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1985 Arizona Outlaws

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Arizona Outlaws Media GuideUnited States Football League (1985)

Born: December 1984 – The Arizona Wranglers merge with the Oklahoma Outlaws.
Folded: August 1986.

Stadium: Sun Devil Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners: William Tatham, Sr. & William Tatham, Jr.

USFL Championships: None


The Arizona Outlaws were a pro football team that competed in the third and final season of the United States Football League in the spring of 1985.  The team emerged from the merger of the USFL’s Arizona Wranglers and Oklahoma Outlaws franchise in December 1984.

The Wranglers were a top-flight squad, coached by future Hall of Famer George Allen, and had appeared in the USFL Championship Game in 1984. But team owner Dr. Ted Diethrich, a Phoenix heart surgeon, had lost millions on the club and went looking for someone to take the team off his hands.  He found his partners in William Tatham Sr. and his son, William Jr.  The Tathams owned the Oklahoma Outlaws and they had suffered a nearly immediate case of buyer’s remorse after choosing Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium to host their expansion franchise in 1984.  The stadium was inadequate, it rained nearly every time the team played at home in 1984, and the Outlaws lost their final ten games to finish 6-12.  The Tathams would control 75% of the new club while Diethrich stepped back into quiet anonymity as a minority shareholder

Kit Lathrop Arizona OutlawsThe net effect of the merger was to combine the Wranglers’ stout defense of NFL veterans, built up by Allen over the past two years, with Oklahoma’s management and offensive skill players.  The Tathams also made the dubious decision to re-brand the team as the “Arizona Outlaws”, eradicating two years of marketplace investment in the Wranglers identity.

Allen had already resigned his post prior to the merger.  The Tathams appointed former Arizona State head coach Frank Kush to coach the team in 1985.  Three of the Wranglers key offensive threats from 1984 departed the team: quarterback Greg Landry returned to the NFL.  Top running back Tim Spencer departed for the USFL’s Memphis Showboats.  And wideout Trumaine Johnson, one of the most dangerous weapons in the league, would sit out the entire 1985 season in a contract dispute.

What the Tathams brought with them from Tulsa wasn’t a whole lot.  The main asset among the ex-Oklahomans was former Tampa Bay Buccaneers first round draft pick Doug Williams, who capably replaced Landry at quarterback.  Al Williams, another Oklahoma holdover, posted a 1,000-yard season, making up for some of Trumaine Johnson’s lost production.

After a promising 4-2 start, the Outlaws went into a tailspin and missed the playoffs with a 8-10 record.  Attendance took a big plunge to 17,877 per game, down from over 25,000 for the 1984 Wranglers. Nevertheless, the Tathams and the Outlaws were on board for the USFL’s planned move to a fall season in 1986.  Those plans came to naught when the USFL’s massive anti-trust suit against the National Football League fizzled out in a $3.00 “victory” the summer of the 1986, leaving the USFL owners with no will or funds to continue.  The Outlaws folded along with the rest of this very fun league in August 1986.

In early 1988, St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) owner Bill Bidwill moved his club to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, former home of the Outlaws.  When the move occurred, the terms of an unusual agreement between the defunct Outlaws and Arizona State University came to light.  All fans who put $125 down towards 1986 Outlaws season tickets were offered the right of first refusal on NFL season tickets if and when the USFL folded and an NFL team came to Tempe instead.  The agreement was good for up to two years from the date that the USFL ceased operations, which meant the contract was still binding when Bidwill and the Cardinals arrived in early 1988.  The former Outlaws season ticket holders now controlled nearly 12,000 prime loge season tickets.  Further, Outlaws officials had horse-traded with the tickets, transferring the rights to various people in lieu of payments and salaries.  By the time the deal was revealed, Bill Tatham Jr. personally controlled the rights to 1,728 prime season tickets for the city’s new NFL franchise.  The revelation caused an uproar in Phoenix.  Tatham was investigated by the university on allegations of ticket scalping and the resulting bad publicity over the handling of ticket sales (and the Cardinals league-high pricing) helped cement negative perceptions of the Bidwills in Arizona for years to come.




==Arizona Outlaws Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1985 2/24/1985 vs. Portland Breakers W 9-7 Program
1985 3/3/1985 @ San Antonio Gunslingers L 16-14 Ticket
1985 3/11/1985 vs. Jacksonville Bulls W 41-21
1985 3/16/1985 @ Tampa Bay Bandits L 23-13 Program
1985 3/23/1985 vs. Los Angeles Express W 27-13 Program
1985 3/30/1985 vs. New Jersey Generals W 31-13 Program
1985 4/8/1985 @ Denver Gold L 28-7 Program
1985 4/14/1985 vs. Orlando Renegades L 24-19 Program
1985 4/21/1985 vs. Houston Gamblers L 33-17 Program
1985 4/27/1985 @ Oakland Invaders  L 27-11 Program Video
1985 5/5/1985 @ Baltimore Stars L 24-19 Program
1985 5/12/1985 vs. Denver Gold L 42-28 Program
1985 5/19/1985 @ Portland Breakers W 30-21 Program
1985 5/26/1985 @ Houston Gamblers L 41-20 Program
1985 6/1/1985 vs. San Antonio Gunslingers W 13-3 Program
1985 6/8/1985 vs. Oakland Invaders W 28-21
1985 6/15/1985 @ Los Angeles Express W 21-10
1985 6/22/1985 @ Memphis Showboats L 38-28



USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs


1983-1985 Los Angeles Express

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Steve Young Los Angeles ExpressUnited States Football League (1983-1985)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise
Folded: Postseason 1985


Team Colors:


USFL Championships: None


Text coming soon…


Los Angeles Express Programs



Los Angeles Express debut game at the L.A. Coliseum. March 6, 1983.

==In Memoriam==

Defensive back David Croudip (Express ’83) died of a cocaine overdose on October 10, 1988 at age 30.  He was a member of the Atlanta Falcons at the time. (New York Times article)

Ex-USC and L.A. Express wide receiver Kevin Williams (’83) died in a freight train crash near Los Angeles while working as a brakeman on February 1, 1996.  Williams was 38.

Founding co- owner Bill Daniels died on March 7, 2000.  The cable TV pioneer was 79 years old.

Express General Manager Don Klosterman (’84-’85) died of a heart attack on June 7, 2000 at age 70.

Former USC and L.A. Express defensive lineman Rich Dimler passed away September 30, 2000 of pancreatitis at age 44.

Linebacker Carlton Rose (Express ’85) died of a stroke on March 26, 2006.  Rose was 44.

Linebacker Eric Scoggins (USC ’80, Express ’83) died of amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on January 10, 2009 at the age of 49.



USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs


March 11, 1984 – Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Birmingham Stallions


Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Birmingham Stallions
March 11, 1984
Three Rivers Stadium
Attendance: 53,771

United States Football League Programs


The spring of 1984 marked the sophomore season of the United States Football League.  This Week 3 match-up was the home opener for the expansion Pittsburgh Maulers, who faced the Birmingham Stallions at Three Rivers Stadium.

Maulers owner Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. made headlines in January 1984, selecting running back Mike Rozier of the University of Nebraska with the #1 overall pick in the USFL college draft and then luring the Heisman Trophy winner away from the NFL with a three-year $3.1 million contract.  Compare this figure to DeBartolo’s other big rookie signing in 1984.  His Pittsburgh Penguins held the #1 overall pick in the NHL draft.  But future Hall-of-Famer Mario Lemieux got just $600,000 over two years from DeBartolo.

But Rozier wasn’t the main attraction for the Maulers home debut in March 1984.  No, the big draw was an unheralded career back-up named Cliff Stoudt who came to town as the starting quarterback for the opposing Birmingham Stallions.  Little known outside of Pittsburgh, Stoudt rode the Steelers bench as a back-up quarterback behind Terry Bradshaw for six years.  From his rookie year in 1977 to 1982, Stoudt started one NFL game.  He spent most of his time polishing one-liners about life as a two-time Super Bowl champion benchwarmer and became a popular resource for sportswriters.  But with the aging Bradshaw hurt in 1983, Stoudt got his opportunity and started 15 games for the Steelers.  After a 9-2 start, the Steelers lost their final four games under Stoudt.  Although Pittsburgh still won the AFC central title in 1983, Stoudt was booed mercilessly every time he took the field during the team’s late season collapse.  Stoudt’s contract expired as soon as the season ended and he immediately jumped to Birmingham of the USFL, lured by a three-year $1.2 million contract and the presence of Stallions Head Coach Rollie Dotsch, a former Steelers assistant.

Steelers fans, eager for another chance to unload on Stoudt, gobbled up tickets at record pace.  A week ahead of the game, the Maulers front office announced a sellout – the first time a USFL team sold out its debut.  Maulers Director of Marketing Tim Pearson credited Stoudt to the The Associated Press:

“I wish I could tell you they’re all Maulers fans, but I can’t,” Pearson said.  “You wouldn’t believe how many people requested tickets on the visiting side of the field so they can boo Stoudt.”

53,771 fans turned out for the game on March 11, 1984.  Franz Lidz of Sports Illustrated showed up and wrote a lengthy and entertaining feature on Stoudt’s return to the Steel City, without once mentioning Rozier’s name.  The rabid crowd pelted Stoudt with snowballs and other projectiles.  Stoudt obliged by playing rather terribly, completing 2 of 16 passes for 29 yards.  But Dotsch’s Stallions offense didn’t rely on the quarterback to put up big numbers.  Former Buffalo Bills running back Joe Cribbs torched the Maulers defense for 191 yards and two touchdowns.  Stoudt added another ground score on a 10-yard scramble.  Rozier was unremarkable with 52 yards on 16 carries.  The Stallions won 30-18.


Despite Stoudt’s miserable performance in Pittsburgh that March afternoon, he proved himself an able starter in the USFL.  The 1984 Stallions finished 14-4 and advanced to the USFL semi-final, falling one game short of the championship game.  In 1985, Stoudt led the Stallions to a 13-5 record and back to the semi-final game.  In both seasons, Stoudt and the Stallions lost in the playoffs to the eventual champion Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars.

After the USFL folded in 1986, Stoudt returned to the NFL and finished out his career as a journeyman back up in St. Louis, Phoenix and Miami, retiring in 1989 at the age of 34.

Without the box office catnip of Cliff Stoudt, the Pittsburgh Maulers never again drew a crowd larger than 25,000 at Three Rivers Stadium.  The team was terrible in 1984 and finished with a league-worst 3-15 record.  Edward DeBartolo, Sr. folded the club in October 1984 following just a single season of play, after his fellow USFL owners voted to switch to a fall season in 1986 and challenge the NFL head-to-head.



Maulers vs. Stallions Article Sources



Pittsburgh Maulers Home Page


Written by AC

October 21st, 2012 at 4:24 pm

May 1, 1983 – Boston Breakers vs. Michigan Panthers

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Boston Breakers vs. Michigan Panthers
May 1, 1983
Nickerson Field
Attendance: 10,971

United States Football League Programs
86 pages


The Boston Breakers played only one season in the United States Football League in the spring of 1983.  20,000-seat Nickerson Field was simply insufficient for the increasingly ambitious USFL, and a new ownership group whisked the team off the New Orleans Superdome later that fall.  But for the nine home games the Breakers did play in Boston, they treated the local fans to a series of fantastic finishes.  This May 1st, 1983 thriller was one of them.

The original business plan for the USFL was to be a rather conservative spring season pro league that would challenge the NFL for the occasional collegiate draftee, but otherwise avoid a costly arms race with the established league.  This plan went out the door almost immediately, as the league’s wealthier owners rushed to adorn their new teams with sparkly college stars.  Oil man J. Walter Duncan made by far the biggest splash, signing University of Georgia underclassman and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker for his New Jersey Generals franchise.  Walker became the face of the USFL and his likeness in featured in the cover illustration for the game program on this day.

But the Boston Breakers exemplified the USFL’s original thrifty approach.  The team failed to sign most of their draft picks and featured a roster of elderly castaways from the NFL and the Canadian Football League.  Starting quarterback Johnnie Walton personified the Boston Breakers.  One of the first black quarterback to get a shot in the NFL, he spent most of his career kicking around the minor leagues and, at 36 years old, hadn’t played pro football since 1979.  Most observers picked the Breakers to finish dead last, but under Head Coach Dick Coury they were quite good. This game marked the halfway point of the 1983 season and the Breakers had a legitimate shot at the playoffs with a 5-3 record.

On this afternoon in Boston they played the Michigan Panthers, who were even better.  Michigan was 4-4, but getting hot after a slow start. They would go on to win the inaugural USFL title this season with a couple of terrific rookies – quarterback Bobby Hebert and wide receiver Anthony Carter who would go on to NFL stardom.  The game was a cracker.  After three fourth quarter lead changes, the Breakers marched 74 yards down the field in the final minute-and-a-half.  Walton hit wide receiver Frank Lockett for a first down at the Panthers three.  There appeared to be 2 seconds left on the clock and the USFL had a rule that automatically stopped the clock on first downs under two minutes.  Further, the Breakers players signalled for a timeout.  Nevertheless, the officials allowed the final two seconds to expire and hustled off the field as Dick Coury fruitlessly chased after them.  The Panthers escaped Boston with a 28-24 victory.

Walton finished this afternoon 37 of 48 for a then-USFL record of 423 yards passing.  He would play one final season with the New Orleans Breakers in 1984 before retiring.  The Breakers would play in three different cities during the USFL’s three-year existence, moving once again to Portland, Oregon in 1985.



July 10, 1983 – Michigan Panthers vs. Oakland Invaders

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Michigan Panthers vs. Oakland Invaders
USFL Western Conference Championship Game
July 10, 1983
The Pontiac Silverdome
Attendance: 60,237

United States Football League Programs


Spring time football arrived in 1983 with the debut of the upstart United States Football League.  The USFL began play in twelve cities and gained strong national media attention thanks to a national television contract with ABC and the controversial signing of Heisman Trophy-winning underclassman Herschel Walker by the New Jersey Generals franchise.

The Michigan Panthers shared the Pontiac Silverdome with the NFL’s woeful Detroit Lions, a franchise which had not won a postseason game since winning the 1957 NFL Championship game 36 years earlier.  At first it appeared that the Panthers would follow in the Lions’ footsteps.  The team got out to a slow 1-4 start and Panthers attendance was mediocre at the cavernous Silverdome, with an average of 22,251 fans turning out for the team’s nine dates in the USFL regular season.

But the Panthers got hot about six weeks in, thanks to an experienced defense and a trio of dynamic rookies at the offensive skill positions.  Wide receiver Anthony Carter from the nearby University of Michigan was the team’s biggest star, lured away from the NFL draft by Panthers owner A. Alfred Taubman with a four-year, $2 million dollar contract.  Quarterback Bobby Hebert – the “Cajun Cannon” out of Cut Off, Louisiana – was unheralded by comparison coming out of Northwestern (LA) State, but was selected as the USFL’s Most Outstanding Quarterback of the 1983 season.  Running back Ken Lacy, a 6th round draft pick out of the University of Tulsa, emerged from the Panthers developmental squad to rush for over 1,000 yards.

The Panthers won the Central Division at 12-6 and the previously unheralded Lacy earned a spot on the cover of this KICKOFF Magazine game program for the July 10, 1983 USFL Western Conference championship game against the Oakland Invaders at the Silverdome.

Owner Alfred Taubman celebrated his division title by slashing Panthers ticket prices from $14.50 and $12.50 to $8.50 and $5.00 respectively.  He also bought up all of the $5 parking spaces around the Silverdome and re-sold them for $3.  The result was a USFL record crowd of 60,237 frenzied Michiganders, eager for some taste of postseason football glory, even in the unfamiliar form of the USFL.  The Panthers didn’t disappoint.  Hebert passed for 295 yards.  Carter and Lacy both scored and the Panthers pulled away from a tight 17-14 game in the third quarter to open up a 37-21 lead with 25 seconds to go.   At that point the excitement became too much for the Detroit fans and this happened…

The final 25 seconds of the game were never played due to the riot conditions on the field.  The Panthers advanced to the first USFL Championship Game the next week at Denver’s Mile High Stadium, where they defeated the Philadelphia Stars 24-23.

Attendance surged for the Panthers for their second season in 1984, but a group of USFL owners led by New Jersey’s Donald Trump pushed for a move to the fall in 1986.  This change in direction forced Taubman and other owners of USFL clubs in NFL markets to relocate or merge their teams in order to avoid head-to-head competition during the coming move to the fall.   The Panthers merged with the Oakland Invaders prior to the USFL’s final season of spring play in 1985.  Hebert and Carter led the Invaders back to the USFL’s final title game in July 1985.

Lacy was not with them.  The young running back signed with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in the summer of 1984, becoming one of the very first players developed by the USFL to jump leagues to the NFL.   Lacy’s saw only part-time duty in the NFL and his pro football career concluded after a three-game return engagement as a replacement player for the Chiefs during the 1987 NFL players’ strike.


Written by AC

April 5th, 2012 at 1:36 pm


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