San Antonio Gunslingers
1984: After the USFL’s first season, the league decided to expand quickly adding six new teams. One of those new teams the San Antonio Gunslingers, would soon become symbolic of the league’s troubled existence. Originally the USFL wanted to place a team in either the Twin Cities or Seattle, but settled on San Antonio when those deals fell through. The San Antonio Gunslingers were owned by Clinton Manges, a well-known oil tycoon. Manages was full of boast and bravado, paying for team expenses out of pocket. However, this often meant he ran the team on the cheap, using a trailer in the Alamo Stadium parking lot to run the franchise. The Gunslingers would be coached by Gil Steinke, a longtime coach at Texas A&I. Troubles with the team could be seen early as the lights went out at Alamo Stadium during a Monday Night Game against the Houston Gamblers in Week 2. The Gamblers a fellow expansion team ran circles around the Gunslingers, winning 35-7 as San Antonio dropped their first four games. The Gunslingers finally broke through in Week 5, beating the Oakland Invaders 14-10, becoming the last of the six expansion teams to earn a win. The Gunslingers would split their final 14 games, finishing with a record of 7-11. While the Gunslingers struggled to run the ball, with Scott Stamper leading the team with 500 yards, they had a strong passing attack led by Rick Neuheisel, who threw for 2,542 yards with 14 touchdowns.
1985: Trouble began to find the San Antonio Gunslingers in their second season, as Owner Clinton Manges was overcome by financial troubles, due in part to falling price of oil. Continuing to run the league out of pocket on the cheap caught up with the Gunslingers as players’ checks bounced with regularity. Jim Bates took over the coaching reigns for Gil Steinke who stepped back to concentrate on his duties as General Manager. Due to tight reigns on the press, few knew of the Gunslingers troubles until San Antonio Express-News broke the story that Quarterback Rick Neuheisel and Linebacker Jeff McIntyre where the only two players with a personal services contract in 1984. Clinton Manages would later revoke the paper’s press credentials over the story. On the field the Gunslingers struggled losing four of their first five games. After two straight wins, the Gunslingers lost their next seven games, as the strain of the financial troubles began to take its toll on the team. As players raced to be the first to the bank, to make sure they got their money as the players knew that at least half the checks would bounce. Players unable to make rent, stayed with sympathetic fans, as they began trading tickets for food. As the season wore on an arbitrator threatened to void all contracts if, ownership did not make good on the bounced checks. Coach Jim Bates quit with six weeks left after players were not paid following a 21-20 loss to the Orlando Renegades on May 13. Gil Steinke would take over in the final six games, but things only got worse as Clinton Manages stopped paying for the team’s expenses and stopped paying the team. Despite the anger and frustration, the Gunslingers would win two of their last three games and finished the year with a record of 5-13. A month after the season, USFL Commissioner Harry Usher gave Clinton Manages 15 days to repay the team’s debts. When he failed to reach the deadline, Usher stripped Manages of the franchise, causing the San Antonio Gunslingers to fold. The Gunslingers’ holding company, South Texas Sports, was auctioned off to pay more than $650,000 of debts to former players. The players sued Manges to recover back pay, but that suit collapsed when Manges filed for bankruptcy, many Gunslingers would not get their salaries for more than a decade. Clinton Manages would eventually spend two years in prison for mail fraud, as federal Marshalls seized his property.
©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 San Antonio Gunslingers 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 February 1, 2017. Last updated on February 1, 2017 at 11:30 pm ET.