I was a presenter at the NHL awards.

 I've met all kinds of people in all kinds of places and Doug stands out as one of the very nicest.

 We got to talking about the CFL. Of all the stories Doug could have told me, I was intrigued to listen to him recount a Western Final game between Calgary and Edmonton -- 40 below in Calgary and snow everywhere.

 Some Einstein decided to shut down the big heaters on the sidelines down at intermission. Then the damn things just wouldn't go back on. Flutie was telling me how his hands froze so badly that he couldn't even throw the ball. It ended up being an awful game, even worse because the Stamps lost.

 What really struck me about it is how much it still bothers him. Here's a guy who stepped into Jim Kelly's shoes and turned the Buffalo Bills around. The guy that threw the Hail Mary pass for Boston College, and the thing that still doesn't sit well with him, that sticks in his craw, is a loss for Calgary one freezing cold day. He loved it here and he loved playing here.

 Doug Flutie also spoke of my brother, Owen. He compared the closeness I shared with Owen to his own brother Darren, who plays for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I was touched by the depth of his empathy and by his compassion.

 I decided to take in Thursday's Stamps game, and much to my disappointment, they lost a close one to the B.C. Lions.

 The Lions are a team that's definitely much improved over last year and are looking to play the Grey Cup in their home town.

 My family has always been big CFL fans. It got me to thinking about all the great wrestlers that I've known who came from the CFL. The first two that come to mind are Gene Kiniski and Angelo Mosca.

 Kiniski made sure wrestling fans never forgot his CFL days by wearing his football jacket to the ring. Mosca turned out to be such a good wrestler that in some parts of the world he was respected solely for his wrestling ability by people who don't follow football and didn't have a clue that he was arguably one of the greatest CFL defensive tackles of all time, the other, of course, being John Helton (Stamps and Blue Bombers).

 Helton only donned wrestling gear for a couple of years but earned his share of respect between the ropes.

 It probably won't surprise you that my father, Stu, 'molded' a lot of CFL players into wrestlers, but you might be surprised to find out that Stu played with the Edmonton Eskimos back in 1938.

 Then again, maybe that's not surprising.

 Of all the football players who got into wrestling, none of them was better than Saskatchewan Roughriders George Wells.

 He was one of the greatest athletes I ever saw lace up a pair of wrestling boots.

 The thing about George is that he only dabbled in wrestling as a hobby. He was a natural, God knows what would have happened if he'd put more of his heart into it.

 Another guy who came out of Stamps camp was Wayne Coleman.

 Stu found him and turned him into Superstar Billy Graham. You know, the guy with the 24-in. arms.

 Mercid Solis played a season of good football for the B.C. Lions but found his calling when he became Tito Santana, an extremely proficient technical wrestler, all around great guy, and part-time school teacher in New Jersey (because he likes kids).

 Jim Duggan went from the NFL to the CFL -- Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats -- before Hacksaw became one of the most beloved characters in all of wrestling.

 Larry Pohl was a standout football player with the Argos and was reborn as Lex Luger, a solid wrestler whose popularity has lasted through the trends in the business and he's still going strong.

 I'm looking forward to watching the Grey Cup game in Vancouver and, who knows, maybe some of the players will don the tights and become wrestling superstars. It's just a different game than American football and it's nice to see that Canadians are turning out in droves.

 I have just one question though. What the heck is Ottawa doing without a football team?

 Maybe I'd just better send my good friend Glen Kulka over there to straighten that out.

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