Eric "Endzone" Crone '73, legendary Harvard quarterback won an ambassadorship Tuesday from the recently-formed World Football League (WFL), ending his ten-month quest to break into the pro ranks.
"When I heard about the new league I contacted three or four teams," a joyous Crone said yesterday from his New Hampshire apartment. "I wanted to play in the East so I went with the Ambassadors."
Crone said that he had accepted a two-year contract to play for the Ambassadors, a team now engaged in finding itself a home. "The franchise is solid but the city we will play in is still up for grabs," he said. "We will probably play in Norfolk but there is a chance we will play in Orlando."
The ex-Harvard quarterback, slated for number two duty behind Joe Namath's understudy Bob Davis, is anxious to take a crack at the starting line-up. "Davis is coming in number one, but a lot depends on how much I can prove to them in camp," Crone said.
High on Intelligence
The man Crone will be most out to impress is newly-appointed coach and ex-Washington Redskin, Jack Pardee. Crone said he is high on the Pardee staff. "They are a lot more intelligent than a few of the staffs I have played with in the past," Crone said.
The Crone pro-ball saga began February 4, 1973, when the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL drafted the ex-Harvard quarterback in the 17th round. Crone stayed with the team, until September 15. He was the last person cut before the regular season began.
When the Cardinals dropped Crone, he hit the Canadian trail to toss a few aerials in Winnipeg. After three weeks of the Northern circuit, it was back to semi-pro ball in New England.
"I felt that I should have been kept on that Cardinal team originally," Crone said. "There were a lot of politics involved with who they cut and who they kept. But I learned a lot about quarterbacking when I was with them."
Crone acknowledges that it is hard for a player from the Ivy League to break into pro football and the NFL in particular. He said that "the Ivy schools just can't offer the training in actual time that the big football schools can. The big schools go for about ll months, and the other months is for weight training, while at Harvard you go for only three months."
But Crone said the coaching he received from Harvard Coach Joe Restic was "really good--it helped me quite a bit."
"Restic's systems are a lot more complex than the Ambassadors or the Cardinals or the Canadian League. He also likes to throw a lot and that helped my quarterback development too," Crone said.
Crone was the first Harvard athlete to be drafted by a professional team since Carter Lord '68. He received immediate fame and a nickname during his sophomore year by leading an underdog Harvard team to victory over Yale, and wandering into his own end zone on the last play of the game for a two-point safety.
Although Crone is optimistic about his chances with the Ambassadors, he said that this tour will definitely be his last shot at the pro football ranks. The quarterback said reluctantly that, "This is it--if I don't make it this time I will stop playing."