Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

1983-1985 Birmingham Stallions

leave a comment

Rollie Dotsch Birmingham StallionsUnited States Football League (1983-1985)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Died: August 1986 – The USFL ceases operations.

Stadium: Legion Field

Team Colors:

Owner: Marvin Warner


The Birmingham Stallions of the USFL were the best and most enduring of Birmingham’s endless procession of speculative pro football start-ups.  Between 1974 and 2001, eight different football teams set up shop at the city’s Legion Field.  Of this bunch, only the Stallions played more than two seasons.

After a middling debut season in the spring of 1983 (9-9), the Stallions emerged as one of the top teams in the USFL in 1984 (14-4) and 1985 (13-5).  Birmingham’s fortunes began to improve with the arrival of a trio of players poached from the National Football League. Stallions Head Coach Rollie Dotsch was a former offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl champion teams of the late 1970’s.  In April 1983, the Stallions lured deep threat wide receiver Jim Smith away from the Steelers.  Although he arrived midway through the season, Smith quickly emerged as one of the top wideouts in the USFL and led Birmingham in receptions and receiving yards.

Shortly after the 1983 season, the Stallions persuaded disgruntled Buffalo Bills running back Joe Cribbs to jump to the USFL on a futures contract after the 1983 NFL season.  Cribbs was a former Auburn star and a 3-time Pro Bowler who was still at the peak of his powers in the NFL.  The Bills claimed to have a right of first refusal clause in Cribbs’ rookie contract that allowed them to retain the young tailback by matching any rival offer.  Birmingham won a court battle with the Bills in the fall of 1983.  Cribbs would lead the USFL in rushing as a Stallion in the spring of 1984.

The third key signing of offense was another one of Rollie Dotsch’s former compatriots from the Steelers.  Quarterback Cliff Stoudt started most of the 1983 NFL season for Pittsburgh after Terry Bradshaw went down with the elbow injury that would ultimately end his career.  The Steelers won the AFC Central with a 10-6 record, but Stoudt’s 21 interceptions and a late season collapse earned the quarterback the undying enmity of Pittsburgh fans.  Stoudt signed with the Stallions in January 1984 two weeks after quarterbacking the Steelers in a blowout playoff loss to the Los Angeles Raiders.  When the Stallions opened the 1984 USFL season on the road at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium a couple of months later, more than 50,000 fans showed up to heckle Stoudt and pelt him with snowballs.  (The USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers franchise would never draw more than 25,000 again).

Fairly or not, Stoudt was maligned in Pittsburgh. But he excelled as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the USFL.  In 1984, he threw 26 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions with a passer rating of 101.6.  In 1985, he would toss 34 touchdowns (2nd only to Houston’s Jim Kelly), 20 of which went to former Steelers teammate Jim Smith.  Stoudt was also supremely durable, starting all 36 Stallions games plus playoff contests in 1984 and 1985.

Although the Stallions were 27-9 across the 1984 and 1985 seasons, they never could top their nemesis, the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, in the postseason.  The 1983-1985 Stars were arguably the best pro football team assembled outside the NFL since the AFL-NFL merger, appearing in all three USFL title games and winning two of them.  Birmingham lost to the Stars in the Eastern Conference championship game two years in a row in 1984 and 1985.

Joe Cribbs Birmingham StallionsTrouble struck in the first month of the 1985 season.  Up to March 1985, the Stallions were one of the USFL’s most stable franchises.  Owner Marvin Warner was a developer, banker and former U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland with a personal net worth in excess of $100 million in the early 1980’s.  Warner owned an Ohio savings and loan called Home State Savings Bank.  Home State Savings was the largest investor in a Florida securities firm call ESM Government Securities that came under federal fraud investigation in 1985.  When word leaked of Home State’s exposure to ESM’s collapse, it sparked a run on the bank among Ohioans and triggered a collapse of the state’s entire savings and loan system.  Warner was forced to withdraw his financial support of the Stallions in the middle of the 1985 season.  Unable to meet payroll, the Stallions were forced to seek a $1M bailout from the city of Birmingham in April 1985 that allowed the team to finish out the season.

Despite the off-field turmoil, the Stallions had another fine year in 1985 and a deep playoff run (until they ran into the Stars, of course).  The team was also set to return in 1986 when the USFL planned to switch to a fall schedule to compete directly with the NFL.  But after the league “won” a multi-billion anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL in the summer of 1986 (but was awarded just $3 in damages), USFL owners threw in the towel and folded the league in Augut 1986.




==Birmingham Stallions Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1983 3/7/1983 vs. Michigan Panthers L 9-7 Program
1983 3/13/1983 @ Oakland Invaders W 20-14 (OT) Program
1983 3/21/1983 vs. Philadelphia Stars L 17-10 Program


1984 2/26/1984 vs.  New Jersey Generals L 17-6 Program Video
1984 3/11/1984 @ Pittsburgh Maulers W 30-18 Program
1984 5/27/1984 @ New Orleans Breakers W 31-14 Program
1984 7/1/1984 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits W 36-17 Program
1984 7/7/1984 @ Philadelphia Stars  L 20-10 Program Video


1985 2/24/1985 vs. New Jersey Generals W 38-28 Program Video
1985 3/3/1985 vs. Denver Gold L 40-23 Program
1985 3/9/1985 @ Orlando Renegades W 34-10 Program
1985 3/17/1985 vs. Memphis Showboats W 34-19 Program
1985 3/24/1985 @ Baltimore Stars L 7-3 Program
1985 3/30/1985 vs. Jacksonville Bulls W 25-18 Program
1985 4/7/1985 @ San Antonio Gunslingers L 15-14 Program
1985 4/13/1985 vs. Oakland Invaders  W 20-17 Program
1985 4/21/1985 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits W 30-3 Program
1985 4/28/1985 @ Jacksonville Bulls L 27-17 Program
1985 5/3/1985 @ Memphis Showboats L 38-24 Program Ticket
1985 5/11/1985 vs. Portland Breakers W 14-0 Program
1985 5/19/1985 @ Los Angeles Express W 44-7 Program
1985 5/27/1985 vs. Orlando Renegades W 41-17 Program
1985 6/3/1985 @ Houston Gamblers W 29-27 Program
1985 6/29/1985 vs. Houston Gamblers W 22-20 Program




Dave Pureifory Birmingham Stallions==In Memoriam==

Former Stallions Head Coach Rollie Dotsch passed away from pancreatic cancer on March 16, 1988.  He was 55.

Stallions owner Marvin Warner died of a heart attack on April 8, 2002 while watching a space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral.  Warner was 82. New York Times obit.

Defensive end Don Reese (Stallions ’85) died from liver cancer on September 18, 2003.  Reese was 52.

Defensive tackle Charles Martin (Stallions ’83) died of kidney disease at age 45 on January 26, 2005.

Defensive end Dave Pureifory passed on March 5, 2009 of pancreatic cancer at age 59.



USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs


Written by andycrossley

April 1st, 2015 at 1:22 pm

1962-1965 Jacksonville Robins

leave a comment

Jacksonville Robins ProgramFlorida Football League (1962)
Southern Football League (1963-1965)

Born: 1962
Died: 1966 – Re-branded as the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Stadium: The Gator Bowl

Team Colors:



The Jacksonville Robins were a minor league football club that played at the Gator Bowl for several seasons in the early-to-mid 1960’s.

The club’s chief organizer was Head Coach and General Manager Al Bassett and the Robins’ rosters featured a number of former Florida State Seminoles, including quarterback Ed Trancygier, running backs Happy Fick and Fred Pickard and tight end/kicker Possum Lee.

The Robins won the championship of the eight-team Southern Football League in 1963.  Pickard dominated the circuit, leading the league in rushing, receiving, touchdowns and total scoring.  In the Championship Game against the Daytona Beach Thunderbirds on November 29th, 1963, Pickard also picked off two passes on defense to help seal the Robins’ 13-7 victory.  Only 2,000 fans showed up on a 40-degree night at the Gator Bowl for the title game.

The Southern Football League collapsed after the 1965 season and Jacksonville joined the North American Football League for the 1966 campaign.  As part of the league shift, the team changed its name to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The NAFL and all of its teams went out of business after the 1966 season.


==Jacksonville Robins Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1964 9/26/1974 vs. Chattanooga Cherokees ?? Program



Written by andycrossley

March 20th, 2015 at 10:22 pm

2004-2008 Columbus Destroyers

leave a comment

Matt Nagy Columbus DestroyersArena Football League (2004-2008)

Born: September 25, 2003 – The Buffalo Destroyers relocate to Columbus, OH.
Died: August 2009 – The Arena Football League ceases operations.

Arena: Nationwide Arena (17,078)

Team Colors:

Owners: John McConnell, Jim Renacci, Steve Germain & Joey Galloway



The Columbus Destroyers were a popular attraction in college football-mad Columbus despite the fact that this Arena Football League squad was routinely terrible.  The team never posted a winning record in five seasons.  But in 2007, the Destroyers squeaked into the playoffs with a 7-9 mark and then went on an unlikely run.  They went on the road to beat the 15-1 Dallas Desperadoes in the quarterfinals and then knocked off the 14-2 Georgia Force in the semis to reach Arena Bowl XXI in New Orleans.

NFL wide receiver and former Ohio State star Joey Galloway owned a small piece of the Destroyers.  Co-owner John McConnell also controlled the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.  McConnell died at age 84 in April 2008 midway through the Destroyers’ final season.



==Columbus Destroyers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


2005 4/16/2005  @ New Orleans Voodoo  L 64-28 Program
2005 5/15/2005 @ Philadelphia Soul W 55-52 Program


2007 7/29/2007 San Jose Sabercats L 55-33 Program


2008 6/21/2008 @ Cleveland Gladiators L 47-35 Program


==In Memoriam==

Destroyers owner John McConnell died of cancer in April 2008.  He was 84. USA Today obituary.



Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs


2003-2008 Colorado Crush

leave a comment

Damian Harrell Colorado CrushArena Football League (2003)

Born: June 19, 2002 – Arena Football expansion franchise.
August 2009 – The Arena Football League ceases operations.

Arena: Pepsi Center (17,210)

Team Colors: Navy Blue, Burnt Orange & Gold

Owners: Pat Bowlen, John ElwayStan Kroenke


The Colorado Crush were an Arena Football team that played at the Pepsi Center in Denver from 2003 until the dissolution and bankruptcy of the original Arena Football League following the 2008 season.  The team was backed by major league investors Pat Bowlen (Denver Broncos owner) and Stan Kroenke (Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets owner), with ex-Broncos QB John Elway as co-owner and franchise front man.

After a grim 2-14 expansion season in 2003, the Crush turned the corner with the hiring of Head Coach Mike Dailey in 2004.  The Crush made the playoffs in four of the next five seasons under Dailey’s direction, winning Arena Bowl XIX 51-48 over the Georgia Force at the end of the 2005 season.

Offensive Specialist Damian Harrell, formerly of Florida State, played for the Crush from 2003 through 2007 and was named the league’s Offensive Player-of-the-Year in 2005 and 2006.


==Colorado Crush Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


2005 5/8/2005 @ New Orleans Voodoo  W 63-57 Program


2008 3/22/2008 @ Chicago Rush L 70-35 Program
2008 5/24/2008 @ San Jose Sabercats L 59-42 Program



Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs


2000-2002 Roanoke Steam

leave a comment

Roanoke Steam ProgramArena Football 2 (2000-2002)

Born: 1999 – AF2 founding franchise.
Died: 2002 – The Steam cease operations.

Arena: Roanoke Civic Center (8,674)

Team Colors:



The Roanoke Steam were a minor league Arena Football team that competed in Arena Football 2 for three seasons in the early 2000’s.  The team shared ownership and resources with the Roanoke Express hockey team of the East Coast Hockey League.

Indoor football never caught on in Roanoke.  The Steam finished last in the league in attendance in 2000 (3,374 per game) and again in 2001 (2,575 avg.).  Midway through the Steam’s third and final season in 2002, the ownership group declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2002.  The Steam muddled through the rest of the season under league stewardship and then was quietly euthanized in July 2002.

The team was never a factor on the field either, failing to make the AF2 playoffs in all three seasons of operation.


==Roanoke Steam Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
2000 5/20/2000  @ Norfolk Nighthawks  L 59-39 Program Game Notes
2000 5/27/2002 vs. Charleston Swamp Foxes W 71-61 Program



Arena Football 2 Media Guides

Arena Football 2 Programs