The Hoffman Era
Although the 1984 Blitz had many of the same players as the 1983 Wranglers, they were weaker in two specific ways. All of the initial 12 teams were required to make players available in the expansion draft. Secondly, while the 1983 Wranglers featured the League's 6th ranked passer in rookie QB (Alan Risher), 12th ranked rusher in 3rd year vet Calvin Murray, and the league's #7, #10, #11 receivers (1983 rookies TE Mark Keel, WR Jackie Flowers, and WR Neil Balholm, respectively), triggerman Risher stayed in Arizona in the transaction.
Hoffman spent heavily in promoting the new Blitz. He hired NFL veteran, future Pro Football Hall of Famer and Chicago native Marv Levy as coach. Levy had thought he would be taking over George Allen's team when he took the job.
Talented, but raw longtime Bear backup QB Vince Evans was brought in to be the starter, in spite of owning a very unimpressive 57.31 rating in 7 previous NFL seasons. Evans' accuracy was always an issue in the NFL. His most accurate season up to that point was 1980 where he completed 53.2% of his passes. He entered the USFL with a career NFL competition percentage of 48.7% and a 31-53 TD to INT ratio (Evans signed in November 1983 to a 4 year $5 million deal).
In January, the Blitz tendered an offer that would have been the largest contract in football --- $2 Million dollars a year for 3 years --- to Bears running back Walter Payton. Payton advised he would consider the offer, but would not be rushed by the Blitz. The Blitz 1984 season was scheduled to start on February 27 and they had little success selling season tickets. The Blitz needed Payton to sign quickly to help season ticket sales, so they had put a deadline on the offer of 2/9/84. Before he made up his mind, the Blitz withdrew the offer realizing they simply did not have the finances.
With a less talented team and no big names to excite the fans, Chicago's season ticket sales predictably flat-lined, in spite of Hoffman sinking a lot of money into advertising. Fans were not happy that Hoffman had, for all intents and purposes, jettisoned the third-best team in the league in favor of an also-ran. Just prior to the start of the season, a frustrated Hoffman walked away from the Blitz, leaving the team to the minority owners --- walking away before his new team even played a down.
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... Subsequently the magazine cultivated its own group of authors (who Hoffman dubbed his "Writers' Brigade") including Talbot Mundy, T.S ... In 1912, Hoffman and his assistant,the novelist Sinclair Lewis created a popular identity card with a serial number for readers ... Hoffman also was secretary of an organization named the "Legion" that had Theodore Roosevelt as one of its vice presidents ...
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“It struck me that the movies had spent more than half a century saying, They lived happily ever after and the following quarter-century warning that theyll be lucky to make it through the weekend. Possibly now we are now entering a third era in which the movies will be sounding a note of cautious optimism: You know it just might work.”
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