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biffbeaumont

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: October 20, 2009, 09:15:58 PM

  Just watched a great special on ESPN on the USFL. For those of us old enough to remember the USFL, it was great while it lasted. At the time, the Tampa Bay Bandits, with Spurrier as coach,  were such an emotional release for the woes of what had become the Bucs. That league was so much FUN. Not to mention the future stars that passed thru the league. Herschel Walker, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Doug Williams...and so many more. If you get the chance, watch the re-run of the show. Donald Trump singlehandedly killed the league with his brilliant idea of moving it to the fall and trying to compete with the NFL. Although in retrospect and as shown in this film, I believe his whole intention all along was to collapse the league so he could finally own a franchise. Something he could not do at the time. Those were fun times. Great memories of a fun league. RIP John Bassett, owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits who died in 1986 and the only guy with the balls to stand up to Trump.

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#1 : October 20, 2009, 10:31:19 PM

I used to looooove going to the Bandits game and remember players like John Reaves, Gary Anderson, Eric Travillion, Greg Boone, Marvin Harvey, Willie Gillespie, Alonzo Johnson, James Harrell, etec, etc.  ;D


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#2 : October 20, 2009, 10:35:21 PM

Please enjoy this little Bandit snippet from 1985!

 http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7D5624CD2E5C98A1&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&v=ShUni5KMFS8


biffbeaumont

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#3 : October 20, 2009, 10:58:52 PM

Hey thanks for that!  I remember Burt Reynolds being partner in the team (  The Bandit from " Smokey and the Bandit" )  and a young Jack Harris doing all the promotions. But what I remember most is the Bandit merchandise that permeated the area in direct  contradiction to people who didn't want to get near any Buc related gear because we were so bad at that time.  Most of all, as a young football player in Pop Warner and then Junior Varsity. I just remember how fun it was to watch football in the Spring!

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#4 : October 21, 2009, 01:22:56 AM


O.S. Buc76

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#5 : October 21, 2009, 01:43:11 AM

^
Hellllp, bandwith alert!  :o


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#6 : October 21, 2009, 02:19:04 AM

John Bassett was no stranger to operating a pro football team.  Awarded the Toronto franchise In the ill-fated World Football League, he almost immediately had to relocate the team to Memphis when the Canadian Parliament, fearful that the WFL would present a challenge to the Canadian Football League, passed a law barring the team from playing in their country.  They needn't have worried - the WFL was a dismal failure pretty much across the board, lasting less than two years.
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Though skeptical when first approached about the USFL concept due to his WFL experience, Bassett didn't recoil in horror at the thought of tackling a new pro football venture.  Quite the contrary.  Bassett became a big proponent of spring football, jumping on the USFL bandwagon early and providing financial backing to continue exploration of the idea.

In February 1982, Bassett committed to fielding his own USFL team, with the proviso that founder David Dixon grant him the entire State of Florida as an exclusive USFL territory.  Dixon, realizing he could close the deal with such a promise, did so.  Bassett would later gain from this arrangement himself, as the league's 1984 expansion to Jacksonville, as well as the Washington Federals move to Orlando in 1985, each would "infringe" on Bassett's territory, requiring compensation.

Upon committing to field a team Bassett formed "Football Partners, Ltd.," enlisting among his partners Stephen Arky, who was the son-in-law of Birmingham Stallions majority owner Marvin Warner and originally had sought a franchise for Miami.  After the league's announcement, actor and former Florida State back Burt Reynolds came on board the ownership group as a partner.  To take advantage of Reynolds' enormous popularity at the time, specifically the popularity of "The Bandit" character he portrayed in two "Smokey and the Bandit" films, the team was christened the "Tampa Bay Bandits."

Bassett built the Bandits front office carefully, bringing in Ralph Campbell to head up business operations and Lewis "Bugsy" Engelberg to lead the team's football operations.  Engelberg was renown for dusting off talented but otherwise forgotten players, and he quickly built the Bandits into a winner by doing precisely that, resurrecting among others the career of quarterback John Reaves, who had languished in the NFL.
While Dixon had emphasized spending on "name" head coaches for USFL teams in an effort to build initial credibility, Bassett went a different road, hiring 37 year old Duke University head coach Steve Spurrier.  Spurrier wasn't a commodity in coaching circles as yet, but had another asset in his favor - marketability.  As a former Heisman Trophy winner and star quarterback at Florida, Spurrier had local drawing power, which in the early days proved just as important.

The Bandits succeeded from day one both on the field and at the gate.  While not profitable in 1983, the team was among the league leaders in average attendance, and as a result was chosen as the site for the 1984 USFL Championship Game.  1984 proved equally successful, with the Bandits earning a wild-card berth in the USFL playoffs and quickly developing a fan base that made the NFL's Buccaneers more than a little concerned.  Average attendance was near 40,000 a game, a sign that in Tampa at least, the USFL was becoming a success.  Bassett, however, was himself failing.  Having fought skin cancer in his mid-30's, in 1984 he learned cancer had come back with a vengeance, in the form of two inoperable brain tumors.

The team essentially withered as Bassett did.  The USFL's vote to move the league to a fall schedule beginning in 1986 was strongly opposed by the Bandits ownership group, with Bassett railing against his fellow owners on national television and announcing that he'd launch a new, rival spring league.  As the 1985 season drew to a close Bassett withdrew from the Bandits ownership, skipping out on Tampa Stadium lease payments (which were paid by the league to avoid embarrassment) and ultimately selling to Lee Scarfone and Tony Cunningham.

No one would see the Bandits play in the fall in 1986.  Bassett died in May of that year, while general partner Stephen Arky, implicated in a securities scandal, took his own life less than ten days after the 1985 USFL Championship Game.  New owners Scarfone and Cunningham were among those left standing after USFL v. NFL, but without a national television contract and limited resources to weather the storm, the Bandits, along with the rest of the USFL, opted to close up shop.

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Suh or bust, Dom. You make the call.

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#7 : October 21, 2009, 05:49:05 PM

Went to several Bandit practices at Hillsborough Community College - and followed them long distance while in the Army.  Enjoyed watching the ESPN special. Sorry to see money grubbing Trump spoil it all. Didn't realize so many great players were in the league. Noticed a lot of executives/coaches started in the USFL and ended up doing well in the NFL (Cal Peterson and Jim Mora come to mind).

biffbeaumont

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#8 : October 21, 2009, 05:51:47 PM

Went to several Bandit practices at Hillsborough Community College - and followed them long distance while in the Army.  Enjoyed watching the ESPN special. Sorry to see money grubbing Trump spoil it all. Didn't realize so many great players were in the league. Noticed a lot of executives/coaches started in the USFL and ended up doing well in the NFL (Cal Peterson and Jim Mora come to mind).

 I was in my teens when the USFL started and I loved every damn minute of it. It was so much fun and that special brought back a lot of clips to show why. The NFL is still the No Fun League today. So prim and proper, you can't do this, you can't do that. Just shut up and let these world class athletes PLAY. I used to watch those games every week. Loved the Bandits and Loni Anderson wasn't too bad either ;)
I've never liked Trump and that special exposed him for what he is. A self glorifying tool. I loved Bassett for standing up to him. You know all along that Trump wanted to collapse the league to gain a foothold into a NFL franchise. That jury gave him the ultimate middle finger. The reward? $1.00.

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#9 : October 21, 2009, 09:53:36 PM

Hey Java, fix your bandwith already doofus.


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#10 : October 22, 2009, 02:05:33 PM

I wonder if the designers of the current uniforms looked at the Bandits for inspiration.  I forgot how much they look like the red and pewters.

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#11 : October 22, 2009, 02:26:29 PM

Anybody have a pic of Loni Anderson in a poster promoting the Bandits? Burt and her were dating at the time I  believe. Good memories watching the Bandits back in those days. Still mad that Culverhouse was such a cheapskate and let Doug Willilams walk to sign on with Oklahoma. The beginning of the dark days for the Bucs.


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#12 : October 22, 2009, 05:56:38 PM

I used to have a Bobby Hebert and Anthony Carter poster on my wall, both members of the USFL CHAMPION Michigan Panthers!  I have a mini helmet that I got off ebay a few years back, it is awesome!

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