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WFL Memories from Jimmy Corcoran: Wrong Number for Rossovich

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[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site (although he’s still writing his weekly Substack column). Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month.]

A good Saturday morning, Uni Watchers! As threatened promised yesterday, we’ve got at least one Saturday post for you fine ladies and gentlemen. I think you’ll really enjoy this one.

Over the years, reader and pal Jimmy Corcoran has contributed a lot to Uni Watch, mostly in the form of “sub-lede” stories, and he created the very popular “Guess the Game from the Uniform” (roughly based on my original “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” feature). He’s also contributed on a few main articles, and is probably our foremost expert on the long-defunct World Football League (WFL), in which his father — “King” Corcoran — played.

As a kid, Jimmy spent a lot of time on the WFL sidelines, and he’s seen and experienced a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff. Occasionally Jimmy will share a story or two with me and I always get a chuckle. And Jimmy’s father was quite the character, to put it mildly.

As I was preparing to steer the ship for the month of August, I asked him if he had any good stories from his childhood he could share with the readership — and, boy, does he ever. This one is definitely worthy of the lede article, so I’m going to share it with you today. (Actually, it’s a triple-dip from Jimmy, as he has a completely different story which follows this, and then yet another GTGFTU.) It’s an entire Jimmy Corcoran post!

Here’s Jimmy:

• • • • •
Wrong Number for Rossovich
by Jimmy Corcoran

I think the guy that made my father laugh the hardest out of all the teammates he ever had was Tim Rossovich, or “Rosso” as my father would call him. I met him twice before he was with the Philadelphia Bell, in 1971 when we spent a week at Eagles camp and again in 1973 when he was with the Chargers and my father was hanging out with him in the locker room after they lost to Washington, 38-0. I don’t even think my father and Tim were particularly good friends outside of football. He never came to our house in Maryland like so many other players did, and my father never visited him in California.

“King” Corcoran with the Philadelphia Bell

Once in the summer of 1969, at our beach house in Bethany Beach, Delaware, we get a knock at the door. It was a huge guy with a suitcase and cleats in his hand, and he said “Hi. My name is Bob Tucker and King invited me to live with you for the summer.” My father got home from his workout and my mother asked him “Who is this guy?” He said “Bob is my tight end with the Firebirds, I forgot to tell you he is going to live with us.” Bob Tucker went on to have a great career with the New York Giants and we never saw him again.

So even when my father would hang out with guys he played with, he was never really close to them. After he died, I spoke to several guys he played with at Maryland, the Firebirds and the Bell. They all said the same thing, “I wanted to stay in touch with him, but he was impossible to stay in touch with. Even if you had his number he wouldn’t call you back.”

Tim Rossovich with the Eagles

My father and Rossovich both loved attention and they would always try to one-up each other to get it. There was another guy on the Bell, Rick Cash, who Rosso would hang out with. One time my father was in a team meeting and Rosso and Cash smeared dog shit all over my father’s new Lincoln. The King was beyond pissed, but when the joke was on someone else, no one laughed harder than the King. When Rosso stuffed equipment manager Bob Colonna in a trash can and rolled it around the locker room my father would laugh so hard retelling the story that he couldn’t catch his breath. Every time I see the movie Rocky, and he is standing in front of Pat’s, it reminds me of my father and Rosso. They would stand in that exact same spot Stallone did in the movie after games and have a cheesesteak while fans would mob them; of course the spot wasn’t famous yet in 1974, this was two years before Rocky came out.

Rosso had a Dracula cape that he liked to wear around. It was movie quality, it looked like it could have come out of the 1974 TV show Kolchak the Night Stalker. Once when my father went out and didn’t ask Rosso to go, he hid in a phone booth with nothing on but his Dracula cape and while my father was walking by with a reporter, he jumped out and tackled him and almost scared my father to death.

My father said, “That was a good one Rosso, you scared two years off the King’s life but that was a good one.” Rosso was an actor in Hollywood, and he must have been a method actor. One time I was in the team hotel and saw Tim walking by in the lobby in his Dracula cape, I said “Hi, Tim,” but he walked by me with a blank stare in his eyes. I went back up to my father’s room and said “I just saw Rossovich, he was wearing his cape and he didn’t say hi.” My father said, “He didn’t mean anything by it, Jimbo, he was probably on his way to scare somebody.” I look back at this now and think, my father and Rosso were thirty-two years old, were they both nuts?

When Rosso would do something outrageous, we would always get a phone call from my father, almost like a kid at summer camp calling home to say how much fun he was having. Tim wore three different numbers with the Bell, #65, #82 and #88.

I knew he wore 82 with the Eagles and the Chargers and asked him why 65? He told me Levell Hill had 82 and this was all they had. But you see in the team photo Tim had his 82 after Hill was gone.

In 1975 Tim switched to 88, the number he wore at USC. That is Tim and my father coming out of the dugout of Anaheim Stadium in 1975 when they played the Sun. The bald guy in the white shirt at the far right in the team picture is Bob Colonna, the equipment manager. I often mention Bob in my stories. I listened to everything he told me as a kid and a lot of stuff I know about football uniforms is from what I learned from him. The man wearing the sunglasses in the first row is Ron Waller the head coach, or California Ron as I would call him because he was a star RB with the Rams in the ’50s and was friends with all the movie stars from that era. Also #83, is Vince Papale from the movie Invincible and #28 is Sonny Sixkiller who was in the original Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds. Many of these guys have passed on but I can close my eyes and still hear Bob Colonna saying, “Now this is how you fold a T-shirt, kid!”

Now to the phone call, this story was verified by Ron Waller when he stayed with us at Christmas. Rossovich was on the pay phone right before practice, my father said he was arguing with someone and hung up on them, then he put more money in to make another call but he didn’t get a dial tone. The pay phone kept his money and Tim became enraged, and he pulled the pay phone out of the wall and took it to the practice field with him.

My father said the wires were hanging out and Tim just carried it around with him, someone called the police, and two cops came out to the practice field. Ron Waller was there and told the cops that the Philadelphia Bell would pay for the phone and the damage to the wall, he didn’t want Tim to get arrested, he needed him for practice. When Ron Waller said “OK, that’s settled. Give him the phone back, Tim,” Rosso said, “Sorry, coach. I can’t do that. It took my dime.” My father said one of the cops turned to him and said “I know you’re King Corcoran and you guys are always in trouble, is this some kind of Candid Camera joke?” My father said, “I have nothing to do with this, officer, this is all Rosso.”

Ron Waller started talking to Rosso like he was a kid and despite being a couple of feet away, Rosso had the phone to his ear acting like he was talking to Waller on the phone. And Ron said “Timmy, I want you to give the police back the phone so we can start practice.”

At this point my father said the players were all laughing and one of the cops couldn’t keep a straight face while Rosso was talking on this make-believe broken phone to the coach. Finally, he said “OK, coach, I will, goodbye,” and actually hung the phone up and handed it to the police. We thought my father exaggerated this story but when we asked Ronny to tell it to us, it was the exact same story my father told us. Ronny even said, “I am trying to run a practice and I have to talk to Rossovich like he is six fucking years old! I don’t have time for that shit.”

Having been a ball boy for Ron Waller, I have felt his wrath when he thinks you are wasting his time, but after Ron had a few drinks even he was laughing when he was talking about Rosso holding the phone to his ear pretending he was talking on the phone to him.

• • • • •
Hah! Great story Jimmy. Thanks for sharing.

Next up…more from Jimmy.



A kid with a have his own Sears WFL varsity jacket

by Jimmy Corcoran

But sometimes dreams don’t come true, Phil, this time it didn’t for me. Like a lot of kids at my school, I had a Sears NFL varsity jacket. I had a Philadelphia Eagles one, but I wasn’t really happy with it because I wanted a patch with a helmet on it like the Jets and the Bills had. I had to fight with my father to get this jacket; he didn’t want me to have it because he was just cut by the Eagles.

I didn’t want a Washington one, because every kid at my school had that one. He wanted me to get a Colts one because we live in Maryland, but I didn’t want that either, I wanted the Eagles because I had met most of the players and liked them, so I did get the jacket for Christmas.

In 1974 my father was now a pretty big star in the WFL and I felt like I was a part of the team with the Philadelphia Bell. Life was great! I was learning the ins and outs of the equipment room from Bob Colonna who was the former Eagles equipment manager, and my father was leading the WFL in TD passes. What more could a kid ask for at that age?

Well, actually I had a problem: there just wasn’t anything good to wear with the Philadelphia Bell on it. The WFL didn’t have a licensing agreement with a big department store like Sears to make shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys and jackets.

I was always a good art student as a kid and had a creative mind with designing things. I thought of a great idea — make my own Philadelphia Bell varsity jacket.

I figured a Chargers or Rams jacket would work great for the Philadelphia Bell and all I would need was a Bell patch to sew on it, but this time my mother ended my dream. She said there is no place to get a Philadelphia Bell patch and she wasn’t going to order a jacket that I wasn’t going to wear. The Bell had no patches that they used, the ones on the coaching shirts came from Sand Knit but considering that Bob was recycling name plates on the jerseys because they were tight on money, getting a patch for a 10-year-old kid was low on the priority list.

But I know my idea could have worked if the patches were available back in 1974. I designed these WFL varsity jackets and this would have all worked, maybe not exactly how I designed them, but they would have looked good by putting a WFL patch on a Sears jacket.

The Buffalo Bills could have been an Americans jacket, the Chargers or Rams would have worked for a Bell jacket, the New York Giants could have been a Florida Blazers jacket, the Atlanta Falcons for the Chicago Fire, the Raiders for the Jacksonville Sharks, the Steelers for the New York Stars and the Packers for the Houston Texans.

Boy, if I was a kid today, I could go online and make my own Philadelphia Bell jacket and have a patch made with no problem. Unfortunately this was beyond the realm of possibility for a kid with a WFL dream in 1974.

UPDATE: After this article went live, Jimmy sent me the following:

I feel bad I didn’t put the Sun jacket in too but Tampa didn’t work, I knew there would be people asking if I made one or not. Maybe you could put a link to this tomorrow so the guys in the comments section that asked for this can see it, Thanks Phil



Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Jimmy Corcoran (of course!).

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.



And finally...

…that’s all for today. I hope you all enjoyed this Saturday Morning Special, featuring the one and only Jimmy Corcoran. Thanks Jimmy!

If there’s any breaking uni-news today, I’ll have an article posted as soon as I can. If not, I will be back tomorrow with one last “Leo’s World” and another quiz — this time featuring old-timey College gridiron uniforms.

Everyone have a great Saturday and I’ll catch you back here with Leo tomorrow!



Comments (28)

    I couldn’t place him but recognized him from your photos. Tim Rossovich as Det. Noodles from “Nice Dreams”! You could say that name rang a bell with me. Thanks for sharing these great memories.

    He was once in an episode of Hart to Hart where he gets beat up by Robert Wagner as Jonathan Hart, my father being a guy who thinks movies and tv shows are real said “How could Rosso lose the fight Jimbo, he’s twice Hart’s size? I said because the script says he has to.
    I liked the TV show Lost in Space as a kid and Tim told me he was in an episode, I asked him what character he played and he said I was a rock man, that didn’t help me because it seemed every episode had some type of rock man.

    There is also a WFL connection in my Washington-Dallas photo today. Herb Adderly #26 on Dallas was a coach with the Philadelphia Bell in 1975 and Charley Harraway #31 Washington was an RB for the Birmingham Americans. In 1974 against the Bell a huge fight broke out because Harraway said Tim Rossovich hit him late, that was also the famous Ron Waller gun game where the coach threatened to shoot the defensive backs.

    No, it was played at RFK, the game at the Cotton Bowl was played on a dark dreary day. Len Hauss has grass on his pants, the Cotton Bowl has turf. Also Dallas has the shiny twill material on their pants, 1970 was the last season they wore that style and Washington is wearing their durene jerseys with stitched on number, in 1971 they switched to Sand Knit mesh jerseys with screened on numbers.

    Those WFL jackets are amazing! Too bad you had to work with existing NFL color schemes. Otherwise, we could have seen a Southern California Sun model.

    I did one for the Sun, I didn’t send it to Phil because there was no NFL jacket I could have compared it to.

    Came here to say the same thing about the Southern California Sun jacket.
    Always look forward to stories about the King and the WFL.

    I sent Phil an email with a photo of my Sun varsity jacket, maybe he will feature it so you can see how it came out.

    Hey Jimmy,

    Have enjoyed your WFL stories/anecdotes for years.

    WFL was active during my Jr. High days. It was my favorite (American) football league of all time. I was an ABA/WHA fan, too, and Gary Davidson was undoubtedly my favorite non-playing sports figure. I even got to watch a few mid-week TVS broadcasts (which aired on one of the 3 1/2 TV stations we got at the time) after talking my dad into turning games on.

    My friend (who turned me on to UW long ago) and I used to design logos and uniforms as kids and, in 1974, Wiffle really fired our imaginations. I’ve never had anything that was game-worn in NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL, but I did have 1975 game-worn brown Hawaiians jersey and 1974 Sun helmet (still kicking myself for ever selling them) and my friend still has his game-worn Mike Yanchef Bell jersey.

    WFL was our gen’s AFL, but it was . Everything screamed “1970s!!”, right down to the football. The ABA and WHA were still going strong in 1974 and my friend and I thought the WFL would easily be as successful. It has always s̶a̶d̶d̶e̶n̶e̶d̶ sickened me that it went away so soon.

    I really appreciate your WFL stories. They always trigger some cool memories of my youth.


    The site took my italicized words out?!

    Should read, “WFL was our gen’s AFL, but it was so much cooler.”

    Thanks Leo, sometimes my Mother and I would talk about what things would have been like if the WFL made it to 1979 or 80? where would my father have ended up, how many teams would he have played on? He was cut from the Bell in 1975 after the Jacksonville game. He was talking to the Sun about playing for them, but he shot off his big mouth in the papers, so the Sun said they had no contact with him. This was not true, I answered the phone once and it was Tom Fears asking for the King.
    My mother was practical, she said since he had a terrible diet and lifted but did no running, he might have made it to 1977, but he would have worn out his welcome with all the WFL coaches just like in the NFL and without Ron Waller there for him would have been cut multiple times.

    You are welcome, Michael, some day if I make it to my 80’s, I will be one of the only living people who saw all the WFL teams play in person (except the Americans). Unless there was some other kid out there who was around 10 who went to all the WFL home games of their team? I guess there were a few out there.

    Great stories, Jimmy. Always love learning about the inside WFL stories that you could never research in newspapers. I hope you’re well. Looking forward to your next article.

    Thank you Richie, that’s why I decided to share some of my stories on Uni Watch. If people wanted scores, or stats they could go to your site and everything is there, all the nuts and bolts of the WFL. I don’t know how many more I will do on my father; my articles seem to get remade and show up on other sites.
    After each game with the Bell, my father would go over each offensive play with my poor mother who would almost fall asleep, I could have stayed and listened too, but I had no interest. But I loved when he would tell me who he had to yell at in the huddle or on the sidelines, I always enjoyed the on the field stuff that you had to be there to hear yourself.

    Jimmy, thanks for these amazing stories! Given the massive financial troubles the WFL teams were in, weren’t the cops a little skeptical that the Bell would pay for the damages to the phone? :)

    I think you should make that Philadelphia Bell jacket *now* and wear it everywhere you go. Keep that history alive! As someone born after the WFL’s demise, I’ve learned more about the WFL from this site than anywhere else!

    Great idea Mark! I may get my buddy who owns Royal Retros to make me one. The Bell didn’t really have money problems, they were cheap with equipment, but the players never missed a paycheck, plus Ron Waller was like an old school Hollywood guy, he always had a wad of cash on him. He got nailed for a couple of grand that he had hidden in his hotel room when they played the Chicago Fire, boy was he pissed.

    Definitely make one; there are lots of DIY experts on here whose examples you could use. Put your dad’s number and position on the sleeve! And one day you’ll be walking down the street and someone will recognize it and you can share memories of the Bell.

    About 15 years ago I was in a bank in Boca Raton wearing a Pottstown Firebirds t shirt, and old man asked if that was the minor league football team, I said yes. He said they had this QB named King Corcoran, I was at a game against the Bridgeport Jets, and I saw him throw a TD pass behind his back, a great play but I almost froze to death. I told him that was my father, he was pretty surprised.
    That night I told my mother the story and she said it was s true, she was at the game with my grandfather who wanted to leave because it was freezing outside.

    Any King stories about former Washington Huskies QB Sonny Sixkiller? They must’ve spent quite a bit of time together in meetings and practice.
    Love the varsity jacket concepts!

    Yes, I do have one the time I met Sonny Sixkiller, his locker was next to my father’s. Sonny wasn’t there very long. Next time I will tell it.

    I still don’t understand how the Bell managed to play a 2nd season after all the empty seats the 1st season. I notice that other teams changed their names in the 2nd season because they officially went bankrupt and reorganized, but the Bell kept churning away in front of crowds numbered in the hundreds.

    The owner was not broke, the Bell got every paycheck, they were late giving my father his playoff money when they lost to the Blazers but he got it. If they missed paychecks like the Florida Blazers did there was no way he would have stuck around, he would have had to go back to his real estate business in Maryland. Despite being basically a minor league QB all his career, he lived like a starting NFL QB, fancy cars, beach houses and clothes. He really had to hustle to live like that, lots of personal appearances and speaking engagements. The Philadelphia Bell money couldn’t cover all of that in the first place so if the Bell checks stopped it would have been over for him.

    Jimmy, this was great!
    Love the story (did the team really pay for that phone? I wonder if they could afford it), and those jackets! I’d wear those.
    I had a similar dream of getting USFL clothing from the Penney’s or Sears catalogs. And similarly I preferred the patches with helmets on them… except for the Lions. I always liked that Mustang-y logo with the two vertical lines.

    I zoomed in on that page from the catalog and was pleasantly surprised to see they still sold the Oilers jacket with the blue helmet patch, along with the Seahawks and Bucs jackets. Must have had a lot of back stock to keep selling them a year or two after the helmet change!

    To be honest, Ron Waller didn’t tell me who got billed for the phone, he too thought it was some kind of prank when it all just started. I couldn’t make an Oilers jacket into a WFL one, no team chose to use their colors?

Comments are closed.