|Based in||Denver, CO, United States|
|Home field||Mile High Stadium|
|Team History||Denver Gold (1983-1985)|
|Team Colors||Black, Old Gold, White (1983, 1984)|
|Head coaches||1983 Red Miller (4-7)|
1983 Charlie Armey(interim) (0-1)
1983-4 Craig Morton (12-12)
1985 Mouse Davis (11-8)
|Owner(s)||1983 Ron Blanding|
1984-5 Doug Spedding
The Denver Gold was a franchise in the United States Football League, an attempt to establish a second major professional football league in the United States, playing a springtime season, from 1983 to 1985. The Gold played their home games at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.
Holding fast to the USFL's original blueprint
The team's original owner, Denver real estate mogul Ron Blanding, held fast to the USFL's original blueprint, keeping tight controls on expenses (including player salaries) while heavily marketing the team in the Rockies. The strategy paid off, as the Gold led the league in attendance during its inaugural season.
Denver Broncos alliance and 1983 season
The Gold attempted to utilize some of the goodwill established by the rival NFL's Denver Broncos by involving former Broncos players and coaches in the Gold organization. The Gold's original coach was Red Miller, who led the Broncos to their first-ever Super Bowl. He was fired in the middle of the season and replaced by popular ex-Broncos quarterback Craig Morton. Despite one of the toughest defenses in the league, a weak offense kept the Gold out of the playoffs in 1983. Blanding, however, was more satisfied with the fact that he actually turned a profit. Unwilling to join the other teams in reckless spending, however, Blanding sold the Gold to auto dealer Doug Spedding for $10 million. Blanding was reportedly the only USFL owner who made a return on his investment.
The Gold remained competitive again in 1984. The defense was not as good but Morton was able to improve the offense developing QB Craig Penrose into a consistent reliable player. Morton was widely seen as a players coach and it was widely reported that Spedding expected the Gold to make the playoffs in order for Morton to keep his job. This did not happen. The team finished one game out of the playoffs and Morton was fired.
In hopes of getting over the hump, Spedding hired Houston Gamblers offensive coordinator Mouse Davis for the 1985 season. Davis was the chief advocate of the Run & Shoot offense in the USFL and had implemented the system in Houston that helped Make Jim Kelly a superstar.
Davis brought in former Chicago Blitz QB Vince Evans. Evans split time with Bob Gagliano, a 4th string QB under Morton. Neither QB was great running the offense, but good schemeing by Davis and talent at the other spots shot the gold up to 4th in the league in offense.
Diminishing local support
Unfortunately, just after Davis took over, the USFL announced that it would switch to a fall schedule for the 1986 season. The vote destroyed the Gold's viability. While the Gold had been one of the USFL's attendance leaders (drawing over 40,000 fans per game in 1983), fans in the Denver area were not about to abandon the Broncos. Despite finally getting into the playoffs with an 11-7 record, the Gold's attendance crashed by over 20,000 to 14,400 fans per game.
As a result, despite finishing second in the Western Conference, they were forced to play on the road against the lower-seeded Memphis Showboats under pressure from ABC. The network, who had considerable influence over the USFL due to the structuring of the league's television contract, did not want the embarrassment of having a game played in a near-empty stadium.
Spedding also knew that the Gold could not hope to compete with the Broncos; shortly after the 1985 season, he cut a deal to merge the Gold with the Jacksonville Bulls. Instead they, and the USFL as a whole, were doomed by the ill-advised attempt to move the playing season to the fall in direct competition with the more established league. The league's high-stakes anti-trust suit against the NFL, awarded only $3 to the USFL. The jury cited the league's abandonment of Denver and several other major markets as one reason why it awarded the USFL only nominal damages. With no new funds to cover their irresponsible spending, the league folded.
Single season leaders
Rushing Yards: 1261 (1985), Bill Johnson
Receiving Yards: 1432 (1985), Leonard Harris
Passing Yards: 2695 (1985), Bob Gagliano
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties
|1984||9||9||0||3rd WC Pacific||--|
|1985||11||7||0||7th WC||Lost Quarterfinal (Memphis)|