WFL 40th Anniversary with Larry Willingham

Willingham on sidelines during Ams at Chicago Fire

Willingham on sidelines during Ams at Chicago Fire

Larry Willingham recently shared some thoughts regarding the WFL’s 40th anniversary. I had asked Larry to share his responses regarding the Ams; his favorite memory, his favorite place to play on the road, and his memories of the locker room after winning the World Bowl. I’ll let Larry’s words paint a mental picture for you. I truly appreciate Larry’s time and responses.

  1. I guess the best memory would be the opening game against California . We had just broke training camp in Marion and were in Pre-game warm up at Legion Field as the fans were coming in. We had no idea how the crowd would be, much less, how many.

     As we completed pre-game and went in the dressing rooms, we noticed the crowd was ok but nothing special. As it became closer to game time, we were delayed on going out due to the mass of people trying to get in few gates that were open. Birmingham Park and Recreation had not planned on such a crowd. I think the game started 45 minutes late in front of 60 to 70 thousand screaming “new” fans. Birmingham had a professional football team!!  

  1. That’s easy! There was a team in Hawaii and we spent the week after playing Portland on Waikiki Beach trying to practice. Think we got beat!!
  2. I think they had to get the champagne out of Florida ’s dressing room. As many may recall, the team had not been paid for the last 5 weeks of the season and getting paid for the playoff games and the championship game was in question also. As one of the “player reps”, Ross Brubaker, Charley Harraway and myself had met with Coach Gotta and agreed to take a percentage of the gate as settlement prior to the game. I think it amounted to about $1700 per player, if memory serves me. Glad it was settled. Would have been a shame for a season like we had to not have been completed.

Many thanks Larry!

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