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1975 Season Book - Preview

In 1975, Street and Smith's ran this WFL preview for the upcoming season.

The New World Football League - by Larry Felser and Jerry Green.

The name is Hemmeter. He looks like a junior chamber of commerce type- exuberant, trim, sincerely conservative suit. A few years ago he was named Businessman of the Year in Hawaii. If he can pull off what he claims he cam pull off, he'll be the sports genius of the decade. What Chris Hemmeter is trying to do is pull off the resurrection of the World Football League, one of the most resounding sports flops of the last half century. Hemmeter is the man who is trying to pick up the pieces left by Gary Davidson and his gang of Southern Californian fast-buck artists.

Hemmeter was an original investor in the Hawaiians of Honolulu when Davidson started the WFL a year ago. He, like a lot of his colleagues took a financial dunking. Pondering his losses one day on the beach at Kampala, Maui, Chris came up with a revitalization plan. The Hemmeter Plan.

The Hemmeter Plan is the document the WFL will use as a sail on the rough seas of its second season. The principal sailors will be Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield, Jim Kiick, John Gilliam, Calvin Hill and Ted Kwalick- NFL stars committed to WFL teams this year. Whether they'll make it through that second season could be one of the great adventure stories.

One of the sailors who won't be making the trip is Joe Namath, which will make the voyage all the rockier. Broadway Joe turned down a package deal reported to total $4 million to play with the new franchise in Chicago- the Chicago Winds. Namath's refusal just about kayoed any hopes the WFL had for a lucrative television contract. Even TVS, the independent network which televised WFL games last year, had not committed itself to the league at the 11th hour this year. Television income for each of the WFL teams was $75,000 last year, but most of it went to pay off bills and some salaries of teams which went bust.

The WFL will line up with teams in Philadelphia, Memphis, Birmingham, Southern California, based in Anaheim, California,. Portland, Oregon, Charlotte, Shreveport, San Antonio, Chicago, Hawaii and Jacksonville. San Antonio is the only one of the above cities which did not field a WFL team last year. Philadelphia and Memphis, however, are the only teams under the same ownership as in 1974. Birmingham won the first WFL title last year, beating the Florida Blazers in the first "World Bowl." But that was the Birmingham "Americans," whose uniforms were repossessed after the season ended and whose club house president, Bill Putnam, found himself considered an outcast by the WFL hierarchy.

The Americans have been reissued under the label "Vulcans". Their quarterback, George Mira, was traded to the Jacksonville Express during the off-season and last year's coach, Jack Gotta, became General Manager, handing the coach assignment to Marvin Bass, former head coach at South Carolina University. That leaves Matthew Reed, the former Grambling star, to do the quarterbacking. His principle receiver is Alfred Jenkins. Reed would be protected by a sound offensive line, featuring ex-NFL starters like guard Joe O'Donnell, tackle Paul Costa, center John Matlock plus former Alabama All-American guard Buddy Brown and Nebraska tackle Bob Wolfe. The top runners are Art Cantrelle and former CFL standout Johnny Musso.

The most stable franchise is Memphis. John Bassett, the Toronto communications tycoon, bankrolled the defection of Csonka, Kiick and Warfield to the Southmen, which already boasted a strong group of runners which includes ex-Rutgers star JJ Jennings, ex-CFL flash John Harvey and Willie Spencer, a powerful young fullback from Massillon, Ohio, High School. He didn't attend college. Danny White, a high draft choice who got away from Dallas last year, and John Huarte would do most of the throwing to Warfield. Roger Wallace, one the WFL's better rookies last year, would line up opposite Warfield with team leader Ed Marshall. John McVay, formerly of Dayton University, coaches the Southmen and General Manager Leo Cahill, who has long experience in the Canadian League lines up the talent.

The Hawaiians listed Calvin Hill, the greatest Dallas runner as its principle asset when Hawaiian's quarterback Randy Johnson came back to the NFL with the Washington Redskins. To complicate matters, the contract of Norris Weese, the youngster who backed up Johnson, was breached and he became a free agent for the NFL. Linebacker Gary Baccus was lost to the New York Jets. Except for Hill, most of the Hawaiians strength is on defense with defensive backs Derrick Williams, Dave Atkinson, John Moseley, and Robin Sinclair, defensive end Levi Stanley and ex-NFL tackles Ron East and Greg Wojcik. The franchise has one of the brighter tight end prospects in John Kelsey and offensive tackle Frank Johnson.

Up in the air is the status of some young standouts of the WFL's first season. Tommy Reamon led the league in ground gaining for the Florida Blazers, but the Blazer franchise is now defunct. Reamon is a spectacular outside runner who balked at the salary terms Pittsburgh offered him when he finished at the University of Missouri. Eventually, Reamon signed with the WFL's Jacksonville Express.

Mark Kellar chose to sign with the Chicago Fire instead of the Minnesota Vikings and he led the WFL in scoring. But the Fire is defunct and Kellar did not have a team on the eve of training camp openings. Kellar then signed with the new Chicago Winds franchise.

Matt Herkenhoff, the former New York Star offensive tackle, found himself in a similar circumstance.

The Anaheim franchise, known as the Southern California Sun, is a young team on the make. The Sun was the most successful of the WFL teams raiding NFL draft lists last year, but there were defections in '75. Running backs Jim McAllister and Kermit Johnson and quarterback Tony Adams jumped to the NFL. To counter that, the Sun signed Anthony Davis, the All-American running back from the University of Southern California and the New York Jets' top pick.

The most important veteran signing for the WFL since the original Csonka, Kiick and Warfield and Hill, was Philadelphia's acquisition of Ted Kwalick, one time All-Pro tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. To replace Tony Adams at quarterback Sun coach Tom Fears will probably use Gary Valbuena, former Tennessee standout. His chief targets are ex-Steeler David Williams, and young Ike Harris. The defensive line includes Dave Roller, one of the league's finest tackles, plus linebacker Jim Baker and tackle Charles DeJurnett.

There was much shuffling of coaches during the hectic off-season. Jack Pardee, the WFL's first coach of the year for his work with the Blazers, became head coach of the Chicago Bears and took his staff with him. Jim Spavital left the Fire for a spot on Charley Winner's New York Jet staff. Dick Coury left the head job at Portland for a safe harbor on Tommy Protho's staff in San Diego. Greg Barton, backup quarterback at Portland last year, is the team's new head coach. Bob Gibson replaced Babe Parilli in Charlotte. He'll have two ex-NFL quarterbacks with whom to work- Tom Sherman and Brian Dowling. Marshall Taylor will coach Shreveport, Parilli heads Chicago, Perry Moss takes over the San Antonio Wings, and Charlie Tate will coach the Jacksonville Express. Mike Giddings returns to Hawaii and Ron Waller to Philadelphia, where King Corcoran is his quarterback.

What Hemmeter is selling, then, is the "new" WFL, as opposed to the "Old" Wiffle, with its rubber checks, a mountain of unpaid bills and phony gate counts.

The Hemmeter Plan calls for an escrow fund by each team to provide prepaid travel, tighter budgets, gradual paying off of old debts and a unique payment plan whereby most of the league's players would receive a percentage of each teams' profits.

The Hemmeter Plan also called for the junking of the WFL's controversial midweek scheduling. This year the games will be played Saturday and Sunday, bucking college football and televised NFL games.

Chicago Tribune WFL 1975 Season Forecast


Birmingham Vulcans- Jack Gotta is now the General Manager and Marvin Bass, former defensive coach, is taking command on the field. Despite the change the new "Vulcans" will be one of the league's premier teams. Quarterback Matthew Reed possess a cannon for an arm, and the running duo of Art Cantrelle and former Canadian standout Johnny Musso should move the ball well behind an experienced offensive line that features John Matlock and Joe O'Donnell. The Vulcans suffered a serious blow when receiver Alfred Jenkins jumped to the NFL's Falcons, but the team still has veteran Dennis Homan. The defense is led by Warren Capone, and a savage front line of Larry Estes, Harry Gooden, Bob Taterak, the former Jacksonville Shark, and Tiny Andrews. Birmingham will fight it out with Memphis for the division crown.

Memphis Southmen- Csonka, Kiick and Warfield arrive this year after much fan fare. The Southmen had the league's best record (17-3) without them and this year shouldn't be any different. Quarterbacks John Huarte and Danny White return, with White getting the nod to start. His targets will be Warfield, standout Ed Marshall and slick WFL rookie Roger Wallace. Tight end Gary Shirk is one of the league's best. This offense, behind one of the league's best lines, will rack up the points at record numbers. The defense, led by John LeHeup and Lucious Selmon, is one of the league's best. The secondary features WFL interception leader David Thomas, and runner-up Seth Miller. It will either be Memphis or Birmingham representing the Eastern Division in World Bowl II.

Jacksonville Express- This team is far improved from 1974's Sharks. New ownership headed by Earl Knabb and Lefferts Mabie secured the coaching talents of Charlie Tate, traded for former Birmingham American quarterback George Mira, and signed former WFL rushing leader Tommy Reamon. The Express will feature a much more explosive offense than the '74 Sharks, but former Shark Dennis Hughes will offer a fine target for Mira at tight end. Receiver Witt Beckman (a draft pick of the NFL Bears) will also factor into the pass catching duties. The rushing game belongs to Reamon, a fine outside runner, and former Shark Alfred Haywood. Former star runner Tommy Durrance opted for retirement and the family business in northern Florida. The Express defense features former Houston/Shreveport veteran Don Brumm, Fred Abbott, and secondary wizard Ron Coppenbarger. Jacksonville should edge out Charlotte for third place.

Charlotte Hornets- New coach Bob Gibson has two talented quarterbacks, Tom Sherman and Brian Dowling, to work with. The running game features former Oakland Raider Don Highsmith and Lewis Jolley. The receiving corps is weak, and to date the team had not resigned '74 starter Al Young, but did ink Kreg Kapitan to a contract. The defense took a huge hit when it lost veterans John Elliott and Gerry Philbin, but the team is counting on Jere Brown, Greg Lens and Dana Carpenter to provide toughness on the inside. Terry Hoeppner is one of the finer secondary players in the league, and his counterpart, Jeff Woodcock, was a WFL All-Pro.

Philadelphia Bell- The Bell is a aging team that fought to a 9-11 record in 1974, and hopes to be good enough to reach for third place behind Memphis and Birmingham. Coach Ron Waller will rest his hopes on "King" Corcoran at quarterback, but has former Florida Blazer signal caller Bob Davis waiting in the wings. Philadelphia's rushing game is one of the WFL's best with John Land and Claude Watts. The addition of fullback JJ Jennings, one of last years' Tri-MVP's, addresses some much needed youth. Jennings should push Watts to a reserve role. The Bell is also counting on the talents of former NFL All-Pro tight end Ted Kwalick to help put points on the board. The receivers are Ben Hawkins and Ron Holliday. Philadelphia's defense is suspect after losing the talented Ron Mabra in the secondary to the NFL. Waller is hoping the eccentric Tim Rossovich can lead the charge, along with former Chicago Fire linebacker Ron Porter. Bell owner John Bosacco opened the checkbook to bring in former Florida Blazer defensive end Louis Ross, who will add much needed pressure from the outside.


Southern California Sun- The Sun lost three of its brightest stars; quarterback Tony Adams, and running backs Jim Mc Alister and Kermit Johnson to the NFL along with former USC guard Booker Brown. New owner Sam Battistone quickly signed USC sensation Anthony Davis to lead the running game, and former NFL veteran Daryle Lamonica "The Mad Bomber" to handle the quarterbacking duties. The Sun also has former USC quarterback Pat Haden and receiver JK McKay. Davis should have plenty of room to run behind an experienced line, and receivers Dave Williams and Ike Harris will give Lamonica some fine targets to throw to. The defense is led by the hard-hitting Dave Roller. Roller on his own can disrupt a game, but he receives plenty of assistance from Charles DeJurnett and Jim Baker. The Sun secondary is one of the league's best with Jim Bright, Eric Johnson, Jack Conner and Derwood Keeton. The WFL Western Division belongs to the Sun.

Hawaiians- After the Sun it's all up for grabs in the west. Hawaii, with former NFL running back Calvin Hill, gets the nod as long as they can resolve their questions at quarterback. Hill will tear up the WFL, but without an experienced signal caller leading the team it could be a long year. 1974 starter Randy Johnson opted for the calm waters of the NFL and the Washington Redskins. Hawaii GM David Stringer went out and signed former CFL specialist Rick Cassata, and former University of Washington standout Sonny Sixkiller. The two will battle it out in preseason for the starting role. Whoever the starting quarterback is, they will have the WFL's leading receiver in Tim Delaney to throw to. Offensive lineman Frank Johnson, Al Oliver and veteran Jim Cadile shore up the protection for the passing game. On defense the Hawaiians have veterans Ron East and Greg Wojcik, rookie Levi Stanley, Karl Lorch and former NFLer Lem Burnham. The secondary of Chuck Detwiler, Hal Stringert, Willie Williams and Dave Atkinson is the WFL's best. The Hawaiians should go as far as their quarterback takes them.

Shreveport Steamer- Head coach Marshall Taylor ended '74 with a much improved team, and off-season additions make this team only stronger. Quarterback Edd Hargett, former Hawaiian, handles the signal calling, with D.C. Nobles and former Detroit Wheel Bubba Wyche as support. Hargett has a strong arm and a corps of fine receivers in Rick Eber, John Odom and the fleet-footed rookie, Ricky Scales. The Steamer running game will again be led by the punishing Jim Nance, a Steamer fan favorite. Jimmy Edwards, the former Birmingham American, adds speed and a receiver out of the backfield. The offensive line is strengthened with the signing of former Chicago Bear linemen Glen Holloway. The defense lost veteran Don Brumm, but gained rookie sensation Ron Rydalch. Robert Baker is primed for a big year at defensive end for Shreveport. The secondary is strong with John Mallory, Daryl Johnson, and former NFL standout Richmond Flowers. The Steamer will be much improved but will it be enough to contend in the West.

San Antonio Wings- In the West, after Hawaii, it could be a dog fight. The Wings are an expansion team that boast a number of former Florida Blazer players on their roster. Head coach Perry Moss, formerly of the minor league San Antonio Toros, selected former Chicago Fire back-up Johnnie Walton as his quarterback. Walton will have former Blazer Jim Strong at fullback, and former Detroit Wheel and TCU standout Billy Sadler at halfback. The receiving corps of Donnie Joe Morris, Eddie Richardson and former Houston/Shreveport tight end Willie Frazier is untested, but should benefit from an offensive line that includes; Tim Brannan, Chris Morris and Dan Peiffer. The defense will be the strength of the Wings. Former Minnesota Viking Lonnie Warwick joins an already talented cast of linebackers in Billy Hobbs, Paul Vellano, John Ricca, and former Philadelphia Eagle Rick Cash. The secondary features former Blazer ball-hawks Billy Hayes and Miller Farr, former Chicago Fire standout Joe Womack, and Chuck Beatty. If the Wings defense plays anything like the Florida Blazers of 1974, and Walton can put points on the board, San Antonio could surprise the WFL.

Chicago Winds- At press time the Winds were in disarray. Owner Gene Pullano has seen an offer to former NFL head coach Hank Stram fall through, a $4 million deal for NFL quarterback Joe Namath turned down, and a deal for Csonka, Kiick and Warfield all vanish. Head Coach Babe Parilli, the former New York Star/Charlotte Hornet coach, was replaced by former Chicago Bears coach Abe Gibron when it appeared the team was falling apart. Gibron, named coach two weeks before pre-season, has his work cut out for him. General Manager Leo Cahill, obtained from the Memphis Southmen, arranged a deal that brought former NFL All-Pro receiver John Gilliam to Chicago. Gilliam will be the primary target for quarterback Pete Beathard, the former Portland Storm quarterback, who replaces the departed Virgil Carter. The Winds also signed local hero Mark Kellar and veteran Cyril Pinder to shore up the running game. Offensive lineman Doug Lowery comes over from the New York Jets, and center Guy Murdock handles the center of the line. Chicago's defense will feature Harry Howard, Ralph Anderson, and former St.Louis Cardinal Craig O'Sadnick in the secondary. The defensive line will be counting on Larry Jameson Mick Heinrich and Chuck Bailey to make for the departure of Rudy Kuechenberg and Ron Porter. The Winds are thin in several places, and Gilliam will have to provide big plays to keep the team out of the WFL Western Division cellar.

Portland Thunder- The Thunder was being put together at press time. Coach Greg Barton, the former Portland Storm quarterback, had signed Don Horn to handle the quarterbacking chores. The running game will belong to Rufus "The Roadrunner" Ferguson, and former CFLer Jim Evenson. The receivers are former NFLer Earl McCullough and Jim Krieg. The defense features Jerry Inman, and a cast of others. The Thunder will have to sign more players and make some deals to overtake Chicago for fifth in the West.

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.