Welcome to the World Football League Website

1974 Season Book - Week 20

Sports Daily

November 13, 1974

The World Football League ended its first regular season and left behind it a tragedy of inflated attendance figures, missed paydays, scandals, law suits, and countless headlines. The WFL announced the demise of the Chicago Fire franchise, which forfeited its last game rather than travel to Philadelphia and play the Bell. Fire owner Tom Origer also told the league that he would remain in the WFL but only until he could see what the direction of the league for 1975 would be. Origer told reporters, "if some big names don't come over we'll never make it." The big names Origer was referring to were NFL free agents that included star quarterback Joe Namath. The Portland Storm, built into one of the league's strongest teams in the second half of the season, had gone six weeks without a payday. A Portland businessman had treated the players to a pre-game meal because the team no longer could meet expenses, even the Storm booster club was asked to feed the players when management couldn't. Storm defensive end and ex-NFL great Ben Davidson injured his knee against the Blazers and was done for the season. The Birmingham Americans, thought to be the WFL's strongest franchise, was hit with an IRS lein for over $100,000. The team also owed $14,000 in county taxes and $90,000 in state taxes. Americans owner William Putnam had paid so much bonus money to NFL stars that he didn't have adequate finances to end the season. On the field, the Hawaiians continued to win, defeating Portland 23-0 and gaining a playoff spot. Memphis pounded Charlotte 28-22 as the Hornets lost their fourth straight. Birmingham beat Shreveport 40-7 and Florida upset Southern California 27-24. The WFL playoffs would be held the following week despite various claims that the league would postpone the playoffs and name Memphis the WFL champion. On the field, Tony Adams of Southern California finished as the WFL's leading passer, completing 276 of 510 passes for 3,905 yards and 23 touchdowns. Tommy Reamon of the Florida Blazers was the league's top rusher with 1,576 yards and 11 touchdowns. Tim Delaney of Hawaii was the WFL's top receiver with 89 receptions for 1,232 yards and 8 touchdowns. Ed Marshall of Memphis led the league in scoring with 144 points, David Thomas of Memphis had the most interceptions with 10, Willie Beamer of Memphis led the WFL in kickoff returns 573 yards and a 28.6 average. Ken Clark of the Portland Storm was the WFL's top punter with a 41.8 average.

Hawaiians 23, Portland Storm 0.

honolulu, hw.; The Hawaiians defense allowed Portland into its territory only once during the game while the offense put over three touchdowns in the second half to send the Storm down to a 23-0 defeat. 14,245 fans in Honolulu watched as quarterback Randy Johnson continued his aerial attack on the WFL completing 16 of 30 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown. The game was in doubt of being played until Hawaiians management guaranteed the Storm expense money to the island. The Hawaii defense limited the Storm to only 78 yards rushing and 56 yards passing, in what was the Portland teams' last WFL contest. The victory put Hawaii into the WFL playoffs with a 9-11 record, and the team would travel to Anaheim to play the Southern California Sun.

Birmingham Americans 40, Shreveport Steamer 7.

birmingham, al.; The Birmingham Americans took advantage of five first-half turnovers to build a 32-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 40-7 win over the Shreveport Steamer. 14,749 fans at Legion Field saw Linebacker Warren Capone score a touchdown on a 29-yard interception return and set up two other scores with returns of a blocked punt and a fumble. Shreveport ended their season 7-12-1 and in the headlines as it was reported that the teams' actual paid attendance for their home opener was actually 12,000 and not 22,000, and their game with the Storm drew 11,000 and not the 20,000 announced. Steamer officials claimed the league office told them to lie about attendance figures due to a stock sale that was to begin for the club. The Americans prepared for the WFL playoffs, and ended their season with a 15-5 record. (American Alfred Jenkins hauls in pass from Reed).

Florida Blazers 27, Southern California Sun 24.

Anaheim, ca.; Dave Strock's 25-yard field goal with four seconds remaining gave the Florida Blazers a 27-24 win over the Southern California Sun before 28,213 fans in California. Blazer linebacker Eddie Sheats blocked a Norm Hainlen punt to give Florida the ball on the Sun's eight yards line and set up the winning kick. Florida dominated early play and rolled up a 24-7 halftime lead. In the fourth quarter, the Sun got a field goal from Rod Garcia, and quarterback Tony Adams hit Keith Denson with a 25-yard pass to narrow the margin. Florida ended the WFL season at 14-6, and would play host to the Philadelphia Bell in the playoffs, while the Sun would host the Hawaiians in Anaheim. (pictured above, David Williams dives over Blazer Larry Grantham).

Memphis Southmen 28, Charlotte Hornets 22.

memphis, tn.; Flanker Ed Marshall caught two touchdown passes as the Memphis Southmen ended the regular season with a 28-22 win over the Charlotte Hornets before 13,339 fans. Back-up quarterback Danny White completed a seven-yard pass to Marshall in the third quarter and a 27-yarder in the final period. Hornet running back Don Highsmith scored two touchdowns and ran for 124 yards on 22 carries. The loss, the fourth in a row for the Hornets, dropped Charlotte to 10-10. Hornet owner Upton Bell was uncertain about the teams' future and standing in the playoffs, and decided to look for investors for the team instead of taking part in the WFL playoffs. Memphis, ended the WFL season with the best record, 17-3, and would await the winner of the Florida-Philadelphia match up. (Pictured above, Ed Marshall catches a touchdown pass over Hornet Ike Thomas).

Fire Forfeits Game to Philadelphia

Team owner Origer calls game "meaningless"

philadelphia, pa.; The World Football League announced that the Philadelphia Bell had been awarded a win by forfeit over the Chicago Fire. Fire owner Tom Origer announced that his club would not travel to Philadelphia due to the financial problems of his team and the league. Origer, once of the WFL's most optimistic owners, became despondent over the direction of the league under Gary Davidson and a crippling eleven-game losing streak that hit the once 7-2 team. Origer told league officials that he would consider selling the franchise outright, selling 50% of the club or merging the Fire with another team (reportedly Hawaii or Memphis). The Bell prepared for the WFL playoff after they learned the Charlotte Hornets had declined to participate in the post season.

WFL Standings:

Eastern Division
Florida 14 6 0 .700 419 280
Charlotte 10 10 0 .500 467 350
Philadelphia 9 11 0 .421 493 413
Jacksonville 4 10 0 .286 258 358
Central Division
Memphis 17 3 0 .850 629 365
Birmingham 15 5 0 .750 503 394
Chicago 7 13 0 .368 446 622
Detroit 1 13 0 .071 209 358
Western Division
So. California 13 7 0 .650 486 441
Hawaiians 9 11 0 .450 413 425
Portland 7 12 1 .375 264 426
Shreveport 7 12 1 .375 240 415

NOTE: This page was researched and written by Jim Cusano. This page appeared on the former World Football League Hall of Fame Website and is used with permission.