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

###

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

1984 New Orleans Breakers

leave a comment

New Orleans BreakersUnited States Football League (1984)

Born: October 18, 1983 – The Boston Breakers relocate to New Orleans.
Died: November 13, 1984 – The Breakers relocate to Portland, OR.

Stadium: The Louisiana Superdome (69,658)

Team Colors:

Owner: Joseph Canizaro

 

The Breakers of the United States Football League started out at Boston University’s Nickerson Field in the spring of 1983.  Nickerson seated only 20,000 fans and was a destination of last resort after the Breakers’ first choice – Harvard Stadium – didn’t pan out.  Given the stadium situation in Boston, the franchise had no hope of sustainability there and original owner George Matthews decided to sell.

New Orleans real estate mogul Joseph Canizaro purchased the Boston Breakers in October 1983 for a reported $8 million and moved the team to the Louisiana Superdome.  The Breakers move was Joe Canizaro’s second attempt to bring a pro franchise to the Superdome.  In 1975, he led an unsuccessful effort to acquire and relocate Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles to the building.

Marcus DupreeCanizaro inherited the roster and coaching staff of the 1983 Boston Breakers, who had been the surprise of the USFL, going 11-7 and just missing the playoffs with an anonymous roster led by a 35-year old quarterback (Johnnie Walton) with awkward mechanics who hadn’t played in four years.

To this line-up, the 1984 New Orleans Breakers added three talented skill position players.  NFL jumper Dan Ross joined at tight end from the Cincinnati Bengals.  Ross, a Massachusetts native, planned to come home to play in Boston but found himself in the Big Easy instead.  The Breakers also added two big and talented rookie running backs in Buford Jordan out of Louisiana’s McNeese State and the spectacularly talented 19-year old college dropout Marcus Dupree.  Dupree had the big name and the five-year $6 million contract, but it was Jordan who turned out to be the star, rushing for 1,276 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The Breakers started the 1984 season 5-0 and were 6-1 through seven weeks.  But the team melted down in the second half, losing nine of its final eleven games to finish 8-10 and out of the playoffs.

When it came to the USFL, owner Joe Canizaro’s luck and timing were uncharacteristically lousy.  Although the Breakers drew reasonably well in the Big Easy (30,556 per game in 1984), Canizaro lost a reported $5 million on the team during the 1984 season.  Worse yet, in August 1984, less than a year after Canizaro bought the Breakers, a renegade faction of USFL owners led by Donald Trump of the New Jersey Generals pushed through a plan to move to a fall season in 1986.  The move immediately imperiled the ten USFL franchises that shared markets and stadia with NFL teams.  A wave of mergers, shutdowns and relocations followed as the USFL prepared for its final spring season in 1985.  Canizaro could never hope to compete with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints head-to-head in the fall, so he packed the Breakers off to Portland, Oregon.

 

==1984 New Orleans Breakers Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
2/26/1984 @ San Antonio Gunslingers W 13-10
3/4/1984 @ Oakland Invaders W 13-0 Program
3/11/1984 vs. Memphis Showboats W 37-14 Program
3/18/1984 @ Jacksonville Bulls W 38-9
3/25/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 41-35 (OT) Video
4/2/1984 @ Birmingham Stallions L 31-17
4/8/1984 vs. Pittsburgh Maulers W 27-24 Program
4/16/1984 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits L 35-13
4/22/1984 vs. Denver Gold W 20-18 Program
4/27/1984 @ Philadelphia Stars L 35-0
5/7/1984 vs. Arizona Wranglers L 28-13
5/13/1984 vs. Michigan Panthers W 10-3 Program
5/20/1984 @ Tampa Bay Bandits L 31-20
5/27/1984 vs. Birmingham Stallions L 31-14 Program
6/1/1984 @ Memphis Showboats L 20-17
6/10/1984 @ New Jersey Generals L 31-21 Program
6/15/1984 vs. Jacksonville Bulls L 20-17 (OT)
6/24/1984 @ Washington Federals L 20-17 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

1984 New Orleans Breakers profile with Jim Lampley:

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

 

New Orleans Breakers vs. Chicago Blitz at the Superdome. March 25 1984.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS9JWBl9DME

 

==In Memoriam==

Former New Orleans Breakers offensive lineman Broderick Thompson died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident on February 4, 2002.  He was 41 years old.

Breakers tight end Dan Ross died of a heart attack following a jog on May 16, 2006 in Atkinson, New Hampshire.  He was 49.

Offensive tackle Louis Bullard, who played for the Breakers in Boston, New Orleans and Portland, passed away from cancer on April 18, 2010 at age 53.  Bullard was one of the Breakers’ player representatives and the spokesperson for dozens of Portland Breakers in their long fight to collect unpaid wages from team owner Joe Canizaro.

 

==Downloads==

1984 New Orleans Breakers USFL Draft Selections 

 

==Links==

1984 New Orleans Breakers statistics on JustSportsStats.com

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

June 22nd, 2013 at 1:53 pm