1983: As the USFL was starting, it sought to take advantage of the void left behind when the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles. Owned by Bay Area real estate magnates Jim Joseph and Tad Taube, the team would pick a similar sounding name the Oakland Invaders. Both owners had a chance to take over the Los Angeles franchise with a coin flip deciding who would get the LA team, with Taube remaining at the head of the Invaders. Joseph would not get the Los Angeles Express and instead owned the Arizona Wranglers. The Oakland Invaders were coach by John Ralston a former coach of the Denver Broncos, who also coached at Stanford. The Invaders started the season with an impressive 24-0 win over the Arizona Wranglers on the road. However, a week later in the home opener at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, the Invaders lost in overtime to the Birmingham Stallions 20-14. The Invaders would go up and down all season as they hovered near .500, finishing with a record of 9-9. However, with the rest of the Pacific Conference struggling, the Invaders finished in first place. The Invaders offense was led by Fred Besana who was the second leading passer in the USFL with 3,980 yards with 21 touchdowns. The Invaders rushing attack was led by former Raider Art Whittington who gained 1,157 yards with six touchdowns. Raymond Chester a former Raider also had a solid season, with 951 yards and five touchdowns as he was one the USFL’s top Tight Ends.
1983 USFL Playoffs: The Oakland Invaders would face the Michigan Panthers in the playoffs, with a USFL record 60,237 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Invaders were able to quiet the fans early, as Fred Besana scored on a one yard sneak to give Oakland an early 7-0 lead. However, the Panthers would answer with 17 points in the second quarter to take a 17-7 lead into the half. The Invaders would creep back in the game in the third quarter as David Shaw intercepted a pass by Bobby Hebert and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. However, the Panthers offense kept controlling the game and eventually raced out to a 37-14 lead, before Oakland scored a cosmetic touchdown in the final seconds. The Panthers would follow up the 37-21 victory by capturing the first USFL Championship against the Philadelphia Stars.
1984: After losing in the USFL Semifinals the Oakland Invaders came into their second season looking to improve, but stumbled out the gate badly as they scored just one touchdown over their first three games, which led to dismissal of coach John Ralston. The Invaders did not fare much better with his replacement Chuck Hutchison as they lost their first nine games, scoring a total of 82 points. Late in the season the Invaders showed some signs of life with the late season emergence of Eric Jordan who led the team with 744 yards rushing as they won seven of their last nine games and finished the season with a record or 7-11.
1985: Following their disappointing season, the Oakland Invaders got a major upgrade in talent when they merged with the Michigan Panthers, who did not want to complete against the NFL after the USFL decided to move its games to the fall for the 1986 season. A. Alfred Taubman who had owned the Panthers would become the principal owner of the Invaders. Charlie Summer who had been a longtime assistant coach with the Raiders assumed the coaching duties for the new look Oakland Invaders. It was clear right from the start the Invaders were one of the strongest teams in the USFL as they began the season with 31-10 win over the Denver Gold. A week later the Invaders battled the Baltimore Stars to a 17-17 tie. The Invaders would go on to dominate the Western Conference, finishing in first place with a league best record of 13-4-1. The Invaders offense was led by Bobby Hebert who passed for 3,811 yards with 30 touchdowns. A majority of Hebert’s passes were reeled in by Anthony Carter who had 1,323 yards with 14 touchdowns. The Invaders rushing attack was led by Albert Bentley and John Williams who combined to rush for 1,877 yards.
1985 UFL Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Oakland Invaders battled the Tampa Bandits in the first round. The game was tight throughout and tied 27-27 in the final stages of the fourth quarter. The game would end on a 23-yard field goal by Novo Bojovic as time expired to send the Invaders on to the USFL Semifinals with a 30-27 victory. Despite a better record, the Oakland Invaders traveled to the Liberty Bowl to face the Memphis Showboats, as the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum was unavailable due to an Oakland Athletics baseball game. Trailing 13-7 in the early stages of the third quarter, the Invaders took control of the game as Bobby Hebert had a pair of touchdown passes to Anthony Carter. Hebert connected on 18-of-33 passes for 287 yards, while Carter had 154 receiving on nine passes. The Invaders would win the game 28-19 to reach the USFL Championship Game.
1985 USFL Championship Game: The Oakland Invaders would take on the Baltimore Stars for the USFL Championship in the Meadowlands. A pre-game thunderstorm helped make playing conditions wet, which slowed down the Invaders passing attack. The Stars got on the board first on a 16-yard pass from Chuck Fusina to Scott Fitzkee, but the Invaders bounced back on a 44-yard interception return to tie the score 7-7. The Stars would get a pair of Kelvin Bryant touchdown runs, around a John Williams score to go into the half leading 21-14. In the third quarter the Invaders scored ten unanswered points to take the lead 24-21, highlighted by a Bobby Hebert touchdown pass to Anthony Carter. The Stars regained the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter as Kelvin Bryant had a third touchdown run. As time was running down, the Invaders drove down to the Baltimore five-yard line. However, Tom Newton was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul against Stars’ cornerback Jonathan Sutton. The penalty pushed the Invaders back to the 20 as Bobby Hebert’s last two pass attempts into the endzone fell incomplete allowing the Stars to hold on for a 28-24 win to win the USFL Championship.
1986: Despite playing in the USFL Championship Game, attendance slipped for a second straight season for the Oakland Invaders who due to financial troubles were forced to suspend operations after their third season. The Invaders had hoped to begin play again in 1987, but like the league itself need a favorable outcome in the USFL’s lawsuit against the NFL. However, when the USFL only received $1 in damages any hope of resuming play would go up and smoke. The same would be true for the USFL as the league never made it the fall, as the 1985 Championship Game ended up being the finale. Bobby Hebert and Anthony Carter who helped lead Oakland to the title game in 1985 each went on to have successful NFL careers.
©MMXVI 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 Oakland Invaders 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 December 27, 2016. Last updated on December 28, 2016 at 1:00 pm ET.