Tag Archives: WLAF

Ohio Glory

Record: 1-9 /1992

The Ohio Glory were a franchise in the WLAF based out of Columbus, Ohio during the 1992 season. After the 1991 season the league decided to mercifully euthanize the 0-10 Raleigh-Durham Skyhawks. To return the league to a ten team league they decided to place an ‘expansion’ franchise in one of their finalists cities from before their inaugural season. Among the choices were, Mexico City, Milan, Washington DC, and Denver.  In the end the league decided to bring the WLAF to Columbus, Ohio. As boring as the selection sounded, Columbus was actually a wise choice for a franchise which would play its games on the campus of Ohio State at Ohio Stadium. Despite the perception that strong college football programs tended to blight other football franchise attendance, the Glory, had over 30,000 fans show up for games on 3 occasions, including a season high 41,853 to watch the Glory win their only game of the season, – a 20-17 victory over the Frankfurt Galaxy.

Unable to find an owner for the team, the league would run the franchise and appoint Peter Hadhazy to run the team. The Ohio Glory’s head coach was former Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Little. While other teams had minorities in many executive roles, Little was also the first minority head coach in the league. The WLAF would be his first pro head coaching gig, – which he admitted he had been dreaming of doing for years. With his big personality, Little was a very popular coach with the fans and media who swarmed him when he hit the field before games despite the team’s felonious record.

gloryAs part of the condition of the dispersal of the Skyhawks, – most of the talent from that team was returned to the draft pool, so the Glory in essence started from scratch. Ohio selected former Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Babe Laufenberg with the second overall pick. The Surge and Glory switched picks on defense so Sacramento gave them Center Curtis Wilson. Notable members of the Glory included:  Future AFL Orlando Predator head coach Pat O’Hara, and future Packer and Super Bowl champion, George Koonce. Future CFL and Baltimore Stallions wide receiver, Walter Wilson also made his way courtesy of the NFL’s allocation program through San Diego.

Ohio had a few bright spots in their single season in the WLAF as Walter Wilson would dominate the receiving charts finishing first with 65 receptions, and Melvin Patterson made a 99 yard touchdown reception setting a new league record. At runningback Amir Rasul finished 2nd in the league in rushing with 572 yards.  Over the course of the season the Glory went through 3 quarterback controversies with Babe Laufenberg, Pat O’Hara, and Greg Frey. Consistency proved to be a major problem for the team on offense, even though Ohio rolled up the statistics- they just couldn’t put it together solidly in one game.

ridvgloryTheir low point was probably in their matchup against the San Antonio Riders. The game would be interrupted by a hailstorm and a tornado warning, but this would not stop the Riders from crushing the Glory 17-0. With Pat O’Hara under center, the Riders kept the pressure on the Glory all day long. (They also played a preseason game against each other- largely to the same results, except with Laufenberg under center.)

In the end, the Glory lost 4 games by a total of 16 points. Surprisingly the defense wasn’t bad, giving up more than 24 points in only 4 contests. Chad Rolen and Charles Jackson led the team in sacks and tackles respectively. Jason Wallace, CB would tie for 5th in the league with 3 interceptions, while Tom Rouen would finish second in the league in punting yard and average, and also set a league record with an 85 yard punt.

After the season ended, Charles Jackson was named to the All-World Team along with Wilson and Rouen. The league reorganized after the 1992 season. In 2004, the Arena league Buffalo Destroyers relocated to Columbus, where they’d remain until the AFL also reorganized after 2008. Although not among the retooled teams of the new AFL in 2010, Columbus has had a long and rich history of football through Ohio State. At times the city has been mentioned as a potential destination spot for the UFL and other fledgling leagues, however all of that has remained a rumor, as pro football has escaped the beloved city of Columbus.

Since the Ohio Glory did not play in 1991, only Ultimate and Wild Card produced sets of the franchise.

HC: Larry Little
QB: Babe Laufenberg, Pat O’Hara
RB: Amir Rasul, Lydell Carr
WR: Patrick Jackson, Walter WilsonMelvin Patterson
TE: Randy Bethel
LB: George Koonce, Marlon Brown
P:  Tom Rouen

At this time I am still missing autographs on these cards from:

Ultimate WLAF 1992: , Eric Harmon, Tim James,  Jason Wallace.

Wild Card WLAF:  Darren Willis, Kent Wells, Phil Logan, Chris Cochrane, Eric Harmon, Archie Herring, Tim James, & Babe Laufenberg.

Birmingham Fire

Record: 1991/ 5-5      1992/ 7-2-1

Gavin Maloof, a former Houston Rockets executive, desperately wanted a WLAF franchise getting into a bidding war with a competing syndicate over the rights to San Antonio. Losing the bid to Larry Benson, commissioner Mike Lynn offered Maloof the Birmingham market instead. Jumping at the opportunity, the Birmingham Fire would be established, playing at Legion Field. He’d hire future UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue as General Manager along with Denver Bronco offensive mastermind and coach Chan Gailey. The Fire strongly resembled the San Antonio Riders in style of play, but with a stronger defense and a more turnover prone offense.  The team could never seem to nail down quarterback, although former NFL scab Brent Pease took the majority of the snaps over scrambler and Vandy star Eric Jones in 1991. At runningback, former Bronco Kenny Bell  powered the ground game while punishing fullback Steve Avery handled all the dirty work. Elroy Harris joined the team mid-season after beating the team as a member of the Montreal Machine. Wide receiver would be long range threat Willie Bouyer‘s department, while Mark Hopkins and Phil Ross provided a nice 1-2 punch at tight end.

The Fire ran a very mean 3-4 defense. Outstanding linebackers John Brantley and Paul McGowan worked with underrated Maurice Oliver. The back four sported ball hawks James Henry and John Holland at cornerback and John Miller and Arthur Hunter at safety. They’d combine to form one of the best secondaries in the league. Among punters Kirk Maggio  had one of the top net averages in the league.

At the end of the season the Fire had 5 members make 1st or 2nd All-World League- none of which would be on offense. Brantley and Miller would grab first team honors, while Darrell Phillips (NT), Holland, and Maggio would earn 2nd team. McGowan would tie for All-World Defensive MVP honors at the end of the season.

I watched the Fire’s first game in the WLAF on TV against the Montreal Machine. An impressive 52,000+ would show up at Legion Field in Birmingham, boosting the league’s hopes for the season. USA Network would broadcast the game, -a yawner of a defensive affair, that the Machine would win 20-5 over the Fire. It would be a nice offensive showdown between Kenny Bell and Elroy Harris. Attendance varied wildly throughout the season in Birmingham with a low of only 8000 showing up against the Riders, in a sad defensive affair the Fire ground out 16-12. I remember the last few plays of the game, (as in the WLAF kneeling to run out the clock was prohibited), Brent Pease kept scrambling to keep the Riders on their toes.  The Fire finished 5-5, -good enough for first in their division over the 4-6 Riders and 2-8 Surge.  After the season the Fire hosted the Barcelona Dragons during the first ever WLAF playoff game in North America. A bit over 37,000 showed up for the game, with Eric Jones in at quarterback for the Fire, but the team fell 10-3 to Jack Bicknell‘s Barcelona Dragons.

norspromoIn 1992 the Fire would make some changes on offense and front office, while keeping the majority of their defense intact. Brent Pease was sent packing to the Knights. In came Shawn Moore (allocated from the Broncos) and Mike Norseth. Kenny Bell was gone and Jim Bell from Barcelona was in. Along the offensive line the Fire grabbed the KC Chiefs’ Joe Valerio. Eddie Britton was paired on the other side from Bouyer to take pressure off of him. In the front office Michael Huyghue would move on to work in the league’s executive offices while Rich Nichols would step in. During the off-season the team also flirted with disgruntled NFL runningback Mike Rozier about joining the Fire- but little if anything came of the rumors. (The team just couldn’t afford the price tag.)  In the meantime, -pretty much the whole defense returned intact.

The Birmingham Fire started their 1992 season just as slowly as 1991.  If the Fire felt that the Riders and Surge were hard enough to handle in 1991, they had an even more difficult problem with them in 1992, dropping their opener 20-6 to Sacramento and squeaking out a 17-10 victory over San Antonio in week 2.  A tie with the London Monarchs in week 4 would be decisive in the contentious division rankings between the 3 teams, with Sacramento finishing 8-2, Birmingham 7-2-1 and SA at 7-3.  Norseth  took basically all the snaps at quarterback, throwing 4 touchdowns- to 12 picks.  Elroy Harris and Jim Bell led the rushing attack, combining for 852 yards on the ground. Bouyer again was the defacto receiver on the team, hauling in 704 yards on 57 catches, but not make a touchdown.  Defensively Oliver paced the team with 6 sacks, and John Miller had 3 picks. Both John Brantley and John Miller would return to the All-World teams.

birfiredbThe Fire played against the Orlando Thunder in the 1992 playoffs, where they’d be shellacked by the Thunder 45-7, -in the worst playoff loss in WLAF history.  The Birmingham Fire were the only North American WLAF team to make the playoffs in both 1991 and 1992, and finished with a 12-7-1 record. With optimism riding high towards 1993, despite the questions over the league’s continuing existence, fans were hopeful that the Fire would make the jump along with their counterparts, the Riders and Surge to the CFL, but opted to fold instead when the WLAF reorganized.

It did not take long for the CFL to plant the Birmingham Barracudas in the city in 1995, but due to mismanagement of the original Shreveport franchise, the dominos fell and all the CFL USA teams were shuttered after the season. In 2000, the Arena Football League 2 would put the Steeldogs in Birmingham and the city also re-emerged in 2001 as a member of the XFL, as the Birmingham Thunderbolts.  Unfortunately both these franchises folded as well with the ‘Bolts after one season and the Steeldogs in 2008.  Hopes remained strong though that the United Football League would select the city as a possible landing spot- but the UFL folded before anything got serious. Birmingham, like Columbus, Ohio is a strong, football hungry town, that has always remained near the top of my list of smart expansion cities, but unfortunately both the Falcons and the Crimson Tide’s long reach may be keeping any team from taking root.

HC- Chan Gailey
Other Notables- Michael Huyghue
QB- Mike Norseth, Brent Pease, Eric Jones, Shawn Moore
RB- Elroy Harris, Steven Avery
OL- Joe Valerio
WR- Willie Bouyer
TE- Phil Ross, Mark Hopkins
DL- Darrell Phillips
LB- John Brantley, Paul McGowan, Maurice Oliver
DB- Arthur Hunter, John Holland, John Miller, James Henry
P- Kurt Maggio

At this time I am still missing autographs on these cards from:
Pro Set WLAF 1991- Kenny Bell

Wild Card WLAF 1992- Phillip Doyle, Eddie Britton, John Holland, Arthur Hunter,  Eugene Rowell,  Willie Bouyer & Carl Bax.

Ultimate WLAF 1992-  Eric Jones, Willie Bouyer, Arthur Hunter, John Holland, & Kirk Maggio.

New York-New Jersey Knights

Record: 5-5/1991   6-4/1992

So you have to hand it to the WLAF, they were nothing short of innovative especially with the uniforms. Case in point: the New York/ New Jersey Knights with their silver black and gold, to go along with that amazing looking knight logo that is straight off of a chess set. It’s a nice blend of stylish and classy that would have been right at home in the NFL.

Playing in the North American East Division with Montreal and Orlando, Robert Sillerman was the owner of the franchise that he purchased for a cool 11 million dollars. A businessman at heart, Sillerman started SFX Radio Broadcasting, -the largest concert and tour promoter and one of the largest radio station companies in the United States. He’d hire former Cincinatti linebacker Reggie Williams to run his front office, and at that time Williams would pave the way being one of the first minority general managers in professional football history.

The team’s first move was at head coach, where they selected offensive guru and run and shoot proponent Darrell “Mouse” Davis, who had recently guided the Detroit Lions ‘Silver Stretch’ offense. He’d hire Larry Zierlein to run the offensive line and be co-offensive coordinator. The team made its home at the Meadowlands, and posted surprisingly decent attendance numbers with a high of 41,000 plus showing up for a week 8 contest against the London Monarchs. The Knights would also make the first overall selection in league history during the league’s positional draft, selecting offensive lineman Ceasar Rentie.

The Knights offense was nothing short of prolific, scoring over 40 points in 3 contests, however their gambling defense gave up almost as many points. Saying that New York New Jersey’s season started off slowly was an understatement. After 3 straight losses to begin the season, the Knights finally erupted in a 44-0 trashing of the Montreal Machine at the Meadowlands. This would be the Knights modus operandi for the rest of the season, as when they won games, they frequently did so by a margin greater than 10 points. Streaky NYNJ would crank out 4 wins in a row, and then win its final two games to enter the playoffs, where they were quickly ousted by the Monarchs 42-26.  They’d finish 1991 5-5.

knightsDuring the season, Jeff Graham would quickly replace Todd Hammel at quarterback with his receivers being Lonnie Turner, Cornell Burbage, Kip Lewis, and Monty Gilbreath, with Turner, Burbage, and Gilbreath boasting vast NFL and USFL experience on their resumes. At runningback,  Eric Wilkerson (717 yards, 6.1 YPC) led the league in rushing and tied for the WLAF lead in touchdowns (11).  The defensive line was loaded with sack masters. Tony Woods and Joseph Campbell led the way (with 7.5 sacks a piece) along Craig Schlichting (6.5), and Ron Sancho positioned at linebacker with 6. In the secondary All World cornerback Anthony Parker would haul down a league record 11 interceptions along with former TCU grad and safety Falanda Newton who pulled in 8. Texas Longhorn Bobby Lilljedahl would punt for the team, averaging 42.3 yards per kick as the team would struggle at kicker after injuries befell Kendall John Trainor. Despite the defense’s poor showing in losses, they were the highest scoring defense in the league.

nynjknlbIn perhaps one of the more comical moments of WLAF history, the New York New Jersey Knights during the 1991 season, set the league record for most faked punts and field goals in a game against the Monarchs with some astounding amount- like 8. The Knights biggest rival was probably the Monarchs, who in 1991, they had a woeful 0-3 record against, losing 22-18, 22-7, and in the playoffs 42-26.

As the 1992 season approached, the Knights’ optimism was riding high. With the NFL making talent pools available to the WLAF, they’d grab Houston Oilers Run ‘N Shoot 3rd string quarterback, Reggie Slack and trade for Birmingham Fire quarterback Brent Pease. They’d also snatch up future NFL journeyman Doug Pederson who would see significant playing time on the team that season. The receiving corps remained intact, but young Kip Lewis would step up to lead the receivers in receptions with 46. The Knights pulled the trigger on a trade for Byron Williams from Orlando, but he did not see much playing time after the CFL season ended. Wilkerson would again lead the Knights in rushing however quarterback Reggie Slack and Chris McLemore would cut into his numbers, effectively halving them.

With the departure of Anthony Parker to the NFL, the team had large shoes to fill at defensive back. The team’s turnover numbers would drop off severely from 1991, going from 19 between two players, down to just 13 for the whole team. Falanda Newton again returned to safety making 5 more picks, while Tony Jones and Richard Carey made 3 and 2 a piece. There was also a drop in defensive pressure and sacks with David Edeen leading the team from defensive end at 5 sacks. Davis Smith and Cornell Burbage were dangerous punt returners and kick returners.  Smith returned 3 punts for touchdowns while Burbage took a kickoff 101 yards for a score, and lead the WLAF in kick return average.

wilkerpromOnce again the Knights would get off to a horrendous start, dropping a heartbreaker to Monarchs 26-20 in overtime to begin the season. They’d continue to spiral losing the next 3 games, but credit Mouse Davis for righting his ship, as the team rallied and won 6 straight games to finish the season 6-4. In week 7 the team finally exacted its long awaited revenge over the reeling Monarchs 41-13, and in week 9 slaughtered the Dragons 47-0. Unfortunately, like the Riders, (at 7-3) the Knights (6-4) were left looking in on the playoffs, while the Barcelona Dragons finished 5-5 and in, because the Dragons were the European Division Champion.

Offensive Tackle Chris Dyko was named to the All-WLAF team in 1992 along with Cornell Burbage at kick returner. Reggie Slack finished second to Sacramento quarterback David Archer with a 98.2 rating, and first among quarterbacks in rushing along with a gaudy 7.7 YPC. All 4 receivers finished roughly within the top 20 in catches.  The Knights unfortunately folded up shop along with the rest of the WLAF after the 1992 season. While New York/ New Jersey has strongly supported the Jets and Giants through the Meadowlands,  this would be the last time that the area would be able to accommodate (even marginally) 3 professional football franchises. In 2001, the XFL’s New York-New Jersey Hitmen lasted a year before the league folded.  Afterwards, the UFL would plant the New York-New Jersey Sentinels in the area in 2009, but due to abysmal attendance numbers, the team eventually uprooted for Hartford in 2010.

HC- Mouse Davis
QB- Jeff Graham, Brent Pease, Reggie Slack, Doug Pederson
RB- Eric Wilkerson
OL- Caesar Rentie, Joey Banes 
WR- Kip Lewis, Byron Williams, Andre Alexander, Cornell Burbage , Lonnie Turner
DL- Craig Schlichting, Pat Marlatt
LB- Ron Sancho, Cecil Fletcher, Wes Pritchett
DB- Anthony Parker
K- Kendall John Trainor

At this time I am still missing autographs on these cards from:

ProSet 1991 WLAF Inserts: Todd Hammel

ProSet WLAF 1991:  Joe Campbell, Falanda Newton, Monty Gilbreath, Bob Lilljedahl &  Tony Woods.

Ultimate WLAF 1992: Tony Jones, Mark Moore, Falanda Newton, Monty Gilbreath, Bob Lilljedahl, & Tony Woods.

Wild Card WLAF 1992: Tony Jones, Chris McLemore, Reggie Slack, Falanda Newton, Tony Woods, Richard Carey, & Monte Gilbreath.