The Blazers’ sizzling debut on August 14, 1971 attracted 13,439 fans, then the largest crowd to attend a professional sporting event in Arizona. The roster featured many former Arizona State University players, including quarterback “Spaghetti Joe” Spagnola, who the previous year had led the Sun Devils to an undefeated season capped by a victory in the Peach Bowl. The Blazers didn’t disappoint, routing the Pasadena Chiefs 44-0 en route to a perfect 15-0 championship season in the now-defunct Western Football League. Still, life was hardly wine and roses for the team. The Blazers endured exhausting travel conditions (such as nine-hour bus rides to away games), and team flights were so daunting that some personnel opted to travel on their own dime via commercial airlines rather than fly in the team’s bargain-basement chartered planes.
Unfortunately, the Blazers’ football dominance didn’t translate into financial success. After the home opener, attendance plummeted because of easy victories, hot weather, and fading novelty. Despite cash-flow problems, the Blazers were kept afloat by new investors who hoped to have an inside track should the National Football League (NFL) expand to Phoenix. After three tumultuous seasons in which the team played in a different stadium each year, the Blazers finally went bankrupt. The NFL wouldn’t arrive in the Valley until the St. Louis Cardinals relocated in 1988.
The Lincoln Legacy
North Phoenix owes two of its hospitals, a street name, a resort, and much of its community spirit to one visionary man. ...
‘Cue the Right Thing
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple might have looked redneck, but the western restaurant was a welcoming haven for all colors in Phoenix’s segregated ‘60s. ...
Thirty years before Woodstock made his maiden landing on Snoopy’s belly, a cat named Krazy was dodging bricks in a pioneering newspaper comic strip. ...
As Tempe celebrates its musical legacy, friends remember the troubled life of late Gin Blossoms guitarist Doug Hopkins. ...
Dr. Kenneth Hall operated a Sunnyslope hospital with a primate zoo until unauthorized medical surgeries used to illegally finance a nearby bowling alley led to his downfall ...