Jacksonville Sharks (WFL)
|Based in||Jacksonville, Florida|
|Home field||Gator Bowl Stadium|
|Head coach||Bud Asher
|League||World Football League|
|Colours||Black and silver|
The Jacksonville Sharks were a professional American football team based in Jacksonville, Florida which competed in the World Football League in 1974. The Sharks folded during the 1974 season due to financial difficulties, and the succeeded by the Jacksonville Express which also folded when the league ceased operations during the 1975 season.
The Sharks were one of the original franchises of the World Football League, a failed attempt to launch a major professional football league in the United States in competition with the National Football League. In 1974, the team played seven home games at the Gator Bowl Stadium in Jacksonville. The Sharks roster was a mixture of rookies such as Mike Townsend, Eddie McAshan and Reggie Oliver, and veterans like Ike Lassiter, John Stofa, Drew Buie, and former University of Florida All-American lineman Larry Gagner. Six weeks into the season, the team had a 2-4 record, and owner Fran Monaco fired head coach Bud Asher, replacing him with Charlie Tate. Results did not improve, as the Sharks went 2-6 in their remaining games.
Despite their mediocre play on the field, the Sharks reported that they were second in the league in attendance. The front office claimed to have sold 18,000 season tickets, and listed attendance numbers of 59,112 for the home opener against the New York Stars and 46,000 for their second home game against the Southern California Sun. However, the club later admitted to giving away 44,000 tickets for the first two games and distributing many thousand free or sharply discounted tickets for subsequent home games. As with several WFL teams, declining real ticket sales coupled with uncontrolled spending led to serious cash flow problems. The team also dealt with some infrastructure problems: while on national television, the power failed at the Gator Bowl during the team's game against the New York Stars on July 10, forcing the game to be delayed while power was restored to the lights.
Monaco tried to sell the team to New York financier William Pease. However, after it emerged that Pease was under indictment regarding a Connecticut land deal, the WFL took over the franchise on September 22. The players, who had not been paid for over a month, threatened not to fly to Anaheim to play the Southern California Sun. League Commissioner Gary Davidson paid them $65,000 in escrow and the players made the trip. A week later, after vetoing several prospective owners, the league folded the team, and the Sharks' last six games were cancelled.
Schedule and results
|1||Thursday||July 11, 1974||New York Stars||W 14–7||59,112|
|2||Wednesday||July 17, 1974||at Chicago Fire||L 22–25||29,308|
|3||Wednesday||July 24, 1974||Southern California Sun||L 19–21||46,780|
|4||Wednesday||July 31, 1974||at New York Stars||L 16–24||15,648|
|5||Thursday||August 8, 1974||Hawaiians||W 21–14||43,869|
|6||Wednesday||August 14, 1974||at Florida Blazers||L 26–33||23,890|
|7||Wednesday||August 21, 1974||Birmingham Americans||L 14–15||27,140|
|8||Sunday||August 25, 1974||at Hawaiians||W 14–8||10,099|
|9||Monday||September 2, 1974||Memphis Southmen||L 13–16||22,169|
|10||Thursday||September 5, 1974||Philadelphia Bell||W 34–30||17,851|
|11||Wednesday||September 11, 1974||at Philadelphia Bell||L 22–41 (OT)||N/A|
|12||Wednesday||September 18, 1974||Portland Storm||L 17–19||16,041|
|13||Wednesday||September 25, 1974||at Southern California Sun||L 7–57||22,017|
|14||Wednesday||October 2, 1974||at Memphis Southmen||L 19–47||15,016|
|15||Wednesday||October 9, 1974||Florida Blazers||cancelled|
|16||Wednesday||October 16, 1974||at Portland Storm||cancelled|
|17||Wednesday||October 23, 1974||at Birmingham Americans||cancelled|
|18||Wednesday||October 30, 1974||Detroit Wheels||cancelled|
|19||Wednesday||November 6, 1974||at Shreveport Steamer||cancelled|
|20||Wednesday||November 13, 1974||Chicago Fire||cancelled|