Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘USFL’ tag

1985 Arizona Outlaws

leave a comment

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.

 

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.

 

==Slideshow==

 

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

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1985

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

 

==Links==

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

1983-1985 Los Angeles Express

leave a comment

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

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

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

 

 

==Los Angeles Express Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1983

1983 3/6/1983 vs. New Jersey Generals W 20-15 Program
1983 4/3/1983 vs. Oakland Invaders W 10-7 Program

1984

1984 4/1/1984 vs. New Jersey Generals L 26-10 Program
1984 5/13/1984 @ Philadelphia Stars  L 18-14 Program Video
1984 6/15/1984 vs. Oakland Invaders W 24-19 Program

1985

1985 3/10/1985 @ New Jersey Generals L 35-24 Program
1985 3/23/1985 @ Arizona Outlaws L 27-13 Program
1985 3/31/1985 vs. Oakland Invaders L 30-6 Program
1985 5/4/1985 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits L 24-14 Program Video
1985 5/11/1985 @ Oakland Invaders L 27-6 Program
1985 5/19/1985 vs. Birmingham Stallions L 44-7 Program

 

==Key Players==

  • Steve Young
  • Gary Zimmerman

 

==YouTube==

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.

 

==Links==

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

1983-1984 Michigan Panthers

leave a comment

Michigan PanthersUnited States Football League (1983-1984)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Died: November 20, 1984 – The Panthers merge with the Oakland Invaders.

Stadium: Pontiac Silverdome

Team Colors: Royal Plum, Champagne Silver, Light Blue & White

Owners: A. Alfred Taubman, Max Fisher and Peter Spivak

 

The Michigan Panthers were a very strong pro football entry in the United States Football League.  A popular springtime alternative to the Lions for Detroit gridiron fans, the team was soon pushed out of business by the USFL’s decision to abandon its spring schedule in favor of head-to-head competition with the NFL in the fall.

During the league’s first season in the spring of 1983, the Panthers were one of the top-spending teams in the USFL.   and put together a blend of NFL veterans and talented rookies.  The offense, in particular, relied on a trio of rookie skill position players – unheralded Cajun quarterback Bobby Hebert out of Northwestern State (Louisiana), running back Ken Lacy from the University of Tulsa, and star wideout Anthony Carter of Michigan, who would have been a top NFL draft pick in 1983 had the Panthers not lured him away from the senior circuit.

The defense was keyed by NFL washout John Corker, who would terrorize the USFL in 1983 with 28.5 sacks from his outside linebacker position, and rookie safety David Greenwood out of Wisconsin (who doubled as the Panthers’ punter).

David Greenwood USFLThe Panthers got off to a weak 1-4 start before catching fire midway through the season.  They won 11 of their final 13 to finish the 1983 season with a 12-6 record.  As the wins mounted, fans began to take notice.  When the Panthers hosted the Western Conference championship playoff game against the Oakland Invaders at the Silverdome on July 10th, 1983, a USFL record 60,237 fans showed up.

The following week, the Panthers travelled to Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado for the first USFL Championship Game against the Philadelphia Stars.  The Panthers won the game 24-22 with the decisive play coming on a 4th quarter touchdown pass from Hebert to Carter.

The script flipped for the Panthers during the 1984 USFL season.  Michigan got off to a hot start, racing out to a 6-0 record through the first third of the schedule.  But in Week Six against the San Antonio Gunslingers, Anthony Carter broke his arm and was lost for the remainder of the season.  The team went into a prolonged funk, losing eight of their next ten before rallying to win their final two games and sneak into the playoffs with a 10-8 record.

On June 30th, 1984 the Panthers played the Los Angeles Expressquarterbacked by future Hall-of-Famer Steve Young, in a first round playoff contest.  The quarterfinal game turned into an epic battle, although fewer than 8,000 fans were on hand to watch it at the Coliseum.  The Express finally triumphed 27-21 in the third overtime period, on a long touchdown run by future Detroit Lion Mel Gray.  At three overtimes, the game remains the longest pro football game in history.

It was also the last game ever played by the Panthers.  At the end of the 1984 season, USFL owners voted to shift to a fall season in 1986.  The Panthers were against the move, not wishing to compete head-to-head with the NFL’s Detroit Lions.  The business model shift set off a wave of relocations and mergers among the USFL franchises located in NFL markets.  In the fall of 1984, the Panthers merged with the Oakland Invaders.  Most of the top Panthers players, with the exception of John Corker, moved to Oakland for the USFL’s final spring season in 1985.

The Invaders, led by Hebert, Carter and other Michigan holdovers, returned to the USFL championship game in 1985.  There they met the Baltimore Stars in what was to some degree a rematch of the 1983 USFL title game against the then-Philadelphia Stars.  (The Stars were another relocation born out of the USFL’s planned switch to the fall).  This time the Stars came out on top with a 28-24 victory at Giants Stadium on July 14, 1985.  This was the final game in USFL history, as the league folded before staging its planned fall season in 1986.

 

==Michigan Panthers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1983

1983 3/7/1983 @ Birmingham Stallions W 9-7 Program
1983 4/4/1983 vs. Denver Gold L 29-21 Program
1983 5/1/1983 @ Boston Breakers W 28-24  Program Video
1983 5/16/1983 vs. New Jersey Generals W 31-24 Video
1983 5/23/1983 vs. Birmingham Stallions L 23-20 Program Video
1983 7/3/1983 vs. Arizona Wranglers W 33-7 Program Video
1983 7/10/1983 vs. Oakland Invaders W 37-21 Program
1983 7/17/1983 Philadelphia Stars W 24-22 Program Video

1984

1984 2/27/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 20-18 Video
1984 3/3/1984 vs. Pittsburgh Maulers W 27-24 Video
1984 3/26/1984 @ Houston Gamblers W 52-34 Video
1984 4/23/1984 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits L 20-7 Video
1984 4/29/1984 @ New Jersey Generals L 31-21 Video
1984 5/20/1984 @ Los Angeles Express L 24-17 Video
1984 5/27/1984 vs. Philadelphia Stars L 31-13 Video
1984 6/30/1984 @ Los Angeles Express L 27-21 (3 OT) Video

 

==Key Players==

  • Anthony Carter
  • John Corker
  • Bobby Hebert

 

==YouTube==

The Panthers defeat the Philadelphia Stars in the first USFL championship game.  July 17th, 1983.

 

==In Memoriam==

Defensive end Larry Bethea, who had 11 sacks for the Panthers in 1984, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 24, 1987 at age 30.

Defensive lineman Phil Dokes, a 1977 NFL 1st round pick who played for the Panthers in 1983, passed away on December 7th, 1989 at age 34.

Panthers offensive guard Tyrone McGriff died of a heart attack on December 9th, 2000 at age 42.

Former Panthers Head Coach Jim Stanley died of melanoma at age 76 on January 12, 2012.

Safety John Arnaud died of lung cancer at age 51 on November 10, 2012.

 

==Downloads==

1983 David Greenwood USFL Standard Player Contract

 

==Links==

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

June 1st, 2014 at 1:43 pm

June 24, 1984 – Washington Federals vs. New Orleans Breakers

leave a comment

Washington Federals vs. New Orleans Breakers
June 24, 1984
RFK Stadium
Attendance: 6,386

United States Football League Programs

 

It was the final weekend of the 1984 United States Football League regular season in June 1984 and at stadiums across the league, a smiling Washington Federals cheerleader beckoned to fans from the cover of the USFL’s KICKOFF Magazine game program. But in the nation’s capital, there was little to smile about as the woeful, lame duck Federals played out the final 60 minutes of football of their bleak two-season run at RFK Stadium.

The Federals were reported sold a month earlier to Miami hotelier Sherwood Weiser, who planned to move the team to the Orange Bowl for the 1985 season.  The deadman-walking state of the team along with the Feds’ pathetic 2-15 record meant 7,495 no-shows compared to just 6,386 in the stands

The Feds were seemingly overmatched against the New Orleans Breakers, who started the season 6-1 and seemed destined for relevance.  But the Breakers were in the midst of the own collapse, losers of eight of their last 10 to fall out of playoff contention.  Ancient quarterback Johnnie Walton of New Orleans, playing his final pro game, opened the scoring with a 73-yard bomb to Frank Lockett off a flea flicker in the first quarter.  But the Federals showed some fight and opened a 20-10 lead by third quarter courtesy of a Curtis Bledsoe run and a pair of TD passes from Mike Hohensee.  (In typical Federals fashion, kicker Jeff Brockhaus blew an extra point.  The Feds used six kickers in just two seasons).  Despite a late touchdown run by the Breakers’ Mark Schellen, the Federals hung on to win their final game 21-17, raising their miserable two-year tally to 7-29.

The Federals sale to Woody Weiser fell through in August when USFL owners voted to move to a fall season in 1986.  Weiser didn’t want to compete with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in the fall and backed out of the deal.  The Federals went to Orlando instead, becoming the Orlando Renegades for the USFL’s final season in 1985.   The New Orleans Breakers were goners too.  Although quite popular in New Orleans, the planned move to the fall ruined their viability in the Big Easy, no matter how terrible the Saints were at the time.  The Breakers would move to Portland, Oregon for the 1985 season.

##

Written by andycrossley

January 18th, 2014 at 12:09 am

1983-1984 Washington Federals

leave a comment

United States Football League (1983-1984) B

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Died: October 1984 – The Federals relocate to Orlando, FL.

Stadium: RFK Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Berl Bernhard

 

The Washington Federals were the snakebit franchise of the springtime United States Football League (1983-1985).  The Federals had the misfortune to debut in the nation’s capital just several weeks after the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XVII, solidifying their grip on the region’s pro football passions.

Federals owner Berl Bernhard followed the league’s original slow growth business plan and opened his checkbook to sign one marquee player away from the NFL – rookie running back Craig James out of Southern Methodist University.  But James was repeatedly injured and managed to play in just 10 games with minimal effectiveness over two seasons.  The rest of the roster was relatively anonymous, with former NFL All-Pro defensive end Coy Bacon, by now far past his prime at age 40, the most familiar name.

The Federals debuted at RFK Stadium on March 6th, 1983 against the Chicago Blitz, who were coached by former Washington Redskins head man George Allen.  The game was selected as the league’s first nationwide broadcast in its ABC television deal.  More than 38,000 fans showed up in the rain, but the Federals were overmatched and lost 28-7.  The team would never again draw more than 15,000 fans in its two seasons of existence.

The Federals finished the 1983 season with the worst record in the 12-team USFL at 4-14.  But they did win their final two games, including a surprise upset of the league’s best team, the 15-3 Philadelphia Stars.  The last couple of weeks showed enough promise that Berl Bernhard brought back Head Coach Ray Jauch for a second season in 1984.

The nature of the league changed during the 1983-84 offseason.  New owners like Donald Trump (New Jersey) and William Oldenburg (Los Angeles) bought into the league and launched a salary war with the NFL over free agents and, especially, the 1984 college draft class.  Bernhard refused to be sucked into the spending spree and made no significant additions to the team during the winter of 1983-84.  The Federals’ biggest move was to acquire Reggie Collier from the Birmingham Stallions to try and settle the team’s chaotic quarterback situation.  Collier was Birmingham’s 1st round draft pick in 1983 but failed to hold down the starting job for the Stallions.  The same story would play out in Washington D.C., where Collier couldn’t unseat Mike Hohensee, a second-year quarterback from the University of Minnesota.

Bernhard learned just how far behind the curve his team had fallen on opening night of the 1984 season.  The Federals opened on the road against a lightly regarded expansion team, the Jacksonville Bulls (who would finish 6-12) and were blown out 53-14.  Bernhard famously complained that the team played “like a group of untrained gerbils” – a great line which got more national press attention that Bernhard probably wanted.  Head gerbil trainer Ray Jauch was fired three days later and replaced by assistant Dick Bielski, who couldn’t fare any better.  The Federals were even worse than the year before, finishing with the worst record in the league again at 3-15.

Off the field things were even worse.  Craig James was hurt again and the Federals let him bolt town midway through the lost season to sign with the NFL’s New England Patriots.  The Feds were just relieved to be out from under the fragile running back’s contract.  Attendance plummeted more than 50% from 1983’s already week numbers.  On May 6, 1984 the Federals drew the smallest crowd in the history of the USFL when only 4,432 fans showed up at RFK Stadium to watch an overtime loss to the Memphis Showboats.

In May 1984, Bernhard found an escape route.  He lined up a sale of the franchise to Sherwood “Woody” Weiser, a Miami-based hotelier who intended to move the team to South Florida for the 1985 season.  Weiser persuaded University of Miami Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger to quit his job (he’d led U of M to the national title just a year earlier) in return for part ownership of the USFL franchise and a guaranteed $100,000 salary for life.  It turned out to be a horrible decision for Schnellenberger.  At league meetings in August 1984, a cabal of new USFL investors led by Trump pushed through a plan to switch to a fall schedule in 1986 and take on the NFL head-to-head.  Weiser had zero desire to challenge the Miami Dolphins or U. of M. for attention and play dates at the Orange Bowl during the fall and pulled out of the deal.

After the Miami deal fell apart, Bernhard needed to find a new buyer.  He got one in Donald Dizney, a minority partner in the USFL’s popular Tampa Bay Bandits club.  Dizney bought out Bernhard and moved the team to Orlando, Florida in October of 1984.  Renamed the Orlando Renegades, the team played one final (losing) season in the spring of 1985 before the USFL went out of business in August 1986 on the eve of what was supposed to be its first fall season.

 

==Washington Federals Game on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
1983 3/6/1983 vs. Chicago Blitz L 28-7 Program Video
1983 3/14/1983 @ Los Angeles Express L 20-3 Program
1983 3/20/1983 @ Boston Breakers  L 19-16 Program
1983 6/3/1983 @ Denver Gold L 24-12 Program
1984 4/14/1984 vs. Oklahoma Outlaws L 20-16 Program
1984 4/28/1984 @ Tampa Bay Bandits L 37-19 Program Video
1984 6/24/1984 vs. New Orleans Breakers W 20-17 Program

 

==Key Players==

  • Coy Bacon
  • Craig James

 

==YouTube==

The USFL’s debut weekend and the league’s first broadcast on ABC Sports.  The Federals host the Chicago Blitz on March 6, 1983. Lee Corso, ABC’s color commentator for the broadcast, would become the franchise’s head coach in 1985 after the team moved to Orlando.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afpJsNG4zzk

==In Memoriam==

Back-up quarterback Joe Gilliam (1983) died of a heart attack on Christmas Day, 2000 at age 49.

Federals linebacker Mike Corvino(1983-1984) died in a car accident at age 46 on July 14, 2007.

Former Washington Redskins and Federals (1983) defensive end Coy Bacon died on December 22, 2008 at age 66.

 

==Links==

It Was Up, Up and No Way, William Oscar Johnson, Sports Illustrated, May 14, 1984

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

January 16th, 2014 at 2:08 am