It’s a largely forgotten football story, but it’s also hard to forget if you talk to the right people.
In a day when many in San Antonio wish that we could land our own NFL team, it's often forgotten that professional football once existed in the Alamo City.
The San Antonio Gunslingers of the upstart USFL played in Alamo Stadium in 1984 and 1985.
We talked with former players, all of whom at fond memories of that time in their lives.
"They’ll say, 'How did you get started?' and I’ll say, 'The San Antonio Gunslingers,' and they go, 'Oh, the San Antonio professional team! I was a teenager then, and that was our favorite team!'" said former assistant coach Bill Bradley.
He said it was challenging it was to play for the cash-strapped franchise.
"People are buying hot dogs and stuff (at the games) and our players are sitting on the same tables, training tables getting their ankles taped!"
Former PR Director Greg Singleton said the team was unlike any other.
"Whit Taylor was one of our quarterbacks," Singleton said, "and he told me, 'When I was a kid growing up, I wanted to either work in the circus or play professional football, and with the Gunslingers, I got to do both."
The stories are legendary now, including the time that players had to race down to a La Vernia bank to cash their checks, knowing that half were going to clear, and the other half not so much. In June 1985, owner Clinton Manges quit paying bills all together, but that was not the end of the story.
"Probably the most fun day we ever had, we’re all out there waiting for them thinking, 'Well, they may not show up today, they may show up, this is a pay period time, and we don’t know what they’re going to do," Bradley said. "They came jogging out of the dressing room as a group. It was just unbelievable. They came out there and they would go out on the field and go, 'Check! check! check the defense. check bounce! Check bounce!' and the place would just laugh!"
The team played out the 1985 season, but many of the players are still owed many to do this day.
Many players wonder how they might have fared against the New Jersey Generals, one of the league's best teams, who were owned by now President Donald Trump. They’ll have to keep wondering, because the match-up never happened.
"We heard as the San Antonio Gunslingers that we were kept from being on (the Generals') schedule because he didn’t want his priced talent, the Herschel Walkers, the Doug Fluties of the world having to deal with the ragamuffins that were the San Antonio Gunslingers," said Rick Nueheisel, then the Gunslingers starting quarterback before starting a career in coaching.
To see the Gunslingers together more than 30 years later, you immediately understand that it's still all about being a team.
"I just dearly loved what the USFL stood for," Bradley said.
"Just a great great experience in my life, and one that I always look back on fondly," Nueheisel said.
"Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up," former player Billy Schott said.
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