Florida Blazers

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Florida Blazers
Team helmet
Team logo
Established January 1974
Folded December 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
Division Eastern
Colours Navy and red          
World Bowl wins Runner-up World Bowl I

The Florida Blazers were an American football team who played in the World Football League in 1974. The team moved to San Antonio in 1975 and became the San Antonio Wings.

History[edit]

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.[1] 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.

1974 regular season [2][edit]

Key: Win Loss Bye
Week Day Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 Wednesday July 10, 1974 Hawaiians W 8–7 18,625
2 Wednesday July 17, 1974 at Detroit Wheels W 18–14 10,631
3 Wednesday July 24, 1974 Houston Texans W 15–3 15,729
4 Wednesday July 31, 1974 at Houston Texans L 6–7 16,268
5 Wednesday August 7, 1974 at Chicago Fire W 46–21 31,193
6 Wednesday August 14, 1974 Jacksonville Sharks W 33–26 23,890
7 Wednesday August 21, 1974 Portland Storm W 11–7 15,541
8 Wednesday August 28, 1974 Memphis Southmen L 18–26 15,746
9 Monday September 2, 1974 at Birmingham Americans L 7–8 36,529
10 Friday September 6, 1974 at New York Stars W 17–15 3,830
11 Wednesday September 11, 1974 Detroit Wheels L 14–15 9,003
12 Wednesday September 18, 1974 Philadelphia Bell W 24–21 10,417
13 Thursday September 26, 1974 Chicago Fire W 26–0 16,679
14 Wednesday October 2, 1974 at Philadelphia Bell W 30–7 7,150
15 Wednesday October 9, 1974 at Chicago Fire W 45–17 23,289
16 Wednesday October 16, 1974 at Memphis Southmen L 15–25 15,334
17 Wednesday October 23, 1974 at Charlotte Hornets W 15–11 23,613
18 Wednesday October 30, 1974 at Birmingham Americans L 18–26 21,872
19 Thursday November 7, 1974 Portland Storm W 23–0 11,676
20 Thursday November 14, 1974 at Southern California Sun W 27–24 28,213

Playoffs[edit]

Game Day Date Opponent Result Attendance
Quarter-finals Thursday November 21, 1974 Philadelphia Bell W 18–3 9,712
Semi-finals Friday November 29, 1974 at Memphis Southmen W 18–15 9,692
World Bowl 1 Thursday December 5, 1974 at Birmingham Americans L 21–22 32,376

Relocation[edit]

In early March, San Antonio banker Norman Bevan bought the Blazers where they became the San Antonio 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zier, Patrick (1974-07-12). "Being Owner Something New for Rommie Loudd". The Ledger. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  2. ^ "1974 World Football League Game Results". Retrieved 2015-11-11. 

External links[edit]