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October 19, 1975 – Portland Thunder vs. Jacksonville Express

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Jerry Inman Portland ThunderPortland Thunder vs. Jacksonville Express
October 19, 1975
Civic Stadium
Attendance: 8,713

World Football League Programs
28 Pages

 

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.

Portland Thunder WFLThe 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.

 

==Downloads==

October 19, 1975 Jacksonville Express Roster

October 19, 1975 Portland Thunder Roster

 

==Links==

Jacksonville Express Home Page

Portland Thunder Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

May 31st, 2014 at 12:10 am

1975 Jacksonville Express

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Jacksonville ExpressWorld Football League (1975)

Born: 1975 – WFL expansion franchise.
Died: October 22, 1975 – The WFL folds in mid-season.

Stadium: The Gator Bowl (70,000)

Team Colors: Black, Gold & Red

Owner: Earl Knabb, et al.

 

The Jacksonville Express was a franchise that existed for part of one season in the World Football League (1974-1975).  The WFL was an under-funded effort to challenge the NFL head-to-head in the fall, along the lines of the AFL-NFL rivalry of the 1960′s.  Jacksonville was one of the league’s original cities in 1974, but the Jacksonville Sharks club went kaput midway through the season.

When the WFL re-organized for 1975, they gave Jacksonville another shot under an entirely new ownership group and front office.  Among the few holdovers from the Sharks debacle was Head Coach Charlie Tate.  The new club adopted the Jacksonville Express moniker.

Jacksonville ExpressThe team had a handful of seasoned NFL veterans but no true “stars”.  NFL veteran QB George Mira played for the WFL’s Birmingham Americans the previous year and earned MVP honors in the 1974 World Bowl championship game.  Defensive end Don Brumm was a former 1st round draft pick and Pro Bowler with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals.  The Express also signed young running back Tommy Reamon, who was one of the league’s ‘Tri-MVP’s” in 1974 as a rookie with the since-disbanded Florida Blazers club.

The Express featured one notable rookie in defensive back Steve Foley out of Tulane University.  After the WFL disbanded, Foley latched on with the Denver Broncos and enjoyed an 11-year career in the NFL, highlighted by two Super Bowl appearances and an All-Pro selection in 1978.

The Express posted a 6-5 record and were midway through their first season when financial problems finally overwhelmed the league.  League owners met on October 22, 1975 to review the condition of the league and voted 6-4 to disband immediately.  Despite disappointing attendance at the Gator Bowl – just over 10,000 per game, down sharply from the free-ticket fueled number posted by the Jacksonville Sharks a year earlier – the Express were one of the four dissenting clubs who wished to continue.

The league shut down immediately in the wake of the vote.  The Express final game was a 30-13 road loss in Portland, Oregon on October 19, 1975.

 

==1975 Jacksonville Express Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
7/12/1975 @ Chicago Winds (Exh.) W 34-23 Program
7/26/1975 vs. The Hawaiians (Exh.) W 19-7 Program
8/2/1975 @ Memphis Southmen L 27-26 Program
8/16/1975 vs. Birmingham Vulcans W 22-11
8/23/1975 vs. San Antonio Wings W 26-19 (OT)
8/30/1975 vs. Charlotte Hornets L 33-14 Program
9/6/1975 @ Shreveport Steamer W 22-15 Program
9/14/1975 @ The Hawaiians L 33-15
9/20/1975 vs. Philadelphia Bell W 16-10
9/27/1975 vs. Birmingham Vulcans W 26-18
10/4/1975 vs. Portland Thunder W 32-29 Program
10/12/1975 @ Charlotte Hornets L 22-15 Program
10/19/1975 @ Portland Thunder L 30-13 Program Roster

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Express Head Coach Charlie Tate died on June 10, 1996.  Tate was 77 years old.

 

==Downloads==

1975 World Football League Standard Player Contract

 

==Links==

1975 World Football League Media Guides

1975 World Football League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

January 28th, 2013 at 5:58 pm