Philadelphia WFL

Bell  - 1974 - 75
(Authentic Reproduction)


HELMET HUT is indebted to Jimmy Corcoran, son of the starting QB Jim “King” Corcoran.  Jimmy served as a ball boy and future Helmet Hut scout for the 1974 Philadelphia Bell and provided a number of stories and facts not heard previously.

WHILE THE GETTIN’S GOOD by Herb Gluck is the definitive book on the formation of the WFL and is difficult to obtain. He clearly and eloquently notes what can only be termed “the maneuverings” of Gary Davidson and those who he allowed to get in on the ground floor of the World Football League. The Philadelphia Bell franchise can serve as the definitive example of dishonesty upon which the WFL was founded. Gluck weaves the story of Ken Bogdanoff, a young, sincere, prospective owner of the new Philadelphia franchise who has no more than $25,000.00 of hard-earned family money to post as collateral. Although Davidson was clear that any owner “should be capitalized at $3 million, that the first year’s budget alone figured to be between $2.3 million and $2.7 million, with a first-season loss estimated at upward of $1 million” he was prepared to accept Bogdanoff’s $25,000.00 knowing this would be full payment for a franchise rather than the asking price of $400,000.00.  Bogdanoff was smart enough to get out while the getting was good, taking his $25,000.00 with him. Others were not so lucky. Davidson, as Gluck explains, sold the franchise rights to a corporation in which he held stock. The corporation in turn sold it to a group of businessmen headed by Jack Kelly, Jr. of the prominent Philadelphia family. He was the brother of Grace Kelly who became the Princess Of Monaco. The cost to the Philly based group was an inflated $690,000.00! The real money did not belong to Kelly who was serving more as a well-respected figurehead but instead to Norman Denny, President of The Lincoln Bank and businessman Barry Lieb. As the season fell apart, the remainder of the investment group was revealed. As the league became mired with financial and legal problems John Bosacco, a prominent attorney, assisted Hawaiian owner Chris Hemmeter and the Southmen’s John Bassett with the removal of Davidson from office and the restructuring plans for the WFL. Bosacco was more than willing to put his shoulder to the wheel when called upon as he was the behind-the-scenes money of the Bell. With former NFL head coach Ron Waller at the helm as General Manager and Head Coach, they at least had a solid football man in charge. Waller had most recently been the interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers (and the first Charger to ever sign a contract for the 1960 Los Angeles Chargers), taking over the much maligned and reputedly undisciplined program of Harland Svare. Waller had been one of the all time greats at the University Of Maryland and as a Delaware native was considered to be a Philly “homeboy” where he was popular and respected. Despite the unrealistic projections of the Bell ownership, Waller’s experience gave him the appropriate perspective when he reportedly stated, “You’ve got to figure on losing a million and a half this year. If we grab 20,000 per game, it would be great.” 

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