Texas Football League

Last updated
Texas Football League
Sport American football
Founded1966
Ceased1971
Claim to fameFirst spring pro football league
No. of teamsVaried (4 to 8)
Countries United States
Mexico
Last
champion(s)
San Antonio Toros
Most titlesSan Antonio Toros (4)

The Texas Football League (TFL) was a low-level American football minor league that operated in primarily in the United States from 1966 through 1968, and again between 1970 and 1971 as a new incarnation called the Trans-American Football League (TAFL).

Contents

The 1971 season of the TAFL was the first season of spring pro football in United States, which made it the first spring pro football league.

History

The league, which initially comprised six franchises from Texas and Oklahoma, was formally announced in May 1966. [1] The league was supposed to begin with eight teams, but entries from Hammond, Louisiana and New Orleans were not accepted. With the addition of two franchises in 1967, the TFL expanded to two four-team divisions.

During the 1967-68 offseason the Continental Football League offered a merger of operations with the TFL, but was turned down by TFL commissioner George Schepps. He additionally challenged the CoFL to pit its champion against the TFL's champion for the 1968 campaign. [2]

On January 25, 1969, it was announced that the Continental Football League was adding the entirety of the eight-team TFL to its ranks. The TFL joined as a separate entity and was placed into the new Texas Division (itself split into East and West). The TFL teams were mostly scheduled to play against each other but did also play interleague contests. [3] Joining the Texas division was the Mexico Golden Aztecs, the first American football franchise based in Mexico. The TFL's San Antonio Toros defeated the Indianapolis Capitols, 44-38 in overtime, to capture the last Continental League championship. (The Toros would ultimately win five straight league titles from 1967-71.)

1966

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 y  = Division Champion

Texas Football League
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
Tulsa Oilers721.778246161 Skelly Stadium Floyd Harrawood
Sherman-Denison Jets730.700254161 Bearcat Stadium Duncan McCauley
Pasadena Pistols730.700284149Memorial Stadium Donnie Caraway
Burkburnett Kings460.400152298Burkburnett High School Stadium E.J. Webb
Dallas County Rockets370.300127181Eagle StadiumBill Crow/Joe Verret
Odessa-Midland Comets 181.11183196W.T. Barrett Stadium Byron Townsend

1967

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 y  = Division Champion

Eastern Division
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
San Antonio Toros14001.000538137 North East Stadium Duncan McCauley
Pasadena Pistols860.571417383 Auxiliary Stadium Donnie Caraway
Dallas Rockets860.571285324Jesuit High School StadiumJoe Verret
Sherman-Denison Jets590.357360424n/aGene Babb
Western Division
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
Tulsa Thunderbirds1040.714320276 Skelly Stadium Art Ramage
Fort Worth Texans 590.357346364Turnpike StadiumJohn Hatley
Odessa-Midland Comets3110.214247411W.T. Barrett StadiumJim Daniel
Wichita Falls Kings3110.214255449Midwestern University StadiumE.J. Webb

1968

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 y  = Division Champion

Eastern Division
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
Texarkana Titans 750.583273277 Grim Stadium Tom Collins
Tulsa Thunderbirds480.333171156 Auxiliary Stadium Art Ramage
Dallas Rockets480.333249354Jesuit High School StadiumJoe Verret
Beaumont Golden Vikings2100.167165365Greenie StadiumRoy Davidson
Western Division
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
San Antonio Toros1110.917447121 Alamo Stadium Duncan McCauley/Hoover Evans
Fort Worth Braves1020.833377154 Farrington Field John Hatley
Odessa Comets/West Texas Rufneks570.417235338W.T. Barrett StadiumJim Daniel/Ted Dawson
El Paso Jets570.417197349 Dudley Field Harold Stephens

Trans-American Football League

With the dissolution of the CoFL in early 1970, the Toros announced the formation of the Trans-American Football League, hoping to add teams in a number of major markets; the TAFL planned teams in Birmingham; Tampa; Hershey, Pennsylvania and even Los Angeles, in addition to San Antonio and existing Continental teams in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Memphis (relocated from Las Vegas). [4] By the time the league played its 1970 season, it was once again mainly based in Texas, with two other Continental teams, the Omaha Mustangs and Texarkana Titans, joining the loop.

In 1971, the Trans-American Football League took the unusual step of becoming the first football league to schedule and play all of its games in the spring rather than the autumn, a move that attracted the attention of Sports Illustrated pro football columnist Tex Maule. The 1971 TAFL season ran from April 25 to June 26 . [5] Although Maule commented that the Trans-American league's four teams' Fort Worth to San Antonio lineup "barely makes it Trans-Texas", he also noted that "This is the first bona fide attempt to play spring football," a gimmick that the United States Football League did on a larger scale a decade later.

On the other hand, attendance for the four teams "reached a new low" [6] and, as sports historian Bob Gill would note in 2002, "it was clear by mid-June that the concept of spring football was dead -- and probably the Texas League along with it". [7] The TAFL folded after its spring 1971 season.

1970

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 y  = Division Champion

Texas Football League
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
San Antonio Toros720.800288158 Harlandale Memorial Stadium George Pasterchick
Texarkana Titans730.700323175 Grim Stadium Durwood Merrill
Fort Worth Braves640.600365266Farrington FieldDuncan McCauley
Omaha Mustangs 540.556228240Johnny Rosenblatt StadiumDon Fleming
Bartlesville Quickicks370.300185289Custer FieldArt Ramage
Dallas Rockets190.10097358Roffino StadiumJoe Verret

1971

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 y  = Division Champion

Trans-American Football League
TeamWLTPCTPFPAStadiumCoach
Texarkana Titans5001.00017171n/an/a
San Antonio Toros410.80017476North East StadiumGeorge Pasterchick
Fort Worth Braves140.20089171Handley Fieldn/a
Dallas Rockets050.00056172P. C. Cobb Stadiumn/a

Championship games

SeasonDateWinning TeamScoreLosing TeamMVPVenueAttendance
1966December 3, 1966Tulsa Oilers30-27Sherman-Denison Jetsn/a Skelly Stadium n/a
1967December 2, 1967San Antonio Toros27-7Tulsa Thunderbirdsn/a North East Stadium 4,000
1968December 7, 1968San Antonio Toros21-16Texarkana Titansn/a Alamo Stadium 4.661
1970November 21, 1970San Antonio Toros21-17Fort Worth Bravesn/a Harlandale Memorial Stadium 5,523
1971June 19, 1971San Antonio Toros20-19Texarkana Titansn/a North East Stadium 4,500 [8]

Southwestern Football League

After the collapse of the Trans-American Football League the two bigger teams - San Antonio Toros and Dallas Rockets - formed a new league called Southwestern Football League, and moved the season back to the fall. [9] The league commissioner was pro football hall of famer Ollie Matson, but the SFL operated on a much smaller budget than previous related leagues, and disbanded after only two seasons. [10]

The Toros continued to exist into 1974 and joined the Mid-America Football League, even playing an exhibition game against the Houston Oilers on July 16. Because of a players' strike, the Oilers played with an all-rookie roster, narrowly defeating the Toros 13–7 in a much more competitive match than most NFL vs. non-NFL matches were at the time. [11]

1972

Southwestern Football League
TeamWLTPct.PFPANotes
San Antonio Toros8001.00025978Champions
Las Vegas Casinos620.75015994
Phoenix Blazers640.600240230
Southern California Razorbacks430.571n/an/a
Dallas Rockets150.166n/an/a
Los Angeles Mustangs060.00083150

1973

Eastern Division
TeamWLTPct.PFPA
Oklahoma City Wranglers910.900442110
San Antonio Toros620.750239170
Albuquerque Thunderbirds440.500212173
Denver Oilers170.12587372
Kansas City Steers030.00019139
Western Division
TeamWLTPct.PFPA
Las Vegas Casinos620.750192129
Phoenix Blazers630.666217181
Southern California Razorbacks360.333164147
Los Angeles Mustangs180.111128221

Semifinals:San Antonio Toros 45 vs. Las Vegas Casinos 3

Finals:Oklahoma City Wranglers 19 vs. San Antonio Toros 16

See also

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References

  1. "Semipro Football League Organized". The Corpus Christi Times. Associated Press. May 30, 1966.
  2. "Texas Loop Challenges Continental". The Abilene Reporter-News. Associated Press. March 4, 1968.
  3. "TFL Aligns With Huge Continental". The Odessa American. Associated Press. January 26, 1969.
  4. "The Evening Independent - Google News Archive Search" . Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  5. "This Spring Isn't Very Green", by Tex Maule, Sports Illustrated, May 10, 1971, pp65-57
  6. The ten games in which attendances are known averaged only 2,050 per contest
  7. Minor League Football, 1960-1985— Standings, Statistics, and Rosters", by Bob Gill, with Steven M. Brainerd and Tod Maher (McFarland & Company, 2002), p. 59
  8. Clemens, Gus (June 20, 1971). "Toros Get 20-19 Victory, Title". San Antonio Express.
  9. "Robstown Record Newspaper Archives; August 05, 1971 Page 4".
  10. Bob Gill, with Tod Maher. Outsiders II: Minor League And Independent Football, 1951-1985, p. vii. St. Johann Press, 2010. ISBN   1878282654
  11. Today in SA history (July 19, 2016).