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September 14, 1975 – Memphis Southmen vs. Shreveport Steamer

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Willie Spencer Memphis SouthmenMemphis Southmen vs. Shreveport Steamer
September 14, 1975
Memphis Memorial Stadium
Attendance: 18,003

World Football League Programs
56 pages


Rare program from the 1975 Memphis Southmen from the final weeks of the World Football League (1974-1975).  The Southmen got loads of press attention (including a Sports Illustrated cover story) after team owner John Bassett convinced Miami Dolphins stars Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield to jump leagues for the 1975 season.

Although the ex-Dolphins were the top headline makers in the failing WFL, it was actually a pair of anonymous holdover players from Memphis’ 1974 squad who outperformed them, at least statistically.  Willie Spencer, an unusually tall running back (6′ 4″) who never played college football, outrushed both Csonka and Kiick and led the club with 581 yards on the season.  And former All-Pro Paul Warfield’s modest output (25 catches for 422 yards and 3 TDs) was overshadowed by small college product Ed Marshall (31-582-9 TDs).

Spencer was pictured on the cover of this September 14, 1975 program for a Memphis home game against the Shreveport Steamer and would score the game’s first touchdown on an 8-yard run.  (Csonka was on the sidelines, missing his second straight game due to injury).

This game was notable as the first professional start at quarterback for Danny White, a second year player out of Arizona State whose primary role on the Southmen was as the team punter.  As a rookie in 1974, White backed up 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte and passed for over 1,000 yards, but it wasn’t until late in the 1975 season that White finally unseated the elder quarterback.  With White under center, the Southmen raced out to a 26-0 halftime lead and then held on as Shreveport back-up quarterback D.C. Nobles came off the bench and threw three second half touchdowns as the Steamer mounted a furious comeback.  It wasn’t quite enough.  Memphis held on to win 34-23.

The World Football League folded just over a month later without completing its second season.  Csonka, Kiick and Warfield all returned to the NFL.  Willie Spencer and Danny White managed to latch on as well.  Spencer saw limited time as a reserve back with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants from 1976 to 1978.  White signed with Dallas Cowboys as a punter and Roger Staubach’s back-up in 1976.  He took over the starting QB job after Staubach retired in 1980 and ran the offense for most of the 1980’s, taking the Cowboys to three straight NFC championship games but never making it to the Super Bowl.



September 14, 1975 Shreveport Steamer Roster




Memphis Southmen Home Page

Shreveport Steamer Home Page


Written by AC

January 5th, 2014 at 2:28 am

1974-1975 Shreveport Steamer

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Shreveport SteamerWorld Football League (1974-1975)

Born: September 18, 1974 – Houston Texans relocate to Shreveport, LA.
Folded: October 22, 1975

Stadium: State Fair Stadium (50,400)

Team Colors: Green & Gold



Major league professional football came to the unlikely outpost of Shreveport, Louisiana in September 1974.  The upstart World Football League began play two months earlier, seeking to challenge the hegemony of the NFL much as the American Football League had during the 1960’s.  The WFL’s Houston Texans franchise were a bust in nearby Houston, drawing fewer than 10,000 fans a night in the Astrodome.  Just eleven games into the WFL’s debut season, Texans owner Steven Arnold ran out of hope and money. He handed the franchise over to the league and the club hastily fled across the border to Shreveport on September 18, 1974. The Texans clearly were in need of a new name as well. By the end of September, the former Texans were known as the Shreveport Steamer.

The mid-season move was unpopular among key Texans players and staff. Starting quarterback Mike Taliaferro, long-time AFL veteran, retired rather than follow the team to Louisiana. Texans head coach Jim Garrett dismissed Shreveport as a “rinky dink” town and was swiftly replaced. Under new head man Marshall Taylor, the Steamer finished out the 1974 season with a 4-5 record following the move.

The WFL lost $20 million in 1974 and nearly folded. Chris Hemmeter, owner of the league’s Hawaii franchise, led a massive re-organization and the league managed to stagger into a second campaign in July of 1975. The league quickly encountered the same problems that doomed the league’s inaugural season. The WFL’s new Chicago franchise folded just a few weeks into the season. Small crowds and missed payrolls bedeviled the other cities as they had in 1974.  The Steamer had a 5-7 record through 12 weeks of play when WFL owner voted to shutter the league permanently on October 22, 1975.

The Steamer’s biggest name was running back Jim Nance, who came along in the move from Houston. The bruising fullback was a star with the AFL’s Boston Patriots during the 1960’s and won the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1966. Nance was 31 years old when he signed with the WFL in 1974 but still had power left in his legs. He rushed for 1,240 yards and 8 touchdowns with Houston/Shreveport in 1974. In 1975, Nance returned to Shreveport and put up 767 yards on 5 yards per carry during his final pro season.

The other “name” to emerge from the Shreveport Steamer era was the team’s color commentator, Larry King. The same suspender-clad Larry King who later became an icon of the Cable news/talk industry with Larry King Live on CNN from 1985 until 2010.


Shreveport Steamer Programs


==In Memoriam==

Former Steamer lead investor John B. Atkins died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 53 on April 6, 1978.

Steamer running back Jim Nance passed on June 17, 1992 at the age of 49.

Offensive lineman Glen Holloway, who played for the Steamer in 1975, died of liver cancer on December 20, 2011 at age 63.



1975 WFL Standard Player Contract



World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Game Programs