Portland Thunder vs. Jacksonville Express
October 19, 1975
World Football League Programs
This rare, colorful program comes from the final night of action from the star-crossed World Football League on Sunday, October 19, 1975. Tales of doom and ruin stalked the two-year old league for weeks, with many singling out the struggling Portland Thunder franchise as a weak-link in the fragile confederation. Portland was far from the only trouble spot though. A rain-soaked WFL contest in Philadelphia the previous night marked a humiliating nadir for the league when only 1,293 fans showed up.
The league said all of the right things about resilience, but in truth the owners were exhausted after losing a collective $10 million through the first 12 weeks of the planned 20-week 1975 season. The WFL had no TV contract and minimal sponsorship, leaving teams dependent solely on ticket revenue. The league-wide average through midseason dwelled beneath 14,000 per game and plummeted further each week as the season went on.
This final game was perhaps the finest for the Portland Thunder franchise, who came in as one of the league’s worst clubs with a 3-7 record. The Thunder pounded away at the Jacksonville Express with 217 rushing yards on 48 carries, while attempting only 12 passes. Former University of Wisconsin running back Rufus Ferguson led the way with 141 yards and a touchdown. Portland also scored on a punt return and a flea flicker off a fake field goal attempt. The 30-13 victory was the most decisive win in the Thunder’s brief 11-game history.
Three days later the league shut its doors for good, on October 22, 1975. The Thunder finished their only season with a 4-7 last-place record.
Former University of Oregon defensive tackle Jerry Inman is pictured on the cover of the Thunder’s final program. Inman played eight seasons for the Denver Broncos in the AFL and NFL from 1966 to 1973 before finishing his career in the WFL. This was his final pro game.