Continental Football League

The Continental Football League (COFL) was a professional American football league that operated in North America from 1965 through 1969. It was established following the collapse of the original United Football League, and hoped to become the major force in professional football outside the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). It owed its name, at least in part, to the Continental League, a proposed third Major League Baseball organization that influenced MLB significantly (but never played a single game).

Four Continental Football League contributors are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most of any league not considered a major league: coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Ken Stabler, Doak Walker and Steve Van Buren (the last two of whom were inducted as players but were coaches in this league). Sam Wyche, Bob Kuechenberg, Garo Yepremian and Otis Sistrunk were among the other players and coaches who would later gain fame in the NFL, while a few others, such as Don Jonas and Tom Wilkinson, would emerge as stars in the Canadian Football League.

Continental Football League
Continentalfoyujtr
SportAmerican football
Founded1965
Ceased1969
No. of teams22
CountriesUnited States
Canada
Mexico
Last
champion(s)
Indianapolis Capitols
Most titlesOrlando Panthers (2)

History

1965 season

The formation of the Continental Football League (CFL) was announced on February 6, 1965. The league was primarily formed by minor-league teams that had played in the United Football League and Atlantic Coast Football League.[1]

A. B. "Happy" Chandler, former Kentucky governor and senator and retired Major League Baseball commissioner, was named CFL commissioner on March 17, 1965.

The league originally adopted a "professional" appearance. Teams were sorted into two divisions and each team had a 36-man roster with a five-man "taxi" squad. The rules were primarily those of the NFL except that a "sudden death" overtime period was employed to break ties, which was not part of the NFL during the regular season at that time.

To reinforce an image of league autonomy, teams were restricted from loaning players to, or receiving optioned players from, the NFL or AFL.

The first CFL season opened with three games played on August 14, 1965. Before the season began, the Springfield, Massachusetts, franchise moved to Norfolk, Virginia. The Norfolk club went on to become the most successful team in the league at the box office and held several minor league attendance records throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

1966 season

In 1966, the league began abandoning the "league autonomy" posture by striving to establish working relationships with NFL and AFL clubs. Commissioner Chandler, charging that the league was altering the terms under which he had accepted the position, resigned on January 20, 1966. He was replaced by CFL Secretary Sol Rosen, owner of the Newark Bears. Rosen sold the Bears to Tom Granatell, who promptly moved the team to Orlando.

The league engaged in some unsuccessful preseason negotiations with the Empire Sports Network to obtain a television broadcasting agreement. However, it was able to get ABC to broadcast the championship game on the Wide World of Sports; ABC paid the league $500 for the rights to the game.[2]

The Brooklyn Dodgers, although under the general managership of baseball Dodgers player Jackie Robinson,[3] failed to attract at the gate. Part of the problem was that they were playing nowhere near Brooklyn: their home games were at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island.

Evidently, the Dodgers had trouble securing home dates at Downing; a season-ticket application showed only five home games[4] in a fourteen-game schedule. In any event, small crowds (only 29,500 combined for four games, including 12,000 for an exhibition contest) caused the franchise to become a league-operated "road club" in October; one home game against Hartford was moved to Connecticut, and their final "home" contest was shifted to Memorial Stadium in Mount Vernon, New York.[5]

Charleston's Coy Bacon, 1966 CFL All-Star end, went on to play for the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins.

The league also established farm team relationships with semi-pro clubs (for instance, the Dodgers affiliated with the Liberty Football Conference's Long Island Jets in 1966).[6]

1967 season

EASTERN DIVISION

WESTERN DIVISION


The CFL added a Western Division for the 1967 season. The division comprised established minor-league teams in British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington. But four small western franchises, in Eugene, Oregon, Long Beach and San Jose, California and Victoria, B.C., left the league after the season. The Toronto Rifles actually folded midseason, under unusual circumstances: the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League raided the Rifles roster and signed away the Rifles head coach, starting quarterback and starting running back, leaving the team unable to continue.

The remnants of the Brooklyn Dodgers were sold to Frank Hurn, who moved the team to Akron, Ohio as the Akron Vulcans. Hurn used only $2,000 of his own money and $50,000 of Chicago Outfit funding to buy the team and swindled numerous businessmen into providing lavish benefits for his team for which he would never pay. Under Hurn, the team lost $100,000 after just three weeks of play, forcing his big-budget head coaches, Doak Walker and Lou Rymkus, to front their own money to keep the team afloat; Hurn never paid the either the coaches or players for their services, and the Wheeling Ironmen ended up paying the Vulcans' salaries for what would be the Vulcans' fourth and final game in order to avoid a strike. Hurn would later amass a long track record of criminal activity after his time in Akron.[7]

Such instability marked the season for the CFL, particularly because the league could not improve upon its overall "semi-pro" public image. Inability to establish working relationships with NFL and AFL teams was a contributing factor. The league's breakthrough television contract with the upstart United Network was another: the network ended up folding prior to the 1967 season it was supposed to broadcast, leaving the CFL without a television partner yet again.[2][8][9]

The San Jose Apaches in 1967 were coached by Bill Walsh, who later achieved great success as the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

1968 season

In February 1968, the CFL merged with the Professional Football League of America (PFLA), in order to expand into the midwestern United States.[10] The Quad Cities franchise moved to Las Vegas midway through the 1968 season.

Danny Hill succeeded Rosen as CFL commissioner. Hill established a weekly payroll ceiling of $200 per player and $5,000 per team.

Ken Stabler played two games for the Spokane Shockers in 1968. Stabler later became the Continental league's first Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee as a player through his work with the Oakland Raiders of the NFL.

The Michigan Arrows began their season with a soccer-style kicker named Garo Yepremian, who had played the previous season with the Detroit Lions but had found himself out of work because of military service. Yepremian later found Super Bowl fame in the NFL as a member of the Miami Dolphins.

On September 8, 1968, Glen Hepburn, a two-way player for the Omaha Mustangs, suffered an in-game injury from which he died four days later; it would be the only fatality in the league's history.

The Orange County Ramblers were featured in the 1968 film Skidoo, in a credited role as stand-ins for a nude Green Bay Packers team. The Ramblers offense is seen, from behind, wearing nothing but helmets, during a scene in which a security guard is hallucinating due to the effects of LSD.

1969 season

Jim Dunn replaced Hill as league commissioner for the 1969 season.

The league expanded into Texas by absorbing the Texas Football League, which also brought the first and, to date, only team from Mexico to play in a professional American football league, the Mexico Golden Aztecs (whose owner, Red McCombs, would later buy the NFL's Minnesota Vikings). Midway through the season, the Hawaii franchise moved to Portland, Oregon.

The CFL entered the 1969 season with high hopes. That optimism was exemplified by the Orlando Panthers' bidding for the services of the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner, halfback O.J. Simpson of the University of Southern California (USC). The Panthers made an offer of $400,000 (nearly double the entire team's salary) for Simpson to play for the Panthers if his negotiations with the Buffalo Bills fell through; they did not, and Simpson signed with Buffalo for the 1969 season.[11]

But CFL attendance averaged approximately 5,700 spectators per game (the top attended team, Norfolk, had 13,000), insufficient to offset the lack of a TV contract. These economics contributed to the ultimate demise of the league after the 1969 season. Plans for an interleague exhibition between the CFL champion Capitols and the Canadian Football League champion Ottawa Rough Riders had been laid, but the Rough Riders backed out.

The Alabama Hawks played a pre-season game against the NFL's Atlanta Falcons rookies, losing 55–0.

The Indianapolis Capitols featured a rookie quarterback named Johnnie Walton during the 1969 season. Walton would become a regular in second-tier professional football; after several failed attempts to get onto an NFL roster in the early 1970s, Walton got his break in the World Football League, starting for the San Antonio Wings in 1975. Walton would spend the 1976–79 seasons as an NFL backup, then came out of retirement in 1983 to lead the Boston Breakers of the United States Football League.

CFL's alum Don Jonas did not reach the NFL, but instead chose to play in Canada after the 1969 season. As Orlando Panthers quarterback, he played four seasons before joining the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL). Jonas led Orlando to the 1967 and 1968 CFL championships, and was named the league's Most Valuable Player for each season. He also paced the Panthers to the 1966 championship game, which they lost to Philadelphia in overtime; and to the CFL semifinal game in 1969. Don was inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Hall of Fame in 1983.

Obert "Butch" Logan, a receiver, defensive back and player-coach, played his penultimate season in professional football with the Continental league's San Antonio Toros. Logan is notable for being the last professional football player to wear the singular jersey number zero (two others, Ken Burrough and Jim Otto, would wear a double zero, 00, into the 1970s).

The End of the COFL

A number of franchises folded or defected during and after the conclusion of the 1969 season, making the end of the COFL all but inevitable.

  • September 21, 1969: The Mexico Golden Aztecs ceased operations and forfeited the remainder of their 1969 schedule.[12]
  • December 15, 1969: The COFL revoked the franchises of the Chicago Owls, Ohio Valley Ironmen, and Omaha Mustangs for failure to meet the league's financial obligations.[13]
  • February 18, 1970: The Jersey Jays moved to the Atlantic Coast Football League (ACFL).[14]
  • March 11, 1970: The San Antonio Toros announced the formation of the Trans-American Football League, taking with them the Fort Worth Braves and Dallas Rockets. The TAFL initially planned to be a nationwide league with teams in various major markets;[15] by the time it began play in fall 1970, this was not the case, and the Omaha Mustangs (the only TAFL team to play outside Texas) and Texarkana Titans had joined the league.
  • March 27, 1970: The Arkansas Diamonds folded.[16]
  • April 4, 1970: The Indianapolis Capitols, Norfolk Neptunes and Orlando Panthers moved to the ACFL.[17]
  • May 2, 1970: The ACFL held a dispersal draft of players from the Las Vegas Cowboys, Ohio Valley Ironmen, Arkansas Diamonds, Chicago Owls, Tri-City Apollos, and Alabama Hawks.[18]
  • July 2, 1970: The Sacramento Capitols folded after selling less than half of the 3,000 season tickets needed to remain viable.[19] By this point, only Spokane, Portland and Seattle remained in the league. Spokane was, according to secondhand reports, ready to play, but there would not be enough teams to do so; Portland's failure to answer phone calls marked the effective end of the league.[20]

On March 10, 1970, COFL commissioner James Dunn announced his resignation effective the end of that month.[21] No replacement was ever found, and there was never any announcement of the league's cessation.

Championship games

Season Date Winning Team Score Losing Team MVP Venue Attendance
1965 November 28, 1965 Charleston Rockets 24–7 Toronto Rifles n/a Laidley Field 7,100
1966 December 4, 1966 Philadelphia Bulldogs 10–3 (OT) Orlando Panthers n/a Temple Stadium 5,226
1967 December 10, 1967 Orlando Panthers 38-14 Orange County Ramblers n/a Anaheim Stadium 8,730
1968 November 30, 1968 Orlando Panthers 51–10 Orange County Ramblers n/a Tangerine Bowl 10,134
1969 December 13, 1969 Indianapolis Capitols 44-38 (OT) San Antonio Toros n/a Bush Stadium 7,019

Notable people and achievements

League MVP awards

  • 1965: Bob Brodhead (QB, Philadelphia Bulldogs) & Joe Williams (FB, Toronto Rifles)[22]
  • 1968: Don Jonas (QB, Orlando Panthers)
  • 1969: John Walton (QB, Indianapolis Capitols)

Coach of the Year

  • 1969: Ken Carpenter, Indianapolis Capitols

External links

See also

References

  1. ^ "2 Leagues merge for new season". The Chicago Tribune. February 7, 1965. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Booster Club of the Continental Football League". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  3. ^ "A Roundup Of The Sports Information Of The Week". Sports Illustrated. May 9, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011. HIRED: JACKIE ROBINSON, 47, former Brooklyn Dodger baseball star, as general manager of the new Brooklyn Dodger professional football team of the Continental League.
  4. ^ "Booster Club of the Continental Football League". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  5. ^ "Brooklyn Dodgers football (CFL)". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "Long Island Jets football". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Bill Lilley. "A false start". www.ohio.com. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Fourth Steps Forth". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  9. ^ "New TV Chain Gets Continental League". Fresno Bee. Associated Press. November 23, 1966.
  10. ^ "Continental, Professional Leagues Join". Chicago Tribune. United Press International. February 5, 1968. pp. 2–3.
  11. ^ Kentucky New Era https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=qukrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=tgUGAAAAIBAJ&pg=3093,6207410&dq=continental-football-league&hl=en. Retrieved December 21, 2014 – via Google News Archive Search. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Guys, Carl (September 23, 1969). "Inflation Deflates". Del Rio (Texas) News-Herald.
  13. ^ "Ironmen Franchise Revoked by CFL". Beckley Post-Herald. Associated Press. December 16, 1969. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Jersey Jays to Join Atlantic Coast Loop". The Bridgeport Post. Associated Press. February 19, 1970. p. 36.
  15. ^ The Evening Independent https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=dZxhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QVcDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6451,2825814&dq=trans-american+football+league&hl=en. Retrieved December 21, 2014 – via Google News Archive Search. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Diamonds Are Defunct". The El Dorado Times. Associated Press. March 27, 1970. p. 8.
  17. ^ "Three COFL Teams Join Atlantic League". The Tipton (Indiana) Daily Tribune. United Press International. April 6, 1970. p. 4.
  18. ^ "Birds Draft 13; Complete Trade". The Pottstown Mercury. May 4, 1970. p. 15.
  19. ^ "Capitols Fold, Lack of Fans". The Fresno Bee. July 3, 1970. p. 15.
  20. ^ Spokane Daily Chronicle https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jQg0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=OPgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6757,488619&dq=continental-football-league&hl=en. Retrieved December 21, 2014 – via Google News Archive Search. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "COFL Boss Resigns Post". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Associated Press. March 11, 1970.
  22. ^ "Bulldogs Brodhead Given MVP Award". Evening Journal. Associated Press. November 27, 1965.
1965 Continental Football League season

The 1965 CFL season was the first season of the Continental Football League (CFL). The CFL entered its inaugural season with franchises in Philadelphia, Springfield, Massachusetts, Newark, New Jersey, Toronto, Wheeling, West Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Charleston, West Virginia, Hartford, Connecticut, Providence, Rhode Island, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Bob Gaiters

Robert James Gaiters (born February 26, 1938) is an American former National Football League player.

Gaiters attended Santa Ana Junior College, and transferred to New Mexico State University in 1959. He was a star player on its Aggies football team. A fast tailback weighing over two hundred pounds, Gaiters helped lead the Aggies during their undefeated season in 1960, and claimed the collegiate national championships in rushing and scoring.He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1961 American Football League Draft and by the New York Giants in the 1961 NFL Draft. He played two seasons in the NFL, spending time with the Giants and San Francisco 49ers. Gaiters spent the 1963 season with the Broncos of the AFL. He then played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1964.Gaiters finished his career in the Continental Football League where he played for the Newark Bears in 1965, the Hartford Charter Oaks in 1966 and the Orange County Ramblers in 1967.

Brooklyn Dodgers (Continental Football League)

The Brooklyn Dodgers were a football team that played one season in the minor Continental Football League in 1966. They were not related to the former National Football League or All-America Football Conference clubs of that name.

Charlie Brandon

Charlie Brandon is a former award-winning, all-star and Grey Cup champion lineman in the Canadian Football League playing 7 seasons with the Ottawa Rough Riders.A graduate of Shaw University, Brandon started his career playing one game for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1967. He then spent 3 seasons in the Continental Football League playing for the semi-pro Norfolk Neptunes. He returned to Canada and began a 7-year stay in Ottawa, where he was a part of the feared "Capital Punishment" defensive unit. He won two Grey Cups and in his final season switched to offensive guard, and was an all-star. He was the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player in 1973.

City Stadium (Richmond)

City Stadium is a sports stadium in Richmond, Virginia. It is owned by the City of Richmond and is located south of the Carytown district off the Downtown Expressway. The stadium was built in 1929 and seats approximately 22,000 people. It has been used by the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League since 1995.The stadium was used by the University of Richmond for American football from 1929 to 2009. The University of Richmond's final home football game at the stadium was played on December 5, 2009 against Appalachian State University in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

From 1964 through 1967, the stadium was home to the Richmond Rebels of the Atlantic Coast Football League and the Continental Football League. The Rebels left the Continental Football League in 1967 to become the Richmond Mustangs of the United American Football League.University of Richmond Stadium served as the site of the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship from 1995 to 1998, in which it broke an attendance record when 22,512 visited a soccer match at the venue, between the St. Louis Billikens and SIU Edwardsville. For a time in the mid-2000s, the stadium also hosted Virginia's high school football state championship games.

Don Jonas

Donald Walter Jonas (born December 3, 1938) is a former American football player and coach. Jonas played in the American minor leagues (semi-pro) and the Canadian Football League. He was also the first head coach of the UCF Knights (1979–1981).

George Haffner

George Haffner is a former American football player and coach.

Born in Chicago, Haffner prepped at football powerhouse Mount Carmel High School. While at the University of Notre Dame in 1960, Haffner was awarded the starting quarterback job by head coach Joe Kuharich. His first game was an impressive 21–17 victory over California. However, the team finished the season with 2–8 record, and after losing the starting job to Daryle Lamonica, Haffner transferred to McNeese State University.

Following his graduation, Haffner was selected by the Baltimore Colts with the final pick in the 1965 NFL Draft. His professional career ended with the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental Football League, after which he returned to the college ranks as a coach.

Haffner spent 31 years on various coaching staffs at NCAA Division I schools including 22 years as an offensive coordinator under such renowned head coaches as Bobby Bowden, Johnny Majors and Vince Dooley. While at the University of Georgia, he won a national championship and three conference championships and coached Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. During his career, he coached at Iowa State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Florida State University, Texas A&M University, Georgia, Louisiana State University (LSU), the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. He retired as the offensive coordinator Mary Hardin–Baylor on February 1, 2006.

Hartford Charter Oaks

The Hartford Charter Oaks were a professional American football team based in Hartford, Connecticut. They began play in 1964 as a member of the Atlantic Coast Football League, replacing the Ansonia Black Knights. In 1965 the Charter Oaks were one of several ACFL franchises to join the new Continental Football League, where they finished in last place in their division.After cancelling a few games in 1968 due to financial difficulty, the Charter Oaks announced they were ceasing operations in March 1968. The team cited losses of approximately $250,000. The Atlantic Coast Football League immediately established the Hartford Knights to replace the Charter Oaks in the market, and by at least one player's account (that of eventual Pro Bowl fullback Marv Hubbard), the Knights were still known as the Charter Oaks for at least their first season. The Knights would play for the next six seasons, winning the ACFL title in 1968, appearing in but losing the title games every year from 1969 to 1971, and winning the Seaboard Football League in 1972.

Indianapolis Capitols

The Indianapolis Capitols were a professional American football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Capitols started play in 1968 as members of the Continental Football League and played their home games at Bush Stadium. The team won the CFL championship in 1969, the final season of the league. On April 4, 1970, with the future of the CFL uncertain, the Capitols moved to the rival Atlantic Coast Football League.After just one season in the ACFL, Indianapolis announced that it was ceasing operations due to a lack of fan support and adequate playing facilities.A reconstituted version of the Indianapolis Capitols started play in the Midwest Football League in 1972.

Jeff Van Note

Jeffrey Aloysius Van Note (born February 7, 1946) is a former American football center who played for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He played college football for the University of Kentucky. The Atlanta Falcons picked him in the eleventh round of the 1969 NFL Draft.

Lee Grosscup

Clyde Lee Edward Grosscup (born December 27, 1936) is a former American football player and broadcaster.

List of Continental Football League teams

The Continental Football League was an American football league that operated in North America from 1965 through 1969. The league was primarily formed by minor-league teams that had played in the United and Atlantic Coast football leagues. In February 1968, the ContFL merged with the Professional Football League of America (PFLA), in order to expand into the midwestern United States. In 1969, the league expanded into Texas by absorbing the Texas Football League, which also brought the first (and, to date, only) team from Mexico to play in a professional American football league, the Mexico Golden Aztecs.

Mack Reynolds (American football)

Mack Charles "M.C." Reynolds (February 11, 1935 – September 8, 1991) was an American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Chicago Cardinals and the Washington Redskins. Reynolds also played in the American Football League for the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders. In five seasons, he played 39 games and had 2,932 passing yards.Reynolds played college football at Louisiana State University.

Montreal Beavers

The Montreal Beavers were a professional American football team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The franchise began as the Indianapolis Warriors of the United Football League in 1961, where they played for four seasons. During that time the Warriors made the UFL playoffs three times, and advanced to the league championship in 1964. The team moved to Fort Wayne in January 1965, and became a charter member of the Continental Football League when it was formed the next month.

Unable to find financial success in Indiana, team owner Al Savill sold the Warriors to a group from Montreal led by construction magnate, and former Montreal Alouette, Johnny Newman in March 1966. Led by former South Carolina head coach Marvin Bass, the Beavers finished with a 7-7 record in 1966 and a 4-8 mark in 1967. The team denied rumors of a sale in early 1968, but nevertheless folded before the season began.

Orange/Newark Tornadoes

The Orange Tornadoes and Newark Tornadoes were two manifestations of a long-lived professional American football franchise that existed in some form from 1887 to 1941 and from 1958 to 1970, having played in the National Football League from 1929 to 1930, the American Association from 1936 to 1941, the Atlantic Coast Football League from 1963 to 1964 and 1970, and the Continental Football League from 1965 to 1969. The team was based for most of its history in Orange, New Jersey, with many of its later years in Newark. Its last five seasons of existence were as the Orlando Panthers, when the team was based in Orlando, Florida. The NFL franchise was sold back to the league in October 1930. The team had four head coaches in its two years in the NFL – Jack Depler in Orange, and Jack Fish, Al McGall and Andy Salata in Newark.

Orange County Ramblers

The Orange County Ramblers were a professional football team that competed in the Continental Football League from 1967 to 1968. The Ramblers played their home games in Santa Ana, California and Anaheim, California. The team was coached both seasons by Homer Beatty, who had won a small college national title at Santa Ana College in 1962.

Otis Sistrunk

Otis Sistrunk (born September 18, 1946 in Columbus, Georgia) is a former professional football player who played seven seasons as a defensive lineman, from 1972 to 1978. He played his entire National Football League (NFL) career with the Oakland Raiders. Sistrunk later became a professional wrestler in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).

Richmond Rebels (Continental Football League)

The Richmond Rebels were a professional American football team based in Richmond, Virginia. They began play in 1964 as a member of the Atlantic Coast Football League. The Rebels became a charter member of the Continental Football League in 1965. The team consistently lost money for its owners, so after the 1966 CFL season the franchise was first put up for sale and then returned to the league. When new ownership could not be found the team's players were offered in a dispersal draft, putting an end to the franchise.

Toronto Rifles

The Toronto Rifles were a minor-league professional American football team active between 1964 and 1967. It was based in Toronto, Ontario. The team's home fields were Maple Leaf Stadium (1965) and Varsity Stadium from 1966 to 1967. The team was owned by Montreal businessman Johnny Newman.

As the Quebec Rifles, the team was the first professional American football team to be based in Canada. It played the 1964 season in Montreal, Quebec in the original United Football League. When the Continental Football League (COFL) was established for the 1965 season with former UFL teams, the Quebec Rifles were admitted and transferred to Toronto to become the Toronto Rifles due to the lack of a suitable facility in Montreal. The Rifles competed in the Continental League from 1965–67, but the owners pulled out in the middle of their final season after having lost a reported $400,000 in their final full season. The league took over the club and planned to have it play all of its games on the road, but several weeks later the team folded after having played only four games.The team finished second in the league in 1965, losing to the Charleston Rockets in the league championship. In 1967, however, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts signed away the Rifles' head coach, Leo Cahill, quarterback Tom Wilkinson and running back Joe Williams. Meanwhile, Alan Eagleson took over the franchise. The team declared bankruptcy four games into the 1967 season and the league folded the franchise at the same time as the Akron Vulcans.

The Rifles had a Canadian-based rival, the Montreal Beavers, when in the Continental Football League.

Continental Football League
Seasons
Teams
Professional gridiron football leagues in North America

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.