Chicago Owls

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Chicago Owls
Founded1968
LeagueContinental Football League
Team historyChicago Owls
1968-1969
Based inChicago, Illinois
ArenaSoldier Field
ColorsNavy, Brown and White
OwnerMarty O'Connor
Head coachDon Branby, Bob Webb
Championshipsnone
Division titlesnone

The Chicago Owls were a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They were members of the Professional Football League of America (PFLA) in 1967 and, after the leagues merged, the Continental Football League (COFL) during the league's last two years (1968–1969).[1] The club was owned by Marty O'Connor and initially coached by Don Branby.[2][3]

1968 season[edit]

After spending three seasons with the Montreal Allouettes of the Canadian Football League, former Arlington High School and Northern Illinois University Huskies star George Bork returned to Chicagoland as the Owls' starting quarterback for their inaugural season in 1968.[3] The new club raised some eyebrows when they announced they would play in Soldier Field, which had been unused by pro football since the Cardinals moved out in 1959 (the Owls' tenancy on the lakefront preceded the NFL's Bears by three years). Offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg, younger brother of Bears linebacker Rudy Kuechenberg, began his professional career with the Owls; the younger Kuechenberg would go on to a 14-year career with the Miami Dolphins.

Chicago Owls ticket envelope

After dropping four of their first five games, the Owls fired Branby and replaced him with Bob Webb, who was also the Owls' back-up quarterback. Webb led Chicago to a 5-2 record the rest of the year, enough to even up the Owls' record at 6-6, third place in the Central Division. Playing primarily on Saturdays, the club drew only 35,835 fans to cavernous Soldier Field all season, or less than 6,000 a game.

1969 season[edit]

Things did not improve for the Owls in 1969, as their record slipped to 5-7 and continued to draw small crowds: just 21,403 paid their way to their games this season, barely 3,500 a contest and a small fraction of their stadium's capacity. The team was practically invisible amid the crowded Windy City sports scene, with a running gag in the Chicago press that mentions of the Chicago Owls brought a response similar to an owl's hoot: "Who?"[3] The CoFL revoked their franchise on December 15, 1969 for failing to meet the league's financial obligation.[4] Despite this setback, the Trans-American Football League announced it would include the Chicago Owls on its schedule for 1970,[5] but the team folded prior to the start of the 1970 season.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Continental, Professional Leagues Join". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. United Press International. February 5, 1968. pp. 2–3.
  2. ^ Markus, Robert (August 31, 1967). "The Strange Life of a Gal Football Head". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. p. 3-3. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Brosnan, Jim (November 10, 1968). "Chicago Hoots for the Owls. Whoooooo??????". Chicago Tribune Magazine. Chicago, IL. pp. 62–76. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "Ironmen Franchise Revoked by CFL". Beckley Post-Herald. Associated Press. December 16, 1969. p. 2.
  5. ^ "The Evening Independent - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved December 21, 2014.