Order the new book, The United States Football League, 1982–1986.
Years of existence: 1983-1985
Owner: Ron Blanding (1984), Douglas Spedding (1985)
Stadium: Mile High Stadium (75,123)
Colors: Black, old gold and white
Overall Regular Season Record: 27-27 (.500)
Overall Playoff Record: 0-1
Yearly Standings and Average Home Attendances1983: 7-11 (41,736)
1984: 9-9 (33,953)
1985: 11-7 (14,446)
The USFL's announced move to the fall absolutely killed the Denver Gold. Despite yearly improvement, the Gold's crowds dwindled from the league leaders to gatherings one-third of what they had been. The Denver fans had no desire to support a team that wanted to go toe-to-toe with their beloved Broncos
The Gold topped the league in attendance in 1983 even though their roster was devoid of any big name players. Denver, in fact, kept closer to the original USFL plan of controlling player costs and building slowly than any other team. They were at constant odds with free-spending teams like the 1983 Chicago Blitz and 1984-85 New Jersey Generals, but always remained a competitive franchise. An anemic offense, though, held back the circuit's third best defense. Popular former Broncos coach Red Miller was replaced by former Denver quarterback Craig Morton midway through the campaign.
Denver improved to within one game of the playoffs the following year. The offense got better, but the defense slipped a bit. Harry Sydney ran for 960 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 44 passes for an additional 354 yards. Craig Penrose performed well at quarterback, and defensive end David Stalls led the defensive unit with 12.5 sacks.
New coach Mouse Davis and quarterbacks Vince Evans and Bob Gagliano brought a whole new attitude to the Gold offense in 1985. The offense rocketed to fourth in the league, and the Gold finished second in the Western Conference to Oakland. Runningback Bill Johnson rushed for 1,261 yards (5.9 per carry) and 15 TDs, Leonard Harris caught 101 passes for 1,432 yards, and Marc Lewis grabbed 75 balls for 1,207 yard in the Gold's run and shoot attack. Denver's season and existence ended at the hands of the Memphis Showboats, 48-7, in the first round of the playoffs.Their Finest Hour: There was no love lost between the cost-conscious Gold and the free-spending Chicago Blitz. In the teams' first meeting in 1983, the squads battled in a USFL rarity- a wind chill of four degrees at Soldier Field. Chicago and its veteran defense controlled most of the game, and the Blitz took a 10-0 lead after the first period. Denver tied the game before halftime thanks to a Brian Speelman field goal and a 30-yard TD run by Harry Sydney. Chicago retook the lead on a field goal early in the fourth, but the Gold drove down the field in the final seven minutes and found themselves facing a fourth and goal at the Blitz one with 22 seconds left. Red Miller, eschewing the certain field goal for a tie, called QB Ken Johnson's number instead. Johnson squirmed through the line on a sneak and scored the winning TD in the Gold's 16-13 win, sweet revenge for owner Ron Blanding.
1983 Denver Gold Roster|
1984 Denver Gold Roster
1985 Denver Gold Roster
1983 Denver Gold Statistics |
1984 Denver Gold Statistics
1985 Denver Gold Statistics