1984: The Memphis Showboats were on of six expansion teams to join the USFL, in the upstart league’s second season. Owned by food manufacturer Logan Young, the Showboats were coached by Pepper Rodgers. The team got a big boost when they were able to sign University of Tennessee star pass rusher Reggie White after he was selected with a territorial pick in the USFL Draft. After losing the season opener at the Liberty Bowl to the Philadelphia Stars, the Showboats earned their first win in Week 2 against the Chicago Blitz, winning 23-13. The Showboats had a strong defense, led by Reggie White who provided an imposing figure, with 12 sacks. However, Memphis struggled on offense as they lost seven of their first nine games. The Showboats would make a run at .500, winning five of six but lost their final three games and finished the season with a record of 7-11. Walter Lewis and Mike Kelley split time at quarterback. Lewis was a double threat passing for 1,862 yards with 15 touchdowns while rushing for 552 yards with five touchdowns. Kelley meanwhile, passed for 1,014 yards with eight touchdowns. Alan Reid rushed for 723 yards to lead the team, while Derrick Crawford was the Showboats leading pass catcher with 703 yards with 12 touchdowns.
1985: The Memphis Showboats started strong in their second season, winning their first three games, including a solid 21-19 win over the Baltimore Stars in their home opener. However, the Showboats struggled once again to find consistency on offense, as they lost their next four games and five of their next six games. Mike Kelley and Walter Lewis again split time at quarterback with Kelley passing for 2,186 yards with nine touchdowns, while Lewis was a double threat, passing for 1,593 yards with 16 touchdowns, adding 591 yards rushing and four scores. Tim Spencer led Memphis in rushing with 789 yards with three touchdowns. Derrick Crawford had another solid season, with 1,057 yards and nine touchdowns, while Greg Moser added 1,145 yards with six touchdowns. After their slump, the Showboats got back on track, winning four straight as Reggie White had another monster season with 11.5 sacks as the Showboats closing the season with three straight wins made the playoffs by finishing with a record of 11-7.
1985 USFL Playoffs: Hosting the Denver Gold, the Memphis Showboats came out strong in their first playoff game, winning 48-7 to advance to the semifinals. The Showboats offense was led by Ricky Porter who had a pair of touchdown runs, while Tim Spencer rushed for 113 yards as a solid crowd of 34,528 filled the Liberty Bowl. The Showboats got another big crowd of 37,796 as they hosted the Oakland Invaders in the semifinals. Things looked good early for Memphis, as they held a 13-7 lead early in the third quarter. However, the Invaders took over scoring three straight touchdowns. The Showboats would get inch back in the game on a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:19 left. The two point try would be unsuccessful as a holding call prevented the game from getting closer. The Invaders would go on to win the game 28-19 to advance to the USFL Championship.
1986: As the USFL prepared to begin playing in the fall, the Memphis Showboats appeared to be one the league’s most healthy teams as cotton magnate William Dunavant purchased a controlling interest and gave them strong financial resources. Some say Dunavant’s goal was to get the NFL to invite the Showboats to join, hoping the lawsuit would bring a merger. However, the merger and fall USFL football never came into existence as the league did not get enough money in the trial, receiving just $1 in damages. Reggie White after the folding of the USFL, would go on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL as one of the premier pass rushers over the following decade.
©MMXVII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the United States Football League. This site is not affiliated with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on January 29, 2017. Last updated on January 29, 2017at 10:40 pm ET.