Boston-New Orleans-Portland Breakers
Founded 1983
Folded 1985
Based in Boston, Massachusetts (1983)
New Orleans, Louisiana (1984)
Portland, Oregon (1985)
United States
Home field Nickerson Field (1983)
Louisiana Superdome (1984)
Civic Stadium (1985)
League USFL
Conference Eastern Conference (1984)
Western Conference (1985)
Division Atlantic Division (1983)
Southern Division (1984)
Team History Boston Breakers (1983)
New Orleans Breakers (1984)
Portland Breakers (1985)
Team Colors Breaker Blue, Royal Blue, Silver, White


Head coaches 1983-5 Dick Coury (25-29)
Owner(s) 1983 George Matthews
1983 Randy Vataha
1984-5 Joseph Canizaro

The Portland Breakers were a professional American Football team that played in the United States Football League in the mid 1980s.

History[edit | edit source]

Boston Breakers[edit | edit source]

The team started out in 1983 as the Boston Breakers, owned by Boston businessman George Matthews and former New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Vataha. They had originally hoped to play at Harvard Stadium, but Harvard University rejected them almost out of hand. Their next choice was Sullivan Stadium, the home of the Patriots, but high rent and the stadium's location (30 miles southwest of Boston) made this unrealistic. They finally settled on Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University, a rather antiquated facility that seated only 21,000.

Coach Dick Coury put together a fairly competitive team led by 36-year-old former World Football League QB Johnnie Walton and Canadian Football League Veteran HB Richard Crump. The Breakers finished 11-7, narrowly missing the playoffs. Walton, who had retired from pro football years earlier and had spent the previous three years coaching college football, was the league's 7th ranked passer. Coury was named coach of the year.

Ultimately the stadium issue forced the Breakers out of town. Despite fielding a fairly solid team, the Breakers rarely sold out. Nickerson Field was so small that the Breakers lost money even when they sold out; visiting teams got a portion of the gate proceeds. This was an untenable situation for a team aspiring to be part of a major sports league. Boston and Washington were the only USFL teams to draw less than 14,000 per game in 1983. The other 10 teams drew over 18,000 per game. When no suitable solution to the venue problem could be found in the Boston area, Matthews sold his interest to New Orleans real estate developer Joe Canizaro.

New Orleans Breakers[edit | edit source]

Canizaro moved the team to New Orleans for the 1984 season as the New Orleans Breakers. The team played in the spacious Louisiana Superdome, also home to the NFL's New Orleans Saints. They started out the season 5-0, and all signs pointed to them running away with the Southern Division. However, they only won three more games to finish 8-10. This included a 35-0 thrashing by the Philadelphia Stars and losses in their last six games. In spite of adding NFL star TE Dan Ross and rookie HBs Buford Jordan and Marcus Dupree, the team struggled. Walton was inconsistent and ultimately retired after the season.

On the positive side, New Orleans supported the team well, averaging 30,557 per game, Jordan ran for 1,276 yards (4th in the league), and Ross and WR Frank Lockett had strong years.

Portland Breakers[edit | edit source]

After the season, the league owners decided to go for broke and move to the fall starting in 1986. This put teams like New Orleans, Michigan, and Philadelphia in an awkward situation. Canizaro knew that the Breakers could not hope to compete with the Saints, and opted to move before the 1985 season rather than play a lame duck season in New Orleans.

Seeing a large open market with an adequate stadium (32,500 seat Civic Stadium) in Portland, Oregon, Canizaro moved the team there. The team drew an average of 19,919 per game in Portland.

On the field the team struggled as the strain of playing in three cities in three years finally caught up with them. The team opted to go with former Jacksonville starter Matt Robinson as Walton's replacement, rather than seeking a more proven USFL QB without a home, like Craig Penrose, Alan Risher, or Mike Hohensee, or trading for someone like Oakland's Fred Besana, or even signing an NFL vet. Robinson ultimately proved to not be an adequate replacement for Walton, finishing with a 62.6 QB rating. HB Jordan did have another strong year with over 800 yards as did Lockett.

The Breakers were one of nine teams slated to play in the USFL's first fall season, and were slated to be one of only two teams west of the Mississippi River. However, while the USFL's antitrust suit against the NFL was underway, Canizaro folded the franchise, citing over $17 million in losses over three years. (Canizaro was the only league owner who moved his team twice and both moves were tremendous distances.) The entire league suspended operations not long afterward after it was awarded only $3 in damages.

Unlike many other USFL teams, the Breakers never changed their name, logo or colors when they relocated.

Top "name" players[edit | edit source]

Among the top "name" players that the Breakers had were LB Marcus Marek, HB Marcus Dupree of OU, QB Johnnie Walton, K Tim Mazzetti, QB Matt Robinson, HB Buford Jordan, P Jeff Gossett, and TE Dan Ross.

Coaches and executives[edit | edit source]

Coury was the team's coach for all three seasons. Defensive coordinator was the late Pokey Allen who would later take Portland State University to two national championship games. The Offensive coordinator during the 1983 season was College Football Hall of Famer and former NFL Most Valuable Player Roman Gabriel. In 1985, the offensive coordinator was former Edmonton Eskimos head coach Pete Kettela. Allen would hire former Breaker executive Steven "Dream" Weaver as his marketing director and whose publicity stunts raised his Portland State teams to a national acclaim. The team president for the Portland Breakers was the legendary John Ralston, who was also a founder of the USFL. Other executives included Jack Galmiche, John Brunelle and Brian Feldman. Feldman was the only executive who worked in all three cities.

Single-season leaders[edit | edit source]

Season-by-season[edit | edit source]

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Season W L T Finish Playoff results
Boston Breakers
1983 11 7 0 2nd Atlantic --
New Orleans Breakers
1984 8 10 0 3rd EC Southern --
Portland Breakers
1985 6 12 0 5th WC --
Totals 25 29 0

Head coaches[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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