|1987 Arena Football League season|
|League||Arena Football League|
|Duration||June 19, 1987 – August 1, 1987|
|Season champions||Pittsburgh Gladiators|
|Season MVP||Russell Hairston, PIT|
|Finals MVP||Gary Mullen, DEN|
The 1987 Arena Football League season was the first season, also known as the "demonstration season", of the Arena Football League (AFL). The league champions were the Denver Dynamite, who defeated the Pittsburgh Gladiators in ArenaBowl I.
The Arena Football League played its inaugural season in 1987 with four teams to introduce the sport to the American public. The Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators and Washington Commandos comprised the four-team league that ran a schedule from June 19 to August 1. The AFL drew an impressive average of 11,000 fans per game and TV coverage on ESPN. The four teams Pittsburgh (12,856), Denver (12,098/game), As of 2018 [update] ).Washington (11,525) and Chicago (8,638) drew fairly well in their respective facilities; Washington and Chicago both managed to outdraw the 1984 averages of their respective USFL franchises, the Federals and Blitz. Denver played at the old McNichols Arena, Pittsburgh at the Civic Arena, Washington at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, and Chicago at the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois (now the Allstate Arena and the only one of the initial AFL venues still extant
A fifth arena football team, the Miami Vise, played one exhibition game in 1987, later dubbed the "Showcase Game." The Vise defeated the Bruisers, 33–30, on February 26 but did not carry over to the regular season that summer. The AFL formally kicked off on Friday, June 19, 1987, when the host Pittsburgh Gladiators hosted the Washington Commandos at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh before 12,177 fans.
AFL football officially began at 7:37 pm EDT that night when Washington's Dale Castro kicked the ball into the slack net (the mesh between the field goal posts) resulting in a touchback. The Gladiators took over on their own five-yard line. The very first play from scrimmage saw Pittsburgh quarterback Mike Hohensee hit WR/DB Russell Hairston on a 45-yard touchdown pass; the play would set the tone for the league's wide-open, high-scoring mandate that the game's inventor, James Foster, envisioned. The Gladiators, featuring future Arena Football League Hall of Famer Craig Walls playing against his brother Kendall, went on to win the game 48–46.
The head coaches of the four AFL teams in 1987 were former CFL great Ray Jauch (Chicago), future longtime AFL coach Tim Marcum (Denver),Joe Haering (Pittsburgh) and Bob Harrison (Washington).
Some of the notable performers for Chicago in 1987 included QB Mike Hold, Jr., FB/LB Billy Stone, WR Reggie Smith, DB Durwood Roquemore and future NFL head coach QB Sean Payton, before he was traded to Pittsburgh and later signed with Ottawa of the CFL.
The Denver Dynamite would also featured a backup QB that would go on to an NFL head coaching career: Marty Mornhinweg, who backed up Whit Taylor. Also on the Dynamite roster that year was FB/LB Rob DeVita, WR Durrell Taylor and future AFL Hall of Fame WR Gary Mullen.
Continuing the theme of quarterbacks who would go on to future coaching opportunities was Gladiators QB Mike Hohensee, who yielded the starting role with Pittsburgh early in the season to Brendan Folmar. Hohensee would return to the ArenaBowl nineteen years later in July 2006 by capturing ArenaBowl XX as head coach of the Chicago Rush.
Gladiators WR Russell Hairston had a 67 catches in 1987, good for 1,126 yards and 18 touchdowns (in just 6 games) and would go on to win AFL MVP honors. Also notable on the Pittsburgh roster was DB Mike Stoops who went on to coach the University of Arizona in 2005.
The Washington Commandos featured a high-scoring unit that had WR Dwayne Dixon (68 catches, 11 TDs) and QB Rich Ingold, who led the AFL with 29 TD passes and 1,726 yards.
ArenaBowl I that year featured the Gladiators hosting the Dynamite at Civic Arena; the Pittsburgh fans, however, went home disappointed as the Dynamite walked away with a 45–16 victory,a win that was the first of seven ArenaBowl titles for Denver coach Tim Marcum.
1987 Arena Football League standings
|Team||W||L||T||PCT||PF||PA||PF (Avg.)||PA (Avg.)||STK|
|y-Pittsburgh Gladiators||4||2||0||.667||268||199||44.6||33.1||L 2|
|x-Denver Dynamite||4||2||0||.667||261||252||43.5||42||W 2|
|Washington Commandos||2||4||0||.333||288||273||48||45.5||W 1|
|Chicago Bruisers||2||4||0||.333||217||310||36.1||51.6||L 1|
y – clinched regular-season title
x – clinched playoff spot
|Most Valuable Player||Russell Hairston||Wide Receiver/Defensive Back||Pittsburgh Gladiators|
|Ironman of the Year||Billy Stone||Fullback/Linebacker||Chicago Bruisers|
|Coach of the Year||Tim Marcum||Head coach||Denver Dynamite|
|Position||First team||Second team|
|Quarterback||Rich Ingold, Washington||Whit Taylor, Denver|
|Fullback/Linebacker|| Billy Stone, Chicago |
Chris Brewer, Denver
| Durell Taylor, Denver |
Walter Holman, Washington
|Wide receiver/Defensive back|| Gary Mullen, Denver |
Russell Hairston, Pittsburgh
Dwayne Dixon, Washington
| Mike Stoops, Pittsburgh |
Reggie Smith, Chicago
Lenny Taylor, Washington
|Offensive lineman/Defensive lineman|| Brent Johnson, Chicago |
Craig Walls, Pittsburgh
Jon Roehlk, Washington
| Kelly Kirchbaum, Denver |
Patrick Cain, Denver
Michael Witteck, Washington
|Kicker||Nick Mike-Mayer, Chicago||Dale Castro, Washington|
|# of Teams||Expansion Teams||Folded Teams||Suspended Teams||Returning Teams||Relocated Teams||Name Changes|
|4|| Chicago Bruisers |
The Massachusetts Marauders were a professional arena football team that was based in Worcester, Massachusetts. They were a member of the Arena Football League (AFL) from 1988 to 1994. The team was established in Detroit in 1988, as the Detroit Drive and was a member of the AFL in 1988 and in all subsequent years through 1993. The club then moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1994 and played in that city through the end of the 1994 season.
The Tampa Bay Storm were a professional arena football team based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. that played in the Arena Football League (AFL). The team, along with the Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite and Washington Commandos, joined the AFL in 1987 as one of the charter franchises, and by 1992 it was the last of the four still operating. The team ceased operations in December 2017.
The Colorado Crush were an arena football team based in Denver, Colorado. They began play as a 2003 Arena Football League expansion team. The Crush played in the Central Division of the American Conference until the Arena Football League suspended operations in 2009. They were last coached by Mike Dailey and owned by a coalition of Denver sports figures led by John Elway.
The Chicago Rush were a professional arena football team based in Rosemont, Illinois. The team played at the Allstate Arena from 2001 to 2013. They were a member of the Central Division of the National Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). Founded in 2001, the team qualified for the playoffs 11 out of 12 seasons and won one AFL championship, ArenaBowl XX in 2006. During their history, the Rush won five divisional titles and competed in the AFL Conference Championship six times, including four consecutive appearances from 2004 to 2007. They also had the largest market in the AFL.
The Chicago Bruisers were a professional arena football team based in Rosemont, Illinois. They were founded in 1987 as a charter member of the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games at Rosemont Horizon.
The Chicago Politicians were a team formed in 1986 by Arena Football League founder Jim Foster to play an initial "test game" in Rockford, Illinois, at the MetroCentre. They were defeated by the Rockford Metros, 30–18. The test was deemed successful, as a four-team "demonstration season" was held the next year, and Arena football has been played every year since, although the original Arena Football League itself ceased operations after its 2008 season, and the current organization of that name bought the rights to it in bankruptcy proceedings. Some of the Politicians, went on to play for the Chicago Bruisers and the other charter AFL teams, the Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators, and Washington Commandos.
The Washington Commandos were an arena football team based in Fairfax, Virginia. The Commandos were founded in 1987 and were an inaugural member of the Arena Football League (AFL), and were based in Landover, Maryland. After not playing during the 1988 season, the team returned for the 1989 season as the Maryland Commandos. Following the 1989 season, the Commandos moved to Fairfax, Virginia, where they once again became known as the Washington Commandos. The team never achieved much success at either of its locations, winning a total of four games in three seasons, including a winless 1989 season.
Michael Louis Hohensee is a former professional football quarterback who played in the United States Football League, Canadian Football League, National Football League and Arena Football League. He most recently the head coach of the AFL's Portland Thunder. He played college football at the University of Minnesota, and was in the AFL for two seasons, from 1987 to 1988. Hohensee has been a head coach since 1990, beginning at the Washington Commandos. He has served as head coach of eight different arena football franchises, winning ArenaBowl XX with the Chicago Rush in 2006.
Arena Bowl '87 was the Arena Football League's first Championship Game. It was played on August 1, 1987, at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the game, the #2 Denver Dynamite defeated the #1 Pittsburgh Gladiators by a score of 45–16.
The 1987 Denver Dynamite season was the first season for the Denver Dynamite. Businessman and owner of the Denver Nuggets, Sidney Shlenker announced the forming of the Denver Dynamite. The franchise played in the inaugural four-team "demonstration" season of 1987. Despite the team and league's doubters, the Dynamite tied for the best record in the league with the Pittsburgh Gladiators, going 4–2. On August 1, 1987, the team participated in ArenaBowl I, which they won 45–16 over the Gladiators. The Dynamite were led on offense by quarterback Whit Taylor, and wide receiver Gary Mullen. After winning the ArenaBowl, Head Coach Tim Marcum was named the league's first ever Coach of the Year. After leading the Dynamite to the Despite averaging the league's best attendance with over 12,000 a game, it did not return for the league's second season due to Shlenker refusing to abide by the AFL's financial rules.
Steve Thonn is an American football coach. He was previously was a head coach in the Arena Football League (AFL) for the Houston Thunderbears, Grand Rapids Rampage and Cleveland Gladiators. Thonn is also a former AFL player. He played WR/DB for the Chicago Bruisers (1988) and the Albany Firebirds (1990–1993). He was the offensive coordinator of the Georgia Force from 2004 to 2007 before being hired as the Rampage head coach.
This page contains the awards and records of Colorado's Arena Football League teams, the Denver Dynamite and Colorado Crush (2003–2008). The records are arranged both in categories of individual franchise records and head-to-head for achievements in Colorado arenaball in general.
The Denver Dynamite were an arena football team based in Denver, Colorado. The team began play in 1987 as a charter member of the Arena Football League. The team was brought in by businessman Sidney Shlenker and the team achieved success instantly, winning the first ever ArenaBowl under future AFL Hall of Fame coach Tim Marcum. After sitting out the 1988 season, the Dynamite were purchased by investment banker Gary Graham for $125,000. Graham then hired former NFL and AFL coach Babe Parilli to lead the team. Under Parilli, the Dynamite would return to the playoffs every season, but failed to return to the ArenaBowl. After the 1991 season, the franchise was sued by their public relations firm and filed for bankruptcy. They played their home games at McNichols Sports Arena. The team's logo was a bundle of dynamite sticks with a burning fuse.
Gary Mullen is a former professional American football and Arena football player who played wide receiver and defensive back for eight seasons for the Denver Dynamite, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Cobras, Detroit Drive, Cincinnati Rockers and the Milwaukee Mustangs. He was elected into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 1987, businessman and then-owner of the Denver Nuggets Sidney Shlenker announced the forming of the Denver Dynamite. The franchise played in the inaugural four-team "demonstration" season of 1987. Despite the team and league's doubters, the Dynamite tied for the best record in the league with the Pittsburgh Gladiators, going 4-2.
Washington, D.C. originally had one of the 1987 AFL charter teams called the Washington Commandos. The team played its home games during its first season at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland in 1987. The Commandos did not play in 1988, but returned as the Maryland Commandos the following season. The team moved to Virginia in 1990, again as the Washington Commandos and played at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The team was folded after the 1990 season. Later, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder tried to launch an expansion team called the Washington Warriors, but could not get the trademarks and was eventually abandoned.
The Chicago metropolitan area was also home to the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League, who played at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The Rush won its first championship in 2006, ArenaBowl XX. Chicago was also home to the Chicago Bruisers from 1987 to 1989, an original team in the AFL's inaugural season in 1987. The Bruisers hosted ArenaBowl II.
In 1988, Mike and Marian Ilitch fielded an indoor football team, Detroit Drive, in the Arena Football League. In 1992, he purchased the Detroit Tigers. Purchasing the Tigers led Ilitch to sell the Drive in February 1994 given the leagues' overlapping schedules.