|Based in||Oakland, California, United States|
|Home field||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Team History||Oakland Invaders (1983–1985)|
Air Force Blue, Invader Gold, Navy, White
|Head coaches||1983–1984 John Ralston (9-12)
1984 Chuck Hutchison (7-8)
1985 Charlie Sumner (15-5-1)
|Owner(s)||1983–1985 Tad Taube
1985 A. Alfred Taubman and Tad Taube
|Division championships||1983, 1985|
The Oakland Invaders were a professional American football team that played in the United States Football League (USFL) from 1983 through 1985. Based in Oakland, California; they played at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum.
In reaction to the Raiders relocating to Los Angeles
The team was originally owned by Bay Area real estate magnates Jim Joseph and Tad Taube. However, after the original owner of the USFL's Los Angeles franchise, Alex Spanos, bought the San Diego Chargers instead, Joseph and Taube flipped a coin to decide who would buy the Los Angeles rights. Joseph won the toss, selling his stake in the Invaders to Taube. As it turned out, Joseph was forced to move his team to Phoenix, Arizona as the Arizona Wranglers.
Led by the league's 2nd ranked passer QB Fred Besana, WR Gordon Banks, and ex-Raiders HB Arthur Whittington and TE Raymond Chester, the Invaders won the Pacific Conference with a 9-9 record. The Invaders gave a valiant effort in the opening round of the playoffs, but were overrun by the eventual league champion Michigan Panthers, 37-21 in front of 60,237 rabid fans in the Pontiac Silverdome (The game was the largest turnout for any USFL game in the 1983 season).
The Invaders were picked by most to again challenge for a playoff spot in 1984, but their powerful offense fell apart in the first half of the season, scoring only 82 points. The team was unable to run the ball and lost 9 straight to open the season. With the emergence of RB Eric Jordan, the Invaders running attack rebounded and the team won 7 of its last 9 games. The defense was strong throughout the season finishing 7th in points allowed. However, attendance tumbled to 23,644 per game—nearly 8,000 fewer than in 1983.
Taube began looking for new investors when it became apparent that the USFL was going to vote to switch to fall play in 1986, knowing he would be competing directly with the San Francisco 49ers (unlike other direct competitions, Taube had reason for optimism, as the Raiders had successfully built their own niche market in Oakland for two decades and there was at least a chance the Invaders could have survived in the same manner). He nearly merged his team with the Oklahoma Outlaws. However, talks collapsed when Outlaws owner William Tatham demanded that his son, Bill Jr., be given control over the merged team's football operations.
Taube then approached the Michigan Panthers, who had been one of the league's strongest teams during its first two years and had by reckoned by some observers as an NFL-quality team. However, Panthers owner A. Alfred Taubman was a strong supporter of spring football and was not willing to go head-to-head with the Detroit Lions. Taubman and Taube quickly reached a deal in which the Invaders would be the surviving team. Taubman would be the merged team's majority owner, while Taube remained chairman of the board. The merger was formally announced after the owners approved moving to the fall.
The new team, bolstered with key players from the Panthers such as Bobby Hebert, went 13-4-1 in the regular season and advanced all the way to the 1985 USFL championship game. The championship game was a rematch of sorts with Chuck Fusina's Stars, who now played in Baltimore; the Panthers had upended the Stars in the league's inaugural title game. The Invaders were in the midst of a potential game-winning drive when a personal-foul penalty derailed their momentum, allowing the Stars to defeat Hebert's Invaders 28-24, and claim indisputable bragging rights as the league's all-time best team.
Despite reaching the championship game, the team's attendance fell again, to a barely sustainable 17,509. Combined with massive financial losses, the Invaders announced they would suspend operations for the 1986 season. As it turned out, the championship game was the last USFL game ever played, as the league was effectively killed by an antitrust suit against the NFL in which it only won $3 in damages.
Past and future National Football League players
- Albert Bentley
- Ray Bentley
- Dave Browning
- Anthony Carter
- Raymond Chester
- Cedrick Hardman
- Derek Holloway
- Bobby Hebert
- Alva Liles
- Dewey McClain
- Dale Markham
- Ray Pinney
- Gary Plummer
- Arthur Whittington
Single season leaders
Rushing Yards: 1,045 (1983), Arthur Whittington
Receiving Yards: 1,323 (1985), Anthony Carter
Passing Yards: 3,980 (1983), Fred Besana
|1983||9||9||0||1st Pacific||Lost Divisional (Michigan)|
|1984||7||11||0||4th WC Pacific|
|1985||13||4||1||1st WC||Won Quarterfinal (Tampa Bay)
Won Semifinal (Memphis)
Lost USFL Championship (Baltimore)