the Gamblers finances in dire straits following
the 1985 season, an ownership group stepped
forward that planned to move the franchise to
New York City.
learning of this, New Jersey Generals owner
Donald Trump bought the Gamblers, merging the
club into his as part of the preparations for
the USFL's planned battle with the NFL in 1986.
combined Generals/ Gamblers likely would have
been prohibitive favorites to win the USFL
Championship in 1986 had the season been played.
Houston Gamblers were, in a technical sense, not
an expansion franchise of the USFL. League
founder David Dixon reserved the right to launch a
franchise, but didn't do so in 1983 so as to allow
him to consult with other league owners.
Dixon ultimately sold his franchise rights rather
than launch his own team, with the group buying
them locating the franchise in Houston.
Bernard Lerner was the initial majority partner of
the Gamblers, but disagreements between the
partners ultimately led to Dr. Jerry Argovitz
taking the central role in the franchise's
USFL Commissioner Chet Simmons was concerned about
Argovitz' involvement in the franchise, as
Argovitz was at the time a sports agent
representing clients who were negotiating with
other USFL teams. Argovitz tied up his loose
ends, then sold his representation business to
focus solely on the Gamblers.
The Gamblers scored 618 points in their maiden
1984 season, winning 13 games along with the USFL
Central Division title, dethroning the heavily
favored and USFL champion Michigan Panthers for
the division's top spot.
Singer/actor Kenny Rogers was a limited partner in
the Houston Gamblers, and his famed
"Gambler" movie character was the
inspiration for the team's nickname.
Ricky Sanders and Richard Johnson became the first
receiving duo in professional football history to
each have 100 or more pass receptions in
In 1984 Jim Kelly set the professional football
record for most passing yards in a single season
with 5,219, a record that was nearly broken later
that year by the Miami Dolphins Dan Marino.
To Marino's credit however, Kelly's 5,219 was
achieved over 18 games, while Marino's 5,084 would
be gained in only 16.