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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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Shark Quarterbacks-a brief history

Posted 12-11-2010 at 06:47 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 12-24-2010 at 02:22 PM by TommyJohn

So, in my imaginary world of the Honolulu Sharks, I have created several characters. I have to admit I have a few favorites of them and I write more about them than the others. Or rather, I would, if I did write about them. I don't know why I don't. Laziness and lack of motivation, I guess. I can't come up with something that will sell. I should write I guess for the hell of it. But there is no fun in doing it just for yourself. You'd like to share it with as many people as possible. That is the big reason. I also don't ever envision bringing all these characters and events together as a coherent story.

I'm blabbing. I would just like to list some of my characters, starting with the quarterbacks.

Matthew Jensen-Penn State University/ Philadelphia Eagles 1957-59; Honolulu Sharks 1960-62

Gary Larson-University of Wisconsin/ Honolulu Sharks 1962-68

Adam Ward-University of Texas/ Honolulu Sharks 1964-65; New York Jets 1966; Buffalo Bills 1967

Carl Tasby-Grambling State College/ Honolulu Sharks 1965-70; British Columbia Lions (CFL) 1971-73; Honolulu Hawaiians (WFL) 1974; San Francisco 49ers 1975-76; Atlanta Falcons 1977

Jerry Rosen-University of Alabama/ Honolulu Sharks 1968-77

Ron Chadwick-University of Oregon/ Honolulu Sharks 1973-77

Stan Witowski-Northern Illinois University/ Honolulu Sharks 1974-82; Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars (USFL) 1984-85; New Orleans Saints 1986-88; Houston Oilers 1989-92

Ed Bailey-San Francisco Junior College/San Diego State University/Honolulu Sharks 1983-85

I only got as far as the 1980s because that is when I stopped keeping track of Shark history. Given time I know I could come up with more. It is just that really, the history of the NFL from 1990 up until now holds no interest for me. So I lack the passion to sit down and create storylines for that era. I could definitely create characters, years played, etc. That I love. But the rest of it just leaves me with a big feeling of "meh."

The big franchise quaterbacks were Larson, Tasby and Witowski. Larson had two terrific years in 1962-63. He injured his shoulder in 1964 and was out for the season. His replacement was Adam Ward, who proved inept, so coach Gus Pastos drafted Carl Tasby to provide backup services.

Pastos denied that Tasby's blackness had anything to do with his drafting, saying "we just think him fully capable of playing quarterback and being a back up to Gary."

Years later, Alex Pastos, son of the coach and himself a former player, blew this myth apart. Now the keeper of his late father's legacy, Alex gives many interviews about him. In one, he revealed that his father knew exactly what he was doing in drafting Tasby.

"My dad felt that a black player was capable of playing the quarterback position and wanted to draft a talented one, one that people wouldn't be able to knock. He found his man in Carl. His plan was to eventually work him into the starting role in a couple of years. He felt that Gary's injury was very serious and doubted that he'd be the same player. He wanted a good back up just in case. He had been scouting black college QBs for a couple of years and felt that Carl would be a good fit."

He was proven right. Carl started as a back up, but was thrust into the QB role in Week 2, when Larson reinjured himself against the Houston Oilers. Tasby led two TD drives during a Houston blowout and was on his way.

After two relatively quiet seasons, Tasby began to speak out about what was going on in pro football. He told of going to cities and being subject to hate mail and death threats. A typical one would read "Dear **** Tasby: We will be waiting for you this Sunday. If you set foot on the field, your ****** ass will be shot by a sniper. Sincerely, (Unsigned)" He was, however, embraced by hometown Honolulu fans, who loved him. They gave him adoring nicknames such as "King Carl" and "Razzmatazz."

Tasby not only spoke of racism, he had a cocky swagger about him that opposing teams and fans hated. He boasted to being better than the AFL's leading pretty boy QBs, Joe Namath and Darryl Lamonica. He didn't find many dissenters, except for Tex Maule of Sports Illustrated, who once sneered that Tasby would be a third string wide receiver on any NFL team.

The marriage between Tasby and the Sharks was an uneasy one, however. Pastos, although the liberal who gave Tasby a chance, wanted him to talk less. James Lewis wanted him to make less, which Tasby found unacceptable. He wanted what he called "Pretty Boy" money, translated as the type of bank that Joe Namath was making.

It all came to end in 1970. Tasby injured his shoulder in Week 11 and sat out the rest of the season while Jerry Rosen Qb'd the Sharks right out of playoff contention. The team, which was 7-3 at the time Tasby got hurt, ended the season at 7-6-1.

Tasby was unwilling to accept the Sharks salary offer after 1970. With no other choice of team, he accepted an offer from the British Columbia Lions and defected to the CFL. More on him in my individual entry on Tasby.

The team went through a three year dry spell at the position as Pastos tried to make Jerry Rosen a better QB. The project seemed hopeless-the team with Tasby gone went 4-10 and 3-10-1.

The team drafted Ron Chadwick, the "Bombing Brit" for 1973. Chadwick showed potential but was erratic. Pastos decided that Chadwick, too, was no more than a serviceable back up and for 1974 drafted highly-touted Stan Witowski out of Northern Illinois.

Witowski came to town with tremendous hype, but cockily promised to live up to it. He got off to a rocky start, breaking his wrist on the first play of his first preseason game, forcing the team to go with Jerry Rosen until Week 6. Witowski's wrist had healed, but the team was 1-4 and going nowhere. No problem. Stan "The Man" did not lose a game as starter, despite displaying a rookie's lack of polish at times. The team went 10-4 and qualified for the postseason for the first time in its history.

Witowski QB'd like a seasoned pro in 1975. The team won its first 11 games of the season, giving them a then-record 20 straight regular season wins. Witowski's record as starter was an astonishing 20-0. This ended in a Week 12 loss to the Chargers, but the team went 11-3 and would lose in the AFC Championship game to Pittsburgh.

Witowski held the QB reins until 1982, with time out in 1977, when he broke his knee and was sidelined for the entire season, in which the Sharks went 1-13. The team clawed its way back to contention and made the playoffs in 1981, but again fell one game short of the Super Bowl.

The strike shortened 1982 season would be Witowski's last in a Shark uniform. One thing that was pointed out by more than one observer was that, while Witowski came across as just as arrogant and egotistical as Tasby, he was referred to as "optimistic" and "brimming with self-confidence", while Tasby was referred to as "arrogant and egotistical." Well, no one could actually determine if this was true or just something in the eye of the beholder.

Speaking of arrogant and egotistical, those are two words that perfectly describe Ed Bailey, who arrived in Honolulu in 1983 as the heir apparent to Tasby and Witowski. When it came to arrogance, he made Tasby and Witowski seem humble by comparison. The problem is that, unlike those two, he was unable to back it up. One writer called him the "single most inept quarterback in the history of football. If you wanted to lose and lose big, Ed Bailey was your man."

Bailey was Pastos' top draft pick in 1983 and immediately alienated the media by telling them to "**** off" during his introductory press conference. By the time the 1983 season started Pastos was dying of cancer but still on the sidelines, determined to coach the entire season. Bailey was bad, but assistant coach Alex Pastos counseled patience, saying that not every player is a star right off the bat.

1984 came and with it a brand new coaching staff-Gus Pastos had died and his sons had to give up their coaching positions to assume their status as part-owners. Bailey was just as bad under the new regime, who replaced him as the starter after 8 weeks. This did nothing to temper Bailey's attitude. When a reporter asked him about an interception thrown in a game situation, Bailey responded with "**** you. I can still throw and **** better than you, you little worm. Go take it up the *** from your boyfriend, you *****."

Bailey was as much of a charmer off the field as on. His favorite activity was to go out to bars and and approach women who were taken. When their men inevitably objected, Bailey would tell them "beat it, limp dick. Your girl is mine now." Most of the time he got his face cracked by the woman in question. Other times he got into a fist fight with the put out guy. But every once in a while the woman would discover he was an NFL player and go off with him. Bailey never cared which one happened.

The team gave Bailey one last chance to come around and live up to his potential in 1985. After 6 games, he had thrown 7 TD passes and 18 interceptions and the team record stood at 1-5. The coach pulled Bailey during the second quarter of the 7th game and he never quarterbacked another down of football. He was released at the end of the season. He tried to catch on with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, but he was cut from each of them. He retired for good and became a local sports anchor in Chicago. He is frequently spotted in the Windy City's nightspots, approaching married women and telling them "I used to play in the NFL."
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