wranglers hlemet.png

Arizona Wranglers

Kevin Long Wranglers.jpg

“We really had to struggle that second year to get to the championship game,” Spencer recalls. “The game wasn’t even that close [Philadelphia won 23-3].  I felt terrible because the Stars beat us badly. Also, we didn’t put it together the first year when everyone picked us to win it all with the Blitz.”

Tim Spencer 2005

Tim Spencer getting some blocking help from Tom Thayer, who went on to play for the Bears

The Chicago Blitz & Arizona Wranglers were a strange pair of teams that swapped franchises before reality television was the in thing.  The Blitz were the favorites going into the 1983 season because they had seasoned NFL veterans on the roster. Veteran NFL players like Dan Jiggetts, Doug Plank, Stan White, Perry Hartnett, Virgil Livers, Wally Pesuit, Bobby Scott, and Joe Federspiel led the Blitz to a 12-6 record under the legendary coach of George Allen. Rookies like WR Trumaine Johnson and RB Tim Spencer helped the aging quarterback Greg Landry put up 451 points in 18 games. The Blitz had a huge fourth-quarter lead over the Stars, but Philadelphia came back to beat Chicago 44-38 in OT, and go on to the USFL Championship against the Michigan Panthers.

In 1984, the owners of the Blitz and Wranglers swapped franchises:  Chicago’s owner Ted Dietrich, who lived in Phoenix, bought the Arizona Wranglers and sold the Blitz to James Hoffman, the Wranglers’ owner. In essence, the 1984 Blitz were actually the 1983 Wranglers and vice versa. This was a disaster for the Chicago franchise because the Wranglers won only four games in 1983.

Ironically, the "old" Blitz fulfilled expectation as the Wranglers, making it to the USFL Championship,  while the "new" Blitz suffered through a dismal season and folded at the end of the year.

Things were so bad in Chicago, that sometimes the chartered bus wouldn’t pickup the players after the game because the bill wasn’t paid.

Evans returned to the NFL and played until 1995. At the age of 40, he  led the Oakland Raiders to a 17-point come-from-behind win over the Jets in 1993.