San Antonio Gunslingers

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San Antonio Gunslingers
San Antonio Gunslingers helmet San Antonio Gunslingers logo
Founded 1984
Folded 1985
Based in San Antonio, Texas, United States
Home field Alamo Stadium
League USFL
Conference Western Conference
Division Central Division
Team History San Antonio Gunslingers (1984–1985)
Team colors

Royal Blue, Kelly Green, Silver, White

                   
Head coaches 1984 Gil Steinke (7-11)
1985 Jim Bates (3-9)
1985 Gil Steinke (2-4)
Owner(s) Clinton Manges

The San Antonio Gunslingers were a professional American football team based in San Antonio, Texas that played in the USFL in 1984 and 1985. Owned by oil magnate Clinton Manges, the team played its home games in Alamo Stadium and its colors were kelly green, royal blue, silver and white. Rick Neuheisel was the team's quarterback and only recognizable name.

History[edit]

Going into the 1984 season, the USFL made the decision to expand to eighteen teams in order to boost league capital. However, efforts to expand to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle fell through. San Antonio was mentioned as a possible market for expansion, as rapid growth through the 1970's propelled it into the tenth most populous city in the United States. A series of studies of possible new cities concluded that San Antonio could not support a USFL team. Even though over a million people lived in San Antonio proper, the area, then as now, was considered a medium-sized market because the surrounding suburban and rural areas were far smaller than the city itself. However, a heavy sales pitch by oilman Manges, along with the desire to give the Houston Gamblers a rival, persuaded league owners to award a franchise to the city.

While the USFL had endeavored to avoid the mistakes of the ill-fated World Football League by imposing strict capitalization and due diligence on prospective franchisees, the league neglected to perform any meaningful due diligence on Manges' application. The flamboyant oil baron was long thought to be one of the richest men in Texas. This lack of oversight also allowed the Gunslingers' owner to skirt league capitalization requirements. Despite his oil fortune, Manges never made an initial capital investment (as is standard for most major league sports franchises). Rather, he appeared to pay team expenses out-of-pocket as they arose. Until the league ordered them to move, team offices were located in a double-wide trailer in the Alamo Stadium parking lot.

Manges hired local coaching legend Gil Steinke to run the team as general manager and head coach. In 23 years at nearby Texas A&I, Steinke had a record of 195-63-5, including a 6-1 record in NAIA Championship games. In a league with free-spending owners, Steinke's Gunslingers rarely had the edge in talent but most games were very disciplined on the field, allowing them to remain somewhat competitive in spite of the team's shoestring budget.

1984 season[edit]

The Gunslingers showed moments of offensive competence most games, but lacked the game breakers that other teams had. The team was populated with football players, not athletes. If they were going to score, it would be a long, drawn-out drive. The Gunslingers were an average rushing team, in spite of having no true feature back. QB Rick Neuheisel played solidly for the team, nickel and dimeing the team up and down the field, and the intense "Bounty Hunter" defense led by players like Jeff McIntyre, John Barefield, Peter Raeford, Rich D'Amico, Jim Bob Morris and Putt Choate kept the Gunslingers within striking distance almost every week. Notably, the team was +13 in turnovers---a sign of a well coached team.

Coach/general manager Steinke managed to rally the modestly talented team to a 7-7 finish after an 0-4 start, keeping them in playoff contention until the last few weeks of the season. However, the Gunslingers' most enduring memory of that first season was when the lights at Alamo Stadium went out during their second game--and didn't come back on for an hour.

Offseason[edit]

Defensive coordinator Jim Bates was rewarded with a promotion to head coach in 1985. Steinke remained general manager. They also acquired Larry Canada, the Chicago Blitz' leading rusher.[1]

1985 season[edit]

Despite their strong finish, by 1985 the Gunslingers were known to be badly undercapitalized, unlike most of their USFL brethren. This state of affairs quickly caught up with them in their second (and final) season. In the wake of the mid-1980's oil price crash, Manges' fortune collapsed. It would soon emerge that the Gunslingers' owner had been in financial trouble since at least 1980.

The result was a situation not unlike those faced by many teams in the ill-fated WFL. The season saw repeated bounced checks for the players and coaches, and QB Rick Neuheisel and LB Jeff McIntyre where the only two players with a personal services contract. When the San Antonio Express-News broke the story, Manges reacted by revoking the paper's press credentials. The situation got so dire at one point that several players traded tickets for food and stayed with sympathetic fans because they couldn't afford to pay the rent for their apartments.[2] Years later, Neuheisel told ESPN that the players raced each other to the bank to cash their checks, knowing that half (if not more) of them would bounce.

On one occasion, an arbitrator threatened to release 30 players from their contracts if Manges didn't make good on their bounced checks. On another, several players threatened to sit out a June 9 game against the Los Angeles Express unless they were paid.[3] After several missed paydays, Bates threatened to quit unless the players were paid by the team's contest against the Oakland Invaders. The money never arrived, and Bates walked out, forcing Steinke to take over for the last six games of the season.

In June, Manges simply stopped paying the franchise's bills.[4] The players and coaches played the last stretch of the season (depending on the source, as few as three games and as many as six) without being paid. Not surprisingly, the Gunslingers barely survived the season, finishing with the second-worst record in the league.

Aftermath[edit]

A month after the season, Commissioner Harry Usher had seen enough. He ordered Manges to make restitution for the team's debts in 15 days, or lose the franchise. When this didn't occur, the Gunslingers became the only USFL franchise to be revoked.

The Gunslingers' holding company, South Texas Sports, was auctioned off to pay more than $650,000 of debts to former players.[5] The players also sued Manges to recover back pay, but that suit collapsed when Manges filed for bankruptcy. At least some of the players still hadn't been paid at the time of a 1998 reunion, and no players or staff members that were owed back wages had been paid at the time of Manges' death in 2010.

Average home attendance[edit]

  • 1984: (15,444)
  • 1985: (11,721)

Game results[edit]

1984[edit]

  • Sun. Feb. 26 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 10 vs. NEW ORLEANS BREAKERS 13 (Att. 18,233)
  • Mon. Mar. 5 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 7 vs. HOUSTON GAMBLERS 35 (Att. 10,023)
  • Sun. Mar. 11 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 7 @ Oklahoma Outlaws (Att. 24,311)
  • Sat. Mar. 17 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 12 vs. LOS ANGELES EXPRESS 13 (Att. 9,821)
  • Sat. Mar. 24 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 14 vs. OAKLAND INVADERS 10 (Att. 11,012)
  • Sun. Apr. 1 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 10 @ Michigan Panthers 26 (Att. 42,692)
  • Sat. Apr. 7 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 10 @ Chicago Blitz 16 (Att. 9,412)
  • Sat. Apr. 14 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 20 @ Jacksonville Bulls 0 (Att. 34,084)
  • Sun. Apr. 22 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 14 vs. PHILADELPHIA STARS 20 (Att. 16,590)
  • Sat. Apr. 28 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 24 @ Arizona Wranglers 23 (Att. 12,259)
  • Sun. May. 6 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 30 vs. CHICAGO BLITZ 21 (Att. 15,231)
  • Fri. May. 11 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 14 @ Memphis Showboats 38 (Att. 32,406)
  • Sun. May. 20 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 30 @ Washington Federals 14 (Att. 6,159)
  • Fri. May. 25 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 20 vs. DENVER GOLD 27 (Att. 20,077)
  • Fri. Jun. 1 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 17 vs. MICHIGAN PANTHERS 23 (Att. 16,384)
  • Mon. Jun. 11 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 21 @ Pittsburgh Maulers 3 (Att. 17,148)
  • Mon. Jun. 18 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 26 @ Houston Gamblers 29 (Att. 30,184)
  • Sun. Jun. 24 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 23 vs. OKLAHOMA OUTLAWS 0 (Att. 21,625)

1985[edit]

  • Mon. Feb. 26 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 3 vs. MEMPHIS SHOWBOATS 20 (Att. 10,983) ESPN
  • Sun. Mar. 3 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 16 vs. ARIZONA OUTLAWS 14 (Att. 11,151)
  • Sun. Mar. 10 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 18 vs. TAMPA BAY BANDITS 31 (Att. 21,822)
  • Sat. Mar. 16 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 7 @ Los Angeles Express 38 (Att. 10,410)
  • Mon. Mar. 25 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 2 @ Denver Gold 16 (Att. 13,901)
  • Mon. Apr. 1 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 33 @ Portland Breakers 0 (Att. 19,882)
  • Sun. Apr. 7 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 15 vs. BIRMINGHAM STALLIONS 14 (Att. 8,873)
  • Fri. Apr. 12 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 17 @ Jacksonville Bulls 28 (Att. 32,097)
  • Mon. Apr. 22 - (L) GUNGLINGERS 20 @ Oakland Invaders 27 (Att. 18,215) ESPN
  • Sun. Apr. 28 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 29 vs. HOUSTON GAMBLERS 38 (Att. 9,723)
  • Sun. May 5 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 9 vs. DENVER GOLD 35 (Att. 9,753)
  • Mon. May 13 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 20 @ Orlando Renegades 21 (Att. 22,404) ESPN
  • Sat. May 18 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 21 vs. OAKLAND INVADERS 24 (Att. 7,118)
  • Sun. May 26 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 10 @ Baltimore Stars 28 (Att. 8,633)
  • Sat. June 1 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 3 @ Arizona Outlaws 13 (Att. 11,151)
  • Sun. June 9 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 31 vs. LOS ANGELES EXPRESS 27 (Att. 4,863)
  • Mon. June 17 - (L) GUNSLINGERS 21 @ Houston Gamblers 49 (Att. 11,780)
  • Sun. June 23 - (W) GUNSLINGERS 21 vs. PORTLAND BREAKERS 13 (Att. 19,603)

Rosters[edit]

1984[edit]

NO. NAME (POS) - GP/GS

  • 5. MIKE-MAYER, Nick (K) - 18/0
  • 7. NEUHEISEL, Rick (QB) - 16/16
  • 8. WHITE, Alvin (QB) - 3/0
  • 9. HARTLEY, Ken (P) - 15/0
  • 10. FORD, Mike (QB) - 2/1
  • 11. TORCHIO, Lloyd J. (QB) - 3/0
  • 14. MORTENSEN, Fred (QB) - IA/2G
  • 16. DOUGLASS, Karl (QB) - 2/1
  • 17. PRYOR, David (P) - 3/0
  • 20. RAEFORD, Peter (CB) - 18/18
  • 21. BONNER, Marcus (RB) - 18/7
  • 22. GORDON, Jerry (WR) - 13/13
  • 23. ULMER, Mike (FS) - 18/7
  • 25. ANDERSON, Gary (CB) - IA/2G
  • 26. JERNIGAN, Hugh (CB) - 2/0
  • 27. SMITH, Daryl (FS) - IA/2G
  • 28. MORRIS, Jim Bob (SS) - 15/14
  • 29. RICHMOND, Rock (CB) - 17/6
  • 30. STAMPER, Scott (FB) - 11/9
  • 31. WHITE, Jafus (SS) - 7/0
  • 34. HAGEN, Mike (FB) - 16/9
  • 35. PENN-WHITE, Al (RB) - 7/6
  • 40. WORKS, George (RB) - 8/2
  • 41. GREENE, Doug (SS) - 1/0
  • 41. BEDFORD, Vance (CB) - 1/0
  • 42. TYLER, Maurice (CB) - 17/12
  • 43. ROBERTS, Don (RB) - 15/3
  • 44. ARMSTEAD, Charles (CB) - 7/2
  • 47. WADDY, Ray (FS) - 17/17
  • 49. RUSH, Mark (FB) - 7/0
  • 49. THOMPSON, Emmuel (CB) - 2/0
  • 50. NEAL, Tally (LB) - 15/0
  • 51. D'AMICO, Rich (LB) - 18/18
  • 52. OLIVER, Reggie (LB) - 17/2
  • 53. CASTILLO, Juan (LB) - 6/0
  • 54. DAVIDSON, Greg (C) - 3/3
  • 54. SPEROS, Pete (C/LS) - 9/0
  • 55. CHOATE, Putt (LB) - 18/18
  • 56. RIVERA, Jimmy (LB) - 5/0
  • 57. SILIPO, Joe (C) - 9/0
  • 58. BAREFIELD, John (LB) - 12/12
  • 59. McCORMICK, Glenn (C/LS) - 7/3
  • 59. McINTYRE, Jeff (LB) - 1/0
  • 60. WINTERS, Bill (C) - 12/12
  • 61. GARZA, Rich (G) - 18/18
  • 62. MUESKE, Darryl (G) - IA/4G
  • 63. THOMPSON, Arland (G) - 18/18
  • 65. HANNA, Paul (NT) - 17/17
  • 66. JOHNSON, Gary Don (DT) - 9/0
  • 68. ZOGG, John (G/T) - 5/0
  • 70. LOHMANN, Jim (T) - 2/0
  • 71. WILLIAMS, Ralph (T) - 18/18
  • 72. WHITE, Victor (T) - IA/2G
  • 73. PEKAR, Jim (DT) - 1/1
  • 72. JONKER, Kurt (T) - DNP/2G
  • 75. SPIVEY, Lee (T) - 17/17
  • 76. GILLEN, Ken (DE) - 18/18
  • 77. TABOR, Tommy (NT) - 18/12
  • 78. ST. CLAIR, Mike (DE) - 18/18
  • 79. FIELDS, Gred (DE) - 17/0
  • 81. HACKETT, Joey (TE) - 18/18
  • 82. O'ROARK, Larry (WR) - 2/0
  • 82. CRANE, Darryl (WR) - 3/0
  • 83. OSBORNE, Rich (TE) - 7/0
  • 84. VELA, David (WR) - 2/0
  • 84. PARKER, Rodney (WR) - 4/1
  • 85. PHEA, Lonell (WR) - 2/2
  • 85. MONROE, Terry (DT) - 10/1
  • 86. ARMSTRONG, Tony (TE) - 10/0
  • 87. GABBIDON, Earl (TE) - 4/0
  • 88. BUGGS, Danny (WR) - 17/17
  • 89. STARKS, Glenn (WR) - 12/3
  • 90. KIRKPATRICK, Ron (DE) - IA/1G
  • 95. CASE, Frank (DE) - 18/0
  • 99. FIELDS, Greg (DE) - 17/0

INJURED RESERVE

  • 97. PRICE, Ernest (DT) - IR/16G

1985[edit]

NO. NAME (POS) - GP/GS

  • 5. MIKE-MAYER, Nick (K) - 18/0
  • 7. NEUHEISEL, Rick (QB) - 18/16
  • 9. HARTLEY, Ken (P) - 5/0
  • 10. TAYLOR, Whit (QB) - 17/1
  • 11. ROBERTS, Buddy (P) - IA/1G
  • 14. MORTENSEN, Fred (QB) - 12/1
  • 20. RAEFORD, Peter (CB) - 18/17
  • 21. BONNER, Marcus (RB) - 18/10
  • 22. GORDON, Jerry (WR) - 18/17
  • 23. ULMER, Mike (FS) - 8/0
  • 24. MCWHERTER, Fernando (FS) - 18/3
  • 25. MINOR, Vic (FS) - 18/16
  • 26. McNEIL, Mark (CB) - 11/0
  • 27. WORTHY, Gary (RB) - 10/7
  • 28. MORRIS, Jim Bob (SS) - 17/17
  • 29. WILLIAMS, Leon (CB) - 17/1
  • 30. STAMPER, Scott (FB) - 18/11
  • 32. JOHNSON, Clyde (SS) - 18/11
  • 33. WORKS, George (RB) - 10/5
  • 34. HAGEN, Mike (FB) - 10/0
  • 35. CANADA, Larry (FB) - 17/4
  • 43. ROBERTS, Don (RB) - 18/5
  • 44. ARMSTEAD, Charles (CB) - 18/18
  • 48. HADNOT, James (TE) - 14/9
  • 49. RUSH, Mark (TE) - 5/1
  • 50. NEAL, Tally (LB) - 5/0
  • 51. D'AMICO, Rich (LB) - 18/13
  • 52. OLIVER, Reggie (LB) - 18/1
  • 53. CASTILLO, Juan - 7/0
  • 55. CHOATE, Putt (LB) - 18/18
  • 56. MATHIS, Reggie (LB) - 13/0
  • 57. SILIPO, Joe (C/LS) - 18/0
  • 58. BAREFIELD, John (LB) - 7/7
  • 60. LEIDING, Jeff (LB) - 11/4
  • 61. GARZA, Rich (C) - 18/18
  • 63. THOMPSON, Arland (G) - 18/14
  • 65. HANNA, Paul (DT) - 7/4
  • 68. ZOGG, John (G) - IA/3G
  • 69. ROBERTS, Carl (G) - 18/0
  • 70. WALTERS, Rod (G) - 18/18
  • 71. WILLIAMS, Ralph (T) - 18/18
  • 75. SPIVEY, Lee (T) - 16/16
  • 76. GILLEN, Ken (DE) - 11/11
  • 77. CHAFFIN, Jeff (DE) - 18/7
  • 78. JENKINS, Mark (T) - 18/2
  • 80. HILL, Al (WR) - IA/7G
  • 80. LOCKETT, Frank (WR) - 8/6
  • 81. HACKETT, Joey (TE) - 18/16
  • 83. GREENE, Sammy (WR) - IA/1G
  • 83. COFFMAN, Ricky (WR) - 9/0
  • 85. TOLBERT, Mark - 5/0
  • 86. WILLIAMS, Kevin - 8/5
  • 87. WILLIAMS, Oliver (WR) - 5/0
  • 88. BUGGS, Danny (WR) - 8/4
  • 90. TABOR, Tommy (DT) - 12/0
  • 91. GAYLORD, Jeff (DT) - 7/7
  • 92. HAYES, Jay (DE) - IA/5G
  • 92. RUSHING, Ralph (DE) - 1/0
  • 93. ANAE, Brad (DE) - 16/0
  • 94. SMITH, Bennie (DT) - 15/7
  • 95. LESNIK, Ivan (DT) - 18/18
  • 99. FIELDS, Greg (DE) - 18/18

Season-by-season[edit]

Season W L T Finish Playoff results
1984 7 11 0 3rd WC Central --
1985 5 13 0 6th WC --
Totals 12 24 0

Single season leaders[edit]

  • Rushing yards: 500 Scott Stamper (1984), 452 George Works (1985)
  • Receiving yards: 690 Jerry Gordon (1985), 650 Jerry Gordon (1984)
  • Passing yards: 3068 Rick Neuheisel (1985), 2649 Rick Neuheisel (1984)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "San Antonio Gunslingers". USFL.Info. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ San Antonio Gunslingers Reunion June 4-7, 1998
  3. ^ "Sports People: Gunslingers are Paid". New York Times. 1985-06-09. 
  4. ^ http://www.usfl.info/manges.html
  5. ^ "Gunslingers to be auctioned off." Chicago Sun-Times, 1986-03-07.

External links[edit]