Perry Moss


The rolling stone gags are too easy to put into play, and besides Perry Moss’ career in the CFL was more fireball than bryophyta. Moss a native of  Tulsa, Oklahoma played tailback at the University of Tulsa and quarterback at Illinois during the 1940s. As a Tulsa tailback, he was on the winning team in the 1945 Orange Bowl and later with Illinois a 1947  Rose Bowl champion. Moss served two years in the United States Air Force between his playing time at Tulsa and Illinois. At Illinois, he was named to All-Big Ten and All-American teams. He was drafted in 1948 by the Green Bay Packers for one year before returning to Illinois as an assistant.

Moss served as backfield coach at the University of Miami in 1955 and University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1958. In 1959, he was named head football coach at Florida State, and compiled a 4-6 record in his one season. Dissatisfaction with his handling of the team (he was hung in effigy on campus) led to his resignation before the end of the season and his signing by the Alouettes on November 17th 1959.

Meanwhile, further north in Montreal, the Alouettes had fired Peahead Walker, head coach since 1952,  and president Ted Workman sought a coach a to bring new ideas to an Alouette team that had made it to three consecutive Grey Cups from 1954 to 1956, but had fallen behind a since that time, culminating in a 42-0 semi-final playoff loss at the end of the 1959 season.  Workman, being a thoroughly modern businessman, hired a head-hunting agency to find a coach and young Perry Moss was his man.

Moss believed in a full time platoon (no more 60 minute men) and the beauties of the “running pass”. This caused a stir since incumbent QB Sam Etcheverry was regarded as one of the premier drop-back passers of the era. Moss assumed the reins of both GM and coach, as well as holding a seat on the board of directors. In a clear break from coach Walker’s approach, Moss immediately announced a five week Canadian tryout camp to be held prior to the main training camp. He also signed Wisconsin QB Sid Williams, whom he had coached in 1957 and touted him as a replacement for Etcheverry. He also signed a number of Florida players, most prominent of which was 165 lb Fred Pickard and Jack Espenship of Florida State (only Espenship made the team, and he broke an ankle early in the season). He also rankled the sports media by severely curtailing game passes which would set the stage for a frosty relationship during Moss’ tenure. More trouble arose when assistant coach Harvey Johnson (the only management person retained by Moss from the prior year) abruptly resigned in May and all-star end Doug McNicoll was futilely dealt to Hamilton because keeping him “was not in the interest of team morale” and “not worth his salary”. Within weeks of Moss’ arrival, the local papers nicknamed him “The Little Corporal”. The season started unevenly for the team, and many players were perplexed by the military manner adopted by Moss. In October, a player revolt was highlighted by star Hal Patterson leaving the team. Patterson returned, but found he was now to play both ways to earn his keep, and would no longer return kickoffs, one of his specialties. Moss also asked some Canadian players to tear up their contracts in mid season and play for $50 per game causing further tensions.

The stormy first season came to a peak when Moss criticized a league referee and indicated he would not let his team take the field for any games he officiated.

Distracted and demoralized the Alouettes, lost ignobly to the Rough Riders in a semi-final playoff game. Soon after the loss the team announced the trade of Etcheverry and Patterson to Hamilton for Bernie Faloney and Don Paquette. Both president Workman and coach Moss seemed to initially take credit and then deflect criticism regarding the trade. The Ti-Cat fans were delirious with joy, and the rest of the league seemed stunned. In the end Etcheverry went to the NFL when the trade was found to have violated his contract. Patterson was assigned to Hamilton and Paquette stayed with Montreal. Faloney remained with Hamilton. The uproar in Montreal was immediate, and was to last for decades. Etcheverry signed a new contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, and despite the claim of Workman that if the NFL upheld the contract “it means war”, he played his final two years in the NFL..

Moss also dumped coach Jim Dunn and players Doug McNicholl (again), Bill Hudson  and Billy Shipp from the growing list of malcontents on the team. Moss had repeatedly claimed that the team would be stronger without Etcheverry, a classic drop-back quarterback, if he could be replaced with a stronger runner. However, the 1961 training camp opened with a decidedly risky bunch of QB candidates. Wes Gideon was anointed as the man to beat despite a reputation as a “so-so passer”.

Competition was not stiff (Tom Dimitroff, Primo Villenueva, Harvey White, Nellie Yarbough and John Conroy were also in the mix). Moss later added Gerry Doucette, Gerry Thompkins and Don Allard after the camp started as he attempted to find a replacement for Slingin’ Sam under intense fan scrutiny. In all he went through 13 candidates before settling on bespectacled Yarbrough, after releasing Gideon in July. By the end of August, Yarbrough himself was gone  after only one tie and 32 points in five games. As ther season wore on the quarterbacking debacle dragged the team down, and much of the criticism fell upon Moss.

Intent on finding the ideal QB candidate, Moss pursued Minnesota’s Sandy Stephens for the 1962 season he won a bidding war to sign the All-American to a three year no-cut contract in January 1962. The year’s training camp began with the promise of an option-based offence, led by 1961’s leading rusher Don Clark. The large number of holdouts who did not want to return to the Larks did not bode well for team cohesion: eight remained unsigned, including four starters by mid-June.

On August 16th  Clark was lost for the season to a kidney injury suffered in a game against Ottawa and the Alouettes season continued to unravel as eight starters went down early in the season. In September Moss was fined for being overly critical of league game officials again. By September Moss had even gone through four different punters. He tried an odd double-QB experiment, and instituted a cash penalty/bonus system for certain plays midway through the season. In November rumours about a pending dismissal of Moss began to circulate in earnest. The Alouettes stumbled into the playoffs on the strength of beating the lowly Argos four times, but once there rallied to upset the Rough Riders in the semi-final, before losing the eastern final in  two close contests to Hamilton (allegedly on a number illegal receiver plays). Despite the strong close to the season, on January 25th, 1963 Moss was fired after a special meeting of the board of directors, despite having two years remaining on a reported $30,000 contract. His career record over three seasons was 14-27-4, bettering only the B.C. Lions.

After his CFL tenure  he coached the West Virginia Rockets of the semi-pro American Football Association in the mid-60s and again in the 1980s.. At Marshall in 1968 he compiled an 0-9-1 record before resigning in the wake of NCAA recruiting violations. In 1991 he was named as the first coach of the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and compiled a record of 59-25 before leaving the team in 1997. Moss is a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

Perry Moss passed away on August 7, 2014.

[Bio by Wes Cross]

Perry Moss in Wikipedia

Perry Moss on

Perry Moss on Aloutte Owner Ted Workman

Moss Signs With Alouettes - November 21, 1959

Perry Moss Gives Outline on New Deal for Larks

Coach Perry Moss Ends Revolt Quickly - October 3, 1960

Letter to the Editor Regarding Etcheverry / Patterson Trade - November 30, 1960

Perry Moss Emotes - King of Optimists - December 15, 1960

Rozelle Approves Pact With Cards - February 3, 1961

Two Man Fight for Alouette QB Job - July 21, 1961

Moss in Hot Water After Aloutte-Edmonton Game - September 26, 1962

Moss Quits as Alouette Bos - January 30, 1963

Moss Should Have Been Given Another Year - January 31, 1963

Pery Moss a Good Organizer - February 13, 1963

Perry Moss Signs With Bears - March 6, 1970

Perry Moss Never Out of his League - July 19, 1987

Former FSU and Predators Head Coach Perry Moss Passes Away


Perry Moss

Perry Moss


Perry Moss