much in base salary as he made in 1974. So what the heck, he told Chuck Barnes to float that figure to the WFL.
Well, as Hill remembers, he couldn't sleep that night, waking up at 4 a.m., and after tossing and turning for an hour, decides to walk out to the beach in the dark.
"All I can hear is the roar of the ocean and I could see more stars in the sky than I had ever seen in my life," Hill said.
Then who should come walking down the beach about an hour latter, but Barnes. He had been negotiating all night with the Hawaiians.
"Did they get to $100,000?" Hill remembers asking.
Did they. They were offering Hill a $200,000 signing bonus, and base salaries of $200,000, $250,000 and $300,000. Hill was blown away. But not one to lose his mind, he figured well, if they were throwing around that kind of money, might as well ask for another $100,000 in signing bonus.
"(Barnes) comes back a couple of hours later with a cashier's check for $300,000," Hill said, "and they wanted to have a press conference that afternoon."
Hill went back to the hotel to do some soul searching. He sat in the bathroom sort of just looking at the check, when Janet came in wondering what in the world he was doing in there so long and what did he have in his hand. He handed her the check.
"Is this real?" she asked.
Sure was, and she knocked some fiscal sense into young Calvin. His deliberations ended. Never gave the Cowboys a chance to counter. He was going to make $500,000 for one year of football.
"I signed," he said, joining other NFL renegades such as Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Paul Warfield, Ken Stabler, Daryle Lamonica and Craig Morton who also took the money and ran.
Hill would play just three games, tearing his medial collateral ligament in the home-opener in Honolulu on his 11th straight carry. He would never play another WFL game, the league folding after that season.
"I made more money in one year than I did in 12 NFL seasons," Hill admits, pointing out how he got another $100,000 after finding out the league had offered Joe Namath a $1 million dollar deal and pointing out to the higher ups his NFL stats vs. Namath's following the 1969 season were far better.
But Hill also saw the problems, why the WFL didn't make it; why the WFL couldn't do what the American Football League did in the 1960's to become a legitimate rival of the NFL and eventually forcing the merger. He says there was no financial discipline among owners, as evidenced by the huge contracts given NFL stars such as the one he signed. He said the owners didn't have deep enough pockets to absorb losses for four to five years, as a young Lamar Hunt did that first year with the Dallas Texans in the upstart AFL, losing $1 million.
(As the story went, someone asked Lamar's father, H.L. Hunt, what he thought about his son losing so much money that first year, and old man Hunt asked how much Lamar lost. When he was told $1 million, Mr. Hunt said, "At that rate he'll be here for 20 more years.")
But most of all, the WFL had no viable TV contract.
"But the world has changed," Hill says. "Demographics (of cities) have changed."
He means there are more television entities desperately searching for new content instead of the basic four networks back in the days of the WFL and about as sparse in the USFL days. Think Cuban-owned HDNet for starters. Hey, someone out there is showing that crazy, about-twist-arms-off fighting stuff.
There are also more mediums looking for content than just radio and network TV - the Internet, mobile phones and the umpteen available stations now available on cable and satellite TV.
Hill also means guys such as Cuban, securities company tycoon Bill Hambrecht and Google vice president Tim Armstrong, to name just a few, have far deeper pockets to withstand losses than those owners did back in the 70's who were used to being in a cash-flow business.
The key, though, will be controlling rich-owner egos, and enforcing a salary structure, instead of allowing one guy, as Donald Trump did with the New Jersey Generals in the USFL, to buy his way to a championship by not being fiscally responsible for the good of the league.
And, as Hill