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 Team and League History


July 1988

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

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 and the "rouge", 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 now-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," Sklar said.

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 sports governing body. By 1890, the game was played in each province and it is 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," Miller said.


??? 1993

      In 1993, the Sacramento Gold Miners became the first American team in the history of the CFL. In 1994, the CFL added 3 more American teams, which were located in Baltimore, Shreveport and Las Vegas. In 1995, in addition to Birmingham, Memphis was granted a franchise, the Las Vegas franchise folded and the Sacramento franchise will relocate to San Antonio.   

January 1995

    The CFL announces that Birmingham has been awarded one of the league's two expansion franchises for 1995. Memphis would 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.


??? 1995

    Jack Pardee is named Head Coach. "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. 

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. 

Before joining the CFL's Birmingham franchise, Pardee was the Head Coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers from 1990-1994. In 1987, he went to the University of Houston as their Head Coach for 3 years. In 1986 he served as a scout with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. In 1984 and 1985, he was the Head Coach of the USFL's Houston Gamblers. In 1982, Pardee took a break from coaching and worked at Runnels Mud Company as their Vice President of Marketing. In 1981, he was the Defensive Coordinator for the NFL's San Diego Chargers. From 1978 to 1980, Pardee was the Head Coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins. In 1975, Pardee was the youngest Head Coach in the NFL when the Chicago Bears hired him to be their coach for 3 years. 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. He got his first job in the professional ranks the year before as an assistant with the NFL's Washington Redskins. In 1957, Pardee joined the NFL's Los Angeles Rams as a linebacker and played for 15 years. A battle with cancer forced Pardee to miss the 1965 NFL season. During that time, he was an assistant to Gene Stallings at Texas A&M. During his college years, he played for Paul "Bear" Bryant at Texas A&M. Pardee and Stallings were survivors of Bryant's famed Junction preseason camp in 1954.


June 1995


1995 Canadian Football League

  North Division   South Division  
  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      


      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 plan to expand into the United States.   
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Last Update: February 16, 2008