Billy Joe Tolliver - Quarterback - 1995 - Texas Tech
excerpts: Pirates Ignore CFL History in landing Tolliver/Tolliver latest NFL pivot to look like CFL dud-MartyYork-Globe&Mail-May-June1995
Veteran quarterbacks from the National Football League have not enjoyed success in the Canadian Football League, but that bit of history is not preventing the Shreveport Pirates from signing Billy Joe Tolliver. The Pirates will announce tomorrow at a news conference that they have signed the 29 year-old Texan to be their first string QB in 1995, sources told the Globe & Mail yesterday. The deal according to the sources will be worth about $1-million (U.S.) for three years.
After spending the past seven seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Oilers, Tolliver readily acknowledges that he is not familiar with the CFL. "In fact," he said over a telephone interview yesterday, "I've only seen two CFL games and they were both on television last year. But I think football's football." That's what Vince Ferragamo thought last decade and Timm Rosenbach last season. Told that QBs usually need to run well to flourish in the CFL, Tolliver said "Well, you won't see me running. There's not much spring left in my legs. I'll only run if I absolutely have to run, and maybe not even then."
Tolliver's offensive coach in Shreveport will be Joe Barnes who excelled as a running quarterback in the CFL in the 1970's and 1980's. "But even though Billy Joe and I are both products of the same college [Texas Tech], he has a different style than i did." Barnes said. "It's true that he doesn't run well, but he'll be different from Ferragamo and Rosenbach because we're going to protect him with a first rate offensive line. We're also going to use him in shotgun formation most of the time so that he can have more time in the pocket. He'll be ok believe me."
Tolliver expressed some concern about playing in frigid Canadian cities late in the CFL season. "I've played in some cold NFL cities like Green Bay and Buffalo." Tolliver said. "and I hear it can get worse up in Canada."
It is happening again. A relatively high-profile quarterback who amassed decent statistics and a respectable reputation in the National Football League is bombing in the Canadian Football League. This time the goat is Billy Joe Tolliver. After four regular season games in the CFL. Tolliver is beginning to make the Glieberman's wonder whether there investment was a sensible one. Shreveport
is 0-4 with Tolliver running its offence. In his four efforts, Tolliver has completed 52 passes on 103 attempts for 701 yards and four touchdowns. He has been intercepted four times.
Ron Lancaster "I think he's going to struggle for a while in our league." Lancaster found himself with mixed emotions Monday night. As the head coach of the Esks, he was delighted that his defence was able to stifle Tolliver. But as a former QB Lancaster had a considerable amount of sympathy for Tolliver. "Sure I feel for him," Lancaster said. "People recognize his name from the NFL. where he was a good quarterback, and people come to the CFL stadiums to see him doing the things he did well in the NFL. And he can't do them. It's a very tough transition from being an NFL quarterback to a CFL quarterback, and it takes a long time to make it. Obviously some guys never can make the transition. "First there are more defensive halfbacks in the CFL. The most Tolliver would have seen in the NFL was five, and that would be exclusively on third down, passing situations. "The second reason is the width of the CFL field. In the NFL the quarterback will overload the wide side of the field with receivers and then try to get one receiver one-on-one with a cornerback. In this league the defences know Quartebacks will try that, so they make them throw the wide side-out pass. And it's a difficult to complete a pass like that because of the width of the field."