Houston Gamblers

 Houston Gamblers 

Gamblers Timeline

1984

Houston Team Creation

The Houston Gamblers were an American football team that competed in the United States Football League in 1984 and 1985. The Gamblers were coached by veteran NFL head coach Jack Pardee in both their seasons. They were noteworthy for introducing former Middletown (Ohio) High School football coach Glenn "Tiger" Ellison's Run & Shoot offense to the world of pro football.
1984

Run & Shoot

Run & Shoot advocate and chief refiner Darell "Mouse" Davis was hired by the progressive Pardee to install the offense as the team's Offensive Coordinator. Davis was a former head coach at Portland State University where he developed the St. Louis Cardinals 2 time Pro Bowl QB Neil Lomax. Led by former Miami Hurricanes QB Jim Kelly(who snubbed the NFL's Buffalo Bills to play in the USFL, the Gamblers wrecked secondaries across the USFL, getting national media attention in demolishing the league's single season scoring record. The Gamblers scored 618 points in 1984. The 1983 USFL record was 456. Kelly became the USFL's answer to the NFL's Dan Marino, and the league's second superstar player after Herschel Walker.
1984

Nice First Season

The Gamblers appeared in the playoffs in each of their two seasons, but suffered narrow first-round defeats both times. In 1984, the expansion Gamblers finished the regular season with the best record in the Western conference and were the favorites in the West to go to the championship game. They held a 16-3 lead over George Allen's star laden Arizona Wranglers with just 7 minutes remaining before falling 17-16 in a furious Wrangler comeback. The Wranglers would go on to play in the 1984 Championship Game.
1985

New Run N' Shoot

The Run N' Shoot attack of the Gamblers grew even stronger in 1985. Davis left to become head coach of the Denver Gold and was succeeded by special-teams coach John Jenkins. Jenkins' version of the Run N' Shoot brought more complexity and excitement to the Gamblers. In the first game of the season against the LA Express, down 31-13 with 8 minutes left in the 4th Quarter, the Gamblers became the first professional football team to use a no-huddle offense before a two-minute drill. The no-huddle would later become Kelly's base offense with the Buffalo Bills. The so-called "hurry-up offense" allowed the Gamblers to come back to win the game 34 - 33 which Sports Illustrated dubbed The Greatest Game Never Seen because it was not televised. In the first 5 games in 85, Jim Kelly had one of the hottest starts in professional football history. In Week 4 the Gamblers beat Mouse Davis's Denver Gold 36-17 in the first pro game to match two Run N' Shoot offenses. After this game Jim Kelly was on pace to throw for 7,434 yards and 78 touchdowns. Kelly suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for the last six games of the season. However, if you combine Kelly's and back up quarterback Todd Dillon's stats together, they threw for a combined 6,118 yards (Professional American Football Record). The Gamblers offense also set a record for the first time ever in professional football, had 3 receivers catch over 1,000 yards in Clarence Verdin, Gerald McNeil, and Richard Johnson. The team made the playoffs with a 10-8 record and again lost in a nailbiter to an excellent team, the 13-5 veteran, Cliff Stoudt/Joe Cribbs/Jim Smith-led Birmingham Stallions, 22-20.
1986

USFL Fold - Gamblers Outlook

Following the August 22, 1984 USFL Owners meeting where the majority of owners decided to move to the fall, things started to crumble for the league, especially for teams in cities with existing NFL teams, like the Gamblers. Kelly, one of the more public faces of the USFL, voiced the concerns of many fans when he called the schedule switch "100 percent" wrong, saying, "It's the worst thing they could have done." As it turned out, that would be the last game the Gamblers would ever play. While the Gamblers had been a solid draw the year before, area fans were not about to abandon the Houston Oilers. Attendance dropped by almost 9,000 from 1984. The resulting financial problems were so severe that at one point, the Gamblers had trouble making payroll. They needed an advance from the league just to go to the playoffs. Facing an expensive move to the fall and knowing they could not hope to compete with the Oilers, owner Jerry Argovitz and his partners decided to get out. After briefly entertaining an offer to move to New York City, they agreed to sell the Gamblers' assets to New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump for an undisclosed amount. Since the deal included the Gamblers' player contracts, it was widely reported as a merger. Trump immediately hired Pardee as coach. With an offense boasting Kelly and Walker, observers dubbed the new Generals the USFL's "dream team." Kelly was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a Generals uniform. That season however would never be played.

Team Information Team History
 

City:
Houston

Nickname:
Gamblers - Gambling requires three elements be present: consideration, chance and prize.

Stadium:
Houston Astrodome
1984 - 1985

Owner:
Alvin Lubetkin, Dr. Jerry Argovitz, Jay Roulier
1985
Alvin Lubetkin, Bernard Lerner, Dr. Jerry Argovitz, Fred Gerson
1984

Coaches:
Jack Pardee (23 wins - 15 losses)
1984 - 1985

 

 

Established: 1984

Original USFL Team: No

Final USFL Team: No

Team's Final Outlook: After briefly entertaining an offer to move to New York City, they agreed to sell the Gamblers' assets to New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump for an undisclosed amount. Since the deal included the Gamblers' player contracts, it was widely reported as a merger. Trump immediately hired Pardee as coach.

League History:
United States Football League
1984 - 1985

Team History:
Houston Gamblers
1984 - 1985

Accomplishments:
Division Championship Game (vs Birmingham Stallions 20 - 22)
1985
Division Championship Game (vs Arizona Wranglers 16 - 17)
1984
Averaged 28,152 in 1983 and 19,120 in 1984 (47,690 seat stadium)

  *Red is this team's history

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