A key member of that squad was Jim Tomlin
was born in McAllen, Texas in 1947.He
had an outstanding high school career, playing both tailback and cornerback and being voted to the Regional and District All Star teams.That was good enough to get scholarship offers from University of Texas
, Texas A&M
, Texas Christian
, Baylor, and Southern Methodist University
decided on Stephen F. Austin University
in Nacogdoches, Texas due to their outstanding business school.Always blessed with incredible speed, Jim
ran track as well as played football while there.In 1967 at a track meet at Baylor University he
ran the 100-yard dash in 9.27 seconds...an Olympic caliber time.Looking back Jim recalls;
...Jim graduated from college early and spent the spring of 1968 working as a high school football coach and hoping for a shot at playing pro football.
The Denver Broncos of the American Football League
(AFL) and New Orleans Saints of the National Football League
(NFL) had both expressed interest in him.Jim
decided to sign with the Saints due to a $10,000 signing bonus they offered and the fact that his
former roommate at college was with them.He made a huge impact on the Saints coaching staff, amazed head coach Tom Fears with his speed;
"I was clocked at 4.22 in the 40 at our training camp in San Diego, California.Tom Fears said he
had never seen a faster 40 in all his
years and they saved the stopwatch with the exact time on it.It was in the Saints office for several years I understand."
Due to his
speed the Saints wanted to use Tomlin
at wide receiver.It would have been a good move...if they had a quarterback with a "rifle" of an arm.Unfortunately they had Billy Kilmer... a solid quarterback who lacked a strong throwing arm.By the time Billy was set up to throw Jim
was already so far down field Kilmer couldn't hit reach him with a pass.So, his
speed was of no use in this role. Jim
spent a frustrating 1968 season on the Saints taxi squad.Fears was determined to use Jim
as a wide receiver while Jim
was convinced he
wanted to play corner back.At the end of the season Jim
wanted out of New Orleans.He
had heard about the Canadian Football League
and an apparent new powerhouse on the rise in Toronto.He called Argonauts head coach Leo Cahill and said "I can outrun anyone...and I mean anyone in Canada." Leo who was in the midst of building a team of outspoken, long haired mavericks, and free spirits liked Jim's confidence and invited him to the Argonauts training camp.The Argos and Saints
worked out a deal to free Jim
from the Saints and NFL
and allow him to come to Toronto. Jim quickly made a big impression on Leo Cahill and Argo defensive coach Jim Rountree.
"I drove up to camp from Texas.When I arrived I got out of the car and ran the 40 in 4.25 for them.That was in street shoes and right after driving all the way there."
Cahill and Rountree after recovering from their shock (and delight!) quickly decided Jim
would start at right cornerback.He
would play opposite legendary Dick Thornton who held down the left cornerback position."Tricky Dick" helped mentor Jim
and they made an excellent tandem as Tomlin recalls;
"Trick was the consummate pro...probably the most gifted athlete I encountered in my pro career.I relied on my great recovery speed to cover the elite receivers in the league, like Terry Evanshen, Margene Adkins, and Hugh Campbell.Tricky relied on his
skill and knowledge.He
taught me how to read the quarterback and anticipate pass routes".
With two such gifted defensive backs along with excellent safeties in Marv Luster, Ed Learn, and Ron Arends, the Argos
relied on a mainly man to man pass defense which led to some interesting situations as Jim
remembers with good humor;
wasn't hurt and Sonny Wade would later apologize to him for this truly horrific act. The Argos
finished the 1969 season with a record of 10-4...good for 2nd place in the Eastern conference behind the powerful Ottawa Rough Riders.They knocked off 3rd place Hamilton
15-9 in the Eastern Semi-Final and took on Ottawa in the Eastern Final.The winner of this upcoming 2 game, total point series would represent the East in the Grey Cup.The first game was played at C.N.E. Stadium
in Toronto and saw the Argos
physically overpower Ottawa 22-14.Ottawa star quarterback Russ Jackson did not complete a single pass in the 2nd half and Jim
made one big interception off of him to snuff out a Rough Rider drive. The Argos
were full of confidence heading into the 2nd game.All they had to do to get to the Grey Cup was win, tie, or lose by no more than 7 points.They had a solid offence led by quarterback Tom Wilkinson, running back Bill Symons, and tight-end Mel Profit.Their defense was the most aggressive, toughest and at times violent in possibly all of pro football.You could not run successfully against them and with Jim Tomlin
among others in the secondary you sure couldn't pass against them.
was voted to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 1970.
An All-Star birth was prestigious for Jim
but it didn't get rid of the disappointment of 1970 for him.
Despite the great start by the team and his
strong play Jim Tomlin
played 5 games with the B.C. Lions before suffering a devastating knee injury which ended his
CFL career.In those 5 games he
intercepted 3 passes showing he
could play as effectively in the Western Conference as he
could in the East.
In 1974 Jim
gave pro football one final chance playing briefly with the NFL's Denver Broncos.The knee however was not going to stand up to the stress of football and Jim
once and for all retired.
Since the end of his
football career Jim
has kept busy.He completed an Engineering degree at the University of Oklahoma in 1982, and entered the oil exploration business after that.
Today Jim runs his
own oil drilling business and lives in San Antonio Texas.He
has traveled the world drilling for oil but now spends most of his
time working in the area of the Gulf of Mexico.He has two children... a daughter Ann Marie who is a junior at Texas Tech University and a son Zane a highly rated defensive tackle attending the University of Missouri.Jim
is also trying his
hand at writing and is the author of an outstanding, soon to be published novel, "Pipeline" which is partially based on his
experiences in the oil drilling business. Jim Tomlin
has many fond memories of his
days with the Toronto Argonauts;
Personal Interview with Jim Tomlin
, Winter 2002.3.Email correspondence with Jim Tomlin