Thanks for the memories: Blitz, Sting, Power
February is still going on, as is my list of departed sports teams that gave Chicago memories; good, bad or indifferent.
Yet another Chicago football team to come down the pike and stay down there was the Blitz, of the long-gone United States Football League. Debuting to a bit of hype in 1983, the Blitz were coached by NFL legend George Allen and made good on the regular season with a 12-6 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Personnel included former Bears QB Vince Evans, and RB Tim Spencer, but ownership switched franchises with the Arizona Wranglers. Attendance dwindled from the 25,000 mark at their high point in â€˜83, and the Blitz went just 5-13 under new coach Marv Levy. Ownership decided to shut down for reasons like the league voting to switch to a fall schedule for the non-existent 1986 season.
The coolest fact is that the Blitz practiced at the now-closed Maine North High School in Des Plaines, which was just 10 minutes from my duplex as a youth and also housed scenes from Ferris Buellerâ€™s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. Itâ€™s safe to say that the Blitz would still be around if Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez had roles on the team.
When soccer was all the rage, relatively speaking, the Chicago Sting played both outdoor and indoor.
Around the time Pele was starring for the New York Cosmos, the NASL brought the Sting to Chicago in 1975. The Sting got their kicks at Soldier Field and Comiskey Park. With players like Karl Heinz-Granitza and Batata, the Sting also dazzled Chicago Stadium audiences for the Major Indoor Socer League starting in 1984 before folding in 1988. The outfit also won the Soccer Bowl in 1981, securing bragging rights to Chicagoâ€™s first title since the Bears in 1963.
The Stingâ€™s spiritual brother, the Power, was headlined by player-coach Granitza and began play at the Rosemont Horizon in 1988, and even won the National Professional Soccer League title in 1991. They probably would have had the city, or at least Rosemont, for the taking if the Bulls didnâ€™t muck this up by winning their first title.
What Iâ€™ll remember from the Power is that it was a great location for 11-year-olds to have their birthday party, and the goal points were higher the farther they were kicked from. Not uncommon for there to be 25-10 finals.
As many Chicago sports teams stick around, almost as many have lived and died. Those make memories that stick around, too.
Mike Slodki can be reached at email@example.com.