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1981 Orlando Americans


American Football Association (1981)

Born: 1981 – AFA expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1981 – The Americans cease operations.

Stadium: Orlando Stadium

Team Colors:



Robert Lee Johnson just wanted a shot at playing professional football.   At a doughy 280 pounds, the aspiring o-lineman wasn’t NFL material and he wasn’t sure he would pass muster with the new Orlando Americans of the fly-by-night American Football Association either.  After all, the Americans boasted a handful of players with NFL pedigree, including former New York Giants back-up quarterback Jerry Golsteyn and a pair of former Green Bay Packers wide receivers in Ken Payne and Barry Smith.

Robert Lee Johnson wasn’t sure he could make the Americans, but he knew of somebody who could: former University of Georgia All-American guard Randy Johnson.  Randy Johnson’s injury-shortened three-year NFL career ended in 1979 pre-season camp.  Robert Lee stole his identity, signing with Orlando under Randy’s name and filling in Randy’s biographical information on team questionnaires.  Members of the Americans’ coaching staff were suspicious about the corpulent “Randy Johnson” huffing and puffing his way around the team’s training field.

“Nobody can do go downhill that far that fast,” one staff member later told The Associated Press, recalling Robert Lee’s physique.

Americans Head Coach/General Manager Bob Williams wrote away to the sports information department at the University of Georgia to provide a photo of (the real) Randy Johnson, but the comparison was inconclusive.  Eventually, Robert Lee came clean, claiming to be a former Temple University center who borrowed Randy’s name and reputation to further his football dreams.  The real Randy was not amused and threatened to sue.  Robert Lee was given his release.

The case of the False Johnson got the Orlando Americans some national press coverage in June of 1981 in the national press.  Otherwise, the Americans garnered little attention during their lone summer of play in 1981.  The team played at cavernous Orlando Stadium – known today as The Citrus Bowl – which was much too big for crowds that peaked around 6,000 per game, according to a 1991 retrospective by the Orlando Sentinel.

The club finished 5-7 and was never heard from again after the season ended in August 1981.


Remarkably, American quarterback Jerry Golsteyn used his stay in the  AFA to earn another shot in the NFL.  Golsteyn made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of training camp in 1982 as a back-up to quarterback Doug Williams and played two years for the team.  In 1985, Golsteyn returned to Orlando and the Citrus Bowl to finish his career as the second-string signal caller for the Orlando Renegades of the big-budget United States Football League.



Orlando Americans sources


Written by AC

December 18th, 2011 at 7:19 pm


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