RED McCombs, a man of vision.
Red McCombs was born in Spur, Texas in 1927. He briefly attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and played lineman before entering the U.S.Army for 1946 through 1947. After the Army, Red entered the University of Texas-Austin, attended both business and law school and also married Ms. Charline Hamblin. After college, Red began first selling cars and later founded Red McCombs Automotive Group and many other corporations and companies. His successes followed one after another, always ahead of the "curve." He also had a deep interest in sports. One such endeavor was years ahead of anyone else.
After the 1968 Texas Professional Football League season, Red purchased the Beaumont Golden Vikings with the express purpose of transfering the team to play in Mexico City. The commissioner of the league, George Schepps was against the idea, but, did not try and stop Red. It was not long after he purchased the team, that the Texas Football League merged into the Continental Football League and became part of the Western Conference. In the Eastern Division of the Texas Division were the Dallas Rockets, Fort Worth Braves, Tulsa Thunderbirds, and the Texarkana Titans. The Western Division of the Texas Division was to be comprised of the El Paso Jets, Mexico Golden Aztecs, San Antonio Toros, and the West Texas Rufneks ( representing Odessa and Midland, Texas ). The eventual Texas Division Champion would play the Pacific Division Champion to face the Eastern Conference winner for the league's fifth World Championship. Red always knew who to hire to do the best possible job, and for Head Coach, he signed Duncan McCauley. McCauley had experience in the old United Football League, perhaps the strongest, talent-wise minor league of all time with the Louisville Raiders and the Cleveland/Canton Bulldogs, the last champs of that league, before its five best teams evolved into the Continental Football League, the third league of major professional football of the 1960's. Where Duncan truly got his best prepping was when he was an assistant to the great Perry Moss while at the Charleston Rockets of the 1965 Continental Football League. Perry was one of those rare coaches that not only could quickly evaluate talent and know how to use it at its best contribution, he also knew better than most where to find talent. He was not affraid to break the color line in the 1960's, and wanted the best player possible, regardless who the player was, whether black or white. This ability was not lost on Duncan, so when he got his chance to become the head coach of the expansion Sherman-Denison Jets in 1966, he used his experience and knowledge handed down from Perry Moss to make his team an immediate success. He took his team to a season ending2nd place tie and met the experienced Tulsa Oilers of the Texas Football League into the league's first championship, and barely lost 30-27. The next season, he went further as the new coach of the expansion San Antonio Toros and won its 14 game regular season slate, and took the renamed Tulsa Thunderbirds in the league's second title game. As the next season began, Duncan's Toros were now taking on Continental Football League teams in exhibition games and humilitiating them one-by-one before he resigned to pursue other interests. Red McCombs had followed his progress and made him his new head coach of the new Mexico Golden Aztecs.
In the early pre-season in 1969, negotiations broke down for a lease for the Meixco City Olympic Stadium. That was not the only stadium problem for Texas Division teams. The Dallas Rockets were stone walled when they tried to get a lease for the 60,000 seated Cotton Bowl, and once again forced to play in another tiny ball park. The Tulsa Thunderbirds who had been playing in the University of Tulsa' 40,000 seated Skelly Field for three seasons while in the Texas Football League were all of a sudden denied access after joining the Continental Football League. Out of desparation to find a home for the 1969 season, the well respected general manager and head coach, Art Ramage shifted the team to Bartlesville, Oklahoma and tiny Custer Field for the 1969 season renaming the team the Oklahoma Thunderbirds, but were locally called the Bartlesville Thunderbirds. The situation in El Paso became a wash out, the team was to play in the 30,000 seated Sun Bowl, but were also denied a lease. Sammy Baugh was the head coach, but, when the lease fell through, the team suspended operations and the players were re-assigned to the remaining TFL Division teams for only the 1969 season, and if the team could find a playing field in 1970, the players would have been reassigned to the Jets after the season. Red was able to secure a lease in Monterrey, Neuvo Leon, Mexico at the University Stadium which had at least 52,000 seats, and the pre-season was able to begin for the team. He also set up offices in both Monterrey and San Antonio. In the meantime, McCauley went about putting a team together. He was able to lure four experienced players from his former San Antonio Toros, all were All-Star calibre and a real steal was getting All-Star quarterback, Luz Pedraza. He also lured one from the Fort Worth Braves and also got Continental player Lindy Lyles. The most remarkable move was not just inking 13 of the best holdovers from the Beaumont Golden Vikings, but, the talent he picked up in his rookie laden group. He has as his assistant coaches, George Pasterchick ( another former Toro coach ), and Jerry Swindler. The three molded this team into a very early cohesive unit, which became evident quickly into the pre-season schedule. The Aztecs had a very top heavy pre-seaosn schedule, especially for an expansion team. First on the list was to be the Chicago Owls of the Central Division led by collegiate Hall of Famer, quarterback George Bork, already a Continental veteran with the Montreal Beavers, as well as, the Owls. They also had ALL-PRO running backs in Joe Williams and Bob Blakely, who each had gained over a 1,000 each on the ground while with the Toronto Rifles in 1966. The defense was led by the great Ernie Wade and Eric Avery and company, one of the best in the league in 1968 and the team came on so strong the second half of the season it knocked off Central Division Champion Indianapolis along the way. The Owls were expected to contend for the whole "tomale" in 1969. The Aztecs came to play, and well prepared for Chicago before nearly 25,000. The game ended in the only tie ever on the Continental Football League, preparations had not been made beforehand for any overtime, so it went down as a 13-13 tie. It was a moral victory for the Aztecs, as they more than held their own against such a team!
The next week the visiting team was the surprising Las Vegas Cowboys. The team was horrible in 1968, after replacing the equally terrible Quad City Raiders, the team was winless until an upset win over the Sacramento Capitols late in the season. This year head coach Paul Massey transformed the new Cowboys into a contending team over night. He was another football genius who knew where to get first line talent and knew where to put it to its best use. This became another close game before nearly 20,000 fans, as the Cowboys fell short in their attempted comeback 13-7.
In week three, the next visitor would be a fellow Texas Division foe, the Dallas Rockets. Though the game was a 13-3 win before over 11,000 faithful, it was not, as close as, the score. The offense would put up enough points on the board, and the defense would simply shut down the opposition.
Week four proved to be a complete mismatch. The Shreveport Trojans ( formerly the Oilers ), were from the Southern Professional Football League, and as a true minor league team were way over their heads. Before a crowd of better than 5,000, the Aztecs humiliated the vistors 80-0.
The following week before a similarly small crowd, the visiting Lake Charles Pelicans also from the same Southern Football League background, were crushed 40-0. There was a reason for the crowds to have been in decline. Forces outside the team, of Monterrey who had not contributed one bit to the formation of the team and its success, wanted a piece of the action and wanted to dictate to the team to further discount tickets to allow less fortunate fans to have access to the team. Fans were being discouraged from attending the games, and it became apparent, what had been agreed to prior to the beginning of the season for the community, was no longer being respected or upheld. Red could see the writing on the walls, and attempted to re-negotiate a lease once again for Mexico City and the Olympic Stadium. Despite the reported difficulties that were becoming known in the U.S., the commissioner of the Texas Division did not come to the aide of the team. He did not even pass onto the league commissioner, James P. Dunn what was taking place south of the border. Had he known, he may have contacted the state department to gain an intervention through political persuasion and an effort of goodwill on an international level.
The Aztecs had its regular season opener at home against the now transplanted Oklahoma Thunderbirds and came away with a thrilling 34-33 victory before around 3,000. The next four games would be on the road, and it was hoped that by the end of that time, a lease could be secured for Mexico City. San Antonio before over 10,000 of their fans, squeeked by the Aztecs 14-0. But the next week before over 15,000 in Forth Worth, the Aztecs were trounced 35-14, having only had a few days rest between games. The next week at Grim Stadium in Texarkana, the Titans prevailed 20-7. Gratefully, the three game losing streek came to an end, as the Aztecs before nearly 5,000 beat the Rockets in Dallas 17-3. That would be the last game. There was an emergency meeting called by the Texas Division commissioner after it was made known the lease for Mexico City's Olympic Stadium could not take place, the commissioner directed the players of the Aztecs be put in a pool, and selected by the remaining Texas Division teams. Many were picked up, while others simply sat out the rest of the season. If there had been more support by the Texas Division commissioner, solutions may have come about, especially had the league office been given prompt information of the events as they unfolded, instead of "after the fact!" If the team had been allowed to succeed as it was in that direction, football would have become an integral part of professional football in not only Mexico, but, the entire Latin American and Caribbean region. Games could have been televised internationally of the league, and the league would sitll be here today. It was the vision of Red McCombs who thought beyond the box as he usually did and was responsbile for success with making the Minnesota Vikings a success again, and for the NBA Detroit Pistons and coaxing the failing Dallas Chaparrals to move and become one of the premier NBA franchises in the San Antonio Spurs.
RED will always be a man of vision.