Having already been involved in a contract dispute with the Patriots, Capp refused to sign a standard contract for players for the 1971 season and resigned from the team in July. He then filed an antitrust suit against the NFL. A jury refused to award him damages, but the case presents an early challenge in the players’ successful struggle. Ultimately to win free agency rights.
Joseph Robert Kapp was born on March 19, 1938, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the eldest of five children of Florence Garcia Kapp, of Mexican descent, and Robert Kapp, a salesman of German descent.
His family moved to California when Joe was young. He played football and basketball in high school and won an athletic scholarship from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kapp led the Golden Bears to a Pacific Coast Conference football championship in 1958 and a berth in the Rose Bowl game, losing to Iowa. He played basketball for Cal teams that won a pair of Pacific Coast Championships.
A bruised 6-foot-2-inch and 205 pounds, Kapp set career records for quarterbacks, running for 931 yards in three seasons. But the Golden Bears used a split formation in favor of the running quarterback option on the passing game, so Kapp was not selected in the 1959 NFL Draft until the Washington team, now called the Leaders, selected him in the 18th round. They never called him, so he went to the Canadian Football League.
Kapp spent a season and a half with the Calgary Stampeders, then was traded to the British Columbia Lions after undergoing knee surgery. He led them to the 1963 Gray Cup for the CFL championship, losing to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but they defeated Hamilton, 34-24, for the 1964 Gray Cup title. He was a two-time CFL All-Star, threw 136 touchdown passes and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
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