Oakland Invaders was a professional American football team that played in the United States Football League (USFL) from 1983 through 1985.
In reaction to the Raiders relocating to Los Angeles
Oakland, California had been without a football team after the Oakland Raiders relocated to Los Angeles, California before the 1982 NFL season. The Invaders stepped in to fill the void; the similar name was no accident.
The team was originally owned by Bay Area real estate magnates Jim Joseph and Tad Taube. However, after the original owner of the USFL's Los Angeles franchise, Alex Spanos, bought the San Diego Chargers instead, Joseph and Taube flipped a coin to decide who would buy the Los Angeles rights. Joseph won the toss, selling his stake in the Invaders to Taube. As it turned out, Joseph was forced to move his team to Phoenix, Arizona as the Arizona Wranglers.
Led by the league's 2nd ranked passer QB Fred Besana, WR Gordon Banks, and ex-Raiders HB Arthur Whittington and TE Raymond Chester, the Invaders won the Pacific Conference with a 9-9 record. The Invaders gave a valiant effort in the opening round of the playoffs, but were overrun by the eventual league champion Michigan Panthers, 37-21 in front of 60,237 rabid fans in the Pontiac Silverdome (The game was the largest turnout for any USFL game in the 1983 season).
The Invaders were picked by most to again challenge for a playoff spot in 1984, but their powerful offense fell apart in the first half of the season, scoring only 82 points. The team was unable to run the ball and lost 9 straight to open the season. With the emergence of RB Eric Jordan, the Invaders running attack rebounded and the team won 7 of its last 9 games. The defense was strong throughout the season finishing 7th in points allowed. Attendance also tumbled as well, to 23,644 per game--nearly 8,000 fewer than in 1983.
The Michigan Panthers merged with the Invaders before the 1985 season in response to the league's plan to move to the fall. While the Invaders were the surviving team, Taube sold controlling interest Panthers owner A. Alfred Taubman, while remaining chairman of the board. Taube had been looking for new investors to finance the move to the fall, knowing he would be competing directly with the San Francisco 49ers.
The new team, bolstered with key players from the Panthers, went 13-4-1 in the regular season and was able to reach the 1985 USFL championship game. The Championship game was a rematch of sorts with Chuck Fusina's Stars, who now played in Baltimore. The Invaders were in the midst of a potential game-winning drive when a personal-foul penalty derailed their momentum, allowing the Stars to defeat Hebert's Invaders 28-24, and claim indisputable bragging rights as the league's all-time best team.
Despite reaching the championship game, the team's attendance fell again, to a barely sustainable 17,509. Combined with massive financial losses, the Invaders announced they would suspend operations for the 1986 season. As it turned out, the championship game was the last USFL game ever played, as the league was effectively killed by an antitrust suit against the NFL in which it only won $3 in damages.