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November 25, 1967 – Alabama Hawks vs. Joliet Chargers

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Alabama Hawks ProgramAlabama Hawks vs. Joliet Chargers
Professional Football League of America Championship Game
November 25, 1967
Milton Frank Stadium
Attendance: ?

Professional Football League of America Programs
32 Pages


Cool minor league football program, purchased from an antique book dealer in Maryland this week.  This 1967 championship game was the final contest of a short-lived minor league circuit known as the Professional Football League of America (1965-1967).  This was back in the days when NFL and AFL teams had loosely organized minor league farm clubs around the country where late round picks and taxi squad players could go to earn game reps.  The host Alabama Hawks were affiliated with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.  The Joliet Chargers from Illinois had a relationship with the AFL’s San Diego Chargers.

The Huntsville-based Hawks played at Alabama A&M’s Milton Frank Stadium and carried seven former A&M players on the roster.  The team also boasted a handful of former SEC college stars.  Rookie defensive tackle George Patton was a two-time All-America at Georgia, and captain of the 1966 Bulldogs squad that finished #4 in the nation.   Linebacker Doc Griffith was All-SEC at Auburn, as was leading rusher Tom Bryan.  Center Gaylon McCullough was an Academic All-America at Alabama.

Collegiate honors and citations aside, one thing that caught my eye flipping through the pages of this program was the racial composition of the Hawks’ team.  Two months earlier, the Southeastern Conference finally integrated, with the elevation of Nat Northington and Greg Page to the varsity football squad at the University of Kentucky.  But Alabama, Auburn and the rest of the SEC remained whites-only programs that fall.  The minor league Alabama Hawks seemed somewhat more progressive, featuring 12 black players, the majority of whom hailed from A&M.  (The team’s all-white cheerleading squad, however, was a more familiar story).

The Hawks’ opponent was the Joliet Chargers, regular season champions of the PFLA’s Eastern Division with a 10-2 record.  The teams had met twice in the regular season, each winning at home.  In fact, both squads were undefeated at home in 1967.  That seemed to confer an advantage upon the Hawks and the hosts carried a slim 13-10 lead into the 4th quarter.

That’s when Joliet’s Paul Hudson took over.  Hudson, a rookie fullback out of Ohio State, was named season MVP of the league earlier in the week.  He scored two touchdowns on the ground in the final 11 minutes as Joliet pulled away for a 31-20 victory.

This turned out to be the last game for the Professional Football League of America and for Joliet, the league’s best team who won two of the league’s three championships.  After the 1967 season, the PFLA merged with the larger Continental Football League.  Joliet dropped out, not wishing to join the more ambitious and expensive league.  The Hawks continued on for two more seasons, going out of business along with the rest of the Continental League at the end of the 1969 campaign.



November 25, 1967 Alabama Hawks Roster

November 25, 1967 Joliet Chargers Roster



Joliet Chargers Home Page


Written by AC

December 30th, 2014 at 3:37 am

1964-1967 Joliet Explorers / Joliet Chargers

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Joliet Explorers ProgramUnited Football League (1964)
Professional Football League of America (1965-1966)

Born: 1964 – UFL expansion team.
Died: Postseason 1967 – The Joliet Chargers cease operations.

Stadium: Joliet Memorial Stadium

Team Colors:


  • 1964: John Cantieri
  • 1964-1967: Joliet Explorers Inc. (numerous local investors)


The Joliet Explorers were a low-level minor league football team formed in 1964 as an expansion club in the United Football League.  The UFL had teams in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and the province of Quebec.  The Explorers were the league tomato can that fall, posting a record of 0-14.  Their opponents outscored them 591-144.

John Amos played briefly for the Explorers during that futile 1964 campaign.  At the time, Amos was a vagabond minor league running back.  In the 1970’s he got into acting, and would play James Evans, Sr., the father on Good Times from 1974 to 1976.  He’s been in dozens of other major film and TV roles, including playing meteorologist Gordy Howard on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Major Grant, the traitorous henchman who battles Bruce Willis on the wing of a passenger jet in Die Hard 2.

At the end of the 1964 season, the United Football League split apart.  The more ambitious teams partnered with defectors from the Atlantic Coast Football League to form the Continental Football League in February 1965.  Joliet fell in with a second faction that was content to remain a low-budget, regional league.  This group formed the Professional Football League of America in early 1965, which consisted of six teams from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska.

Punching bags in the UFL, the Explorers turned around their fortunes in the PFLA.  After posting an 8-1-1 regular season record in 1965, the Explorers swept the Grand Rapids Blazers in a two-game championship series.  The Explorers were competitive again in 1966 at 6-4-1, but finished just outside the playoffs.

In May 1967, Joliet struck an affiliation with the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League.  As part of the deal, the team changed its name to the Joliet Chargers for the 1967 season.  The Joliet Chargers went 10-2 in 1967 and then defeated the Alabama Hawks 31-20 in the PFLA Championship Game to claim their second title in three years.

The Chargers folded following the 1967 season.


==Joliet Explorers/Chargers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1964 9/5/1964 vs. Indianapolis Warriors ?? Program
1964 10/11/1964 @ Wheeling Ironmen L 42-25 Program


1966 8/21/1966 vs. Grand Rapids Blazers ?? Program
1966 9/18/1966 vs. Des Moines Warriors ?? Program


1967 11/25/1967 @ Alabama Hawks W 31-20 Program



United Football League Programs




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