Gold Coach Craig Morton
Denver's Neil Hope
& John Nevens
The Gold were the only team that made money in its inaugural season – averaging more than 41,000 a game. Real estate tycoon Ron Blanding brought spring football to the Mile High City. He turned to former Broncos’ head coach “Red” Miller. Miller was an idol in Denver because he brought the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 1978. The 1983 Gold featured former Denver Broncos Jeff Knapple and “Lumpy” Hyde.
Right from the start, the Gold
were a frugal franchise that
didn’t want to spend money
on its draft picks. Coach
Miller was fired in late May of
the inaugural season.
The Gold were one of the franchises that ran a tight financial ship – which kept the talent level low. Blanding had done his best too keep costs down, but he knew the fans would not support a loser for long. He demanded a better showing, and when Miller was unable to produce, he was fired - the first USFL coach to get the ax (thiistheusfl – eric koppish).
The Gold were off to a 4-7 start, and attendance dropped to 33,000 following Miller’s firing. Blanding looked to another Denver legend, former Bronco QB Craig Morton to coach the team. Morton won all three home games, but lost the three road games as Denver finished 7-11. Despite the franchises poor performance, Denver led the league in attendance with 41,736 fans per game.
The Gold finished the ’84 campaign by going 9-9, but attedance drop to 33,953. Mouse Davis took over for Morton in ’85, and QB Bob Gagliano started using the Run-n-Shoot offense, which would enter the NFL in a few years. The Gold finished with a 27-27 record in its three years of existence, making the playoffs once.
The Gold drew a disappointing 14,000 fans per game in ’85, after leading the league in attendance in 1983. The announcement of the move to a fall schedule really hurt the Gold because they would go head-to-head against the beloved Broncos -- not a smart move. So they merged with the Jacksonville for the ’86 season – the year that never was.