BANDITS TRIVIA

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The Tampa Bay Bandits were one of two USFL teams named to pay homage to characters in popular movies of the day. 
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"The Bandit" was a popular character played by actor Burt Reynolds in the 1970's "Smokey and the Bandit" films.  Reynolds was a limited partner in the Bandits.
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In all, three "Smokey and the Bandit" films were made.  Reynolds starred in the first two, opting for a cameo appearance in the third.
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"Smokey and the Bandit 3" featured Reynolds good friend Jerry Reed in the starring role.  Reed, a popular country music singer of the era, went on to compose "Bandit Ball," the Bandits official team song.
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"Smokey and the Bandit 3" was not a commercial success in comparison to its two predecessors, and today is rarely seen on television. 
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The other team named for a popular movie character of the day?  The Houston Gamblers, who were named for Kenny Rogers' "Gambler" character, Brady Hawkes.  Rogers was also a partner in the Gamblers.
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The Bandits franchise was among the first awarded by USFL founder David Dixon.

John Bassett, majority owner of the Bandits, had also owned the Toronto Northmen/Memphis Southmen of the World Football League of the 1970's.

Over its three years of existence, the Bandits were among the league's best teams in terms of reported official attendance, averaging either near or over 40,000 each season.

At the request of general partner Burt Reynolds, friend Jerry Reed composed and sang the team's official song, "Bandit Ball:"
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"Defense!  Defense!  Defense!
Defense!  Defense!  Defense!
Defense!
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We come from down in gator country
We are proud of Tampa Bay
We play football and we are called the Bandits,
and we think our brand of ball is here to stay.
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Better look out world, here comes them Bandits.
They're lookin' proud and standing tall.
So, come on folks, let's get the fever,
be a Bandit Ball believer.
We believe you're gonna love Bandit ball.
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Bandit ball - first and ten, do it again:  Bandit Ball!
Bandit ball - hit 'em a lick, and make it stick:  Bandit Ball!
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We gonna be running, gonna be throwin',
gonna be showin' ev'ryone
that Bandit ball is a brand of ball that's an awful lot of fun.
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Bandit ball - gotta hang tough, gotta be rough:  Bandit Ball!
Bandit ball - touchdown play, all the way:  Bandit Ball!
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C'mon folks, let's catch the fever,
be a Bandit ball believer.
We believe you're gonna love Bandit Ball!

Every report of official attendance the Bandits ever made was an estimate based on a count of the number of occupied rows at Tampa Stadium.  Actual counts of tickets were conducted at a later time, but the initial counts relayed over the stadium's PA system were maintained as "official."

Steve Spurrier was hired as the Bandits head coach at a reported starting salary of just $50,000 per year.

When awarded the Bandits franchise, John Bassett was given exclusive USFL rights for the entire state of Florida.  This resulted in his receiving a payment from Jacksonville when it was awarded an expansion franchise in 1984, and another in 1985 when the Washington Federals moved to nearby Orlando.

Donald Dizney was a limited partner in the Bandits before buying the Washington Federals and moving them to Orlando in 1985.

Bandits minority owner Stephen Arky was the son-in-law of Birmingham Stallions majority owner Marvin L. Warner.  Less than ten days after the 1985 USFL Championship Game, Arky, who was under fire for his role in a banking scandal, committed suicide.  Lewis "Bugsy" Engelberg, the Bandits original Director of Football Operations, would also take his own life in 1987.

The Bandits training site was located at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

The Bandits could be heard locally on WFLA-AM 970, and pre-season games were broadcast on WTOG, Channel 44.

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