9 8 2
11 - USFL founded, with Jim Joseph as a partner
in the Bay Area (later Oakland Invaders)
- Joseph leaves the Invaders to organize his own
USFL team, to be placed in Los Angeles.
- Jim Joseph is forced to relocate his USFL
franchise after cable television moguls Bill
Daniels and Alan Harmon are forced to relocate
their San Diego franchise to Los Angeles.
6 - The team officially relocates to Phoenix,
8 - The USFL's entry in Phoenix is christened
the Arizona Wranglers, a name submitted by
Adrienne Hogate and chosen from 360 entrants in
a "Name the Team" contest conducted by
25 - Joseph selects the team's colors and logo
design, both created by Phoenix's Robert
9 - The Board of Regents of Arizona State
University grants the Wranglers access to use
Sun Devil Stadium for games beginning in 1983.
9 8 3
10 - Doug Shively, an assistant with the NFL's
Atlanta Falcons, is named the Wranglers' first
6 - The Arizona Wranglers play their first-ever
USFL game... and are promptly shut out by the
Oakland Invaders, 24-0.
see more of the
Wranglers timeline, visit the
Timeline of the USFL
Played in USFL:
Joseph, Brad Liebman (1983); Dr. Ted
Diethrich, George Allen, Willard (Bill)
Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Shively (1983); George Allen (1984)
(14-22-0 regular season)
USFL Champ. Game
in post-season play
on your point of view, the Arizona
Wranglers could be considered either one
team, two, or perhaps even three.
They could be the mutant offspring of the
Oakland Invaders, a team that relocated
twice before ever pumping up a football,
two different teams, one playing in each
season, three different teams, or any
combination of the above.
matter how you look at it, throughout its brief
history the Arizona Wranglers were a team of
change - change of locations, owners, players,
coaches, and in the end, team names as well.
Originally the Wranglers were never part of the
USFL's plans. Jim Joseph had been a part
owner of the Bay Area USFL franchise (which would
eventually become the Oakland Invaders) together
with friend and business colleague Tad Taube.
As Taube's involvement in the USFL became more
active, Joseph initally took a back seat, but an
unexpected opportunity had come forward - Alex
Spanos, who originally was to head up the USFL's
presence in Los Angeles, gave up his franchise to
buy a stake in the NFL's San Diego Chargers (Spanos
would later acquire majority control of the team).
Wanting to have an active role in a USFL team
himself and with the league's consent, Joseph and
Taube flipped a coin to decide which of them would
have which franchise - the "winner" got
Los Angeles, while the "loser" got
Oakland. Joseph won the toss and was awarded
the Los Angeles franchise... for a while.
Shortly after the coin toss, Bill Daniels and Alan
Harmon, a team of Colorado-based mega-moguls from
the still burgeoning cable television industry,
took an interest in the USFL, trying to place a
team in San Diego. However their efforts to
secure Jack Murphy Stadium were rebuffed by the
City of San Diego, and the league, surmising that
a team owned by cable television magnates would be
better suited in the entertainment capital of the
world, allowed Daniels and Harmon to in essence
run Jim Joseph out of town.
Joseph found a home for his team in the desert of
Phoenix, Arizona, where the Arizona Wranglers were
finally born. He hired Atlanta Falcon
assistant coach Doug Shively as the Wranglers
first head coach, then held closely to the USFL's
financial blueprint - spending little on players
and getting little talent in return. The
team drafted RB Eric Dickerson in the first round
of the USFL Draft, but made no serious attempts to
actually sign him. Instead, the team opted
for "mid-line" rookies such as
quarterback Alan Risher, and players recently
released by NFL clubs, such as Curtis Bledsoe.
For their first eight weeks on the field, however,
the rag-tag Arizona Wranglers were actually a
competitive football team, going 4-4-0 and beating
among others the Chicago Blitz, who were viewed by
many prior to the season as the USFL's dominant
team. The team had kept itself in contention
for the Pacific Division title... and then the
bottom dropped out. In Week 9 the Wranglers
lost to Oakland, 34-20, starting a ten game
tailspin that saw the team finish last in the
USFL's weakest division, at 4-14-0.
Jim Joseph was, for lack of a better term,
unhappy. Having started as the owner of a
team near his home in San Francisco, he'd been
bounced from there to Los Angeles, then again to
Phoenix, the caretaker of a team that was losing
games on the field and money from his
pockets. Simply put, he wanted out.
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