Tampa Bay Bandits

Founded 1983
Folded 1986
Based in Tampa, Florida, United States
Home field Tampa Stadium
League USFL
Conference Eastern
Division Central (1983)
Southern (1984)
Team History 35-19 overall record
Team Colors Red, Black, Silver, White


Head coaches Steve Spurrier
Owner(s) John Bassett
Stephen Arky
Burt Reynolds (John K. Petrakis)
Mascot(s) Smokey
Fan Website

The Tampa Bay Bandits were a professional American football team based in Tampa, Florida. They were members of the United States Football League (USFL). They were a charter member of the USFL and folded along with the league after the 1985 season.


Preparing to playEdit

The Tampa Bay Bandits' majority owner were Canadian businessman John Bassett (who was still in litigation against the NFL over his previous Memphis Southmen franchise from the World Football League in the mid-1970s) and Miami attorney Steve Arky, and minority owners included Hollywood mainstay Burt Reynolds, at that time one of the most popular motion picture actors in the world. The team was named the Bandits due to Reynolds' then-recent appearance in the hit Smokey and the Bandit movies, and his connection helped build local interest. Also building interest was the hiring of former Florida Gator and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Steve Spurrier to be the team coach. Spurrier had been serving as the offensive coordinator at Duke University before coming to Tampa to take his first head coaching job. At 37, he was the youngest head coach in professional football at the time [1]

Bandit BallEdit

The Bandits began play in 1983 in Tampa Stadium, and were immediately more successful than the area's NFL franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom they shared a home field (though the Bucs played in the fall and early winter while the Bandits played in the spring and early summer). The Bandits narrowly missed the playoffs in their first season and made the postseason the next two years. While their offense under Spurrier was usually one of the best in the league, an average defense kept them from serious championship contention.

The Bandits were also successful off the field. They drew the highest average attendance over the three-year history of the USFL, coming in 2nd in attendance in 1983 and leading the league in that category in 1984 and 1985 with over 40,000 fans per game[2] Also, their memorabilia outsold that of the Buccaneers in the Tampa Bay area during the time of the team's existence. A fan-friendly atmosphere (including a theme song, "Bandit Ball", penned and sung by Reynolds' friend Jerry Reed[3]) was one factor, and the Bucs' futility during the period (they went 10-38 from 1983 to 1985) also helped the Bandits' success. Due to broad local support, the Bandits were one of a very few USFL teams with a stable home and steady finances - they were the only USFL franchise to have the same coach, owner, and home city throughout the league's three year existence[4]. Due to these factors, the Bandits are considered one of the few USFL teams that had the potential to be a viable venture had the USFL been better run[5].The Philadelphia Stars played Tampa Bay at Wembley Stadium in an exhibition game on July 21, 1984.

The end of the USFLEdit

Bassett was a strong proponent of the spring football concept. When the USFL decided to switch to fall play for the 1986 season, he declared his intention to organize a new spring football league that would include the Bandits [6]. However, failing health forced Bassett to cancel his plans and sell the team. He died from cancer in May 1986, and neither the Bandits nor the USFL would take the field again[7].

Prominent Tampa Bay BanditsEdit

Single season leadersEdit

Rushing Yards: 1206 (1985), Gary Anderson (running back)

Receiving Yards: 1146 (1983), Danny Buggs

Passing Yards: 4183 (1985), John Reaves

Byron Eggers Radio Host made it thru training camp 1984


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

Season W L T Finish Playoff results
1983 11 7 0 3rd Central --
1984 14 4 0 2nd EC Southern Lost Quarterfinal (Birmingham)
1985 10 8 0 5th EC Lost Quarterfinal (Oakland)
Totals 35 21 0 (including playoffs)

1983 Tampa Bay Bandits ResultsEdit

(11-7-0), 3rd in Central Division

  • Sun. Mar. 6 - (W) BANDITS 21 vs. BOSTON BREAKERS 17 (Att. 42,437)
  • Sat. Mar. 12 - (W) BANDITS 19 vs. MICHIGAN PANTHERS 7 (Att. 38,789)
  • Sun. Mar. 20 - (W) BANDITS 32 @ New Jersey Generals 9 (Att. 53,307) abc
  • Sun. Mar. 27 - (W) BANDITS 27 @ Philadelphia Stars 22 (Att. 18,718) abc
  • Sat. Apr. 2 - (L) BANDITS 3 vs. CHICAGO BLITZ 42 (Att. 46,585) ESPN
  • Sat. Apr. 9 - (W) BANDITS 22 @ Denver Gold 16 (OT) (Att. 46,848) ESPN
  • Mon. Apr. 18 - (L) BANDITS 13 vs. LOS ANGELES EXPRESS 18 (Att. 32,223) ESPN
  • Sun. Apr. 24 - (W) BANDITS 30 @ Washington Federals 23 (Att. 9,070)
  • Sat. Apr. 30 - (L) BANDITS 10 vs. PHILADELPHIA STARS 24 (Att. 41,559) ESPN
  • Sun. May. 8 - (W) BANDITS 17 @ Oakland Invaders 10 (Att. 26,989)
  • Sun. May. 15 - (W) BANDITS 20 vs. ARIZONA WRANGLERS 14 (Att. 32,327)
  • Sat. May. 21 - (W) BANDITS 29 vs. OAKLAND INVADERS 9 (Att. 43,389) ESPN
  • Mon. May. 30 - (L) BANDITS 7 @ Michigan Panthers 43 (Att. 23,976) ESPN
  • Sun. June 5 - (W) BANDITS 45 vs. BIRMINGHAM STALLIONS 17 (Att. 35,623)
  • Sun. June 12 - (L) BANDITS 8 @ Chicago Blitz 31 (Att. 21,249) abc
  • Sun. June 19 - (L) BANDITS 17 @ Boston Breakers 24 (Att. 15,530)
  • Mon. June 27 - (W) BANDITS 26 vs. DENVER GOLD 23 (Att. 46,128) ESPN
  • Sat. July 2 - (L) BANDITS 17 @ Birmingham Stallions 29 (Att. 20,300)

1983 Tampa Bay Bandits RosterEdit

Tampa Bay Bandits rosterview · talk · edit

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists
  • Currently vacant

Rookies in italics


External linksEdit

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