Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Trans-American Football League’ Category

1968-1971 Fort Worth Braves

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Fort Worth BravesTexas Football League (1968, 1970)
Continental Football League (1969)
Trans-American Football League (1971)

Born: 1968 – The Fort Worth Texans re-brand as the Fort Worth Braves
Folded: Postseason 1971

Stadium: Farrington Field (18,000)

Team Colors: Scarlet & Gold

Owners: Tommy Mercer

Continental Football League Championships: None
Texas Football League Championships:

 

The Fort Worth Braves were a minor league football team that played for four seasons in a trio of leagues between 1968 and 1971.  Club owner Tommy Mercer also owned the city’s minor league baseball in the Texas League, the Dallas-Forth Worth Spurs, during the same era.  He co-owned the baseball team with Lamar Hunt, owner of the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, but Hunt was not involved with the Braves.

In 1968, the Braves had the second best record in the Texas Football League, but were left out of the title game because of the league’s divisional structure.  Their divisional rivals the San Antonio Toros finished 11-1 and nudged the Braves out of the postseason.

Fort Worth BravesIn 1969, the Texas Football League merged itself into the nationwide Continental Football League. The Continental League made noises about becoming a third major league of professional football just beneath the NFL and the AFL. In reality it operated just like the rickety minor league that it was.

The Braves did make a few national headlines in 1969 when they weirdly outbid the AFL’s New York Jets for the services of Chris Gilbert, the All-American running back from the University of Texas and the Jets’ 5th round draft pick.  At the time, Gilbert was the Southwestern Conference’s all-time leading rusher and the only college running back ever to rush for 1,000 in three different seasons.  Gilbert represented himself in negotiations with Weeb Ewbank and felt the Jets Head Coach was lowballing him with an offer in the low $20,000’s.  That opened the door for Tommy Mercer, who plucked away the ex-Longhorns star in July 1969.

Gilbert ended up playing second banana to featured back James Walker, who led the 23-team Continental League with 1,035 rushing yards.  But the Braves struggled to a 5-7 finish.

The Continental League folded after the 1969 season. The Braves and five of their local rivals took back the Texas Football League name and soldiered as a regional minor league in 1970.  The Braves finished 6-4 in the autumn of 1970. They lost the Texas League title game to the San Antonio Toros 21-17.

The league re-organized yet again in the winter of 1970-71, dropping the Texas Football League name and becoming the Trans-American Football League.  The bigger change was a shift to a spring schedule with an April 1971 kickoff.  The spring experiment died a quick death and the league cut short its schedule after only five weeks of play.  The Braves finished 1-4 in their final season of operation and were never heard from again.

 

Fort Worth Braves Memorabilia

 

Downloads

1969 Texas Football League Standard Player Contract

 

Links

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

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