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Alabama Magic logo Legion Field

Team and League History


February 18, 1982
     American Football Association logo
   
A local group named Deep South Sports Projects, Inc. announces it has secured a new franchise in the American Football Association and will play a 10 game regular season schedule beginning in May.

In 1978, the Alabama Vulcans played one season in the AFA before folding due to financial difficulties.

This season, the league will be split into three divisions, with the top teams in each division playing in playoff games on August 7th and 14th, with the American Bowl championship game scheduled to be played on August 21st.

The team has already reserved Legion Field for three home games and is negotiating to play their remaining two home games in other stadiums around the state. In doing so, they hope to broaden their fan base.

Former Auburn University wide receiver Jim Patton has been named general manager of the unnamed team. "Deep South is excited about this opportunity to bring professional football to Alabama and to provide a forum for exceptional athletes to perform. We intend to field a winning team, playing an exciting brand of football in a league getting stronger each year. We have the best location and schedule in the Southeast Division and we intend to build a winning organization in every respect."

According to Deep South promotion manager Clay Collins, the name of the franchise will be taken from suggestions made by the fans. "The league has asked for a team name quickly, but since this team will represent Alabama, we feel the fans should name the team. The perfect name is out there in somebody's head and we want to find it."

The AFA will be beginning its sixth season this summer. According to AFA commissioner and president Roger Gill, "It's another shot for that near-miss player who didn't happen to be in the right place at the right time."

Players will be paid 1% of the gate after stadium rental is paid.

April 5, 1982
It is announced the team name would be chosen from popular suggestions of Magic, Ironmen, and Spirit.

April 6, 1982
     Photograph   Photograph
  Owners James Patton (left) and Steve Patton
   
Steve Patton is introduced as the team's head coach. Steve Patton, who is the brother of general manager Jim Patton, is currently the head football coach and athletic director at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, South Carolina. Steve Patton has no plans to leave his high school job at this time.

At the same press conference, Collins commented on the future of the new franchise by saying, "Our reception has been very good from individuals. Of course, the city has been burned by some teams in the past, and we have to establish our credibility. People are looking for straight shooters, and that's what we intend to be. We're not a group of people coming in from out of town. Everybody in our organization is local and interested in the community. We're not making a lot of promises we can't keep. What we want is to build a solid foundation, pay our bills as we go and be here for the long run. We've met some resistance. A lot of people have been burned by previous pro football groups and we know that. We simply want to let them know where we're coming from. We plan to do something here that hasn't been done before - shoot straight. This is a struggling league we're involved with, and we're not trying to compete with Alabama or Auburn or the National Football League in attendance. We're trying to present another avenue for athletes, not only for Birmingham, but for the state."

April 7, 1982
It is announced that the team will be known as the Alabama Magic. Multiple entries for "Magic" were received, so all the contestant names were placed in a hat and the winner was a local youngster named Scott Adamson.


May 11, 1982
Steve Patton says he wants more time to judge the future of his AFA franchise in light of the news that a United States Football League team is coming to town next year.

"We've got to see how the AFA does this year. And, of course, the other league is a first-year league and we'll have to see how they do. It will give more players an opportunity to play. If they do better than us, we'll probably move to another area, but I don't foresee that. I understand they are going to schedule everything around cable TV, which will probably make them some money. But it doesn't turn me on to have a game every night of the week instead of all on the same night, just for TV. I don't think they're so concerned about people coming to the games. I think I can announce about us getting a cable TV deal going soon. But I'm really all for them. I'm for any business that can employ a lot of people and pay its bills," Steve Patton said.
 
1982
 American Football Association 
Southwest
Division
 Southeast
Division
 Northeast
Division
   Austin Texans    Alabama Magic    Buffalo Geminis
   Houston Armadillos    Carolina Storm    Canton Bulldogs
   Oklahoma Thunder    Florida Sun    Racine Gladiators
   San Antonio Bulls    Georgia Pride    Roanoke Express
   Shreveport Americans        Jacksonville Sunbirds    Virginia Chargers
   Texas Wranglers    Tallahassee Statesmen        West Virginia Rockets    
  xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx  
                 
Alabama Magic logo   Austin Texans logo   Buffalo Geminis logo   Canton Bulldogs logo   Carolina Storm logo
Alabama Magic   Austin Texans   Buffalo Geminis   Canton Bulldogs   Carolina Storm
                 

Logo
Needed
 
  Georgia Pride logo   Houston Armadillos logo   Jacksonville Sunbirds logo    
Logo
Needed

 
Florida Sun   Georgia Pride   Houston Armadillos   Jacksonville Sunbirds   Oklahoma Thunder
                 
Racine Gladiators logo   Roanoke Express logo    
Logo
Needed

 
  Shreveport Americans logo   Tallahassee Statesmen logo
Racine Gladiators   Roanoke Express   San Antonio Bulls   Shreveport Americans   Tallahassee Statesmen
                 
Texas Wranglers logo   Virginia Chargers logo   West Virginia Rockets logo        
Texas Wranglers   Virginia Chargers   West Virginia Rockets        
                 
June 25, 1982
The Florida Suns franchise is revoked by the league office due to their lack of sufficient finances.

July 1, 1982
The league revokes the Roanoke Express franchise due to their bleak financial situation.

July 9, 1982
It is reported that the Magic players have yet to be paid for any of the six games played this season.

August 16, 1982
Jim Patton responds to questions of the Magic's future by saying, "We plan to be in business next year." However, the Magic's fan base is a cause for alarm, with the largest crowd of the season being around 1,500. "A lot of the problem was my fault for getting into it without enough money to properly promote. Next year I plan to have the money to promote," Jim Patton said.

Jim Patton believes there are three main reasons his team didn't draw more fans to the stadium; the news Birmingham was getting a franchise in the USFL diverted interest away from the Magic, support from the business community was low and potential fans underestimated the quality of play. "We had the best players who weren't in the NFL. People who didn't come didn't realize how high the quality was, but those who came did realize it."

On the Magic's financial status, Jim Patton said the team should just about break even, "It looks like we'll have everything completely paid in a month or two. I think we'll be the first team ever in Birmingham to do that."

Jim Patton plans for the Magic to play again next summer, but he wants a few changes made in the AFA. The home team picks officials and and he wants that rule changed. He also wants a rule passed that would guarantee players at least $50 a week. If the AFA doesn't go along, the Magic would fold, however. "If I got out of this league I believe I'd get out of football, unless some of the more credible people in the AFA got together and formed a league," Jim Patton said.

August 24, 1982
Jim Patton claims the AFA is taking steps to strengthen itself for the 1983 season. Jim Patton is also a local attorney and has been appointed legal council to the executive committee that is contemplating the changes. "It looks like each team will have to put $50,000 in escrow as sort of a performance bond. There was no escrow this year. And they're considering upping membership dues, probably to $10,000 per member." Currently, membership dues are $5,000. Players will also be guaranteed pay, probably $100 per game as well as 1% of the gate after expenses have been paid. "They're going to go strictly with strong franchises. That may mean 10 or 12 or 15 teams. We started with 18 and ended up with 15 this year. I'm sure next year we'll finish with what we start with. The bottom line is that if the league exists next year it will be a stable league," Jim Patton said.

Despite the USFL's Birmingham Stallions starting up next year, Jim Patton still insists the Magic will return to play in 1983.

Epilogue
The American Football Association played in 1983 with 10 teams, but it would be the league's final season.

However, the Alabama Magic was not one of the 10 teams.

Scott Adamson, winner of the team name contest, grew up to become a beloved newspaper sports writer in Birmingham for many years before moving to South Carolina.
 
 
 
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Last update: October 16, 2018