San Antonio Wings
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The San Antonio Wings were an American football team who played in the World Football League in 1974 and 1975. The team started as the Florida Blazers in 1974, then moved to San Antonio in 1975 and became the San Antonio Wings.
Florida Blazers (1974)
|Based in||Orlando, Florida|
|Home field||Citrus Bowl (28,000)|
|Head coach||Jack Pardee|
|General manager||Rommie Loudd|
|Owner(s)||David L. Williams and Rommie Loudd|
|League||World Football League|
|Colours||Navy and red|
|World Bowl wins||Runner-up World Bowl I|
The Blazers began in 1974 when oceanographic engineer E. Joseph Wheeler bought the WFL rights to the Washington, D. C. area. The team was originally called the Washington Capitals, but the NHL expansion team of the same name objected, forcing him to change the name to the Washington Ambassadors. Wheeler wanted to share RFK Stadium with the Washington Redskins, but negotiations hit a snag over financing. He then flirted with playing in Baltimore or Annapolis, prompting him to change the team's name to the Washington-Baltimore Ambassadors. When it became apparent that Wheeler could not find a suitable stadium in the Baltimore-Washington area, he moved the club to Norfolk, Virginia as the Virginia Ambassadors. By this time, it was obvious that Wheeler's supposed $2–3 million of financing existed only on paper.
League president Gary Davidson got Wheeler in touch with former New England Patriots player and executive Rommie Loudd, who was fronting for a group of Orlando businessmen who had recently failed in their bid to get the NFL expansion team that became the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wheeler agreed to sell the team to Loudd's group, who moved the team to Orlando. The team was originally named the Orlando Suns, but due to objections from the Southern California Sun the name was changed once again, to the Florida Blazers. They were the first professional sports team based in Central Florida.
Loudd became managing general partner and president, making him the first African-American senior executive of a professional team in North America. David L. Williams, owner of the Holiday Inn franchise in the Orlando area, was majority owner.
The team set up shop in the Tangerine Bowl. Under coach Jack Pardee, quarterback Bob Davis (Joe Namath's former backup), running back Tommy Reamon and a dominating secondary, the Blazers ran away with the Eastern Division, finishing with a 14-6 record. They then upset the Memphis Southmen, owners of the league's best record, to advance to the World Bowl against the Birmingham Americans. Early in that game, Reamon scored what appeared to be the game's first touchdown, only to have it ruled a touchback because the officials believed that he fumbled the ball out of the end zone. Replays clearly showed that Reamon lost the ball after it broke the plane of the goal line. The missed call proved to be the difference, as the Blazers lost 22-21.
Off the field, the franchise was unraveling. The Blazers never drew well, leading Loudd to openly discuss moving the team to Atlanta in the middle of the season. The players and coaches were not paid for three months. During the playoffs, Williams and Loudd agreed in principle to sell the team to Cocoa Beach financier Robert Prentice for $100 million. However, the initial $1.5 million payment never arrived.
San Antonio Wings (1975)
|Based in||San Antonio, Texas|
|Home field||Alamo Stadium (22,000)|
|Head coach||Perry Moss|
|General manager||Duncan McCauley|
|League||World Football League|
|Colours||Blue & Silver|
Finally, in early March, San Antonio banker Norman Bevan bought the Blazers and moved them to San Antonio as the Wings.
The new Wings retained 16 former Blazers, including running back Jim Strong and tight end Luther Palmer. Larry Grantham, a linebacker on the 1974 Blazers, retired but joined the Wings' coaching staff. However, several former Blazers, including Pardee, wanted nothing more to do with the WFL. This forced the league to restock the team with an expansion draft. The new head coach was Perry Moss, a former head coach at Marshall and a former NFL assistant coach.
Veteran NFL quarterback Johnnie Walton led the WFL in passing in 1975. The Wings held their home games at Alamo Stadium, which seated 25,000. San Antonio won the WFL Summer Title and finished with a 7-6 record (winning all seven home games and losing all six road games) before the league folded on October 22, 1975.
- Zier, Patrick (1974-07-12). "Being Owner Something New for Rommie Loudd". The Ledger. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
- Florida Blazers 1974 season at WorldFootballLeague.org
- San Antonio Wings 1975 season at WorldFootballLeague.org
- Florida Blazers at FunWhileItLasted.net
- San Antonio Wings at FunWhileItLasted.net
- San Antonio Wings Helmets