Game Worn Football Jersey 

A game worn / game used football collection from the CFL, USFL, WFL, XFL, WLAF, NCAA, NFL, and Arena football leagues.

Arizona Wranglers

The 1983 Arizona Wranglers

Wranglers Struggle in Debut

Photo credit:  Richard Kirchner

Darryl Clark - Running Back (Texas)

Darryl Clark was selected by the Arizona Wranglers in the 19th round (218th overall) of the 1983 USFL Draft. He played in 15 games rushing for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns on 81 carries. He also caught 6 passes for 66 yards. He moved to Chicago when the Wranglers and Blitz traded nearly entire rosters after the 1983 season. Clark was released by the Blitz in training camp and signed with the Michigan Panthers but was only briefly on their developmental squad. He signed with the Houston Gamblers in May 1984 and would play 3 games with the team rushing for 43 yards on 9 carries. With the Gamblers in 1985, Clark carried the ball 17 times for 70 yards and caught 10 passes for 72 yards. Clark resurfaced in 1987 as a member of the Chicago Bears strike team. He appeared in all 3 games with the "Spare Bears" and picked up 11 yards rushing on 5 carries. In 1989, Clark was with the Chicago Bruisers of the Arena League, rushing for 83 yards and 5 touchdowns on 18 carries and adding 24 yards on 1 reception. On defense, he intercepted one pass.

This Champion size L porthole mesh jersey worn by Clark is from the first set worn by the Wranglers in 1983. The stripes do not wrap around the entire sleeve and there is no yellow trim is around the numbers. 1983 Wrangler Equipment Manager, Wayne Reed, informed me that Coach Doug Shivley decided about a week before the team's first game that he wanted mesh jerseys. Champion did not have enough time to screen the sleeve striping and sew them so the team ordered a set of stock white jerseys and had them screened by a local sports store. These were replaced a few weeks into the season with a second set that can be seen in the Frank Kalil jersey below. The jersey shows some game wear in the form of some minor impact marks on the shoulders.

The 1983 Arizona Wrangler Cheerleaders

Frank Kalil - Guard / Center (Arizona)

Frank Kalil started his college career at the University of Arkansas before transferring to Arizona. He was an 11th round draft choice (298th overall) of the Buffalo Bills in 1982. Kalil's USFL rights were originally owned by the Washington Federals who dealt them to the Arizona Wranglers along with the rights to TE Duane Dlouhy for the rights to TE Reggie Haynes and WR Rodney Goosby in September 1982. He played in 17 games as a rookie with the Wranglers. The Houston Gamblers selected him in the 11th round (62nd overall) in the 1984 USFL Expansion Draft. Kalil played in 29 games over the 1984-85 seasons while blocking mostly as a center for Jim Kelly. He is also the father of NFL offensive lineman Ryan and Matt Kalil.

Kalil ended the 1983 season wearing this porthole mesh jersey for the Wranglers. He wore #67 for most of the season but ended the year (see footage of team's final game in Michigan) as #75 likely due to wear on his original jersey. Reserve offensive lineman Mike Mason wore the #75 jersey earlier in the 1983 season for the Wranglers. Mason wore a neck collar and this jersey features an altered neck to accomodate it. Decent game use is present on the garment with seven team repairs. The sleeves have been customized with the ends being sewn to narrow them. All numbers, letters and stripes are screen printed on. I really like the sleeve striping pattern which was made to match the State flag. This jersey was from the second set of jerseys the Wranglers wore in 1983. It was acquired from Mile High Auctions in 2012.

The 1984 Western Conference Champions

Special thanks to Wrangler Equipment Manager, Spanky Crawford, for supplying the photo.

John Lee - Defensive End (Nebraska)

John Lee was drafted in the 13th round (351st overall) by the San Diego Chargers in the 1976 NFL Draft. He was an occasional starter during his five seasons in San Diego and appeared in 48 games overall for the Bolts despite a knee injury that cost him most of the 1978 campaign. In 1981, Lee broke his hand with the Chargers prior to the start of the 1981 season and was released. The New England Patriots claimed him on waivers and he played 4 games for them that year. Lee was traded by the Patriots to the Chicago Bears for a draft pick in May 1982. The Bears released Lee in training camp and he was claimed on waivers by the Washington Redskins before again being released prior to the start of the 1982 season. 

In the USFL, Lee's rights were originally held by the Boston Breakers. The Breakers dealt the rights to both Lee and linebacker Stan White to the Chicago Blitz in January 1983 for the rights to defensive back Joe Restic. Lee signed with the Blitz in February 1983 and played in 15 games during the season and notched 4 sacks. Lee followed the Blitz players to Arizona in 1984 as the two franchises swapped virtually entire rosters. As a Wrangler, "The General” John Lee had a monster season with 20 sacks to lead the league. He started off with a flurry with 6 sacks in the 1984 home opener against the Oakland Invaders and helped the team to the 1984 USFL Championship game. Lee was protected in the merger of the Arizona Wranglers and Oklahoma Outlaws prior to the 1985 season but never played for the Arizona Outlaws.

Lee wore this porthole mesh Medalist Sand-Knit jersey for both home and road games for the Wranglers in 1984 since the club did not employ a color set of shirts that year. It shows plenty of game wear with 22 team repairs by my count and a couple unrepaired rips in the left sleeve, one of which is reasonably long. It has spandex sides and holes under the sleeves that could be used to tighten the fit around the arms. The jersey comes complete with the 1984 USFL Championship game patch on the right chest and the Jock Ellis distributors tag in the lower hem. Just a great looking jersey.

The Rushmen

The 1984 Wranglers were led by a ferocious defensive line collectively known as the "Rushmen". The Rushmen were headed by 1984 USFL Defensive Player of the Year, Kit Lathrop but also featured tenured NFL veterans Karl Lorch, Joe Ehrmann, Wilbur Young and "the General" John Lee. Their sack totals in 1984 were as follows: 

#64 John Lee - 20

#71 Karl Lorch - 13.5

#70 Kit Lathrop - 13

#63 Mark Buben - 8

#74 Joe Ehrmann - 5.5

#99 Wilbur Young - 2

This group racked up 62 total sacks in the 1984 season and was the primary reason the team made it to the 1984 USFL Championship game. The Wranglers got hot late, winning their last four games of the season including lopsided victories in the final three weeks over the Jacksonville Bulls (45-14), Chicago Blitz (35-0) and the Los Angeles Express (35-10). The Wranglers knocked off the Houston Gamblers 17-16 at the Astrodome and the Express 35-23 at Sun Devil Stadium in the post season to make it to the title game, which they dropped to the Philadelphia Stars. 

Kit Lathrop - Defensive Tackle (Arizona State)

Kit Lathrop went undrafted after a college career at West Valley junior college and Arizona State but signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in May of 1978. The Eagles released him before camp and he signed with the Detroit Lions but left shortly after to pursue graduate studies. He signed with the Denver Broncos in February 1979. Lathrop made the team and played in 9 games for the Broncos before he was released during the season. He signed with the Green Bay Packers and finished the 1979 season there, appearing in 2 games. He suited up for 15 games for the Packers in 1980. Lathrop was credited with one fumble recovery in each of the 1979 and 1980 seasons. The Packers released Lathrop in camp in 1981. 

Lathrop signed with the USFL Chicago Blitz in December 1982. It would turn out to be one of the best signings in the league as Lathrop was named the League's Lineman of the Year in both 1983 and 1984. He was named to The Sporting News USFL All-Star team in 1983 with 8 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and one safety. He moved to Arizona to play with the "new" Wranglers in 1984 after Arizona and Chicago swapped nearly entire rosters. Lathrop would once again be named to The Sporting News USFL All-Star team with 13 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries while helping the Wranglers to the USFL Championship Game. The Wranglers changed their name to Outlaws in 1985 after they merged with Oklahoma but Lathrop's strong play did not change. He racked up another 8 sacks in 1985 as part of "the Rushmen" defensive line for the Outlaws. 

When the USFL ceased operations, he was one of the most sought after free agents from the league. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and suited up for all 16 games for them in 1986. He would play his final pro game in 1987 as a member of the Washington Redskins. Lathrop would go into coaching after his playing days and has been a defensive line coach or defensive coordinator in the CFL for several teams including Ottawa, Edmonton and Toronto. 

The Wranglers wore orange Bike and Riddell shells that were painted copper as the helmet companies did not make copper helmets. I did find a good video match for this helmet in the 1984 USFL Championship game as the cameras have a close up of Lathrop late in the 2nd quarter after he was flagged for going offside. The 1984 Wranglers uniforms and helmets are my favorite of all-time. Someday, I hope to find a pair of their copper game pants with the flames up the sides. The Wranglers would stay in Arizona in 1985 but took the Outlaws name in the merger with Oklahoma. The Outlaws made a slight alteration to their logo in 1985 by replacing the red trim to copper to recognize Arizona as the copper state.

Trumaine Johnson - Wide Receiver (Grambling)

Trumaine Johnson was selected in the first round (11th overall) by the Chicago Blitz in the 1983 USFL Draft with a pick acquired from the Boston Breakers for other draft choices. He made an instant impact, winning the Miller Beer Leading Receiver Award and being named a USFL All-Star by catching 81 passes for 1,327 yards (both league highs) along with 10 touchdowns in 1983. Johnson moved to Arizona in 1984 after the Wranglers and Blitz swapped nearly their entire rosters in an unusual transaction. He again made the USFL All-Star team by catching 90 passes for 1,258 yards and 13 touchdowns. Johnson held out the entire 1985 season from the Arizona Outlaws in a contract dispute. He signed a reported 10-year contract in 1984 that included a $1 million signing bonus. The dispute was over the funding of the bonus, which was to be paid in installments. Johnson wanted to borrow against future payments for the purchase of a ranch in Louisiana according to news reports at the time. 

Johnson was eventually allowed to buyout his USFL contract after the 1985 season to sign with the San Diego Chargers, who owned his NFL rights after selecting him in the 6th round (141st overall) in the 1983 NFL Draft. Johnson spent two seasons in San Diego catching 34 passes in 27 games with 6 starts. In 1987, Johnson moved onto the Buffalo Bills. His best NFL season came in 1988, his final season in the league when he caught 37 balls for 514 years in 16 games for the Bills. In 4 NFL seasons, Johnson caught 86 passes for 1,150 yards and 4 scores. In 1990, Johnson returned to the playing field with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He played in 4 games for the Argos in 1990 and another 5 games in 1991 catching 25 passes for 364 yards and 2 majors.

Johnson would have worn this red Medalist Sand-knit size 42 porthole mesh jersey had the Wranglers not missed a league deadline to change the primary color of their home jerseys (they wore blue in 1983). As a result, the team played in their road white jerseys for the entire campaign in 1984. It has the correct tagging matching their 1984 white set, including the Jack Ellis Sporting Goods distributor tag. A shame the team was not allowed to wear these, it is a beautiful jersey.

Arizona Wranglers 1984 Coach's Uniform

This uniform was indentified to me by the Wranglers 1984 Equipment Manager, Spanky Crawford, as a coaches uniform that would have been worn early in the season for colder weather games in 1984. This uniform is massive and was most likely worn by either Roman Gabriel or John Teerlink, who were the two tallest coaches on the staff that year.