The 1974 World Football League season was the first season of the World Football League.
Twelve teams began the inaugural 1974 season, which launched July 10 and lasted 19 weeks with no bye week. The league doubled up the week of Labor Day by playing four games over the course of three weeks on a Wednesday, Monday (Labor Day), Friday, Wednesday schedule, giving the WFL teams 20 games each. Two teams, the Detroit Wheels and Jacksonville Sharks dropped out and folded after fourteen weeks, with the New York Stars and Houston Texans relocating to other markets (Charlotte and Shreveport respectively) during the season. Portland and Detroit played a week 9 regular season game in London, Ontario at Little Stadium.
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against
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- (a) Jacksonville and Detroit folded after 14 games; each week thereafter, the teams that had games scheduled against those teams played each other.
- (b) Shreveport Steamer began the season as Houston Texans.
- (c) Charlotte Hornets began season as New York Stars; upon announcing move to Charlotte, played one away game as Charlotte Stars, and remaining games as Hornets.
- (d) Chicago forfeited its 20th game to Philadelphia 2-0.
The original WFL schedule had the three division champions plus one wild-card qualify, culminating in a "World Bowl" on the evening after Thanksgiving at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
With financial problems mounting, various formats were bandied about:
- The playoffs would be scratched and the team with the best record would be declared champion.
- Three teams (Memphis, Birmingham, and Florida) would qualify for the playoff, with West champ Southern California left out.
- The best eight of the remaining 10 teams would qualify.
- The top two teams in each division would qualify, seeded entirely by won-lost record.
Eventually, the playoffs were set with the opening rounds consisting of two teams from each division, with the two qualifying teams from the Central Division (Memphis and Birmingham), who ranked first and second in overall record, given byes to the next round. The Hawaiians faced Southern California in the West, but in the East, Florida instead faced Philadelphia, even though, at 8–11 (they would be granted a forfeit win over Chicago when the Fire dropped out before their final game), the Bell were 1½ games behind 10–10 Charlotte in the standings. However, when only 1,000 advance tickets were sold for the Blazers-Hornets matchup, league officials replaced the Hornets with the Bell. The Hornets were still reeling from their New York debts, and it was believed that the advance gate would not be nearly enough to justify the trip (reportedly, the players would have been lucky to get $100 for the game). The Bell, on the other hand, were on far stronger financial ground, and it was believed they could cover their own expenses.
1974 All-WFL Team
Head Coach: Jack Pardee, Florida Blazers (TSN, P&C)
Tri-MVPs: Tony Adams, Southern California, J.J. Jennings, Memphis, and Tommy Reamon, Florida.
Key: PC = voted on by players and coaches of the WFL; TSN = selection by The Sporting News