Memphis Mad Dogs                                                   



                            Damon Allen takes the snap




-- team --















British Columbia









U.S. Expansion








-- contents --


Grey Cup






























-- photos --


Greg Battle

Rodney Harding

Gary Anderson

Adrion Smith


-- team story --


In 1995 the CFL continued its expansion into the United States with franchises in Birmingham and Memphis. The Memphis franchise was granted to Fred Smith the President and CEO of Federal Express. It came out later that the franchise was granted to Smith for the nominal fee of $100,000 with an agreement that Fed-Ex would be a major league sponsor. Smith appointed long-time Memphis football backer Pepper Rodgers as team president. Rodgers who had been involved in the USFL team in the city had long been pursuing a rival league to the NFL and he saw the CFL as his opportunity.


The team was dubbed the Mad Dogs and despite an apparent lack of organization in the team head office there was optimism of reaching the league mandated 20,000 season tickets. The club was not close to 20,000 season tickets when the 1995 season kicked off. Rodgers who anointed himself a head coach had brought in experienced CFL'rs in offensive co-ordinator Adam Rita, quarterback Damon Allen and Defensive End Tim Cofield. With less than 8,000 season tickets the Mad Dogs drew 14,278 to their regular season home opener a disappointing total in the cavernous Liberty Bowl.


On the field Memphis had their first victory in their third game a 11-5 home triumph over Saskatchewan. Memphis proved to have a dominant defence but struggled on offence. Further compounding the offences at the Liberty Bowl, because of the dimensions, the end zones were as little as 7 yards deep in some areas rather than the standard 20 yards.


Ownerships commitment was further tested when it was announced that the Houston Oilers of the National Football League would be relocating to Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville required time to build a NFL ready stadium, in the interim it became common knowledge that Memphis would be the stand-in for Nashville until their stadium was ready. Fred Smith held exclusive stadium rights for professional football at the Liberty Bowl and in that the option of bringing NFL football at least temporarily to Memphis.


The club had a season high crowd of 20,012 on August 19 for a 16-13 loss to Baltimore however fan apathy continued. The season ended with a 9-9 record for Memphis, a respectable total for a first year club anchored by a tough defence. Alex Gordon the clubs 21 year old Defensive End from the UNiversity of Cincinatti led the defence with 61 tackles and 7 sacks. Tim Cofield had 5 sacks and veteran CFL linebacker Greg Battle had 4. On offence the story was rookie wide receiver Joe Horn a free agent signee out of Itawamba Community College Horn had 1,415 yard receiving almost 1,000 more receiving yards than any other Mad Dog. Horn scored 4 touchdowns and served notice to the world of football he was a talent that could not be ignored. Horn has gone on to become a perennial pro-bowl receiver with the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. pictured is screen captures of a 50 yard touchdown run by Horn.


Quarterback Damon Allen had an inconsistent season with 3,211 yards passing for 11 touchdowns and 113 interceptions, he added over 400 yards rushing.


Memphis narrowly missed the playoffs with the 10-8 Birmingham Barracudas edging them out. The final game of the teams existence was a 25-14 loss at the hands of the Edmonton Eskimos on October 26, 1995 in front of 12,078 home fans.


The high hopes of CFL football in Memphis with a big name owner in Fred Smith quickly vanished for the league. The commitment was not there from Fred Smith and with an initial investment of only $100,000. The U.S. expansion experiment was a failure. After the 1995 season all of the U.S. based clubs folded or relocated to Canada. Pepper Rodgers saw the Mad Dogs as a chance to change the CFL and move back to a USFL format. Without a\the commitment to the CFL and what the league is and has been it can only be concluded in hindsight that the team in Memphis was doomed from the beginning.




-- players --





-- stadium attendance --


Liberty Bowl

Capacity (63,068)

1995 Avg: 14,550


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