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Who were the Shreveport Pirates?
The Shreveport Pirates were a football team that played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. The Pirates were one of the most mediocre teams ever to play in the CFL. The Pirates’ home ground was the Independence Stadium.
How did the Shreveport Pirates Start up?
The Shreveport Pirates were founded in 1994 when the CFL awarded Ottawa Rough Riders owners a franchise for the city of Shreveport. Bernard Glieberman and his son had lobbied the league to allow the relocation of the struggling Rough Riders.
The league denied the move but initiated a deal that effectively split the franchise into two. The Gliebermans received the expansion franchise in Shreveport while a new ownership group took over the Rough Riders name, strip and history.
From the beginning the Gliebermans were deeply involved in team affairs and this was later pointed out as one of the reasons behind the team’s subsequent woes. The Gliebermans overruled John Huard’s appointment as head coach by general manager J. Albrecht and instead hired Forest Gregg. Gregg then convinced the Gliebermans to fire Albrecht and the vice president of the organization. The team leased the Independence stadium for $2,500 a game.
The Shreveport Pirates in Competition
The Pirates first took to the field in a competitive fixture on July 6, 1994, to play the Ottawa Rough Riders. They lost 40-10. Their first home game was a 35-34 loss to the Toronto Argonauts 10 days later. The Pirates were so mediocre that they had to wait for 15 rounds to record their first win, which came against the Sacramento Gold Miners.
In the process they set the record for most consecutive losses, 14, in the CFL and in North American sport. The fell to an embarrassing but routine 52-8 loss to the Calgary Stampeders in the next game but with nothing to play for except saving face, they won the last two games of the season. They finished the season with a 3-15 record, placing them in last spot of the East Division.
The following season, they were placed in the newly created South Division made up entirely of American teams. They opened the season with four straight losses in what looked to be a continuation of the previous season’s struggles. That season, they improved marginally, winning two more games than they did during the 1994 season to finish with a 5-13 record. They were however still last in their division.
Shreveport Pirates Most Notable Players
Martin Patton RB 1994-1995
Charles Thompson WR 1994-1995
Terrence Jones QB 1994-1995
Gill Fenerty RB 1994
Dexter Manley DE 1994
Elfrid Payton DE 1994
Jon Heidenreich OL 1994-1995
Mike Johnson QB 1994-1995
Billy Joe Tolliver QB 1995
Wayne Walker WR 1994-1995
Curtis Mayfield WR 1995
Björn Nittmo K 1995
Uzooma Okeke OT 1994-1995
Shreveport Pirates Most Notable Moments
Happy moments for the Pirates were rare. From the outset, the team had serious management problems even before they played their first game. During a preseason training camp meant to be held at the Louisiana State University, management fumbled the scheduling and the team was forced to use the Louisiana State Fair instead.
Unable to find alternative accommodation, the Pirates took up residence at a barracks-style room, with animals sleeping a level above them on a building inside the fairground.
During the same preseason camp, coach John Huard had an altercation with a volunteer therapist. Due to this incident, the Gliebermans, who did not fancy Huard that much fired him and replaced him with Forrest Gregg.
What Happened to the Shreveport Pirates?
Despite their mediocre show on the field, the Pirates still managed to draw in considerably large crowds. This was largely due to the fact that Shreveport had no established major league sports team, leaving only high school football to compete with.
The lost opportunity brought about by the Pirates poor performance was evident when the attendance shot to 32,011 fans during the final game of the 1994 season which followed a rare win. The Gliebermans were however mismanaging the team and were facing several lawsuits for various dealings related to the team. He was also at loggerheads with the city due to unpaid stadium fees.
In order to recover the debt owed to them for the stadium lease, the city of Shreveport tried to seize a very expensive 1948 Tucker which Bernard had loaned to a local classic car museum. Mark Gillam, the Gliebermans’ attorney took the car and tried to hide it but it ran out of gas along the way and it was seized by police and returned to the museum.
The Gliebermans then tried to relocate the team to Norfolk but Norfolk city officials severed negotiations after they learned about the lawsuits. Unable to find a way to save the dying team, the Gliebermans had no option but to fold.