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7/20/2021 8:12 pm  #1

The New Game in Town: The World Football League

PREFACE: This story contains a mix of fictional and real-life figures. Any similarities to actual teams, players, events, etc. are purely coincidental.

The year was 1974.

Gary Davidson, often credited as the mastermind behind the American Basketball Association and the World Hockey Association, was putting together a third venture to pad his sports portfolio. He called it the World Football League.

Davidson had plenty of help getting the WFL off the ground. Of utmost importance to the WFL's conception were Canadian businessman John Bassett and a New Orleans antique dealer named David Dixon. Joining them were Harry Glickman, founder of the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, and Ray Kroc, McDonald's chairman and new owner of MLB's San Diego Padres. Kroc was a last minute recruit after initial partner Jack Kent Cooke instead made a deal with Edward Bennett Williams to purchase the NFL franchise based in Washington, DC.

ABC, CBS and NBC were the only networks that existed at the time, but each had an interest in the NFL. So with a fourth network still a pipe dream at the time, the WFL was able to get some TV coverage thanks to Eddie Einhorn's syndication service TVS. Cable television was still in its infancy by this time, but the relatively young Home Box Office (HBO) was hungry for anything to fill their timeslots and accelerate the growth of their subscriber base.

Attracting talent to the WFL was tricky at first, but with a strike threatening to disrupt the upcoming NFL season, there could be plenty of stars for the WFL to choose from.

The WFL began with twelve teams spread out across the United States with the goal of expanding to other countries in the coming years.


7/20/2021 8:25 pm  #2

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

The Eastern Division consists of the following teams.

The New York Gargoyles will play temporarily at Hofstra Stadium in Queens while they wait for Yankee Stadium to reopen in 1976. The Gargoyles are headed by Upton Bell, son of former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell. The Gargoyles hope that former Jets John Dockery, Gerry Philbin, George Sauer and Randy Beverly can be their marquee guys with Babe Parilli serving as head coach. During the NFL strike, another aging Jet, Joe Namath, signed a futures contract that could bring him to the Gargoyles in '76.

The Philadelphia Bell will steer clear of the notorious Veterans Stadium turf, electing instead to play at ageless Franklin Field. Look for King Corcoran and Vince Papale to be the leaders in the Bell's locker room.

Normally the home of the annual Georgia-Florida college game, the Gator Bowl will now have a regular tenant with the Jacksonville Sharks.

Why stop at one team when you can have two in a football-obsessed state like Florida? The Sharks will indeed have a natural in-state rival when the Orlando Thunder take the field at the Tangerine Bowl. For 1974, look for the Thunder to grind it out on the ground, handing the pigskin to Tommy Reamon.

     Thread Starter

7/20/2021 8:40 pm  #3

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

Next, let's meet the Central Division teams.

The Chicago Fire hope to start off hot when they take the field at Soldier Field. Quarterback Virgil Carter, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, is expected to be the marquee guy for the second team in the Second City. Look for WGN to pick up any Fire games that don't show up on TVS's weekly schedule.

The Detroit Wheels set up shop looking to win over fans that have grown frustrated with the perpetual futility of the NFL Lions. The Wheels may be thin on offense, but their secondary will be anchored by onetime BC Lion and future college coach Rocky Long.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock may be the world's most famous Vulcan. However, the Birmingham Vulcans were really named after the nearby Vulcan Park and Statue, based on the Roman/Greek god of the forge. Look for NFL veteran George Mira to lead a team that many WFL experts believe will be a powerhouse in '74. Legion Field, normally home to the annual Iron Bowl, will serve as the Vulcans' home field.

Pro football comes to Tennessee in the form of the Memphis Hound Dogs. The new pups arrived as the result of team owner John Bassett being unable to field a team in his native Toronto. That sudden turn of events was due in large part to the Canadian Football Act being enacted by lawmakers in Ottawa. Dolphins rushers Larry Czonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield have each signed futures contracts to join the Dogs in '75. But in the meantime, there will be tons of pressure on rookie quarterback Danny White to lead the team to greatness.

     Thread Starter

7/20/2021 8:54 pm  #4

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

Now, let's hitch a wagon and meet the teams of the Western Division.

The Portland Chinook have already turned a few heads with their salmon pink jerseys, courtesy of Sand Knit. "Real Men Wear Pink" say the newspaper and billboard advertisements promoting the team. Civic Stadium, normally used for minor league baseball and college football these days, will serve as the Chinook's home field.

The Hawaiians become the very first American football team to be based outside of the continental United States. Honolulu Stadium, known locally as Termite Terrace, will serve as the team's home for '74 while the palatial Aloha Stadium is preparing for it's 1975 debut.

The Houston Texans are looking to prove their city is big enough for two football teams. The Astrodome will serve as the team's home.

The Los Angeles Action will split their home games between the Memorial Coliseum and Anaheim Stadium. The name Action comes from a popular genre of film and the command given by the director on every movie set in Hollywood. The rainbow motif on the team's uniforms have already drawn a mixed reaction from sportswriters, but the Action are determined to make sure that look becomes synonymous with winning. During training camp, the Action are experimenting with two different helmet options, which you can see on the graphic below.


     Thread Starter

7/20/2021 11:57 pm  #5

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

Yooooo this is looking great

of course I gotta root for the Bell but really digging Memphis, Portland and LA'S looks


7/21/2021 12:55 am  #6

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

1974 WFL Season

On the evening of July 11, 1974, the NFL players had been on strike for a week and change. But the game of football was going to continue one way or another. On that night was the WFL's first nationally syndicated telecast, between the New York Gargoyles and Jacksonville Sharks at the Gator Bowl. The opening to TVS's coverage consisted of a cartoon stork delivering the WFL ball to a packed stadium. Out of that ball came cartoon football players in colorful jerseys tackling, passing and running the ball. Then we see the league logo on one guy's helmet. The camera zooms in as Merle Harmon welcomes viewers to the game.

Merle Harmon (Voiceover): "Tonight, live and in color, TVS presents the new game in town; The World Football League!"

The intro can be seen on the YouTube video below from the real WFL, starting at the 44th second.

The NFL strike would continue well into September, delaying the start of the established league's regular season until Thanksgiving weekend.

The WFL played an 18 game season instead of the 20 each team was scheduled to play in real life.

As for the WFL, the delay in the NFL's kickoff would pay unexpected dividends for the upstart league.

Injuries decimated the Gargoyles lineup, forcing them to sign ex-Argonaut Joe Theismann as a free agent to play quarterback for their last four games, which the Gargoyles won.

Jim Fassel came off the bench in relief of Sonny Sixkiller to lead the Hawaiians to a division title. Although, you could argue the Hawaiians did have a decent homefield advantage being the only team outside the mainland.

King Corcoran played well as the Bell's starting quarterback, but ultimately, his team was dethroned by the Orlando Thunder for the division crown. Tommy Reamon's rushing attack shredded the Bell's defense in both meetings.

Regular Season Standings
Eastern Division
Orlando Thunder 15-3

Philadelphia Bell 11-7
Jacksonville Sharks 6-12
New York Gargoyles 4-14

Central Division
Birmingham Vulcans 12-6
Memphis Hound Dogs 12-6

Chicago Fire 11-7
Detroit Wheels 9-9

Western Division
Hawaiians 9-9

Los Angeles Action 8-10
Portland Chinook 7-11
Houston Texans 4-14

Playoff teams in BOLD.

WFL Playoffs
World Bowl Semifinals

November 6, 1974 at Legion Field
Hawaiians 38
Birmingham Vulcans 44

November 7, 1974 at the Tangerine Bowl

Memphis Hound Dogs 21
Orlando Thunder 37

World Bowl I
November 14, 1974
Tangerine Bowl
Orlando, Florida
Birmingham Vulcans 22

Orlando Thunder 21
Co-MVP's: George Mira (QB Vulcans), Alfred Jenkins (WR, Vulcans)

Orlando led late 21-15 in the fourth quarter when the Thunder's secondary blew an assignment, leaving Alfred Jenkins wide open for a touchdown pass to win the title for Birmingham.

     Thread Starter

7/21/2021 3:38 pm  #7

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

1974-75 Offseason

The Hawaiians will begin the 1975 season at Honolulu Stadium and will move midseason to the palatial, state of the art Aloha Stadium.

Also for 1975, the Hawaiians make a few cosmetic tweaks to their uniforms.




     Thread Starter

7/21/2021 3:45 pm  #8

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

1974-75 Offseason (Part 2)

With respect to uniform teams, many other teams will follow suit.

For 1975, the Portland Chinook decide to mothball the green pants in favor of white pants for the home uniform.


The Chicago Fire invert the colors on their stripes and numbers for 1975.


The Memphis Hound Dogs decided to darken their colors in anticipation of Czonka, Kiick and Warfield's arrival.


     Thread Starter

7/21/2021 3:55 pm  #9

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

Looks pretty good I must say, once Fox launches in the 80's this should be a wild ride.


7/21/2021 4:05 pm  #10

Re: The New Game in Town: The World Football League

SteelersKenny wrote:

Looks pretty good I must say, once Fox launches in the 80's this should be a wild ride.

And don't forget, ESPN and USA Network are coming in '79 and Fox will launch in '86.

     Thread Starter

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