San Antonio Texans
|San Antonio Texans|
|Based in||San Antonio, Texas, United States|
|League||Canadian Football League|
|Colours||Teal, old gold, black, burgundy, and white
|Head coach||Kay Stephenson|
The San Antonio Texans were a Canadian Football League (CFL) team that played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, in the 1995 CFL season. They had relocated from Sacramento, California, where the team had been called the Sacramento Gold Miners. After relocating, the team still had the same ownership in Fred Anderson and the same staff, including General Manager Dan Bass and Head Coach Kay Stephenson. The Gold Miners/Texans franchise played three seasons (five if the Texans' WLAF incarnation, the Sacramento Surge, is also counted) before folding in 1995. They were the southernmost team in CFL history and the only team in CFL history to have ever officially relocated from another market (the Baltimore Stallions and Montreal Alouettes are considered separate teams).
Before the 1993 season, the CFL granted expansion franchises to the owners of two WLAF teams, the Sacramento Surge and San Antonio Riders. The Riders changed their name to the Texans to avoid confusion with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders. However, the original Texans franchise folded without ever playing a down when its owner, Larry Benson, ran out of money and was forced to withdraw.
The Gold Miners played the 1993 and 1994 seasons in Sacramento. However, their home stadium, Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium, was completely inadequate as a professional football venue. At the time, it consisted mostly of temporary-style bleacher seats, had few amenities and did not have permanent bathrooms. Additionally, it was uncovered, and thus offered no protection from Sacramento's blistering summer heat.
Unable to persuade Sacramento State to upgrade Hornet Stadium to something approaching CFL standards, Anderson tried to build a new stadium, but those plans fizzled. Neither of the other two stadiums in the Sacramento area, Toomey Field and Charles C. Hughes Stadium, offered anything significantly better; like Hornet Stadium, they were both inadequate even for temporary use. The failure of the Las Vegas Posse before the end of the 1994 season left the Gold Miners once again isolated from the rest of the league, nearly 900 miles away from their nearest opponents, the BC Lions. Reluctantly, Anderson opted to move the team to San Antonio as the Texans.
On the field
The Texans were unique in that they were the only CFL USA team whose stadium, the Alamodome, had a playing surface large enough to accommodate a regulation Canadian football field. Its sideline seats could be retracted to create a playing surface wide enough for the full 65-yard width of a CFL field, and its end zone seating could be retracted to accommodate the full 150-yard length of a CFL field.
In their third season in the CFL and their first as the Texans, the team had the second-highest scoring offence in the league, which was led by veteran quarterback David Archer. The franchise finished the 1995 CFL season with a 12–6 record, finishing in second place of the South Division, which sent them to their first playoff berth.
In the playoffs, the Texans soundly defeated the Birmingham Barracudas, 52–9, in the Southern Semi-Final at the Alamodome, in what was the only CFL playoff game ever held in an American city other than Baltimore. However, their playoff run would end with a loss to the eventual CFL champion Baltimore Stallions in the Southern Final by a score of 21–11. As it turned out, it would be the last game the Texans would ever play, and (as of the 2012 season) the last meaningful CFL game ever played in the United States.
San Antonio's two backup quarterbacks had connections to the National Football League's (NFL) Buffalo Bills. The first was 45-year-old former Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson, who had retired five years earlier. The second was Jimmy Kemp, son of Bills quarterback (and politician) Jack Kemp. Head coach Kay Stephenson was Jack Kemp's backup on the Bills squad in 1968 and served as head coach of the Bills in 1985.
Off the field
The San Antonio Texans had respectable attendance, with the average being 15,855. In one of their games at the Alamodome, attendance reached 22,043, in a 38–32 loss to the Calgary Stampeders. The turmoil surrounding most of the other American CFL teams was not a significant factor in San Antonio.
Anderson was heavily committed to the American CFL experiment and, when it appeared to be in jeopardy near the end of the 1995 season, attempted to orchestrate a plan that would have made the league more regional. Under the plan, the Baltimore Stallions, who were about to be forced out of Baltimore due to the pending establishment of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, would have moved to Houston, a city that was about to lose their NFL team, the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Birmingham Barracudas would have been relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana, matching up a team with good on-field success (but poor attendance in Birmingham) with a market that would both support it (the Shreveport Pirates, despite being one of the CFL's worst and most mismanaged teams, also had a strong fan base) and be close enough to Houston and San Antonio to make it viable.
The Canadian Football League, intent on refocusing on its Canadian teams (many of which were in serious financial distress), rejected this proposal. The league ordered all of the American teams to shut down shortly after the 83rd Grey Cup; the ownership of the CFL champion Stallions were given an expansion team in Montreal that would become a revival of the Montreal Alouettes in 1996. Without any other teams in the United States, the Texans' nearest opponent would have been Winnipeg, over 1,500 miles away, and Anderson had already relocated his team from Sacramento just one year prior for the same reason. With this in mind, Anderson folded the Texans after the 1995 season, ending the CFL's American experiment.
Players and builders of note
- CFL USA all-time records and statistics
- Comparison of Canadian and American football
- 1995 CFL season
- Sacramento Gold Miners