As with the majority of World Football League franchises, the Portland entry got off to a rocky start. A threatened lawsuit by a claimant that stated that he had put up $75,000.00 and given it to Davidson marred the Portland franchise on its initial announced date. Supposedly, Mr. John Rooney had been unable to complete his financing but had placed the down payment for the franchise rights. Davidson had “a live one” with more money in Bruce Gelker, owner of Saddleback Inns of California and thus sold the rights to Portland for a reputed $700,000.00. Concurrently, Rooney was being sued by one of the assistant football coaches at the University Of Colorado. His claim was that he had in his possession a viable contract with Rooney to be the Portland head coach. Against this backdrop of legal wrangling, the franchise was born. Dick Coury emerged as the “real” head coach of the Storm and his abilities were not in question. Coury retired as a long time NFL assistant just recently but even in 1974, he had a national reputation. As a very successful coach at Santa Anna’s Mater Dei High School, he developed John Huarte, Notre Dame’s 1964 Heisman Trophy recipient. Huarte had been steered to the Golden Dome in order to follow in the footsteps of Coach Coury who had played there for the legendary Frank Leahy. Coury later served as the Defensive Coordinator at USC under John McKay and was John Ralston’s top aide with the Denver Broncos. When the ‘74 season was over, Coury would return to the NFL as Tommy Prothro’s assistant with the San Diego Chargers. Ex-USC quarterback Craig Fertig and former Detroit Lions Jim Martin and Gail Cogdill gave the Storm a nice mix of young and old on their staff. Martin was better known as a former Notre Dame All American who played on their greatest teams (36-0-2 under Frank Leahy) and an “old Lion great”, a player who could fill a multitude of positions and who finished his career as an excellent place kicker. Like many of his era, he was a World War II Marine Corps veteran and before the season was over, he may have felt that the horror he witnessed while being awarded the Bronze Star For Valor was only a bit more difficult than his first year as a WFL coach. To quote Coach Coury it was expected that experienced linebacker Marty Schottenheimer “who has had an outstanding pro career in the NFL, and gives us great leadership at linebacker…will lead the younger linebackers, by example and by advice.” By the time the season was in full swing, future NFL coach Schottenheimer, currently the Chargers Head Coach, was immersed in his new position of linebackers coach for the Storm. Attorney Ron Mix, the Hall Of Fame offensive tackle for the Chargers gave them a knowledgeable General Manager who had previously served as the Chargers’ legal counsel. He was also reportedly, a part owner of the team. Securing 33,000 seat Civic Stadium had the Storm with more pieces in place for potential success than most of the other WFL teams. One of the only obvious weaknesses in the front office was noted in a comment allegedly made by a friend of Gelker’s regarding John Coury, Dick’s brother who was variously listed as Assistant General Manager and/or ticket manager: “For the last 15 years, he’s been a shoe salesman at Sears and was only fair at that.” MORE...
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