Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1974 Chicago Fire

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Chicago Fire Media GuideWorld Football League (1974)

Born: October 1973 – WFL founding franchise.
Died: January 1975 – The Fire ceases operations.

Stadium: Soldier Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Tom Origer

 

Chicago apartment developer Tom Origer was the first man to buy into the World Football League in October 1973, paying a reported $440,000 to acquire his Chicago Fire franchise.  It did not turn out to be a happy investment for the 41-year old builder.

The Fire featured a handful of names familiar to local football fans, including ex-Chicago Bears Virgil Carter (QB) and Jim Seymour (WR).  Rookie receiver James Scott was a breakout star.  After the demise of the WFL Scott would play seven seasons for the Bears from 1976 to 1983.  Another rookie – Chicago native Mark Kellar - was one of the league’s most productive running backs until a mid-season injury.

The Fire started out hot, winning seven of the first nine games in 1974.  The team was also a fairly popular draw, averaging 29,220 fans for 10 home dates at Soldier Field, despite competing for fans with the Bears during the WFL’s fall season.  But injuries and bad luck took their toll and the Fire lost their final 11 games to finish 7-13 in what would prove to be their only season.  Origer, fed up, forfeited the team’s final contest rather than travel to Pennsylvania to play the Philadelphia Bell on November 13, 1974.

The team muddled along in semi-existence until January 1975, when Origer laid off the Fire’s final few staff members and closed up shop.  The World Football League quickly put a new team into Chicago – the Chicago Winds – for the 1975 season.  But the Winds went belly up after only 5 games in 1975, and the league itself closed down on October 22, 1975 without managing to complete its second campaign.

 

==Chicago Fire Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
8/29/1974 vs. Birmingham Americans  L 22-8 Program
9/2/1974 @ Southern California Sun W 32-22 Program
9/7/1974 @ Birmingham Americans L 41-40 Program
9/18/1974 vs. Memphis Southmen L 25-7 Program

 

==Key Players==

  • Virgil Carter
  • James Scott
  • Jim Seymour

 

==YouTube==

Footage from the July 17, 1974 Chicago Fire at Jacksonville Sharks WFL game from the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

 

 

==Downloads==

July 1974 Chicago Fire “Line of Fire” Newsletter

 

==Links==

World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

October 22nd, 2014 at 1:54 am

1983-1984 Philadelphia Stars

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Philadelphia Stars USFLUnited States Football League (1983-1984)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Died: October 1984 – The Stars relocate to Baltimore, MD.

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owner: Myles Tannenbaum

 

 

 

==Philadelphia Stars Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
3/6/1983 @ Denver Gold W 13-7 Program Video
4/16/1983 @ Oakland Invaders W 17-7 Program
5/29/1983 @ Boston Breakers  L 21-17 Video
7/9/1983 vs. Chicago Blitz W 44-38 (OT) Program Video
7/17/1983 Michigan Panthers L 24-22 Program Video
4/15/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 41-7 Program
5/13/1984 vs. Los Angeles Express W 18-14 Video
6/30/1984 vs. New Jersey Generals W 28-7 Video
7/7/1984 vs. Birmingham Stallions W 20-10 Program
7/15/1985 Arizona Wranglers W 23-3 Program Video

 

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

1983 USFL Championship Game on ABC Sports.  Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars at Denver, Co. July 17, 1983…

1984 Inside The USFL feature on the Stars’ remarkable track record…

==In Memoriam==

Former Stars linebacker Sam Mills passed away April 18, 2005 at age 45 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Stars founder and owner Myles Tannenbaum died on August 31, 2012 at the age of 82 years old.

 

==Links==

United States Football League Media Guides

United States Football League Programs

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1992-1993 Cincinnati Rockers

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Arena Football League (1992-1993)

Born: 1991 – AFL expansion franchise.
Died: October 1993 – The Rockers withdraw from the Arena Football League.

Arena: Riverfront Coliseum (15,500)

Team Colors: Green, Yellow & White

Owner: Ted Gregory

 

Short-lived entry in the Arena Football League active for two summers in 1992 and 1993.

Unusual among Arena Football teams of the era, the Cincinnati Rockers employed ex-NFL quarterbacks in both of their campaigns.  The starter in 1992 was gambling casualty Art Schlichter, twice banned from the NFL by Commissioner Pete Rozelle.  Schlichter found a revival of sorts in the Arena League, winning Most Valuable Player honors in 1990 as the signal caller for the league champion Detroit Drive.  It was a modest rebound – Schlichter was one of the highest paid players in the AFL in 1992, but that still only meant a salary of $40,000 annually.   The Rockers thrived at first with Schlichter under center in 1992.  The team went 7-3 and made the playoffs as Schlichter passed for 45 touchdowns.  But late in the season the former Ohio State star fell back into his old ways and was arrested for passing a bad check.  Schlichter left the team after the 1992 season and never played another down of pro football.  He spent much of the next decade in prison.

The Rockers tried to rebuild in 1993 around former NFL journeyman Blair Kiel at quarterback.  Unlike Schlichter, Kiel struggled to pick up the indoor game and ended up splitting time with Brent Pease, a former replacement QB for the Houston Oilers during the 1987 NFL strike.  Pease couldn’t rally the Rockers either, and the franchise regressed to a league-worst 2-10 record, matched only by the Rockers’ in-state rival, the Cleveland Thunderbolts.

Other former NFL notables who played for the Rockers included former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ira Hillary and ex-New England Patriots running back Tony Collins.

After a promising start at the box office in 1992, the Rockers’ attendance crashed through the floor in 1993.  Owner Ted Gregory, the late Cincinnati rib baron, shuttered the faltering club in late 1993.  Gregory later sold off the inactive franchise certificate to Connecticut investors and the ex-Rockers franchise became the Hartford-based Connecticut Coyotes in 1995.

 

==Cincinnati Rockers Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
1992 5/30/1992 vs. Detroit Drive  W 37-34 Video
1993 7/3/1993 @ Tampa Bay Storm L 61-51 Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Rockers owner Ted Gregory passed away on December 2, 2001 at age 78.

Ex-Rockers quarterback Blair Kiel died of a heart attack on April 8, 2012.  Kiel was 50 years old.

 

==YouTube==

Rockers inaugural game at the Riverfront Coliseum on May 30, 1992.  Art Schlichter leads the Rockers to a 37-34 upset over his former team, the Detroit Drive before 13,317 fans.

 

==Links==

Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs

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1999-2002 Mississippi Fire Dogs

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Mississippi Fire DogsIndoor Professional Football League (1999-2000)
National Indoor Football League (2001-2002)

Born: 1999
Died: Postseason 2002 – The Fire Dogs cease operations

Arena: Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Mississippi Fire Dogs were an obscure indoor football outfit that played four seasons in the Gulf Coast city of Biloxi from 1999 through 2002.  Starting in the late 1990’s, a rash of low-budget knockoffs of the pioneering Arena Football League sprang up around the country.  These leagues – often derisively referred to as “ankle biters” by diehard AFL fans – typically set up shop in small Midwestern and Southern cities with underutilized civic centers.  And they typically didn’t last very long.

In this sense, the Fire Dogs were a pretty typical ankle-biter entry.  The franchise started out in 1999 in the Indoor Professional Football League (1999-2001), which featured teams in the Deep South and Pacific Northwest.  After two seasons, the Fire Dogs ditched the struggling IPFL for the equally anonymous National Indoor Football League (2001-2007).

There were a couple of intriguing names associated with the Fire Dogs. During the team’s first two seasons in the IPFL, the General Manager, Head Coach and starting quarterback was former NFL quarterback John Fourcade.

The other “celebrity” associated with the Fire Dogs was Irving Favre, father of Green Bay Packers All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre.  The elder Favre was a minority owner in the club.  He also succeeded Fourcade as Head Coach when the franchise jumped to the National Indoor Football League in 2001.

The Fire Dogs won two league titles during their short life-span, conquering the IPFL (under Fourcade) in 2000 and the NIFL (under Favre) in 2001.  The team went out of business following the 2002 season.

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Written by andycrossley

August 10th, 2014 at 2:43 am

August 21, 1993 – Detroit Drive vs. Tampa Bay Storm

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Arena Bowl VIIDetroit Drive vs. Tampa Bay Storm
Arena Bowl VII
August 21, 1993
Joe Louis Arena
Attendance: 12,989

Arena Football League Programs
62 pages

 

Arena Bowl VII was the second and final meeting between Arena Football’s two greatest dynasties: the Detroit Drive, who played in the title game in all six seasons of their existence, and the Jay Gruden-era Tampa Bay Storm, who won four titles in six years with Gruden under center.  In fact, the Storm were the only force standing between the Drive and a perfect six-for-six record in championship games.  Gruden & Co. handed Detroit their only two Arena Bowl losses in 1991 and in this 1993 rematch.

The Storm took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, winning or tying every quarter en route to a 51-31 victory.  Gruden was named the MVP of Arena Bowl VII, passing for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Gruden, the brother of Super Bowl champion coach and Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden, ultimately won four Arena Bowls with the Storm.  He later won two more as an Arena Football head coach.  In 2014 he was named Head Coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

Another standout was Storm OL-DL Keith Browner, who recovered a fumble for a touchdown on defense and also caught a 9-yard touchdown pass.  Browner, a former 2nd round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who played five seasons in the NFL, is part of the remarkable Browner family.  His brothers Ross and Joey were NFL standouts during the 1980’s.  Joey Browner’s son Keith Jr. and nephew Max Starks would also play in the NFL.  Keith Browner was named the “Ironman of the Game” as the top two-way player in Arena Bowl VII.

Arena Bowl VII proved to be the final appearance of the Detroit Drive franchise.  During the offseason, owner Mike Ilitch sold the team and the new owners relocate it to Worcester, Massachusetts where it became the Massachusetts Marauders.  The Marauders lasted just one season and failed to extend the Drive’s dynasty.

The evening’s game program (above right) pictured the Arena Football League’s 1993 award winners on the cover:

 

==YouTube==

 

==Downloads==

1993 Detroit Drive Arena Bowl VII Roster

1993 Tampa Bay Storm Arena Bowl VII Roster

 

==Links==

More Arena Bowls on Fun While It Lasted

Detroit Drive Home Page

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