Wally Gabler
No. 12, 10, 11
Gabler (No. 29) preparing to pass, 1965
Born: (1944-06-09) June 9, 1944 (age 77)
Portsmouth, Ohio
Career information
StatusRetired
CFL statusAmerican
Position(s)QB
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight195 lb (88 kg)
CollegeMichigan
Career history
As player
1966–1969, 1972Toronto Argonauts
1969–1970Winnipeg Blue Bombers
1970–1972Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Wallace F. Gabler III (born June 9, 1944) is a retired professional American football player. He was the starting quarterback for the 1965 Michigan Wolverines football team and played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as the starting quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts (1966–1969), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1969–1970), and Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1970–1972). In seven years in the CFL, Gabler passed for 13,080 yards and 61 touchdowns.

Early years

Gabler was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, and attended Kimball High School in Royal Oak, Michigan.[1] He attended the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) after graduating from high school, with the hopes of qualifying for the United States Naval Academy the following year. At NMMI, Gabler broke Roger Staubach's school records for most passing touchdowns in a game and completion percentage and was selected as a junior college All-American.[2]

University of Michigan

Gabler transferred to the University of Michigan in 1963 without a scholarship and played for the freshman football team.[2] As a junior, Gabler received a tuition-only scholarship,[2] and appeared as a backup to Bob Timberlake on the 1964 Michigan team that won the Big Ten Conference championship.[3][4]

As a senior in 1965, Gabler began the season as a backup to Dick Vidmer. Gabler got his first start in the second game of the season against Cal.[5] Gabler started five games for the 1965 Wolverines and completed 58 of 126 passes for 825 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also gained 149 rushing yards.[3]

Following his senior year, Gabler played in the 1965 Blue–Gray Football Classic.[6]

Gabler's younger brother, John H. Gabler, also played football at Michigan, as a halfback from 1966 to 1969.[7]

Canadian Football League

Gabler played seven years in the Canadian Football League after graduating from Michigan in 1966. He began his professional football career as the starting quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts. As a rookie, he passed for 1,659 yards and rushed for another 373 yards.[8] In his history of the Argonauts, Craig Wallace wrote: "In 1966, the offence was based on Wally Gabler running around the backfield looking for open receivers -- and when he couldn't find one, running for his life."[9] Gabler remained with the Argonauts for three years. He had his best year in 1968 when he completed 205 of 365 passes for 3,242 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also rushed for 458 yards and four touchdowns for the 1968 Argonauts.[8]

Interviewed in 1968, Gabler described his adjustment to the Canadian rules: "Of course, changing to three downs makes some difference. You have to be accustomed to putting the ball in the air more in Canada but the rules compensate."[10]

In August 1969, Gabler was traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in exchange for Dave Raimey.[11] Gabler gained 2,288 passing yards for the Blue Bombers in 1969.[8]

During the 1970 season, Gabler was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.[12][13] He passed for 1,908 yards for the Tiger-Cats in 1970.[8] He led the team to the Eastern regular season championship in 1970. In November 1970, the Canadian Press published a feature story about Gabler's role in leading the Tiger-Cats. The article described Gabler as "scholarly" and "soft-spoken" and noted:

Wally Gabler's shoulders will be carrying the lion's share of the load Sunday when he directs the Tiger-Cats in the first game of the Eastern Football Conference final against the Montreal Alouettes. And it's ironic in view of the nomadic life the 26-year-old Royal Oak, Mich. native has experienced in his short career in the Canadian Football League. ... Arriving in late September to fill in at quarterback for injured Joe Zuger, Gabler quickly picked up the intricate Hamilton offence and was one of the instruments in the Tiger-Cats' first place finish.[14]

During the off-seasons from 1967 to 1971, Gabler sold securities for Richardson Securities of Canada.[15]

In August 1972, Gabler returned to the Toronto Argonauts, who lost their quarterback Joe Theismann in the season opener.[16] Gabler concluded his playing career in Toronto during the 1972 season, passing for 1,689 yards in 10 games.[8]

In seven years in the CFL, Gabler completed 848 of 1,690 passes for 13,080 yards, 61 touchdowns and 118 interceptions.[17]

Later years

Gabler was a colour commentator on CTV in 1974.

References

  1. ^ "1965 Michigan Football Roster". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  2. ^ a b c Chuck Vetzner (September 23, 1965). "Hard Work Gets Gabler Coveted Job". The Michigan Daily. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". University of Michigan.
  4. ^ "1964 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  5. ^ Rick Stern (September 25, 1965). "Gabler Abler; Opens At Home Against Cal". The Michigan Daily. p. 7 – via Bentley Historical Library.
  6. ^ "University of Michigan Football All-Star Game Participants". University of Michigan.
  7. ^ Clark Norton (September 22, 1966). "Brother Acts Staged on 'M' Grid Scene". The Michigan Daily. p. 7 – via Bentley Historical Library].
  8. ^ a b c d e "Wally Gabler". cflapedia.
  9. ^ Craig Wallace (22 May 2005). A Slip in the Rain, the True Story of the 1967-72 Toronto Argonauts and the Fumble That Killed Canada's Team. p. 24. ISBN 9781411613928.
  10. ^ "Gabler family has two hopes for playoffs". The Montreal Gazette (CP wire story). 1968-11-23.
  11. ^ Jim Coleman (1969-08-20). "Toronto regaining 'hated' status". Ottawa Citizen.
  12. ^ Ian MacLaine (1970-11-01). "Gabler ready if Tabbies call". Ottawa Citizen.
  13. ^ Doug Colbert (1970-10-29). "Gabler comin' on strong -- Restic". The Montreal Gazette.
  14. ^ Ian MacLaine (1970-11-11). "Wally Gabler Key Figure In Ti-Cats Grey Cup Bid". Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.
  15. ^ Ian MacDonald (1971-10-28). "Gabler phones, Larks call him back". The Montreal Gazette.
  16. ^ "Welcome back". The Montreal Gazette. 1972-08-29.
  17. ^ "CFL Quarterbacks (Minimum 5,000 Yards), by Yards, through 2007". Rutgers University Press. Retrieved 25 February 2010.