When the Posse started the 1994 season it was clear that CFL football would not last in Las Vegas. They were owned by a publicly held corporation whose public face was Cleveland, Ohio-based Nick Mileti (whose other sports holdings included the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the AHL’s Cleveland Barons), a man who took little direct involvement in team operations.
The team played at Sam Boyd Stadium in suburban Whitney. As was the problem at many of the other playing fields of the American CFL teams, the end zones at the stadium were only 15 yards long, instead of the usual 20 yards needed for the Canadian game. In addition, the stadium was uncovered and offered no protection from the infamous Las Vegas summer heat. Head coach Ron Meyer was seen at many practices running drills with no shirt on in the sweltering heat.
The Posse practiced on a smaller-than-regulation field (only 70 yards long) at the Riviera Casino and Resort, where a sign read “Field of ImPOSSEable Dreams.” With no marketing assistance from the league and a glut of other entertainment options, local interest was virtually nonexistent.
After the season, Mileti entered talks with a group from Milwaukee looking to move the Posse there. A group led by singer and business mogul Jimmy Buffett attempted to buy and relocate the franchise to Jackson, Mississippi. Buffett had gone so far as to begin assembling a front office (led by general manager Eric Tillman) and coaching staff (led by John Payne), and the CFL included the Jackson team in its 1995 draft schedule. Buffett’s first managing partner, William L. Collins, had a sale contract written up before the Posse’s board of directors unexpectedly raised the price of the team, prompting Collins to drop his bid. The CFL considered revoking the franchise and awarding a new expansion team to Collins, only to be threatened with a lawsuit from the Las Vegas board of directors. Another investor for Jackson, Norton Herrick, offered an even higher price than Collins but backed out when he could not secure the money to fund the team through its expected losses. As it was, the league, then seeking a U.S. television contract, was uncomfortable placing one of its franchises in one of the smallest and poorest media markets in America.
The league then voted to suspend the Posse’s franchise and give the team until December 1995 to sell the team. A dispersal draft was held for its players in 1995. Defensive end Derrell Robertson, who had been killed in a December 1994 car accident, was included; the league was unaware of Robertson’s death and included him in the pool of potential draftees, and the Ottawa Rough Riders selected him. Only after attempting—and failing—to find Robertson did the Rough Riders (and the league) realize that Robertson was dead. According to Riders coach Jim Gilstrap in a June 1995 Sports Illustrated article, “the league didn’t know he was dead until we told them, and we didn’t know until we couldn’t find him.”
The Las Vegas Posse were a Canadian Football League (CFL) team that played the 1994 season as part of the CFL’s short-lived American expansion. The Posse was one of the least successful CFL teams, both on the field and off.
1994 / Canadian Football League
1994 / Las Vegas Posse
Posse – Posse suggests togetherness, ruggedness and cribs from Nevada’s Wild West lore. Quite a nicname for a one-year wonder.
Grey Cup 0
1994 / Sam Boyd Stadium
1994 / Las Vegas Major League Sports, Inc.
*Blue is this team’s history