Darrel "Mouse" Davis Interview (Jan. 2009)

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Gamblers Offensive Coordinator  1984
Denver Gold Head Coach  1985 


Anthony: I believe your stint with the Gamblers was your second professional coaching position?


Mouse: Yes, I was the offensive coordinator for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (1982).


Anthony: How did you wind up with the Gamblers?


Mouse: The Gamblers’ owner Jerry Argovitz, who was also a former sports agent, is the one who contacted me.


Anthony: When you got together with Jack Pardee, was he familiar with the Run and Shoot offense?


Mouse: No, not really... In fact, he was unsure about it, and as we went along he kept an eye on us. As time went on he thought things were going well, and just let ‘er go. He was primarily a defensive coach, but certainly did check on the offense. As things got better, he walked away and we did our thing.


Anthony: With the USFL being a new league, and the Gamblers being a new team, did you have to “tweak” the Run and Shoot a bit to fit the situation, versus how you had run it in the past?


Mouse: Not really. Basically football was football – as it still kinda is – and it was more a matter of getting Jim Kelly plugged in along with the receivers to understand what we were trying to do. Things came around, and we continued to get better. Of course, Kelly was a great quarterback and we had fast, great receivers that made the offense very successful.


Anthony: What are your overall thoughts on putting together the offense of an expansion team?


Mouse: We had some great players. We had a bunch of little peanuts that could really fly, and of course Jimmy could really hum it. Todd (Fowler) played for the Cowboys later as a running back and tight end. I think there were 160 or so kids from the USFL that also played in the NFL. There was little “Ice Cube” (Gerald McNeil), and Richard Johnson played for us later in Detroit City. All of them really were excellent football players, and these are really good memories.


Anthony: Now that you mention it, you had Todd Fowler, for example, who came out of college as a tight end. The next thing you know with the Gamblers, he’s a running back getting plugged in to the Run and Shoot...


Mouse: ...and he was very successful. His dad had also been a very successful football player. So the kid came up – and he didn’t know it – but he was suddenly a running back with us.


I can still remember Todd running me over one day during practice. I was standing there trying to direct traffic on a pass route, and he just knocked my ass flat. He didn’t know whether to say sorry, kiss my ass, or whatever... But I could tell that Todd was trying to be respectful. So I got up, and Jim Kelly was laughing like hell. I said, “Kelly, you no-good son of a bitch!” Jimmy said, “I didn’t run over you!” He couldn’t help but laugh – and it was kinda funny actually.


Anthony: Since you were only in Houston for a year, did you buy a house or rent a place?


Mouse: We bought a house near Fun Stadium, which is where we practiced.


Anthony: Have you collected memorabilia from the Gamblers or any of the other teams you’ve been a part of?


Mouse: I did have some stuff, but after my wife died in Las Vegas, I sold most of it at a garage sale to kinda clean things up. I wasn’t a big collector anyway, but had things like footballs from a variety of different situations.


Anthony: Does your path occasionally cross with others from the Gamblers organization?


Mouse: When Jimmy got inducted into the Hall of Fame, I went back to that. Greg Moser is an ex-player who lives here in town (Portland) and is a banker now, so I’ll occasionally see him. It’s amazing how many names do crop up – some are still in coaching, others are in a variety of places. I haven’t seen Jack Pardee in a while, but I’ll see Jenks (John Jenkins) occasionally. There will always be some connection, no question about it.


Anthony: I’ve heard Jenks’ name mentioned with the new USFL that’s trying to start up.


Mouse: I have heard that. I wish him well and hope the new league can get going.


Anthony: Even though it only lasted a year, did you enjoy your time with the Gamblers?


Mouse: Oh yeah, absolutely. We had great players and it was a great situation. I ended up leaving a son in Houston who married there, and now I’ve got a couple of grandkids there. So I still have ties to Houston – I make it down there when I can, and we always talk about the Gamblers. There’s an ex-quarterback who worked with the team named “Pop” Jackson who’s now in the restaurant business there, so I run across him on occasion. Another kid was a lineman who now owns a bar... Once you’re in football, you run across so many people that are lifetime friends – or at least strong acquaintances.


Anthony: You left the Gamblers to become the head coach of the Denver Gold in 1985. I’m wondering if you have a personal preference performing the job of head coach or offensive coordinator?


Mouse: Even as head coach I’d concentrate on the offense. I pretty much gave the defensive coordinator carte blanche, and we had success that way.


Anthony: I believe you haven’t taken any lengthy breaks away from football...


Mouse: When I went to the Arena League, I became a director for a spell (1986-1988) before getting back into coaching. I guess it wouldn’t really be a break, because we did bring the kids in, get them started and split the teams up.


Anthony: These days at Portland State, do you have a role in the recruiting process?


Mouse: I don’t have much of a recruiting role here at Portland State. I’ll look at some of the kids and talk with them, but it’s a very limited role.


Anthony: This question may be a little silly, but comparing Portland State today versus thirty years ago, are there fewer or more changes than we realize when it comes to learning the game?


Mouse: Probably both are true. There’s no question that there are more teams “spreading it out.” Jerry (Glanville) was just talking about how in the NFL the Vikings split out an extra guy and got him semi screwed-up when he was coaching the defense with Detroit – now that was probably a hundred years ago, but these same things do happen in college, too. You know, things continue to evolve in the game of football, and this evolution has now taken to four or five wides splitting out. The athletes of today are bigger, stronger and faster – I think it really is true. More people are throwing and catching the ball than in the past... Really, what we’ve done is integrate more Run and Shoot orientation than we’ve ever had in the game of football. That’s what it amounts to.


Anthony: Even if a team doesn’t call it by name, it still seems that most teams employ major elements of the Run and Shoot.


Mouse: No question about it. And, if you associate it with primarily using four wides, there’s even more correlation.


Anthony: I can’t thank you enough for your time. You’re right at the top of the list of people I wanted to interview.

Mouse: I appreciate you doing what you’re doing. Your site should bring back memories for a lot of people.