1975 WFL Team Pages
When the Jacksonville Sharks suffered a premature death during the 1974 WFL season after only fourteen weeks of play many thought it was the death of football in northern Florida. Sharks’ owner and principle investor, Fran Monaco, was driven out of town after losing $400,000 while averaging 30,000 fans a game. Jacksonville mayor, Edward Tansler, told members of the news media, "the WFL shouldn’t have let some one come in here who could only handle the payroll for a few weeks, this is a disgrace." Many of the Jacksonville fans, players and supporters were left with nothing but the broken promises that were made by the previous owners and leaders of the WFL.
As the WFL reorganized for 1975, many league officials wanted Jacksonville back in the fold. The city was in a warm weather climate, had a great football tradition and a fantastic facility in the 60,000 seat Gator Bowl. Al Grillo, the owner of the Seminole Turf Club, was the first investor to come to the forefront as a backer for a possible Jacksonville franchise. After trying to organize a purchase price for the Sharks, and uncertain about the league’s future, Grillo bowed out. On the eve of WFL’s first meeting of its’ board of governors, a potential ownership group began to form. The group consisted of one tobacco-chewing, drawling country boy, three lawyers and two Jacksonville physicians. This unlikely group had two things in common. First, they were all local businessmen with community responsibilities. Second, they were all dedicated to brining professional football back to Jacksonville, Florida.
Earl Knabb, a 60-year old native Floridian became the teams’ principle investor, Governor and President of the club. Lefferts Mabie, a Pensacola attorney, and a member of the law firm of Levin, Warfield, Rosenblum and Magie, brought in Harry Meshaw and Bill DeCarlis, both attorneys, into the ownership picture. Charlie Mabry and Lewis Obi, Jacksonville physicians, joined in the ownership group which raised $750,000 to purchase the rights for a WFL franchise.
"I really don’t know why I got into the Jacksonville franchise," claimed Knabb. "It’s just something that’s been a dream. One day you start talking about it, and pretty soon you’ve talked yourself into it. We really have professional people in charge of the team this time. With the Hemmeter Plan for operating a professional sports league we’re in the best hands possible," he added.
The group selected the name "Express" for their new club. The name reflected Jacksonville’s rich rail road history, and followed in the direction of giving the team a ‘local’ feel.
The new Jacksonville Express hired Dick Kravitz as their General Manager. Kravitz, the former general manager of the Jacksonville Suns baseball team, and was faced with putting together a competitive team and drawing about 25,000 fans to the stadium to watch it. His first move was to secure former Sharks coach Charlie Tate, who delivered a 2-6 record in his tenure after the firing of Bud Asher. Despite his record, Tate brought a great football mind and experience to the organization. Tate moved to improve on a core of proven talent, and to upgrade the coaching staff. He hired former Sharks quarterback, Kay Stephenson, as the Director of Player Personnel. Stephenson, who quarterbacked the Sharks in 1974, immediately went to work scouting talent and contacting former WFL players for the club. Jim Niblack was brought in as the teams’ defensive coordinator, Howard Tippett as the linebackers coach, Ray Greene for Running backs and Receivers, Johnny Robinson for Defensive Backs, Bobby Carlton for the Offensive line, Ron Lamb, a former Shark running back, as an assistant for the offense.
Kravitz and Charlie Tate moved to sign several key starters from the Jacksonville Sharks. Dennis Hughes (tight end), Alfred Haywood (running back), Mike Haggerty and Larry Gagner (offensive linemen), Howard Kindig (center), Carleton Oates (defensive right tackle), Rich Thomann (right line backer), Fred Abbott (middle line backer), Ron Coppenbarger (safety) and Fletcher Smith (safety) were all signed and ready for training camp. With this core nucleus of players, Kravitz and Tate then went looking for talent to improve a sluggish offense and a defense that lost six games by three points or less in ’74.
The first signings were Abb Ansley (safety), and rookie sensation Steve Foley (corner back). Then, Ricky Browne (line backer) was signed and former Detroit Wheel Carl Taibi (line backer). Tom Walker (offensive guard) and Buck Baker (offensive tackle) were added to strengthen the offensive line.
At the end of May, Kravitz and Tate signed two important veterans to provide much needed leadership for the team. The Express inked former Houston/Shreveport veteran linebacker Don Brumm to a multi-year contract, and traded linebacker Bob Taterak to the Birmingham Vulcans for former World Bowl MVP quarterback George Mira. Mira, a product of the University of Miami, was an instant favorite among Jacksonville fans. His experience and leadership gave the Express the stable quarterback it lacked in the ’74 season.
With the Express starting to take shape, Kravitz and Tate made one last move to complete the team and provide the offensive punch they were looking for. In a much publicized deal, Jacksonville signed former WFL rushing leader and ex-Florida Blazer, Tommy Reamon. Reamon, rushed for 1,576 yards with the Blazers, and was signed away from the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL on the eve of training camp. Tommy Reamon and George Mira gave Jacksonville the experience and big play potential it lacked in ’74.
As the 1975 exhibition season approached, the Express had reason for optimism.
The exhibition season began without much fan fare for the Express. In Chicago, Illinois, under gray skies, the yellowish din of the Soldier Field lights shined off the pouring rain as 2,000 fans huddled in the stands watching the Express pound the Chicago Winds 34-23. Running back Alfred Haywood and Tommy Reamon both rushed for over 100 yards to lead the Express and George Mira was accurate with his passing the entire evening. The Winds were desperate to stop the Express running attack, as the game was more one-sided than the score would indicate. With Jacksonville leading 34-16, Winds running back Mark Kellar rumbled for a three yard touchdown as time ran out.
Returning to Jacksonville, the Express defeated Hawaii 19-7 before 8,222 fans in a driving rain storm that dumped five inches of rain on the city. The fans amused themselves by watching torrents of water wash down through the stands of the Gator Bowl. Hawaiian and Express players slid about the field like cartoon characters in a vain attempt to play the game. Despite the weather, the Express unleashed Tommy Reamon and Alfred Haywood who were quickly proving to be a dangerous combination in the backfield. The slashing style of Reamon, and the bull-like running of Haywood complemented each other perfectly and opened the passing game for George Mira. With the brief exhibition season over the Express were 2-0 and felt good about what they had accomplished.
The Express opened the 1975 regular season in Memphis, Tennessee. The game was a celebration of sorts for the WFL because it marked the debut of Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield in Memphis uniforms. 25,166 fans sat in the stands on a mild and sunny Memphis afternoon. WFL Commissioner Chris Hemmeter, a guest of Southmen owner John Bassett, strolled the sidelines as the media covered all the pre-game stories and photographed every move made by the trio- the media would also have a breath-taking game to cover.
Time and time again the Express refused to quit and kept coming back against the tough Memphis squad and narrowly missed pulling off a last second win. One player who knew he had been in a tough contest was Larry Csonka, the million-dollar Memphis running back, who told Express quarterback George Mira after the game that he had never been hit harder in his entire pro career.
There was: 06 remaining on the Memorial Stadium scoreboard. The home town Southmen was leading 27-19. The Memphis fans, their voices silent, stood in amazement as George Mira came to the line. The players starred straight ahead, like bulls waiting to charge, as Mira barked out the signals. "Down………Set," yelled the quarterback. Mira dropped back, set up, and threw a long pass to tight end Dennis Hughes, who leapt over Seth Miller, and came down with a touchdown- the score was Memphis 27, Jacksonville 26.
The action point would be the deciding factor in the game. Mira came to the line, took the snap, rolled right, and threw a screen pass to Tommy Reamon. Reamon cut right, lunged, but was stopped at the one-inch line by Bill LeHeup and a host of Southmen defenders- the Express had lost the game.
Head coach Charlie Tate, who had seen more than his share of near-wins with the Sharks, was disappointed after the game. "It’s always tough to have one get away when you’re so close," said the coach. "We did find out a couple of things about our team however, and it’s a fact that they just don’t give up!"
The game marked the first time the Express had a dry field to play on and they took advantage of it. Mira finished the game with 11 of 20 completions for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Alfred Haywood finished as the game’s top rusher, finished with 107 yards out gaining the Southmen’s Larry Csonka. Dennis Hughes and receiver Steve Barrios each caught four passes. Jacksonville ran 23 fewer plays but averaged 6.3 yards per play to Memphis’ 5.1. The defense was led by Fred Abbott, who had 10 tackles, and safety Ron Coppenbarger who registered eight. Carleton Oates and Charles Hall each had a quarterback sack.
Despite the loss to Memphis, and a 0-1 start to the season, Charlie Tate liked the chemistry of the team and its character. The Express headed home to take on the Birmingham Vulcans in their ’75 home opener.
Birmingham brought tough quarterback Matthew Reed to Florida. Reed had engineered a come-from-behind win over the Philadelphia Bell the week before after sitting out of practice with bruised ribs. The Vulcan running game was led by Alabama hero Johnny Musso, who had 160 rushing yards and a 5.5 average, and Art Cantrelle who had rushed for 131 yards on 33 carries. The defense was led by Warren Capone who had registered 13 tackles against the Chicago Winds in the Vulcan home opener and 12 against the Philadelphia Bell. The game was also marked the first time Express quarterback George Mira, the former Birmingham American, would face his former teammates.
16,049 thundering fans cheered from the Gator Bowl stands as the upstart Express gave the Vulcans holy hell. Quarterback George Mira cut apart the Birmingham secondary, and Tommy Reamon sprinted through the Vulcans defense for 128 yards on 24 carries- Jacksonville won 22-11.
Mira got the scoring underway early when he hit rookie receiver Witt Beckman on a 44-yard scoring pass. Beckman, a ’75 draft choice of the Chicago Bears, slipped behind Vulcan coverage and hauled in a perfect over-the-shoulder pass for the touchdown. Jacksonville led 7-0, but Birmingham roared back to take an 8-7 lead. On the next offensive series, Tommy Reamon kicked it into high gear and rambled 44 yards. Alfred Haywood ran up the middle for nine yards, and then Reamon hit the left side of the Birmingham defense for an 18 yard touchdown run. The fans at the Gator Bowl gave the Express a standing ovation and the team had a 15-8 lead.
Birmingham cut the Jacksonville lead to 15-11 when kicker Ron Slovensky hit a 43-yard field goal, but the Express, refusing to yield against the former WFL champions, drove down the field. George Mira, leading the Express, dropped back and threw a 33-yard bomb to a streaking Steve Barrios, who made a mid-air, diving catch. Two plays later, Tommy Reamon, following the block of Alfred Haywood, turned the right corner and raced into the end zone to complete the victory. The final score of the game was 22-11, and the up-start Express had their biggest win of the young 1975 season.
In an exuberant Express locker room, players cheered, "high-five" each other and chanted "Express, Express, Express!" Standing by his locker, former Birmingham quarterback George Mira, who completed 10 passes for 179 yards against his former team, told reporters, "Today I was 100% ready to play. I wasn’t going out there to do anything fancy. I was just going out there to win."
Tommy Reamon, who gained 128 yards on 24 carries, his best performance since the preseason matchup against the Chicago Winds, added, "It’s been hard for us to get our timing with the rain and the week off, but we’re getting better and we’ll improve."
"The fan support all night really helped us," said coach Charlie Tate. "They sounded a lot more than 16,000- it really encouraged us. Mira and Reamon were the key players tonight but I can’t overlook our defensive linemen. They kept the pressure on and gave our linebackers room to do their jobs tonight," added the coach.
Linebacker Fred Abbott agreed with Tate, "Our defensive line has put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that’s strength over last year’s team." Jacksonville celebrated their win and improved to 1-1 on the season.
Starting their ’75 campaign against the WFL’s two toughest teams, Memphis and Birmingham, and nearly pulling out two wins inspired the Express. Their confidence grew and their faith in each other as a team grew as well. On August 23, 1975, the San Antonio Wings traveled to Jacksonville. San Antonio, an expansion team, was playing anything like an expansion team. Led by an aggressive defense, San Antonio had shot to a 3-1 record early in the season. The Wings ranked fifth in total offense, behind Jacksonville who ranked fourth. San Antonio quarterback Johnnie Walton was fourth in the league in passing and the Wings had the WFL’s best rushing attack, with 457 yards.
The Jacksonville Express made it two wins in a row with a "sudden death victory" against the Wings in overtime. Place kicker Charlie Durkee kicked four field goals, the last one tying the game with: 32 remaining, and forcing the contest into the extra period. Express safety Abb Ansley intercepted a Johnnie Walton pass to kill a last-second Wings attempt to win the game in regulation.
San Antonio won the coin toss to start the overtime period. The Jacksonville defense, however, was not about to spend any more time on the field than they had to, and stopped the Wings on three successive plays. San Antonio punter David Yaege kicked to Willie Jackson, and the former Florida Gator speedster found a hole in the coverage and charged up the field, breaking tackles for a 28 yard gain. Jackson was brought down by the last San Antonio player standing between him and the goal line, punter David Yaege.
16,133 fans screamed in excitement as George Mira and the Express offense took the field at the San Antonio 31. Mira ran the Express through two plays- only gaining a yard. Then on third down, with his receivers covered, Mira scrambled out of the pocket, into the flat and down the sidelines for an 11-yard gain and an Express first down. The fans went wild as did the San Antonio coaching staff- the Wings’ backs were to the wall.
Express running back Alfred Haywood hit off right guard for four yards to the 15. On the next play, with straight zone blocking and Tommy Reamon leading the way, Haywood ran through the San Antonio defense and into the corner of the end zone for the win, 26-19. The Express had their second victory of the season.
"It really wasn’t any special kind of play. Everybody did their job and executed well," said Head Coach Charlie Tate after the game. He added, "when you can win these kind of games, it gives the whole team a lot of confidence and brings them closer together. Those are the kind of things you can’t coach into a team but come only from playing together through games like this."
A very tired George Mira added, "we kept our poise and everybody knew just what they had to do and then they simply went out and did it."
Witt Beckman, who made a great catch to set up the tying field goal in regulation, was praised by Mira, "Beckman sure made an important catch and a good run to set up that field goal. That’s two weeks in a row he’s come through with big plays."
Express kicker Charlie Durkee tied a WFL record kicking four field goals in the game and the win moved Jacksonville to 2-1. The win, combined with a Memphis loss to Philadelphia, moved the Express into a tie with Memphis for first place in the WFL East. Head Coach Charlie Tate was pleased with the way his team had played against some tough competition- Memphis, Birmingham and San Antonio were considered three of the toughest teams in the World Football League.
The optimism was high during practice the week before the Express hosted the Charlotte Hornets at the Gator Bowl. The team was 2-1, and put together two exciting wins, and was showcasing itself as a WFL powerhouse. Jacksonville’s strength lied in the veteran leadership of quarterback George Mira. Mira had completed 34 of 76 passes for 505 yards and four touchdowns, but more importantly, had rallied the Express to victories over Birmingham and San Antonio, two of the WFL’s best teams, and came one point short of upsetting the mighty Memphis Southmen.
The Express was showing the WFL it had many offensive and defensive weapons. Jacksonville possessed a two-geared rushing attack. Alfred Haywood, a straight-ahead runner, had gained 245 yards on 45 carries, and Tommy Reamon, the slasher, had rushed for 201 yards on 52 carries. Receivers Witt Beckman, Steve Barrios and Dennis Hughes had contributed 27 receptions as Mira continued to spread the ball around the field. Fred Abbott and Ron Coppenbarger led the defense with 20 tackles each, and Chip Myrtle and Abb Ansley added two interceptions a piece. Head Coach Charlie Tate liked his chances against the Hornets.
On September 20, 1975, a steady rain fell on the Gator Bowl. General Manager Dick Kravitz looked up at the stands at a crowd of 16,428 huddled in the rain and cursed the clouds that gathered overhead. "I wish we could get the weather on our side," Kravitz said to owner Earl Knabb. "We’ve only had two games all year when it hasn’t rained". Despite the weather, the fans were coming out to see the team. Although the Express didn’t have the numbers, or announced numbers, that the Sharks had in ’74 there seemed to be a good nucleus of fans to build on, and more importantly, the team was playing good football.
During the game the rain poured down. The field turned into a quagmire, and the game became a practice in survival and very few things went right for Jacksonville. Charlotte scored on the very first possession of the game, marching 65 yards in 10 plays with Don Highsmith going over the last yard for the score. Charlotte then punched in another score that cost the Express linebacker, and leading tackler, Fred Abbott. Abbott was fighting off a block when his knee "snapped" and running back Lewis Jolley ran by for the touchdown making it 15-0 Hornets.
As the Express watched Abbott being taken off the field, their hopes for a comeback was in a similar situation. Charlie Tate, unable to stop the bleeding, watched as Charlotte made it 18-0 before the half. In the third quarter, Charlotte picked up an interference call in the end zone, and Lewis Jolley made it 25-0. With the Hornets congratulating Jolley on the sidelines, many fans packed up and headed for the exits. Those who stayed sat silent and Charlie Tate searched for answers.
As the scoreboard ticked down the final seconds, the Express lost to Charlotte 33-14. Tate substituted players in the fourth quarter to try to jump-start the offense but it was to no avail. Backup quarterback David Fowler completed four of seven passes against a "prevent" defense, and Alfred Haywood and Tommy Reamon were bullied the entire game- it was a complete break-down of offense and defense.
"We just weren’t prepared to play," said a dejected Charlie Tate surrounded by reporters. He added, "we weren’t able to move the ball until the game was over. We’ve got tremendous fans here in Jacksonville, and it really hurts us to disappoint them this way at home. We are going to try to make it up to them."
With the humiliating loss to Charlotte, Jacksonville fell to 2-2 and was forced to play without four important defensive players off the field. Cornerbacks Fletcher Smith and Steve Foley were in varying stages of recovery from leg injuries and were unable to play, while middle linebacker Fred Abbott was hurt and lost for the season and Chip Myrtle was kicked in the leg and was lost for the second half of play. Charlie Tate hoped for the best as his team prepared for a road trip that would take them to Shreveport, Louisiana and Hawaii.
Just a few weeks into the young WFL season, the fans of northern Florida had been treated to competitive football from the Express. The team, a vast improvement from the ’74 Sharks, still failed to draw the number of fans needed to put the team on sound financial footing. Despite plenty of operating capital, and an iron-clad commitment from management, the Express hovered around 16,000 paid customer per game- 9,000 short of their marketing goal. The team was running a $65,000 deficit per week. The players were being paid, the bills were being paid, but Express general manager Dick Kravitz looked to pick attendance up when the team returned from the road. The front office labored over the thought that nothing fills a stadium more quickly than a winning team, and the Express needed to get back on track on their road trip.
On a humid night in Shreveport, Louisiana, the Express turned State Fair Coliseum into a collision zone as the "Big Train" rammed the "Steamboat". A good crowd cheered on the hometown Steamer, but the night belonged to the Express. Jacksonville got back on the winning track with a 22-15 win over the Steamer.
The Express defense played an excellent game and big plays were the key.
Middle linebacker Glen Gaspard intercepted an Edd Hargett pass, and an alert defense recovered five of six Shreveport fumbles.
The Express appeared to rolling early when the Steamer defense stopped Alfred Haywood two straight times on the seven yard line. Then, on the nest series of plays, Shreveport quarterback Edd Hargett hit Ricky Scales for the first score of the game. Scales, a sprinter in college, beat the Jacksonville defense and hauled in a picture-perfect Edd Hargett pass. The Express came back quickly with a three play drive for a score. Dennis Hughes caught a 26-yard grab for the touchdown. With both teams driving on the field, Express kicker Charlie Durkee scored the next points for Jacksonville on a 10-yard field goal with: 19 remaining in the half- Jacksonville led 11-7.
In the Jacksonville locker room, Charlie Tate rallied his troops. He knew how important this game was to his young team and the standings.
The Shreveport Steamer, rallied by their skipper, Marshall Taylor, opened the second half with a 54-yard drive, resulting in an Edd Hargett to Doug Winslow touchdown. Shreveport ran big Jim Nance up the middle on the Express punishing the linebackers with every carry. When the defense stacked the line, quarterback Edd Hargett threw passes to this receivers or Jimmy Edwards in the flat. The action point was added and Shreveport went ahead 15-11.
After the Jacksonville offense was unable to move the football, Chip Myrtle became "Mr. Opportunity" for the Express when he recovered a Doug Winslow fumble in mid air and returned it eight yards to set up Jacksonville’s next score. Winslow, after receiving a Hargett pass, was hit hard by linebacker Don Brumm, and fumbled the ball up into the air and into the waiting hands of Myrtle. With the aid of a penalty, the Express moved to scoring position. Tommy Reamon and Alfred Haywood tore through the Steamer line to the one yard line. Then Alfred Haywood bulled his way into the end zone to give Jacksonville a 18-15 lead. On the action point, George Mira handed off to Tommy Reamon who slashed through the tackles for the score and a 19-15 Express lead.
With the Steamer scrambling, Jacksonville struck again when the defense recovered a fumble. Three plays later, Charlie Durkee connected on his second field goal of the evening; this one from 42 yards out for a 22-15 Jacksonville lead. The Express defense then held Shreveport to minimal yardage and harassed Edd Hargett into hurried throws and incomplete passes. As the final seconds ticked down, Jacksonville threw Hargett to the turf twice in the last series to clinch the win. Jacksonville improved their record to 3-2.
In spite of the tough Shreveport defense, Alfred Haywood gained 123 yards rushing.
"Haywood played a real fine football game," said Head Coach Charlie Tate, "and he got the game ball for his effort. Our defense forced the turnovers, and that was the key in the game," added Tate. "Chip Myrtle’s recovery of that fumble just kind of evened things up. We had gotten right near their goal line when we had one intercepted. Chip’s recovery broke the game open for us."
The Jacksonville Express defense was delivering the big plays needed to get the team wins. The front line of Don Brumm (the former Houston Texan), Carl Taibi (the former Detroit Wheel), Joe Jackson and Carleton Oats was pressuring WFL quarterbacks and jamming the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Chip Myrtle continued to lead the defense, and Glen Gaspard, in for the injured Fred Abbott, performed admirably. Rich Thomann was also a tough run stopper. The Express secondary was also performing well. Ron Coppenbarger was the squad’s leader, newcomer Abb Ansley and Fletcher Smith were tough against the pass and Steve Foley was proving to the coaching staff he had ability.
Charlie Tate and the staff felt very good about the club and the way it rebounded from the Charlotte loss and looked forward for their island trip to Honolulu.
The Express relaxed on the island, arriving three days prior to their game with the Hawaiians. The team walked the beaches, hit the surf, and tried to concentrate on football. Under tropical skies, and picturesque 80-degree weather, football seemed millions of miles away. The game between the two teams would mark the grand opening of Aloha Stadium, a 50,000 seat, state-of-the-art facility, with retractable seats to allow for both baseball and football. Charlie Tate felt good about his team and the way they were playing- tough defense, and an offense built around a solid running game. Tate was also pleased that his team was finding a way to win close games; two of their three wins were in the final quarter. In 1974, Tate suffered through watching his Jacksonville Sharks lose six games by three points or less. As the sun set of Waikiki, Tate sighed in relief- the Express were challenging the WFL and making a name for themselves.
Aloha Stadium rocked with 18,000 Hawaiian fans as the two teams took the field on a beautiful island night. Hawaii coach Mike Giddings was starting former University of Washington quarterback Sonny Sixkiller in hope of getting his team of to a quick start. The Express would counter with their standard lineup since opening day; George Mira at quarterback, Tommy Reamon and Alfred Haywood in the backfield- Alfred Haywood came into the game leading the team in rushing.
On the field, the Jacksonville defense, who last week cashed in on several turnovers by the Shreveport Steamer, was run over by Hawaiian quarterback Sonny Sixkiller and derailed. Sixkiller’s mobility kept the Express defense off-balance all night. The Hawaiian quarterback threw for two touchdowns to lead the "islanders" to a 33-15 victory. The crowd watched a crushing Hawaiians defense led by Lem Burnham, Karl Lorch, Levi Stanley and Skip Williams kept the Express running attack in check as Alfred Haywood and Tommy Reamon gained minimal yardage. Former World Bowl MVP quarterback George Mira was harassed throughout the game as Hawaii opened up a 26-7 lead at half time on Sixkillers' passing and never looked back. Jacksonville was completely out-played since the opening kickoff.
"We didn’t do anything right out there today," said Tate after the game. He added, we didn’t execute, we didn’t play as a team, and our running game was completely shut down. Our defense give up some big plays that hurt us early and we couldn’t catch up. I’m glad we’re going home. Hawaii is a tough place to concentrate on football, we had a complete mental breakdown out there……….it was our worse game all year."
The Express traveled home to Jacksonville with a 3-3 record. Despite earning a split during their road trip, a feat sometimes praised by professional coaches, Charlie Tate’s team had over 6,000 air miles to think about the mental breakdown the team suffered in Hawaii. The team was ranked 7th in offense in the WFL, and 9th in defense- a mark that Tate and his staff wanted to improve. George Mira was the 7th leading passer in the league, completing 85 of 176 passes for 1,176 yards and 9 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. Running back Alfred Haywood, a hold over from the Jacksonville Sharks squad, was the team’s leading rusher with 644 yards on 123 carries with four touchdowns. Steve Barrios made it to the WFL’s top receivers list with 22 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns. The Jacksonville defense would have to play better than it did against Hawaii if the Express were to have any success against Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Bell came to Florida with a 2-5 record, and brought with them one of the league’s most explosive backfields for a game that would match up the two former World Bowl quarterbacks- Bob Davis, formerly of the Florida Blazers, and George Mira, formerly of the Birmingham Americans. Davis was a veteran leader, and his backfield of John Land, Claude Watts and the young bruiser JJ Jennings was one of the league’s best.
The Bell had lost to Portland 25-10 the previous week and needed a sound performance to turn their season around.
Bell head coach Willie Wood brought an explosive offense to Jacksonville. Led by quarterback Bob Davis, who had completed 54% of his passes for 500 yards since being elevated to the starting role over "King" Corcoran, the Bell ran a conservative offense based around the running game. John Land, the first WFL back to ever gain a 1,000 yards, had carried the ball 87 times for 326 yards, and JJ Jennings had contributed 290 yards since joining the team from Memphis. The Bell receivers were led by tight end Ted Kwalick, who had 18 catches and Ben Hawkins who had 17. The Bell defense was led by Steve "Rocky" Colavito and safeties Frank Polito and Bill Craven.
Jacksonville would start Mira, questionable before the game due to a knee and hand injury suffered against Hawaii, and go to young David Fowler in relief. The game also marked the debut of wide receiver Lee McGriff, the former Florida Gator, to the lineup. The Gator Bowl had been the site of many great performances by the former Gator receiver and Charlie Tate and the coaching staff hoped for this streak to continue.
In Jacksonville, the fans of the Express, a hard core group of 10,000 customers, supported the team through thick and thin. The owners of the Express had planned on crowds of 25,000 to make expenses- operating costs plus salaries- and were working throughout the community to promote the team. Principle investor Earl Knabb called on friends, clients, associates and civic leaders for their support of the team. The only thing Knabb couldn’t control was the weather. All but one the Express’ home games had been played in a downpour and the team, increasing its advertising budget, was hoping for calm skies for their game against Philadelphia.
Earl Knabb and Dick Kravitz sat high up in the press box above the Gator Bowl starring down at the field as the Bell and Express went through their warm-ups. 10,269 fans mulled around the stands of the Gator Bowl as the opening kickoff from Jacksonville’s Charlie Durkee fell down into the hands of Marv Pettaway. Pettaway raced through the line, was hit, spun around, and hit again and driven to the ground. It was to be an omen for the Bell. Jacksonville got a good performance from backup quarterback David Fowler, playing for an injured George Mira, and Tommy Reamon and Alfred Haywood contributed 162 yards rushing as the Express defeated Philadelphia 16-10.
Jacksonville got off to a quick start. Quarterback David Fowler drove the Express down the field, led by the running of Alfred Haywood and Tommy Reamon, with a 13-yard pass to Steve Barrios and a 18 yard gallop by Reamon. With the Express on the Philadelphia 18, and the crowd sounding like 100,000 fans, Tommy Reamon slashed between the guards, faked around a diving Herb Polito, and raced, untouched, into the end zone. Jacksonville added the action point on a Reamon sweep for a 8-0 lead.
Philadelphia didn’t waste any time coming back. Bob Davis and Ted Kwalick combined for two completions including a 32-yard touchdown strike to bring the Bell back into the game. The action point was stopped and Jacksonville held a narrow 8-7 lead. The Bell offense controlled the ball for most of the first half and totaled 23 more offensive plays than the Express for the game. Philadelphia’s Bob Cooper hit a 28-yard field goal with just over five minutes left in the half to give the Bell a 10-8 lead.
With both teams failing to move the ball, late in the first half Chip Myrtle, Jacksonville’s "Mr. Opportunity" was the offensive spark the Express needed. Myrtle picked off a Bob Davis pass and raced 65 yards behind a wall of blockers deep into Philadelphia territory. With: 20 remaining, Express coach Charlie Tate sent in a pass play to Fowler. Fowler was forced from the pocket, scrambled, and gained five yards. With little time remaining in the half, Tate sent in the kicking team to try to gain the lead but a bobbled snap saw the Express’ chances come crashing to the ground.
"I thought that if we got that field goal and went ahead going into halftime, it would be better than not coming out of there with anything," said Coach Tate after the game. "I can’t second guess myself on the call. We had a problem with the kick and didn’t score, but that three points would have looked a whole lot bigger at the end of the game the way things turned around."
Neither team was able to generate much offense as the defensive units took over. Philadelphia’s front line of Don Ratliff, Louis Ross, Doug Olsen and Tom Gipson kept pressure on Fowler. With the help of Ron Porter and Steve "Rocky" Colavito, the Bell stuffed the running of Haywood and Reamon. Jacksonville got great pass coverage out of Fletcher Smith and Ron Coppenbarger, and the line of Joe Jackson, Carleton Oates, Carl Taibi and Don Brumm also stopped the Philadelphia duo of John Land and JJ Jennings. Both offensive teams were unable to move the ball as the game turned into a full-blown defensive battle.
The Express’ Fletcher Smith came up with an interception at the end of the third quarter to give Jacksonville the best scoring chance of the evening. Fowler, calling his own plays, picked up 30 of the 59 yards in the drive on two pass completions. Brian Duncan, Mike Creaney and Witt Beckman all caught passes, and Tommy Reamon and Alfred Haywood added 29 yards on the ground. The passing caught the Philadelphia defense off guard as Fowler dropped back and fired quickly to his receivers. When the Bell adjusted, dropping the safeties back, Fowler would call a draw play for Haywood or Reamon. With Jacksonville on the Philadelphia 18, Fowler came out of the huddle, saw the safeties (Bill Craven and Rod Foster) playing back and called an audible at the line. As he took the snap, Fowler dropped back, the lines collided, and he quickly handed off to Alfred Haywood on a draw play. As the pocket formed around Fowler, Philadelphia ends Louis Ross and Don Ratliff, came in full steam to pressure the pass only to find Haywood steaming up the middle and running over and around a scattered secondary- Haywood ran 18 yards for the touchdown.
"That play had been working well for us all night," said Haywood who finished as the offensive MVP of the game. "I think Mike Haggerty threw a big block for me on the touchdown, but all the linemen did a good job and there were a lot of holes for me to pick."
Tommy Reamon scored his second action point of the night and the Express had a 16-10 lead, and the house of 10,000 fans cheered for their hometown heroes.
It looked like the lead would hold up, but at the two minute warning Philadelphia again took control. On the Philadelphia sidelines stood the WFL’s answer to Joe Namath- James "King" Corcoran. Corcoran got the nod from Head Coach Willie Wood to come into the game, and the prolific passer took to slicing the Express secondary up almost instantly. The confident quarterback threw passes all over the field, and running back John Land ran hard behind the bull-like blocking of JJ Jennings. Land broke a 16-yard run down to the Express seven yard line with less than a minute remaining as everyone on the Express sideline and in the stands let out a collective "gasp".
: 49 remaining, Philadelphia had a first-and-goal at the Jacksonville seven. On the first play, Bell coach Willie Wood sent John Land around the end but he was stopped at the four by Steve Foley. On the second play, the "King" Corcoran dropped back, looking for Land or tight end Ted Kwalick. With both covered he threw into the end zone for former Philadelphia Eagle Ben Hawkins but threw too high and the pass fell incomplete. The third play saw big JJ Jennings tear through the right side of the Express line for three yards to the one yard line. Each time the Bell ran the ball into the line the fans, players and everyone in the Gator Bowl could feel the wall of the Jacksonville defensive line weaken from the pounding of the Philadelphia backs. On the sidelines, Jacksonville’s Charlie Tate and Philadelphia’s Willie Wood watched as the game came down to one final play.
"King" Corcoran broke the huddle. The 10,000 Express fans rose to their feet. Charlie Tate and Willie Wood looked on as the moment seemed as if it was the last moment on earth.
Corcoran called the signals. Both lines waited for the snap. The breath, sweat and tension hung in the air. The scattered fans in the end zone seats of the Gator Bowl stood and cheered for the defense. Corcoran looked over the Express line and into the steely eyes of the defenders- the game hung in the balance. The play ran over the airwaves on WQIK in Jacksonville…."It all comes down to this….the Bell comes to the line…..Hawkins wide right, Ron Holliday wide left, Kwalick in the slot……Corcoran calls the signals, here’s the snap……… he drops back to pass, the pressures on, he’s in trouble…….he’s sacked!!!………Corcoran’s down!!!…….the Express wins!!!………the Express wins!!!!
"King" Corcoran had dropped back and looked for his receivers, all were covered, and then he scrambled into the line where he was sacked by Express veteran linebacker Don Brumm. The Jacksonville Express again had come up with a last-second victory.
"That goal line stand sure was the big play of the game," said Tate after the game. The Express came away with a 16-10 win and improved to 4-3 on the season.
David Fowler, who engineered the final Express scoring drive, was nervous before the game, but didn’t show much of that to Philadelphia. The rookie from Memphis State completed 5 of 12 passes for 51 yards; he also rushed for 25 yards.
"In college we had a run and throw offense, so I guess that’s where most of the scrambling started with me", said Fowler. "My running tonight wasn’t designed, but I hit a stretch there where I wasn’t completing any passes, so I figured I’d be better off to run with the ball."
David Fowler’s play enabled the Express to break out of the .500 mark. In the WFL’s Eastern Division, the Memphis Southmen were in first at 6-1, followed by the Birmingham Vulcans (6-2), Charlotte and Jacksonville (4-3) and Philadelphia (2-6)- the win over Philadelphia proved to be a big game in terms of the standings and also marked the beginning of a three game home stand for the Express. If Jacksonville was to climb to the top of the WFL East this would be the perfect time for Charlie Tate and his crew to do it.
On September 27, 1975, Jacksonville hosted the Birmingham Vulcans. The game marked the second time the two clubs had met; Jacksonville had beaten the Vulcans in an earlier match up 26-18. Jacksonville needed wins over Birmingham and Portland to be in the running for the WFL’s "Summer Champion" and a post-season playoff berth. In the WFL, two teams would be crowned "Summer Champions" and would qualify for a playoff spot. The second half of the season would then determine the other four finalists- two other division winners and the runner-up teams. Jacksonville needed to remain focused on the task at hand, but also needed to look over their shoulder at a hard-charging Charlotte Hornet team. Jacksonville’s main concern on the 27th was Birmingham quarterback Matthew Reed.
In the first meeting of the two teams, Matthew Reed was suffering from a hip pointer and saw limited action. He was named the WFL Player of the Week for his performance against the San Antonio Wings, and was a proven threat to score when he was on the field.
The Express would counter the big play ability of Matthew Reed with a healthy running game. Against the Bell, Tommy Reamon, Alfred Haywood and David Fowler rushed for a total of 187 yards and kept the Philadelphia defense off-balance. Express quarterback, and former Birmingham American, George Mira was prepared to face his former team and chalk up another victory.
In the front office of the Express, Earl Knabb and Lefferts Mabbie, the driving force behind the Express, hoped for a good turnout at the gate. The ownership group was busy promoting the team throughout the community, but had faced many challenges with the WFL’s new Saturday and Sunday scheduling. The Express, as with the rest of the WFL teams, needed to establish its fan base before the college and NFL seasons were in full swing and competition for the sports fans’ dollars increased.
10,881 fans sat in the stands of the 60,000 seat Gator Bowl. The massive stadium made the crowd look like 1,000 as the fans were scattered in pockets around the stands. Despite their size the fans cheered wildly as George Mira started the game and led the Express to a 26-18 win over Birmingham. Mira, who only worked out one day during the week, completed 14 of 25 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He was selected as the WFL Player of the Week for his performance.
Jacksonville opened up the scoring when Mira, scrambling away from pressure, found Steve Barrios for a 54 yard completion. Then Jimmy Poulos and Skip Johns hammered the ball down to the Birmingham two. Poulos then carried the ball over for the touchdown and a quick Jacksonville lead.
Birmingham came right back on the next series of plays. Johnny Musso and Art Cantrelle ran the ball relentlessly as the Vulcans scored in 11 plays. Musso added the action point for a 8-7 Birmingham lead.
The momentum quickly turned again in the Vulcans’ favor. On a second-and-five play, Express quarterback George Mira handed off to Jimmy Poulos who fumbled and Vulcan linebacker Ronnie Williams recovered the ball and ran it in for the touchdown. The Vulcans led 15-7 at the half before a stunned Jacksonville crowd.
During halftime the fans were treated to the sounds of the Florida University band and the routines of "The Expression"- the official Jacksonville Express cheerleaders. On the second series of plays in the second half, George Mira came out throwing against Birmingham. Mira was unstoppable as he completed passes to Witt Beckman, Steve Barrios and tight end Dennis Hughes as the Express drove down the field and into scoring position. On a third-and-two play, Witt Beckman beat the coverage and took the scoring strike from Mira on the goal line and dove in for the touchdown. With the game at 15-14, coach Charlie Tate sent in David Fowler for the action point. Fowler’s mobility added another dimension and Tate wanted to exploit the Birmingham defense. Fowler took the snap, rolled right, faked the run, and suddenly pulled up and threw a perfect pass to Dennis Hughes for the action point- Jacksonville and Birmingham were tied at 15-15.
The Vulcans, undaunted by the Express drive, came right back with a 38-yard field goal from Ron Slovensky to take a 18-15 lead.
George Mira went to work. With Mira in complete control of the air game the Express scored again. The four play drive covered 65 yards with 60 of the yards coming through the air. Mira was cool in the pocket as he ripped apart the tough Birmingham secondary.
On the scoring play, Mira hit Steve Barrios with a 40 yard pass that dragged the defender the last five yards for the touchdown and a 22-18 lead. Skip Johns bulled over of the action point and a 23-18 Express lead as the Gator Bowl crowd went wild.
The Jacksonville defense shut down Birmingham for the rest of the game. Don Brumm and Carleton Oates harassed Birmingham’s Matthew Reed and made the passing game non-existent. Charlie Durkee added a 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to put the Express up 26-18, and the defense hammered the Vulcans for the final minutes to secure the win.
"It sure gave the whole team a lift having George back in there tonight," said Head Coach Charlie Tate. "I think the players and the coaches had their best game of the year."
Jacksonville Express quarterback George Mira was named WFL Player of the Week for his play against the Vulcans. Mira defeated his old teammates for the second time during the season, completing 14 of 25 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. Mira was activated on Saturday evening following a cut finger and a bruised knee against Hawaii. He worked out one time in two weeks with the team.
The knee was still a little sore and the finger bothered George but neither were as important as getting a chance to beat his ex-teammates.
"It was an important game for us to win," said Mira. "We needed it to stay in the standings. In spite of everything that went on last week, I think the whole team showed exactly what being a professional is all about with their performance."
George Mira boosted his passing statistics to seven touchdowns, 1,091 yards, and a completion percentage of 50%.
"I feel very honored to receive the award (WFL Player of the Week), especially on a week when so many players had fine games."
The Express was on a roll. At 5-3, the team was keeping pace with the other WFL Eastern Division teams, namely Memphis and Birmingham. Although the play on the field had improved, there were constant rumblings throughout the WFL about the financial well being of the league. Many teams were playing before small crowds, and Jacksonville was no exception. Florida, a football hotbed, seemed like a likely place for a football franchise. Earl Knabb and his associates had hoped for crowds in the 25,000 range but the Express was averaging 13,000, and the recent attendance of 10,000 for the Birmingham game didn’t make anyone feel better about the situation. The Express had lost about $350,000 but still Knabb and the owners were confident that the team would succeed. Everyone focused their efforts on a good crowd for the game against the Portland Thunder.
"I had hoped for a lot more," said a concerned Dick Kravitz to Jacksonville part-owner Lefferts Mabbie, as the two starred out to the Gator Bowl stands. A paltry crowd of 8,119 fans sat in the rain as the Express and Portland Thunder warmed up for their game.
"We’ll lose about $100,000 tonight," claimed Mabbie.
"The weather is killing us," said Kravitz. "If we could get some good weather we’d have 16,000 fans in here, maybe 20,000."
The Portland Thunder came to Florida with a 2-6 record and reeling from rumors that the team would be disbanded or moved to Salt Lake City, Utah before the season was over. The Thunder was averaging about 7,000 a game in Portland and local ownership was sustaining hard loses.
On the field, the Thunder brought former Green Bay Packer quarterback Don Horn, and running sensation Rufus "The Roadrunner" Ferguson. The Portland offensive line had only allowed seven sacks, and Horn had talented receivers in Joe Wylie and Jim Krieg to throw to. Portland’s defense was led by former AFL, NFL tackle Jerry Inman.
Jacksonville, led by a tough defense and the passing of George Mira, defeated the Portland Thunder 32-29 to finish the "Summer Season" at 6-3. The back-and-forth game was highlighted by the Express defense holding off a late game rally by the Thunder to secure the win. The three-game winning streak over Philadelphia, Birmingham and Portland had placed the Express at the top of the WFL Eastern Division behind Memphis and Birmingham, and the team would travel to Charlotte, for a big game against he Hornets, Portland and San Antonio before returning home to face the Southern California Sun.
The Express entered the game with the Charlotte Hornets with optimism. The club had won three in a row and held a game lead over Charlotte (5-4), and both the offense and defense were playing well.
Jacksonville had scored an average of 22.1 points per game and had balanced those points out well between passing (10) and running (12). Quarterback George Mira and his receivers were averaging 143.8 yards per game, while Tommy Reamon, Alfred Haywood and Brian Duncan were gaining 144.3 yards per game on the ground. Mira had completed 85 of 176 attempts for 1,176 yards and nine touchdowns. Dennis Hughes, a former Georgia standout, lead the team in receptions with 24 for 357 yards and four touchdowns, and Steve Barrios proved to be a dangerous target with 408 receiving yards. 6-4, 200 pound Witt Beckman also contributed 307 yards and 19 receptions to the passing game. The running game was led by Alfred Haywood, 644 yards on 123 carries, and Tommy Reamon, 478 yards on 144 carries- the presence of Haywood would make it difficult for the Hornets to key in on Reamon.
The Express defense had allowed 21.7 points per game, and opposing teams had experienced greater success running against the Express than passing. In the Hornets 33-14 win over Jacksonville on August 30th, Tom Sherman completed 9 of 11 passes for 119 yards to led Charlotte. Jacksonville’s defense was led by the formidable front four of Don Brumm, Carleton Oats, Joe Jackson and Kenny Moore. Linebackers Chip Myrtle and Glen Gaspard were poised veterans.
Jacksonville, ready for the game, would be stung by a former team mate.
In Charlotte, 7,468 fans watched as George Mira hit Steve Barrios with a 30-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter and give Jacksonville a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Hornet speedster Ike Thomas ran 92 yards through a flurry of Express defenders for a 8-7 Hornet lead. Then Lee McGriff, the former Dallas Cowboy, Florida Gator and Jacksonville Express wide receiver turned the game around for good.
After a Pete Rajecki field goal made it a 11-7 Hornet lead, Charlotte quickly got the ball back. Driving from inside their territory, Tom Sherman dropped back and under pressure, threw a bomb into the Carolina night. Lee McGriff’s 44-yard circus catch inside the Jacksonville five set up the second Hornet touchdown just before the half and give Charlotte a commanding 19-7 lead. McGriff’s catch allowed for a Tom Sherman to James Thompson touchdown pass before the half ended. The touchdown knocked Jacksonville back on their heels and made it tough to recover.
The Hornets, using a punishing defense, held Jacksonville and kept the passing game under control as Tom Sherman marched Charlotte down field for a 21-yard Pete Rajecki field goal and a 22-7 lead.
On the sidelines Charlie Tate and his staff were searching for answers. The Express, unable to move the ball, went completely to the air as Mira completed 19 of 37 passes for 220 yards, but was unable to move the team into scoring position. The Hornet defense limited Alfred Haywood to 43 yards rushing. Express running back Tommy Reamon was kept from playing in the game due to a collapsed lung and the defense stacked the line against Haywood and Brian Duncan.
George Mira managed a late touchdown pass to Witt Beckman to cut the lead to 22-15 but the game was well over. With 1:12 remaining, Tom Sherman handed off to Don Highsmith to kill the clock and secure the win for Charlotte. The Express fell to 6-4 and the team’s personnel director Kay Stephenson fended off reporter’s questions about McGriff, "We cut him because we were happy with our wide receivers- Witt Beckman and Steve Barrios- and Lee still isn’t in their class."
The WFL continued to play its schedule of games but in the front office turmoil brewed. Across the WFL landscape teams were in trouble. Portland and Philadelphia were drawing about 5,000 a game and suffering huge financial losses. The Portland Thunder seemed to be improving on the field, but the improvement went unnoticed by the fans. In Philadelphia, Bell owner John Edward Bosacco was rumored to be disbanding his team and becoming an investor in the Hawaii franchise. The Bell had drawn 2,500 fans to its last game. San Antonio was in a shambles and needed $450,000 to finish the season. Shreveport and Hawaii both asked their players to take a pay cut to save their teams and several players- Steamers’ Ron Rydalch and Hawaii quarterbacks Sonny Sixkiller and Rick Cassata- walked out. Memphis, Birmingham and Southern California seemed to be the only tranquil outposts in the league.
Set within this troubled landscape, the Jacksonville Express traveled to Portland, Oregon to face the Thunder.
Surrounded by uncertainty, the teams took the field on a Sunday afternoon before 8,713 fans- 600 more than attended Jacksonville’s last home game. Charlie Tate knew that the game would be a tough contest. The Express would be playing without running back Tommy Reamon, who had suffered a collapsed lung after the Charlotte game, and running back Alfred Haywood who missed the teams’ flight to Portland. Forced to start Skip Johns, Brian Duncan and Jimmy Poulos, Tate looked to George Mira and the passing game to come up with big plays.
The underdog Thunder unleashed an offense that scored touchdowns four different ways en route to a 30-13 win. Jacksonville couldn’t stop the running of Rufus Ferguson who carried for 141 yards on 24 carries, and the passing of Don Horn. Express quarterback George Mira threw 41 passes in a vain attempt to get the Express rolling, and finally did in the fourth quarter. The Express rolled 70 yards through the air, capped by a Steve Barrios 18-yard touchdown reception. Portland led 23-13.
The Thunder kept the Express from threatening throughout the game. Of 12 fourth quarter plays that could’ve gone for touchdowns, the Express hit only one.
"Our inability to get the ball into the end zone was the difference in the game," said Express coach Charlie Tate. "Mira has either a sprain or a bruised knee," added Tate. Mira was sacked late in the game by Drew Taylor and taken out of the contest.
"George played a fine ball game. He moved us well, but we just couldn’t get into the end zone. The Thunder has a fine quarterback, good receivers and two good running backs. They’re playing extremely well, hustling and doing some job," claimed Tate.
The loss knocked the Express back to 6-5. The losses against Charlotte and Portland were hard to handle for Charlie Tate and his staff. In both games the Express was completely outplayed and outclassed. Without Tommy Reamon in the backfield the offense wouldn’t have the play-action pass that had worked so well throughout the season. As the Express practiced in Jacksonville, Tommy Reamon traveled home to Newport News, Virginia, his season was over.
The Express. Struggling, were looking at playing the San Antonio Wings without Reamon and George Mira, a task that didn’t make Express front office feel good about breaking out of the team’s two game losing streak. The Southern California Sun was up after the Wings game, and Charlie Tate prayed for the best for his top two players. His vigil should have also been for the league itself.
On October 22, 1975, the WFL held an emergency meeting in New York City. Earl Knabb and Lefferts Mabbie attended representing the Express. WFL Commissioner Chris Hemmeter detailed the challenges facing the league, the current status of the teams, and the outlook for the ’75 season: Memphis, Birmingham and Southern California were sound; Portland, Philadelphia and Shreveport were out of cash and playing on a shoestring; Jacksonville had the financial reserves to make it but attendance had declined to an average of 10,000 a game; Charlotte lacked backing but attendance was slowly increasing; San Antonio needed an influx of cash to survive the season; Hawaii, averaging more per capita than most WFL teams, was suffering from low attendance and a huge rent payment on their new stadium. Overall, the picture looked bleak. Memphis and Birmingham decided to try their luck in the NFL rather than bail out the other less fortunate teams. The minute the league lost its two cornerstone teams the house of cards quickly fell in.
After careful deliberations, the board of governors gathered to cast their votes for the future of the league. Jacksonville, Charlotte, San Antonio and Southern California voted to keep the WFL in business- Memphis and Birmingham (prepared to petition the NFL for entry), Philadelphia, Hawaii, Shreveport and Portland declined to continue.
Chris Hemmeter held a press conference later that day and announced the WFL was dead.
NOTE: The 1975 Jacksonville Express team 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.
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