1 9 8 2

-
May 11 - Formation of the United States Football League is announced at "21" in New York City.  Among the cities mentioned as USFL sites is Chicago, though no ownership group is in place there.
-
June 21 - Chicago's team gets an ownership group as Dr. Ted Diethrich, George Allen and Willard (Bill) Harris are awarded a USFL franchise.
-
July 6 - George Allen announces a "Name the Team" contest, instructing submitters "The name should be aggressive... short and punchy."  Over ten days the team receives over 20,000 submissions from 19 different states.
-
July 22 - Mike Wehrli of Naperville, Illinois submission of "The Blitz" is chosen from among 3,351 suggested names that included the Aces, Butchers, Cohos, Fury, Grizzlies, Hit Men, Rhinos, Skyscrapers, and Zephyrs.
-
August 2 - UCLA TE Tim Wrightman becomes the first player to sign a USFL contract, with the Blitz.
-
August 12 - 14-year NFL veteran quarterback Greg Landry is signed by George Allen.
-

1 9 8 3

-
January 4 - After making a series of pre-draft trades, the Blitz select Ohio State RB Tim Spencer with the second overall pick in the inaugural USFL Draft.  
-
March 6 - The Blitz debut with a victory over the Washington Federals at R.F.K. Stadium.
.

To see more of the Blitz
timeline, visit the
USFL.INFO
Timeline of the USFL

Years Played in USFL: 1983, 1984.
Club Owner(s): Dr. Ted Diethrich and George Allen (1983); Dr. James Hoffman (1984)
Playing Site: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois.
Head Coach(es): George Allen (1983); Marv Levy (1984).
Overall Record: 17-20-0 (17-19-0 regular season)
. .

Year Head Coach W L T Pct. Finish Post-Season Notes
1983 George Allen 12 6 0 .667 2nd, Central Division Lost Divisional Playoff
1984 Marv Levy 5 13 0 .278 5th, Central Division  Disbanded After Season
Team Totals 17 19 0 .472 --- -

The story of the Chicago Blitz is a tale of two cities:  Chicago, and Phoenix, Arizona.  It's also a tale of two very different owners, Drs. Ted Diethrich and James Hoffman, who each came to the realization that making the USFL popular in Chicago was a difficult if not impossible task.
.
Diethrich, the founder of the Arizona Heart Institute and a cardiovascular surgeon from Phoenix, teamed up with legendary head coach George Allen and southern California developer Willard (Bill) Harris to acquire the Chicago franchise.  Harris initially sought the USFL's Denver team, but subsequent events paired him with Diethrich and Allen in Chicago.  

From the very beginning the USFL was a bad fit in the windy city.  Despite Allen's presence and his penchant for spending lavishly to attract the best on-field talent he could find, by and large the football fans of Chicago decided spring football wasn't their cup of tea.  The team's home opener against the Denver Gold drew only 21,949 fans, and with the exception of games against the New Jersey Generals and a late-season affair with playoff implications against the Michigan Panthers, Soldier Field would never gather that many Blitz fans together again.  With the NFL's Bears having hired fiery head coach Mike Ditka and the team in a rebuilding process that would ultimately lead to an NFL championship in 1985, the USFL was an afterthought in the hearts and minds of Chicagoland football fans pretty much from Day One.

The team on the field however was almost immediately given favorable comparisons to a number of NFL squads, thanks largely to Allen's absolute dedication to finding the best 40 players he could.  The team held a series of tryout camps during the summer and fall of 1982, looking at over 3,200 players and signing a whopping 340 - enough to stock eight USFL clubs - to contracts.  In November he took recruiting to a new level, traveling to Logan Correctional Center for the purpose of trying out an inmate there.  Allen's wheeling and dealing led to a 12-6-0 record in 1983 and the sole wild-card berth in the league.  In their Divisional Playoff game against Philadelphia, the Blitz seemingly had the contest in hand when the Stars rallied to score 24 fourth quarter points to tie the game at 38-38, then drive downfield for a touchdown to win in overtime, 44-38, denying George Allen an appearance in the first USFL championship game.

Allen would get his trip to the USFL title tilt the next year, but it would be in Arizona rather than Chicago.  Diethrich, tired of losing millions in Chicago as well as traveling half way across the country to see it happen, decided to sell the Blitz.  At the same time, Arizona Wranglers owner Jim Joseph announced he wanted to sell his team.  The result was negotiations that ended in an unusual "franchise swap" of sorts:  Diethrich sold the Blitz to fellow cardiovascular surgeon James Hoffman, then bought the Wranglers from Joseph.  The teams then swapped all assets - player contracts, coaching staffs, right down to the fitness equipment, in effect making the '83 Blitz the '84 Wranglers and vice-versa.  But with a competitive team failing to do well at the box office, how would the transplanted, woeful 4-14-0 Wranglers fare?

The answer came to Hoffman quickly.  Despite spending heavily on promoting the "new" Blitz, the team had hit a dead-end in terms of season ticket sales.  In less than five months and without his team having played a single regular season game, Hoffman had had enough.  He relinquished control of the team, which was for all practical purposes assumed by the league to avoid the embarrassment of having a team fold just before the start of a season - in the nation's third largest media market no less.

The 1984 Blitz fared as badly as their owner had, drawing 7,808 for the season opener against Houston (a 45-36 loss) and a reported 4,307 against the New Jersey Generals.  The team never cracked 10,000 in attendance again, and after the season was concluded the Blitz were mercifully, well, blitzed.
.

USFL.INFO - Copyright 2007 - The McIntire Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.
The names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, slogans, photographs, audio and video recordings, and any other intellectual properties
utilized in USFL.INFO are used on a "Fair Use" basis, without intent of profit.  Such intellectual properties are retained by their respective holders.