The most recent Fulmer Cup scoreboard saw the reemergence of LSU to the top ten, albeit with a mere 4 points. Oregon leads thanks to the fine thievery of Jeremiah Masoli and crew. One might shake their head at the descending path that these young men seem to spiraling down. Things seem to be out of control with society. Things are not what they used to be. Those who say that are correct, but not in the way one would assume. These kids committing these crimes are not representing the good in society, but their actions are paltry compared to the actions of the torchbearers that came before them. Now, my knowledge of badasses in past years is limited but one of these badasses has a renowned status among the fine folks in LSU country. So without further ado, let me provide some insight on the legend of Art Cantrelle.
Art Cantrelle played tailback for the Bayou Bengals in the late 60's to early 70's. He was known around the country as one tough son of a bitch. But his true legend was defined off the field. Keep in mind, these stories are just that, stories, but after meeting the man, you are convinced that everything you heard is plausible, if not completely true. For example, legend has it that his brothers tied him to a cypress tree in a swamp to toughen him up. They left him there overnight. Again, I don't know if it's true but, yeah, it makes sense.
Here's a quote from a Canadian newpaper, highlighting Art Cantrelle
One time at LSU, some teammates went to his room on the eve of his wedding to ritualistically shave him you know where, and Cantrelle, sitting on a chair waiting in the middle of the room, said to them dead-eyed and icy-toned: "I know what you guys are here for and I'm gonna let you do it. But before you do, I want you all to know that I see the face of everybody in this room, and I guarantee you that I will get every one of you, one at a time."
One story that I truly believe comes from my dad. Through his college years, my dad tended bar at one of the local Baton Rouge watering holes. Cantrelle had insatiable appetite for beer and drank large quantities of it, very often. He alleged Cantrelle came in one night and was throwing back beers and playing pinball, customary behavior for the LSU great. On this night however, his pinball skills were less than great, which incensed him. My dad noticed things were going south, as it were, and called the police to be on standby because no bouncer could contain Cantrelle by himself. When the police received the call, they hastily alerted all nearby officers to the scene. It was the only way to control him. The next morning, Coach "Chawly Mac" bailed him out of jail and Art played in the game that night. Beyond this incident, Cantrelle was known for his bar brawling proficiency and I guarantee you he never lost a scrap. He could clear a whole bar room with due diligence should the opportunity arise.
His legend would follow him to the next level as he went on to play football in the CFL. His coach, John Gotta, called him the "toughest guy he had ever coached" and even nicknamed named him "Gunner" for one particular instance. One night, Cantrelle was drinking in the basement of one of his teammate's house. Art wasn't the biggest guy there, but he was the strongest and he established this by thrashing all and sundry in arm wrestling matches. The night went on and the beer flowed, and so to the lip coming from Cantrelle's chops. This irritated the bravest man in the world, Tom Laputka. Laputka took exception to Cantrelle's detestable mockery and proceeded to launch a haymaker into the jowl of Cantrelle, knocking him out cold. Laputka left, in all probability sensing the looming disaster. His intuition proved true as Cantrelle, woke up from his succinct slumber and sought after Luptka, pistol in tow. He found Luptka, who didn't believe Cantrelle had even brought a loaded gun to reconcile a inconsequential quarrel. Cabtrelle fired a blast into a door to prove otherwise. Teammates stepped in and finally talked the raging bull down and Cantrelle ultimately handed the gun over. Gotta didn't do a damn thing. Who the hell would discipline a crazy guy like Cantrelle?
I'm sure there are more stories that would perplex the minds of most sane men on the subject of Art Cantrelle. The experience of those lucky enough to meet him is all noteworthy in similarity. The first impression is always of Cantrelle's supernatural like grip in his handshake. The comparisons of his gorilla-like force are exaggerated, but only to some extent. With that said, the stories always end with; "Art Cantrelle was a great guy, even with his wild past."
One thing is certain, today's bad boys seem like boy scouts compared to Art Cantrelle enough so that I recommend an award for "Most Badass Offense" be created and named in his honor. I also encourage others to regale us in tales of former badasses from other schools.
Art Cantrelle currently resides in Biloxi.