“Best of luck to him,” Cardinals director of operations Joe Sullivan told the St. Louis Post Dispatch after star running back Terry Metcalf announced he was taking his talents to the Canadian Football League in March of 1978. “Money is a great thing to have in life when you’re young.”
Metcalf signed a seven-year, $1.4 million contract with the Toronto Argonauts after turning down a 3-year, $240,000 offer from the Cardinals and curiously similar proposals from other NFL teams. Metcalf was looking for a reported $300,000 yearly contract.
“I wouldn’t have made as much in five years in St. Louis as I’ll make in one year in Toronto,” Metcalf told the St. Louis Post Dispatch after the deal was announced. “I laid in bed all Saturday night thinking about it. There were a lot of doubts in my mind, but I have to do what’s right for me.”
Metcalf added, “I thought I would still be in the NFL, but nobody seemed willing to want to talk. So I had to look elsewhere.”
The 26 year old Metcalf was known as “The Franchise” in St. Louis. He was the Cards third round draft choice in 1973 out of Long Beach State and quickly became one of the greatest all-purpose backs the game had ever seen.
In 1974, Metcalf became the first NFL player to average 30 yards per kick return and 10 yards per punt return in the same season. The following year he set an NFL record with 2462 combined yards and became one of only four players to account for touchdowns by rushing, receiving, kick return, punt return, and passing in a season.
“He did everything for us except drive the bus to the stadium,” Dan Dierdorf said of Metcalf in a 2018 interview on KFNS radio.