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Team and League History

July 11, 1988
Canadian Football League commissioner Doug Mitchell indicates in an interview that the league may consider dropping its unique rules and expand into the United States.

Mitchell said the league will form a long-term planning committee that would study the prospect of expanding into such cities as Birmingham, Baltimore, Oakland, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Memphis, Portland, Sacramento, and New York.

      Canadian Football League logo
Mitchell believes that a new league could be organized by someone within the next four years and would like to see the CFL move into those cities first.

CFL rules such as a wider field, twelve players to a side, three downs to make a first down, and the "rouge" which is a single point for balls downed in the end zone, make some wonder if the league would be accepted by American fans. Jerry Sklar, former president and general manager of the defunct United States Football League's Birmingham Stallions, is one of those people. "I think Birmingham is a good football town. I don't know if CFL football would be acceptable here, but I do know that American football is very acceptable here. If they want to expand into the US, they are going to have to change a number of their rules to Americanize their game to make it as popular as it needs to be to be successful."

In Canada, the game of football developed through rugby associations organized in each province. In 1884, the Canadian Rugby Football Union was created as the sport's governing body. By 1890, the game was played in each province and it's from this organization that the Canadian Football League developed. 

Melvin Miller, director of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, said the city would welcome the CFL. "Its a pretty stable league. Our ultimate goal would be something with the National Football League, but certainly the CFL is not bad."

November 1993
The Sacramento Gold Miners become the first American team to play in the history of the CFL.

November 1994
The CFL adds three more American teams, the Baltimore Stallions, the Shreveport Pirates, and the Las Vegas Posse.

January 11, 1995
  Owner Art Williams
The CFL announces that Birmingham has been awarded one of the league's two expansion franchises for 1995. Memphis will receive the other expansion franchise.

The Birmingham franchise will be owned by insurance magnate A. L. "Art" Williams. Williams, also a published author and motivational speaker, made his fortune in selling term life insurance through his own business before selling it to Primerica Corporation in 1989. Williams also holds a Master's Degree in education from Auburn.

The Las Vegas franchise has folded and the Sacramento franchise is considering a move to another city.

March 14, 1995
At a press conference, Williams announces the local team will be named the Birmingham Barracudas.

The name was chosen from a list of more than 400. Cougars, Bearcats, Bandits, Steel, and Magicians were also considered.

Williams said the choice was based on reputation of the tropical fish, not geography. "It's an animal that's vicious and mean. No other team in pro sports is called the Barracudas. We've even copyrighted the name to protect it. What we had to do is look for reasons not to use the name. My wife and I went through the dictionary front to back and back to front looking for possibilities. When we finally began going through copyright searches, Barracudas really stood out."

Team colors were also announced; blue, teal, black, and white. Helmets will feature the word 'Cudas.

In league news, the CFL has approved the Sacramento Goldminers relocation to Texas and they will become the San Antonio Texans.

The Ottawa Rough Riders filed for bankruptcy today. A judge will decide if the team will be sold to Chicago businessman Horn Chen. The judge will decide if the sale is in the best interests of the team's 300 unsecured creditors, who are owed $1.4 million. The CFL says if the sale is not approved and completed by Thursday, the Rough Riders will be disbanded.

May 23, 1995
Jack Pardee is named the Birmingham Barracudas head coach.

Pardee is unique among coaches; he is the only person who has been a coach in the NCAA's Division 1-A level, the National Football League, the United States Football League, the World Football League, and now the Canadian Football League.  
Photograph   Photograph   Photograph   Photograph
World Football League
Florida Blazers
   National Football League
Chicago Bears
Washington Redskins
   United States Football League
Houston Gamblers
University of Houston
During his college years, Pardee played for Paul "Bear" Bryant at Texas A&M. Pardee and Gene Stallings were survivors of Bryant's famed Junction preseason camp in 1954.

In 1957, Pardee joined the NFL's Los Angeles Rams as a linebacker and played for fifteen years. A battle with cancer forced Pardee to miss the 1965 NFL season. During that time, he was an assistant to Stallings at Texas A&M. Pardee got his first job in the professional in 1973 an assistant with the NFL's Washington Redskins. His first head coaching job came in 1974, when he was hired to coach the WFL's Florida Blazers. Pardee took that team to the World Bowl in 1974 where the Blazers lost to the Birmingham Americans. In 1975, Pardee was the youngest head coach in the NFL when the Chicago Bears hired him and he served in that role for three years. From 1978 to 1980, Pardee was head coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins. In 1981, he was the defensive coordinator for the NFL's San Diego Chargers. In 1982, Pardee took a break from coaching and worked at Runnels Mud Company as their vice president of marketing. The upstart USFL came calling in 1984, and Pardee was head coach of the Houston Gamblers for two years. In 1986 he served as a scout with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. In 1987, he went to the University of Houston as their head coach for three years. Pardee was the head coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers from 1990 to 1994.

"I'm not here as a stepping stone to somewhere else. What I plan on doing is spending the rest of my coaching career here," Pardee said.

June 1995
Canadian Football League
  British Columbia Lions   Baltimore Stallions
  Calgary Stampeders   Birmingham Barracudas    
  Edmonton Eskimos   Memphis Mad Dogs
  Hamilton Tiger-Cats   San Antonio Texans
  Ottawa Rough Riders   Shreveport Pirates
  Saskatchewan Roughriders      
  Toronto Argonauts  
  Winnipeg Blue Bombers  
  xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx  
Baltimore Stallions logo    Birmingham Barracudas logo    British Columbia Lions logo    Calgary Stampeders logo   Edmonton Eskimos logo
Baltimore Stallions
  Birmingham Barracudas   British Columbia Lions   Calgary Stampeders   Edmonton Eskimos
Hamilton Tiger-Cats logo   Memphis Mad Dogs logo   Ottawa Rough Riders logo   San Antonio Texans logo   Saskatchewan Roughriders logo
Hamilton Tiger-Cats   Memphis Mad Dogs   Ottawa Rough Riders   San Antonio Texans   Saskatchewan Roughriders
Shreveport Pirates logo   Toronto Argonauts logo   Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo        
Shreveport Pirates   Toronto Argonauts   Winnipeg Blue Bombers        
In 1996, the Baltimore franchise moved to Montreal to become the Alouettes, but due to financial hardships the remaining American-based franchises folded, effectively ending the CFL's American experiment.

The Canadian Football League has continued to play, but has not ventured into the United States again.
Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: June 11, 2019